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Largest Muslim Populations in the World

Muslim Population The world's Muslim population is expected to increase by about 35% in the next 20 years, rising from 1.6 billion in 2010 to 2.2 billion by 2030, according to January 2011 population projections by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life. Globally, the Muslim population is forecast to grow at about twice the rate of the non-Muslim population over the next two decades -- an average annual growth rate of 1.5% for Muslims, compared with 0.7% for non-Muslims. If current trends continue, Muslims will make up 26.4% of the world's total projected population of 8.3 billion in 2030, up from 23.4% of the estimated 2010 world population of 6.9 billion.

If current trends continue, however, 79 countries will have a million or more Muslim inhabitants in 2030, up from 72 countries today.1 A majority of the world's Muslims (about 60%) will continue to live in the Asia-Pacific region, while about 20% will live in the Middle East and North Africa, as is the case today. But Pakistan is expected to surpass Indonesia as the country with the single largest Muslim population. The portion of the world's Muslims living in sub-Saharan Africa is projected to rise; in 20 years, for example, more Muslims are likely to live in Nigeria than in Egypt. Muslims will remain relatively small minorities in Europe and the Americas, but they are expected to constitute a growing share of the total population in these regions.

In the United States, for example, the population projections show the number of Muslims more than doubling over the next two decades, rising from 2.6 million in 2010 to 6.2 million in 2030, in large part because of immigration and higher-than-average fertility among Muslims. The Muslim share of the U.S. population (adults and children) is projected to grow from 0.8% in 2010 to 1.7% in 2030, making Muslims roughly as numerous as Jews or Episcopalians are in the United States today. Although several European countries will have substantially higher percentages of Muslims, the United States is projected to have a larger number of Muslims by 2030 than any European country other than Russia and France.

In Europe as a whole, the Muslim share of the population is expected to grow by nearly one-third over the next 20 years, rising from 6% of the region's inhabitants in 2010 to 8% in 2030. In absolute numbers, Europe's Muslim population is projected to grow from 44.1 million in 2010 to 58.2 million in 2030. The greatest increases -- driven primarily by continued migration -- are likely to occur in Western and Northern Europe, where Muslims will be approaching double-digit percentages of the population in several countries. In the United Kingdom, for example, Muslims are expected to account for 8.2% of the population in 2030, up from an estimated 4.6% today. In Austria, Muslims are projected to reach 9.3% of the population in 2030, up from 5.7% today; in Sweden, 9.9% (up from 4.9% today); in Belgium, 10.2% (up from 6% today); and in France, 10.3% (up from 7.5% today).

World Wide Distribution of Islan Population statistics for Islam would seem to be on firm ground, as anyone born to a Muslim father is a Muslim, and apostasy is punishable by death. So the narrow range of estimate for the global Muslim population - 1,550,000,000 to 1,700,000,000 - is not too surprising.

Becoming a Muslim is deceptively simple. It requires a statement renouncing other religions and, pronouncing the “Shahada”, the testimony of faith, "there is no God but God and Muhamed is his prophet". The “Shahada” is the first and most important of the five pillars of Islam. With the pronunciation of this testimony, or “Shahada”, with sincere belief and conviction, one enters the fold of Islam.

Even the Saudis, who have prettty clear ideas on proper Islamic belief, practice "Big Tent Islam" when it comes to entering Mecca for the Haj. Residents of Muslim countries normally have their Religion status on official identity documents, such as a passport used to enter Saudi Arabia. Citizens of non-Muslim countries need a document from a reputable masjid showing they are a Muslim, and the paper has to be notorized. Even Shiia from Iran, who the Saudis view as un-Islamic polytheists, make Haj.

But when Malcom X famoursly made Haj, he discovered that the Lost Found Nation of Islam, founded by the Honorable Reverend Elijah Muhammed, was not true Islam. He sought to correct this problem when he returned to America. The condition of the Nation of Islam is typical of the syncretic Sufism that everywhere emerged on the periphery of Dar al Islam. Thus, the Islamic faith in Thailand has become integrated with many beliefs and practices not integral to Islam. In Thailand, as in so many other countries where Sufism predominates, it would be difficult to draw a line between animistic practices indigenous to pre-Islamic culture that were used to drive off evil spirits and local Islamic ceremonies, because each contained aspects of the other.

Among the world's ten largest "Muslim" countries are Indonesia, with an estimated 200,000,000 "Muslims", Bangladesh, with an estimated 100,000,000 "Muslims", Nigeria, with an estimated 75,000,000 "Muslims". Probably fewer than 20% of the "Muslims" in these countries practice "pure Islam", while the rest practice a pre-Islamic animist faith overlaid by a veneer of Muslim ritual and phraseology. These three countries alone would reduce the global Muslim population by 300,000,000.

The noted Egyptian scholar Mufti Muhammad Abd'uh (d.1905) visited Paris a hundred years ago. Upon his return to Egypt he startled the world by declaring, "In Europe I saw no Muslims, I saw Islam. In Egypt I see Muslims, I see no Islam!" Allama Inayatullah Khan Al-Mashriqi in the 1940's depicted the state of the Muslims in this way: "I saw oppression, slavery, poverty, pomp and vanity, detestable vices, clusters of disease, burnt forests, cold ovens, barren fields, dirty attire and useless hands and feet. I saw imams (religious leaders) without followings. I saw brothers who were foes unto one another. I saw days without purpose and I saw nights which lead to no dawns."

Shabbir Ahmed wrote more recently that "The so-called billion plus Muslims are Muslims without Islam! Their political, economic and social conditions paint a complete picture of misery and chaos wherever they live. Apparently the tree bearing such bad fruit should be blameworthy. Isn't a tree known by the fruit it bears? ... The tree of sectarianism among Muslims has grown to such heights, and fatwas (religious edicts) of infidelity have become so popular that there exists not a single Muslim in the world today who would be unanimously accepted as a Muslim by the Ulema (or Mullahs) of any two sects! (According to a Turkish scholar now these sects number 190!) The followers of Islam, which introduced the concept of international brotherhood, are hopelessly divided among themselves."

Shabbir Ahmed argues that " .. today almost all the one billion plus Muslims in the world are Muslims by birth and by blind following, the kind of Islam which the Quran considers of no merit.... More than one billion people who call themselves Muslims are so only by name. They have fallen from the high platform of DEEN (The Divinely Prescribed Way of Life) into the swamp of MAZHAB (rituals of worship to achieve individual salvation plus blind following of human 'authorities' and senseless non-Quranic dogmas)."

2010 - Largest Muslim Populations in the World

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