Mapping Project Shows the Future of Muslim World
Washington. The world’s Muslim population will grow at double the rate of non-Muslims over the next 20 years, and Pakistan will overtake Indonesia as the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation, according to a broad new demographic analysis that is likely to spark controversy.
If current trends continue, the study found, the number of Muslims in the United States will more than double, from 2.6 million in 2010 to 6.2 million in 2030. The percentage of native-born Muslims in the United States is projected to rise from 35 percent today to 45 percent in 2030.
The “Future of the Global Muslim Population” may be the first to attempt to map the Muslim population of most of the world’s countries. The analysis was conducted by two giant nonprofit groups interested in religion: the Pew Research Center and the John Templeton Foundation.
Among its projections:
• Pakistan will overtake Indonesia as the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation.
• Muslim populations in some parts of Europe will reach the double digits, with France and Belgium at 10.3 percent by 2030.
• Muslim population growth and fertility rates will continue to decline.
The analysis could fuel global critics of Islam, who argue that the religion is at odds with Western values and worry that the number of Muslim extremists is on the rise.
Or it could calm those fears by providing evidence that Muslim populations in the West will remain relatively tiny.
The study — which uses a dizzying mix of public and private data sources — makes it clear that even rapid growth among Muslims will not produce dramatic demographic shifts in most parts of the world.
Eighty-two percent of the world’s Muslims live in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, and that number is projected to be around 79 percent in 2030.
According to the study’s projections, Muslims make up 23.4 percent of the world’s population of 6.9 billion; in 2030, that percentage will be 26.4. Europe is home to 2.7 percent of the world’s Muslims, a percentage that is predicted to remain stable.
“This will provide a garbage filter for hysterical claims people make about the size and growth of the Muslim population,” said Philip Jenkins, a religious history scholar known for his books on Christianity and Islam.
Yet the report states in its opening pages that the projections “inevitably entail a host of uncertainties, including political ones.
Changes in the political climate in the United States or European nations, for example, could dramatically affect the patterns of Muslim migration.”
“Going into this project, that’s the first question I had: ‘Why are you doing this study? Are you singling out Muslims?’” said Amaney Jamal, a Princeton University political scientist who advised the project.
But Jamal said she put aside those concerns and ended up viewing as “magnificent” the project’s eventual goal — mapping the world’s religious populations.
The Washington Post