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Cole writes: "Demographically, the 21st century will be the Muslim Century, as the Pew Research Center on Religion in Public Life has shown. Muslims will go from 24% of the world's population today to 31% by 2060."

Muslim women praying. (photo: Sue Ogrocki/AP)
Muslim women praying. (photo: Sue Ogrocki/AP)

The Coming Muslim Century: Bad News for President Bannon

By Juan Cole, Informed Comment

19 April 17


emographically, the 21st century will be the Muslim Century, as the Pew Research Center on Religion in Public Life has shown. Muslims will go from 24% of the world’s population today to 31% by 2060. I.e. they will equal the Christian population of the world by that date. And then they will outstrip the Christians by 2100.

Pew writes:

“Between 2015 and 2060, the world’s population is expected to increase by 32%, to 9.6 billion. Over that same period, the number of Muslims – the major religious group with the youngest population and the highest fertility – is projected to increase by 70%. The number of Christians is projected to rise by 34%, slightly faster than the global population overall yet far more slowly than Muslims.”


h/t Pew Research Center.

Most of the increase will occur because of population growth where people live. Africans will be a larger proportion of the world’s population in 2060 they they are now. In fact, over the next century, the African population could quadruple, and 40% of the human population could be African by 2100. Muslims in Africa will form a larger proportion of the world Muslim population, while the Middle East will remain stable with about a fifth of the world’s Muslims. Nigeria could go to 900 million over the century, coming to dwarf the European Union and equaling a shrinking China by 2100.

Some countries will be deeply affected by these changes. The Russian Federation will go from 11% Muslim in 2010 to at least 33% Muslim in 2060. The future of Muslims in Europe depends in part on immigration policy (most of Western Europe is not reproducing itself, and so Europe will get old and less dynamic if it decides against immigration). The European Union could remain steady at about 500 million, but I suspect that projection takes immigration into account.

The publisher of Time magazine, Henry Luce, called the twentieth century “The American Century.” It was an apt description. The US had half the world’s GDP just after WW II and even in 1999 it had nearly a quarter. It was the main world center of technological innovation, and has an enormous military-industrial establishment probably costing $1 trillion a year, dwarfing that of all the other countries of the world.

It isn’t clear whether the Muslim world will have that kind of economic clout. China and Hindu-majority India will be the two largest countries and may well have the two largest economies. But China’s population may fall and age, which could be an economic challenge.

Prejudice against Muslims has grown by leaps and bounds in the United States, and hatred of Muslims played a role in Trump’s campaign and in the policies he tried to enact once elected. Not all Americans are bigoted toward Muslims, and most understand that you can’t blame 1.8 billion Muslims for the violence and extremism of a tiny fringe. The Neo-Nazis and their slightly less illiterate fellow travelers over at Breitbart froth at the mouth on this issue. I am sorry to say that Evangelical Christians are according to opinion polls pretty hateful in this regard, much moreso than the general population (they are also the most enthusiastic supporters of Trump, which makes me think a lot of them are dressing up white supremacy as Christianity). The Zionist right wing seems to think if only you can badmouth Muslims enough, no one will mind if you steal all the remaining land owned by Palestinians in the West Bank. And, a small sliver of the US left, exemplified by Bill Maher, hates Muslims almost as much as they hate Evangelicals and Republicans.

Despite White House chief strategist Steve Bannon’s impractical dreams, there is no prospect that government policy or other measures can kickstart population growth among the “white” population, whatever that is. Middle class people tend to have smaller families. They want to enjoy some leisure, and be sure to be able to send their children to college.

The only proven antidote to shrinking populations is immigration. Countries like Japan that are allergic to letting a lot of immigrants in will simply shrink, that is all, and will have a very large number of old people. Countries that welcome immigrants, as France traditionally has, will grow and be economically vibrant.

So to sum up, Muslims will go from a fourth of humankind to a third just in the next 43 years. They will then likely go on up to 38% or 40% during the rest of the century. That is, a plurality of human beings in 2100 could well be Muslim. Since growing populations will be increasingly rare, countries will prize young, dynamic Muslim immigrants and will compete for them. Those countries that lose out and just can’t get Muslims to move there will get small and old and stagnant. Islamophobia may have a future. Islamophobes do not. your social media marketing partner


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+4 # Anonymot 2017-04-19 17:29
It's a lot of fun writing up predictions like this The only problems is there are invariably major intervening factors and those who have planned the future for important population numbers are wrong. Who pays? The public in the plans, of course.
+8 # jsluka 2017-04-19 19:22
Agreed, the conclusion that by 2100 Muslims will be the global majority is based on the presumption that everything will pretty much continue like it is now until then, when this is highly dubious. We are on the threshold of global disaster with regard to global warming and climate change, and there is little chance that things will "continue as usual" for the next 83 years.
+31 # swamp yankee 2017-04-19 18:37
That's depressing news. I'd much rather see a predicted rise in the percentage of secular, forward-thinkin g, superstition-fr ee, holy-book-free humans.
+6 # bardphile 2017-04-19 21:48
-1 # Anonymot 2017-04-20 10:44
The problem with living in a dreamworld is that when the real world strikes you're even less equipped and less prepared to deal with it, more rattled and depressed in a problem's aftermath. Somewhere in between blind optimism and surly fatalism, Life is fine, livable and survivable.

Of course, the end of the world is the end of the world - and we're working on that.

Doubt me? Ask Hillary.
+2 # ericlipps 2017-04-24 19:42
Groan. Must we go there again--Hillary Clinton as cackling fiend plotting to rule the world or destroy it?

Bernie lost, fair and square. Just ask him, and get over it.
+7 # jsluka 2017-04-19 19:19
Quote: "Despite White House chief strategist Steve Bannon’s impractical dreams, there is no prospect that government policy or other measures can kickstart population growth among the “white” population. . . Middle class people tend to have smaller families."

Unless the plan is to impoverish the white middle class so they aren't middle class any more. Lots of progress has already been achieved on this 'plan.'
+16 # randrjwr 2017-04-19 22:59
EVERYBODY needs to cut their birth rate. The problem is not who there are the most of, but how many there are in total. We do NOT NEED increased reproduction by white people or any other people. This planet is already being squeezed for food production and potable water supply. Millions are dying of starvation and disease induced by bad water. And climate change is not helping, especially in regard to drought-induced water shortages that contribute to displacement and mass emigrations, leading to predictable tensions and conflicts. It is time to put fundamentalist religion aside and promote birth control for all of reproductive age.
+1 # MDSolomon 2017-04-19 23:41
Some say the world will end in Christianity,
Some say in Islam.
From what I've tasted of proselytizing
I hold with those who favor love.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough hate
To say that for destruction neither
Measures up
Or would suffice.

--with apologies to Robert Frost
+9 # Underledge 2017-04-20 06:16
It is projected that the world's population will exceed over 10 billion by 2060. Since we are doing such a fantastic job today with our environment, I can only imagine the paradise it will be in 2060.
+5 # Misterioso 2017-04-20 08:35
Let's hope that this dose of reality will soon motivate Israel to end its belligerent, illegal and brutal occupation of Palestinian and other Arab lands. Regarding the Israel-Arab/Pal estinian conflict, can there be any doubt as to where America and the world's long term geopolitical and economic interests lie? Certainly not with Israel.
+4 # 2017-04-20 08:49
Bad news for everybody including Muslims. There are way too many people already. Anybody with a background in biology knows that the post-petroleum post-sea-level- rise world will only support a small fraction of the current population. The actual number is debatable but it is certainly well under a billion. Their religion should be immaterial. Immigrants must be stopped not because of their religion but because of the burden they will place on the host countries. That said, nations with a slowly declining birth rate will fair better than those whose birth rates are rising, provided they are able to keep the overflow out of their countries. Why should responsibly breeding peoples have to suffer for the stupidity of those who refuse to control their own breeding. I believe it was William Catton who likened our situation to that of a colony of mice that finds an overturned grain truck in the median strip of an interstate highway. Fossil fuels are our overturned grain truck. Japan and some European countries (barring immigration )with birth rates around 1.5-1.7 per couple are on track to reach sustainable population levels in 100-200 years. Unfortunately most world leaders are totally clueless on these issues.
+1 # ericlipps 2017-04-24 19:44
I'd bet on a lot more than a billion, but surely we'll hit a limit, especially if climate change and the rising seas that go with it ruin or simply drown a lot of arable land.

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