Islam to become world’s most popular religion this century – study
In 2010, there were around 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, the report reveals, noting that the figure amounted to roughly 23 percent of the world’s population. Islam is currently the world’s fastest growing religion and the second-largest after Christianity.
Christians constituted roughly 31 percent of the global population in 2010, or about 2.2 billion.
By 2050, however, the number of followers of the world’s two largest religions may become equal.
“If current demographic trends continue, the number of Muslims is expected to exceed the number of Christians by the end of this century,” Pew says.
One of the reasons for this rapid growth is that Muslims tend to have more children than members of other religious groups.
Muslim women across the globe have 3.1 children on average, compared to only 2.3 for all other groups.
The results also indicate that on average, followers of Islam are becoming younger – seven years younger than the median age of non-Muslims.
"As a result, a larger share of Muslims already are, or will soon be, at the point in their lives when they begin having children. This, combined with high fertility rates, will fuel Muslim population growth," Pew says.
This means that Christian populations may soon be squeezed out of some traditionally Christian countries. The rate of conversion will be aided by the increased migration trends into North America and Europe.
Pew says that “10% of all Europeans will be Muslims by 2050,” while Muslims in the US will make up 2.1 percent of the population by mid-century, “surpassing people who identify as Jewish on the basis of religion as the second-largest faith group in the country.”
The Pew report also mentions American attitudes to Muslims and Islam in general. When Americans were asked to rate their perception of nine religious groups, from 0 (negative) to 100 (positive), they gave Muslims an average of 48, which is slightly lower than the rating they gave to atheists (50).
American views on Islam tend to be split along party lines. Democrats give a more positive rating for Muslims and Islam (56), while republicans say they are very concerned about extremism in the name of Islam and give Muslims a much lower rating of 39.
The survey also included European attitudes to Islam. A majority of respondents in Hungary, Italy, Poland, and Greece said they view Muslims “unfavorably,” while negative attitudes are far less common in western and northern Europe, where there is a much larger Muslim population.