This web page is on world Muslim population growth, for Europe check here.

The Future of Islam, the Numbers

The total number of Muslims is huge, the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life has a report,"The Future of the Global Muslim Population." that says that roughly 25 percent of the World's population is Muslim in 2020. Furthermore, the same report tells us that the Muslim population is growing twice as fast as the world population as a whole. The Muslim population is growing much faster than any other major religious group.

The Pew report is very interesting but this web page brings up many relevant topics that the Pew article does not begin to address.

A Muslim Majority Is A Long Way Off, If It Ever Comes

The Pew Report suggests that Islam may catch up with Christianity and become the world's largest religion by 2060, about fourty years. But if we extend the trends out further it will take a hundred years or more for Islam to become the majority of the World's population.

One hundred years is a long time in today's technologically dynamic world. We used to figure that the price of computing power would drop by 50 percent every two years. In twenty years it would drop to one thousandth of the current price. As Moore's Law is now played out, this is not so certain as it once was.

Nevertheless, progress is clearly rapid. The current, easy to use the Internet with browsers is about twenty-seven years old. Given the rapid rate of technological change, one could reasonably argue that 100 years into the future is far too far for useful prediction.

Those countries that are close to the tipping point where Muslims become fifty percent of the population may have reason to be concerned, but if the Muslims are a small percentage of the total it will take them a long time to gain a majority if their population growth rate is simply two thirds of a percent a year higher.

There has been considerable concern that in Europe where the population growth of the long-term native population is negative Muslims will become a majority much more rapidly. I have carefully gone over the Muslim population growth statistics for all the Western European nations in the World Christian Encyclopedia. What I found was that while Muslim population growth was often rapid in the period between 1970 and 1990, it slowed between 1990 and 2000. For more detail you can check my new web page on Muslim population growth in Europe.

Muslim Population and One World Democratic Government

While many are concerned with the growing portion of Europe's population that is Muslm, fewer people are looking at what portion of the world's population is Muslim. This could be a major issue in the future.

A worldwide democratic government could make the world peaceful, deal more effectively with ecological issues, raise more money for research and development because all the benefits of the research would be internal to the worldwide state, and more effectively manage the world economy because economic stimulus would not leak over international borders.

As the Third World countries rapidly catch up with the First World the rich countries may be more willing to join in a union with the formerly poor nations. If that seems unrealistic remember that before the recession low and middle income countries were growing three times as rapidly as the rich countries.

But the division between Muslim and non-Muslim nations could prevent unity. We can see this already with the reluctance of Europe to include Turkey. If Muslims are anywhere near a majority, non-Muslims could be very reluctant to join.

Factors That Could Influence Islam's Growth - Economic Progress

Having said that let us look at some of the factors that might influence Muslim growth. Some authorities think Muslims have a higher birth rate simply because they live in poorer nations. There is something to this. The average fertility rate of women living in low and middle-income nations was 2.7 in 2005, about half way between the whole world and the average rate in the ten most populous predominately Muslim nations that the World Bank provided figures for. As only a very small portion of all Muslims live in high income countries it might make sense to compare Muslim population growth to low and middle income countries. In which case we can say that the Muslim and Non-Muslim fertility seems to be about the same.

While it would not be surprising if Muslim population growth continued to be higher even as Muslim incomes rise it seems likely that rising incomes will narrow the difference, this narrowing of the difference can be very important because as I pointed out above it stretches the point where Muslims become a majority way out into the future.

Muslim's Avoid Venereal Disease

Note that Muslim population growth may be driven by other factors than their choice to have more children. Because Muslims are not as promiscuous as the rest of the human race they have largely avoided AIDS. While there is some danger that most of a generation in some sub-Sahara countries will die of AIDS, the rate of infection in Muslim countries is typically less than one in a thousand adults. If large numbers of non-Muslims die of AIDS and Muslims do not then the percentage of the world's population that is Muslim will increase.

But AIDS is only one of many venereal diseases that afflict humanity. If Muslims have avoided AIDS, it is a pretty good guess that they have also avoided the others, and it may be a good guess that AIDS is only one of the medical problems plaguing sub-Sahara Africa. But we are not totally limited to guessing there was a study of various sexually transmitted diseases in Saudi Arabia, and as one might expect STDs in Saudi Arabia were way below the world average.

Other venereal diseases, particularly gonorrhea and chlamydia, do not kill but they do cause infertility. I have heard that infertility is far less common in Egypt than America. While about twenty percent of American couples are infertile only ten percent of Egyptian couples are. So Muslims couples might have more children than non-Muslims even if the Muslims wanted the same number because infertility prevents non-Muslims from having the children they want.

Some of this Muslim advantage in population growth might be eliminated by technological advance, drugs that cure or vaccines that prevent venereal diseases.

On the other hand, venereal diseases are not standing still either. Gonorrhea is progressively becoming immune to more and more antibiotics. In 2011, it was reported that some strains of gonorrhea are resistant to all antibiotics. Incurable strains may already exist, or could evolve soon. As Gonorrhea is something like a hundred times as contagious as AIDS and can cause infertility, this could have a major impact on the fertility and thus the population growth of the non-Muslim population, and perhaps a much smaller impact on Muslim population growth. This could help Islam become the majority religion of the planet.

Various strains of AIDS are becoming immune to the drug cocktails that hold it in check. Once again as AIDS hits non-Muslim developing countries as much as a hundred times as hard as Muslim developing countries this could increase the Muslim portion of the world's population.

Furthermore, no one talks about it, but it seems possible that a new venereal disease could evolve, perhaps one that is as communicable as gonorrhea or chlamydia, but takes as long to develop and is as deadly as AIDS. A disease like that could kill off a large portion of a generation among the non-Muslim world. If something like that struck the Muslims might find themselves quite quickly in a majority.

In defense of Islam and the Muslims it might be noted that the venereal plagues that are afflicting the world are not their fault. Promiscuous people not only spread venereal diseases, they also provide the environment in which new ones evolve, and old ones develop immunities to our drugs. Furthermore, if most of the world's population becomes Muslim, some venereal diseases might become extinct.

Sex Selective Abortion

Another factor is sex-selective abortion. As mentioned above the natural trend is that 105 boys are born for every 100 girls. But because girls are selectively aborted that figure can be as high as 130 boys for every 100 girls. This means that those girls must have much higher fertility just to keep the population from declining.

As mentioned above I am fairly sure sex-selective abortion is more common among non-Muslims. It seems to be particularly common in India and China. So even if Muslims and non-Muslims have the same fertility rate the Muslim population could increase more rapidly.

Islam and Religious Freedom

Switching to still another factor, when Muslims gain dominance in a society they frequently punish and even kill those who convert from Islam to another religion or no religion. This could create a ratchet factor. Once Muslims win a country they rarely lose it. This may strengthen Islam's long term prospects.

Of course the treatment of minorities in Muslim societies raises concern among people who are not Muslims. The non-Muslims are frequently limited to second-class citizenship, but on the other hand, in many cases, the religious minorities have survived for many generations. Recently the non-Muslim minorities in Muslim countries have been shrinking rapidly but this usually because they are more likely to immigrate.

One reader pointed out that Muslims ruled India and all or part of Spain for 700+ years and that both have non-Muslim majorities. Furthermore, I have noted that it took centuries for the Muslims to become a majority in Egypt.

Will Islam be Embarrassed by Falling Behind?

Turning to another factor that may influence the future of Islam, Muslims have been embarrassed by the economic and military success of the West and in the future they may have much more to embarrass them. As Muslims had been very proud of their earlier military, cultural, and economic success and had used that success to convince themselves that they were the true faith, it is hard for them to take their relative poverty.

The success of the Christians is not the only difficulty. Muslims also have to deal with the success of Buddhist Japan, and Jewish Israel. For the future Islam will probably face the relative success of China and Hindu India. It is bad enough not being in first place, but the last place maybe even harder to take.

Christianity started with a crucified savior and a church that suffered hundred's of years of martyrdom. Islam is much different, Islam started with great success in this world and Muslims are very proud of that early success. In fact Muslims believe so strongly that God provides success in this world to his followers that they claimed that Jesus was not crucified, contradicting six hundred years of Christian teaching. The Muslim belief in this world success for God's people may make it particularly hard for them to take last place in economic development among the world's nations.

Furthermore, money gives other religious groups dominance in producing movies, television, and other media.

But it is not certain that Muslims will fall behind.

Three Reasons Muslims Will Enjoy Economic Success

First, the growth of China, India, and other developing nations is likely to keep the price of oil high, which should benefit many Muslim countries.

Second, industrial growth may well move to Muslim countries as wages in China, India, and other non-Muslim countries rise. Even if capitalists have a preference for non-Muslim labor eventually the wage differential will prevail and the industry and economic growth will go to Muslim nations.

Third, the expense of medicine for AIDS and other venereal diseases could hold non-Muslim countries back.

Can Islam Survive in Industrialized Society

Some Christians are saying that Christianity has successfully readjusted to technically advanced society, while Islam has not. Sure Christianity took a hit, it is argued, but Christianity survived, Islam might not. Actually Islam seems to be thriving in the immigrant communities of Western Europe and North America. There are claims that more Muslims than Christians attend weekly services in England. Mere income does not seem to have destroyed Islam, last I heard it was doing well in oil-rich countries like Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Libya, and others. So while Islam might suffer in a high-income country with a broad-based industrial economy and a free and democratic government the point is speculative and what we know seems to suggest that Islam can survive and even thrive in the modern world.

Will Childless Secularists Take Over Non-Muslim Rich Countries?

Religious belief seems to be fading in many high income non-Muslim societies. At the same time the atheists, agnostics, and other secularists have very low fertility rates. If the secularists convert the non-Muslims but not the Muslims and then these new secularists do not have children, this could help make the Muslims the majority.

Muslims are generally considered the most fertile of the major metaphysically defined groups, the secularists the least fertile. In a breeding contest between the two groups many people would say it would be no contest. Which leads to the question, are Dawkins and his fellow radical atheists busy trying to saw off the branch they are sitting on. The most radically Christian high income nations, Malta, Ireland, Poland, and America, all have the highest possible rating, a one, for freedom and democracy according to Freedom House. No non-Christian country has that rating, and the highest rating a Muslim nation has is I believe a 2.5. That is the lowest rating a country can have and still be considered free. This is the rating for both Indonesia and Mali, the only two predominately Muslim nations that Freedom House rates as free, at least to the best of my knowledge.

The rising tide of secularism in the high-income countries is important because we can expect a larger portion of the world's population to live in high-income countries in the future. So the question is, will secularism defeat non-Muslim religions in high-income countries, and then produce radically shrinking populations, thus turning the world over to the Muslims.

The Internet and Other New Media

The Internet and the other new media have encouraged conservative religion. Some people have expressed hope that their point of view, Christian, secularist, Muslim or whatever, will triumph in the clash of ideas that the Internet permits. So far however, people are using the new media to enter more deeply into their own faith tradition, rather than exploring others.

The Strong Father, Weak Mother Factor

Another factor that could prove crucial is the powerful influence that fathers have on the faith of their children versus the weak influence of mothers. Three studies, two in America, one in Europe, have shown that devout fathers have devout children, but mothers have little influence on their children's faith. The European study even suggested that the influence of mothers was slightly negative. Devout mothers have less devout children. But this is minor, the major finding of all three studies is that Fathers overwhelmingly determine the children's level of devotion. I discovered these three studies on Wikipedia. Here is the link.

As Islam is a more male oriented faith this could give Muslims a major advantage in holding their children in Islam.

Some Weird Figures You See On the Internet

In looking at my site statistics I noted that people were finding me with the words Islam population. I was number four so I checked some of the others, they provide some weird statistics. The number two site, "Statistics of the Muslim's Population Around the World" claimed that United Nations had determined that Muslim population growth was 6.4 percent annually. I am not sure, but I do not think it is biologically possible for a population to maintain that growth rate. Girls do have to grow up and reach sexual maturity before having children. This was perhaps the strangest of the figures I found, but other sites also had unrealistic figures.

Also I do not believe the U.N. collects information on religion. I would be very suspicious of any site that is claiming U.N. figures concerning religion unless they were on a U.N. website.

In Conclusion

There are many factors that may help and hinder the growth of Islam. Clearly I am not an official expert on the subject and this is not the definitive work, but I think I have brought up a number of topics others miss.

Furthermore, the experts often have professional rules that prevent them from stating obvious truths. For example, thou shall not credit conservative religion or chastity until marriage with the prevention of venereal disease. Thou shall pretend that AIDS is the only venereal disease, or the only one that might affect population growth, and many more. So I hope that I have contributed a few relatively original thoughts, though I admit many of them are more a matter of my willingness to cheat and violate intellectual taboos than any genius or insight on my part.

This page has been recommended in a Pakistani Newspaper's Internet forum. The writer said I was balanced. I thank him.

Feburary 2008 I received a message in my guestbook that said, "I would like to thank you for bringing up AIDS problem in your page. We should consider our moral values and care about new generations. I'm Muslim born and still a Muslim, ..." I would also like to thank this writer.

December 2008 I received another message in my guest book that said, "You have probably heard this many times before, but I really appreciate your fairness. I am Muslim and I do research like this often, but usually I come across some fanatic Muslim site boasting ridiculous growth rates or biased anti-Muslim sites denouncing ..." The guest book cut him off after this, but thanks for the message.

Other Pages of Interest

If you have read some interesting new thoughts, perhaps you might want to check out some of my other pages.

I have a web page on Muslim Population Growth in the First World. Is Europe going Muslim? There are some very interesting statistics on this.

I have a couple of web pages like this one on the future of Christianity, and atheists, agnostics, and other non-believers.

If you want to check the present situation you can see my summary of World Religious Statistics. This may well be the most popular site on religious statistics in general written by an individual.

I also have a page of links to major sites for religious statistics.

My main source for the above is David Barrett's World Christian Encyclopedia. Which is not really Christian or an Encyclopedia. The World Christian Encyclopedia is really a census of all religions. Part of it is on the net, see the links page above.

I have several other pages on Islam, including an index page here.

The president of Iran has recently questioned the Holocaust. Yes there was a holocaust and Hitler wanted to kill the Muslims too. If Hitler had succeeded I would not be writing this web page on Muslim population growth because there would not be any Muslims. Of course, there also wouldn't be any me, I have some native American blood.

This is page on Islam and sexually transmitted disease

I have written a weak attempt at humor, Islam threatens the biodiversity of AIDS and other venereal diseases. No need to click on it, the link pretty much says it all. It is not getting many clicks, but perhaps it makes its point if the title shows up on a Google search, even if no on bothers to click on it.

This page has been moved from geocities.com/richleebruce to richleebruce.com please update your links and bookmarks.

You can leave comments in my guest book. If you leave an email address I will probably get back to you.


Major rewrite finished January 9, 2008, last up date October 17, 2012