Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world, and by most accounts, it will surpass Christianity soon in the number of its believers. People can make up any number of reasons for why this is, but in this essay, the statistical factors behind this growth will be discussed: Muslims have more children on average than followers of other major religions; Muslims have the youngest median age out of all the main faiths; more than a third of Muslims live in Africa and the Middle East (which are regions with high expected rates of population increase); and the amount of “religion switching” in comparison to other faiths is projected to not affect Islam’s growth.
The main factor involved is the number of children Muslim people are giving birth to in comparison to other religions. According to the Pew Research Center, “Muslim women have an average of 2.9 children, significantly above the next-highest group (Christians at 2.6) and the average of all non-Muslims (2.2). In all major regions where there is a sizable Muslim population, Muslim fertility exceeds non-Muslim fertility” (Lipka, Michael, et al.). The reasons behind this rate are due to the lack of education, Islamic culture relating more children to manliness, some extremist groups within the faith deliberately vying for having more children to populate their sect, and that sharia law allows a man to marry up to four wives at a time (Swinford, Steven).
Helping out in the fertility department, Islam’s followers have the youngest median age, 24, in comparison to all other major religions. To put this in perspective outside of faith, the median age of non-Muslims is 32 (Lipka, Michael, et al.). This fact is linked to the previous point of the number of children Muslims have per family.
In general, Africa and the Middle East have overpopulation and accelerated growth rates. However, Muslims are an exceptional part of this equation. As stated by the Pew Research Center, “But even within these high-growth regions – as well as others – Muslims are projected to grow faster than members of other groups. For example, Muslims in sub-Saharan Africa, on average, are younger and have higher fertility than the overall population of the region. In fact, Muslims are expected to grow as a percentage of every region except Latin America and the Caribbean, where relatively few Muslims live” (Lipka, Michael, et al). Overall, with Muslims being over a third of the population of Africa and the Middle East, demographic factors multiply.
Changing one’s religion is a common act. People can be Christians a few years, Muslim the next several, and Judaist the following ones. However, it is projected that in the coming years, Islam will not be negatively affected by this phenomenon. However, Christianity, Buddhism, and Judaism will have more people leaving their religions than the number that are coming in (Shirley, Adam).
It looks like the population of Muslims is on a sharp rise and will overtake the position of Christianity soon in terms of the number of believers. This is largely due to Muslims having more children on average than people from other religions; Islam’s followers having the youngest median age among major faiths; Muslims taking up a third of Africa’s and the Middle East’s population (where the population is currently dramatically rising); and that the phenomenon of “religion switching” not being projected to negatively affect the growth of followers in Islam.
Lipka, Michael, et al. “Why Muslims Are the World’s Fastest-Growing Religious Group.” Pew Research Center, Pew Research Center, 6 Apr. 2017, www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/04/06/why-muslims-are-the-worlds-fastest-growing-religious-group/.
Shirley, Adam. “Which Is the World’s Fastest Growing Major Religion?” World Economic Forum, www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/05/fastest-growing-major-religion/.
Swinford, Steven. “Muslim Men Having ’20 Children Each’ Because of Polygamy, Peer Claims.” The Telegraph, Telegraph Media Group, 23 Oct. 2015, www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/11952163/Muslim-men-having-20-children-each-because-of-polygamy-peer-claims.html.