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A mostly Muslim world

General Ideas
The writer is an attorney teaching constitutional law and political philosophy.

By the year 2030, Pakistan will overtake Indonesia as the largest Muslim country in the world. This and other notable demographic trends were announced by the Pew Research Centre in its latest survey, The Future of World Religions: Population Growth and Projections 2010-2050.

The survey’s findings also forecast that by 2070 Islam will overtake Christianity as the world’s most populous faith for the first time in world history. The world’s largest Muslim population, however, will not live in a Muslim country but in India, which, while retaining its Hindu majority, will see its Muslim population rise from the current 15pc to 17pc.

Other projections of the survey include the fact that Islam, which has for a while been the largest-growing religion in Europe, will see a doubling of its demographic share. In 2010, there were 43 million Muslims in Europe, which made up 6pc of the total European population. In 2050, there will be 71m Muslims in Europe, making up more than 10pc of the continent’s population.

Numeric majorities are meaningless if they are submerged in poverty and conflict, largely uneducated and vulnerable to strife.

In the United Kingdom, this will mean a rise from the approximate 4.6pc today to 8pc in 2030. Similarly, in the United States the number of Muslims will double over the next two decades, rising from 2.6m in 2010 to 6.2m in 2030. While Muslims will still constitute a small portion of the total US population, rising from 0.8pc of the population to 1.7pc, they are likely to become just as numerous as America’s Jewish and Episcopalian populations.

Most of the world’s Muslims, however, will not be living in the developed nations of the West. More than 60pc of the world’s swelled-up Muslim population will be living in the Asia-Pacific region. The number of Muslims in Sub-Saharan Africa will also be experiencing an increase in the coming decades, with more Muslims living in Nigeria than in Egypt. A vast majority of the world’s Muslims will consequently be living in countries like Pakistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh and India, which will all experience the cost of swelling populations in terms of greater competition for resources.

Simply put, if more is better than the news presented by the Pew survey would be unequivocally welcome. Muslims everywhere could celebrate the news that in constituting a majority of the world’s population they would consequently command an equal proportion of the world’s resources. This is where the complications begin. Even while there will be a majority of Muslims in the world before the end of this century, the fact that a vast majority of them will be relegated to countries with limited resources is meaningful. Muslims may soon constitute the majority of the world’s population, but it will be a majority that lives in poverty, faces disease and is likely squashed by civil and international conflict.

The truth of this aspect of the world’s majority can only be found in the details (and not the headlines) of the Pew report. Countries such as Pakistan and Nigeria, both of which will be home to enormous chunks of the majority Muslim world population of the future, are currently also ranked among the 10 most dangerous countries in the world. While the Pew survey carefully hedges against the possibility of war and natural disaster altering the course of its predictions, this fact is even more notable given where the majority of Muslims will live. The fact that high birth rates will result in a larger Muslim population must therefore be tempered by the reality that in at least these two countries — Nigeria and Pakistan — terrorist violence is annihilating young people, most of them Muslim, at a rate unseen in most other countries.

Also notable is the relationship of fertility rates to the level of women’s education. Fertility rates are highest in those Muslim-majority countries where Muslim girls receive the least education. So in the Muslim countries where girls receive the most education fertility rates are low. This means simply that most children are being produced by the poorest and most uneducated mothers, who bring new souls into the world but cannot guarantee either the quality of their lives or indeed how long or productive those lives may be.

Muslim majorities, then, are produced by women who have few other prospects than to produce children, who are denied the choices that would give them a better life. In terms of quantity alone, then, the birthing of their children is a victory, a mark to add to all the other millions of Muslims; but a closer look is likely to reveal cracks in this definition of triumph that assumes that mere existence is somehow an achievement.

While a Muslim-majority world may seem like a victory many would be eager to embrace, it must not be imagined as a ‘Muslim-controlled’ world or even one where this magnificent majority exerts any form of meaningful control over itself. Numeric majorities are meaningless if they are majorities that are submerged in poverty and conflict, largely uneducated and inherently vulnerable to divisiveness and strife.

Pakistan’s own situation is an example: having enjoyed a Muslim majority for all of its existence, the country is nevertheless susceptible to a staggering variety of divisions, which in turn births an equally varied panorama of conflict.

If being Muslim were enough and equivalent to some guarantee of communal harmony, hopeful progress and global leverage, then indeed all of these would be in the lap of the nation as a consequence of its nearly mono-religious demographics. Pakistan’s reality, one riven by communal conflict, where even belonging to the same sect is an insufficient guarantee of coexistence, defies the value of such a thesis. In sum, it suggests that a mostly Muslim world will likely not be a mostly peaceful one.

24 Comments on "A mostly Muslim world"

  1. Bandits on Tue, 7th Apr 2015 11:24 pm 

    Educate the ‘effing men. They make the deposits. Ah but much easier to blame the women. Anyway it matters not, the ship is going down and steerage class will be denied a seat on any life boats.

    If you prefer not to read doomer rants, read no further……..

    Muslim countries are already in a world of hurt, continuing to grow their populations in a world addicted to dwindling supplies of affordable, oil is a calamity building. What oil gave them will be denied them in the proverbial blink of an eye, when TSHTF.

    If I close my eyes I can imagine all kinds of scenarios, as crops fail due to scarce supplies of fertiliser, lack of transport fuels, government intervention to maintain essential services ie the armed forces. Medical supplies and services curtailed, revenue from exports and tourism non existent, ever increasing blackouts, fresh water supplies failing…..many of those things can be an overnight occurrence, other scenarios can creep up like the Black Death. I can also see “humanitarian” help being delivered until it’s no longer possible……too many dykes for too few fingers.

    No, saying Islam will be the majority has no real meaning, when combined with the over population and resource depletion, that has been a feature of human “progress” for the last sixty odd years.

  2. GregT on Tue, 7th Apr 2015 11:48 pm 

    Hmmm Bandits,

    Muslim countries have always been in a ‘world of hurt’. Those people are used to abject poverty. Us in the west? Not so much.

    “as crops fail due to scarce supplies of fertiliser, lack of transport fuels, government intervention to maintain essential services ie the armed forces. Medical supplies and services curtailed, revenue from exports and tourism non existent, ever increasing blackouts, fresh water supplies failing”

    Exactly my point. Us westerners are in for a bigger world of hurt.

  3. Speculawyer on Wed, 8th Apr 2015 1:47 am 

    Meh. By 2100, hopefully more people will see through this man-made yoke known as religion. It’s just a bunch of hooey invented by epileptics & mystics and then run by bureaucrats to control people.

    Liberate yourself from such mind viruses.

  4. Ralph on Wed, 8th Apr 2015 4:12 am 

    Sadly Bandit has nailed it.

    Muslim countries historically have been no more or less genocidal than Christian ones. Religion and morality evolve to fit the economic reality of the day. Too many people? Kill the infidel/Heretic/Witch! Growing resources? Welcome brother.

    Religion is sadly baked into our DNA. Too many people have a religious belief in scientific progress, far too few understand what science actually is. When ‘progress’ comes to an end, science will be abandoned as just another false prophet.

  5. theedrich on Wed, 8th Apr 2015 4:45 am 

    While historically Christianity has had its share of persecutors, it simply cannot hold a candle to Mohammedanism. People who maintain that Christianity has the same bloodthirst as Islam are people who hate Christianity more than they do Islam. Whatever one wants to think about Christianity, it made the West, gave us science and, amidst great travail, pushed us out of the barbarism of the Middle Ages. Islam has been a charnel house from the beginning, and is a horror of an ideology. Yes, there are “nice” Muslims, but they never seem to quell their savage co-religionists. Islam is a religion for animals.

  6. Makati1 on Wed, 8th Apr 2015 5:49 am 

    Whoa theedrich. Science from Christianity? There was more real ‘science’ before Christ than after. Star charts, accurate calendars, time keeping in minutes and seconds, invasive medical procedures, engineering feats, bronze, iron and steel, etc. were in place when Christians still believed the world was flat and the center of the universe. And lets not talk about the Dark Ages.

    But then, by 2070, there will likely be no one here to see who is correct. If the human species gets to that date, religion will not matter or it may just be one … Muslim. I won’t be here to see it, so I don’t care.

  7. Ralph on Wed, 8th Apr 2015 5:51 am 

    Spoken like True Christian.

  8. nils Hellevig on Wed, 8th Apr 2015 6:13 am 

    Christianity did not make the west, it made the inquisition. The renaissance did made the modern west. The islamic concept of sharia is to live in a world which resemblance the days of the prophet. To a secular mind they need their own rebirth.

  9. Davy on Wed, 8th Apr 2015 6:49 am 

    Look Folks, there is little room for more people let alone more Muslims. This is another typical exponential analysis with assumptions that we can take on more population when the truth is we are likely at or near the end of population growth. These think stinks, UN morons, and academic numb-nuts are so far off the mark with their bogus forecasts that you wonder what planet they are on. What are they teaching today and who are these people taking positions of leadership? This is a travesty of the supposedly the highest levels of global society that are so deceive or maybe lying. I would say both. The numbers and the trend are too obvious for complete delusional thought by everyone.

    I forecast at most another 500MIL in the next couple of years while we are in the bumpy plateau transition to the bumpy descent. This is based on the likely descent from peak oil dynamics, food insecurity, and financial system decline. We still have enough resources but barely. The global financial, production, and distribution system is still functioning but barely. Pretty much everywhere food productivity is stalling. Water stress is accelerating at a rapid pace. We will see more bread basket areas that supply the global industrial AG market fail to deliver the goods.

    We are now in a likely supply and demand destruction mode with oil. The global financial system has obviously hit limits to debt and diminishing returns to financial repression policies. When you look at this from systems dynamics of the human ecosystem you see that food, fuel, and the means of delivery of vital resources through finance to ALL locals is stalling and appears to be entering a decline.

    It would be so nice if this could be a gentle decline like the ride up the growth curve. This ride will likely not be a gentle decline especially with no global plan B nor global cooperation on anything but maybe war. In fact the global system of all colors and shades from greenies to brownies to the reds are completely bought into BAUtopianism and the exceptionalism of humanity in progress through technology and increased complexity.

    Population simply cannot grow if food and fuel is in decline. If food and fuel productivity growth alone is declining or going negative we are going to see food insecurity. We saw a few years ago how just a little food insecurity threatens social stability. Asia had its rice scare just a few short years ago from a very small deficit. I remember the army on the streets in the Philippines as an example at distribution points.

    The facts are the Muslims are going to lose population because they are in the areas of the worst overshoot. The ME is the worst area globally because of food and water insecurity with huge unsupportable populations per carrying capacity in a hostile desert region. They are worse than even Asia with over half the world’s population in a space smaller than Russia.

    Oil will not be their savior as its depletion event gather steam. Oil revenues will not be covering new social cost. Their societies will implode in an environment of food and water insecurity. That my friends is the worst of the worst situation. Pakistan and Egypt are at the very limits of carrying capacity in a world without issues of limits. Egypt in particular has a huge population and still growing quickly with nowhere left to go.

    Sorry, my Muslim friends the collapse scenario is the worst for you folks from your extreme hatred of pretty much everyone including yourselves. You are going to kill yourselves and others when the facts are you need cooperation with mitigation and adjustment policies to avoid the worst of an excess deaths over birth event. Muslims will likely be the first to die en mass because of the curse of their religion, oil, and location. I have nothing against Muslims this is just reality of being unlucky.

  10. frankthetank on Wed, 8th Apr 2015 8:52 am 

    Its a population problem, not a religious one. All these people need fuel (cooking/heating/water), food, water, gadgets, gizmos, doodads…

  11. paulo1 on Wed, 8th Apr 2015 9:40 am 

    re: Muslims may soon constitute the majority of the world’s population, but it will be a majority that lives in poverty, faces disease and is likely squashed by civil and international conflict.

    Not if they keep killing each other and their countries continue to collapse.

  12. penury on Wed, 8th Apr 2015 9:59 am 

    It matters not which all knowing all seeing,omnipotent only true creator of life you have faith in all humans will suffer the same fate. Organisms require certain conditions to continue life, when they are denied them for any reason,death will follow. Humans have destroyed their environment and that of other species and we will pay the price.

  13. Don on Wed, 8th Apr 2015 10:26 am 

    Indeed Pen, life is a fatal sexually transmitted disease.

  14. BobInget on Wed, 8th Apr 2015 11:30 am 

    How’s that Saudi Air-War working out ?

  15. BobInget on Wed, 8th Apr 2015 11:37 am 

    “By 2030 Pakistan overtakes…….”
    By 2030 Pakistan will be bereft of Fresh Water.

    “Under the present situation, in the next six to seven years, Pakistan can be a water-starved country,” Mr. Asif said in an interview, echoing a warning that he first issued at a news conference in Lahore this week.

  16. BobInget on Wed, 8th Apr 2015 1:36 pm 

    Eliminating Iran’s nuclear facilities with U.S. missile strikes would take a matter of days, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said in a radio interview Tuesday.

    “Even if military action were required — and we certainly should have kept the credible threat of military force on the table throughout which always improves diplomacy — the president is trying to make you think it would be 150,000 heavy mechanized troops on the ground in the Middle East again as we saw in Iraq. That’s simply not the case,” Cotton told Tony Perkins on the Family Research Council’s Washington Watch program, according to CNN.

    “It would be something more along the lines of what President Clinton did in December 1998 during Operation Desert Fox,” he added. “Several days of air and naval bombing against Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction facilities for exactly the same kind of behavior — for interfering with weapons inspectors and for disobeying Security Council resolutions. All we’re asking is that the president simply be as tough as in the protection of America’s national security interest as Bill Clinton was.”

    Iraq isn’t Iran, in terms of geography or military capability. “Several days” of bombing may indeed knock out some of Iran’s nuclear facilities. The obvious follow-up question, however, is: What happens after the bombing ceases? Cotton, a defense hawk who gained prominence by authoring a controversial letter in protest of nuclear negotiations with Iran, didn’t get into that answer Tuesday. But several high-ranking U.S. military officials have already made the consequences of bombing clear.

    “The United States would obviously be blamed and we could possibly be the target of retaliation from Iran, striking our ships, striking our military bases,” former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in 2011, adding that “severe economic consequences … could impact a very fragile economy in Europe and a fragile economy here in the United States.”

    Far from preventing Iran from developing a nuclear bomb, Panetta said, an attack could actually motivate it to accelerate the enrichment process deeper underground and “we would have an escalation that would take place that would not only involve many lives, but I think could consume the Middle East in a confrontation and a conflict that we would regret.”

  17. Plantagenet on Wed, 8th Apr 2015 1:45 pm 

    Its hard to see how Iran could accelerate their atomic bomb making more then they have in their deal with Obama. Obama himself admits his plan gives Iran everything Iran wants and puts them within a “month” of a breakout to creating nuclear weapons.

  18. BobInget on Wed, 8th Apr 2015 2:01 pm 

    Buried in this dispatch is news Iran is sending Warships to “protect its shipping” …..

    (Reuters) – Houthi forces fought street-by-street battles with local militia in the old center of Aden on Wednesday, as the first boatloads of emergency medical aid reached the south Yemeni port city, which relief workers say faces a humanitarian catastrophe.

    Residents saw a dozen bodies strewn on the streets and said several buildings were burnt or demolished by rocket fire. Mosques broadcast appeals for jihad against the Houthis, Iran-allied fighters who have taken over large areas of Yemen.

    The Houthi attack in the central Crater neighborhood, backed by tanks and armored vehicles, was at least partially repelled, residents said, and Houthi gunmen had also been driven from some northern neighborhoods.

    Iran, which denies arming the Houthis, has condemned the Saudi-led offensive. Tehran sent two warships to the Gulf of Aden on Wednesday, saying they would protect Iranian shipping.

    Aden has been the target of a three-week-old assault by the Shi’ite Muslim fighters, who control the capital Sanaa. Their campaign prompted Tehran’s rival Saudi Arabia and its allies to launch air strikes against the Houthis.

    Saudi Arabia’s leading role against the Houthis has turned Yemen into the latest theater of a regional proxy conflict between the Gulf’s leading Sunni Muslim and Shi’ite Muslim powers – a struggle also playing out in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq.

    The fighting has had a devastating impact on parts of Aden. Scores of people have been killed, water and electricity have been cut off in central neighborhoods, and hospitals have struggled to cope with the casualties.

    “It’s nearly catastrophic,” said the International Committee of the Red Cross spokeswoman in Yemen, Marie Claire Feghali.

    Posted note:
    This single strategic mistake, bombing Yemen,
    killing thousands of fellow Muslims, now promises to seal Iran’s supreme power in the region.

    Before years end, Saudi Arabia’s dominance over OPEC will be replaced by Iran, China, Russia, Venezuela and Iraq.

  19. Plantagenet on Wed, 8th Apr 2015 2:08 pm 


    It will be difficult for Russia to dominate OPEC since Russia ins’t a member of OPEC.

    I suppose Russia could send them tweets or something, but realistically Russia has no say in OPEC.

  20. BobInget on Wed, 8th Apr 2015 2:19 pm 

    HRH, What earthly use are nuclear weapons ?

    If Saudi Arabia and it’s so called ‘coalition’ can’t get any love with ‘conventional’ weapons, how many more ‘hearts and minds’ will they (or Iran)
    win with nuclear weapons?

    The world has changed since you were King, Plantagenet.
    If mighty US Military can’t prevail in the ME
    with nuclear weapons, how will N weapons help
    Iran or Israel or Iraq or Saudi Arabia?
    (win influence)

    From Wikipedia

    Asymmetric warfare is war between belligerents whose relative military power differs significantly, or whose strategy or tactics differ significantly.

    Asymmetric warfare can describe a conflict in which the resources of two belligerents differ in essence and in the struggle, interact and attempt to exploit each other’s characteristic weaknesses. Such struggles often involve strategies and tactics of unconventional warfare, the weaker combatants attempting to use strategy to offset deficiencies in quantity or quality.[1] Such strategies may not necessarily be militarized.[2] This is in contrast to symmetric warfare, where two powers have similar military power and resources and rely on tactics that are similar overall, differing only in details and execution.

    The term is also frequently used to describe what is also called “guerrilla warfare”, “insurgency”, “terrorism”, “counterinsurgency”, and “counterterrorism”, essentially violent conflict between a formal military and an informal, less equipped and supported, undermanned but resilient opponent.

  21. BobInget on Wed, 8th Apr 2015 2:55 pm 

    Against better judgement I’ll respond as if you are a new member and have not advantaged yourself of news events in recent years.

    OPEC as a cartel failed to act responsibly by permitting Saudi Arabia to use over production as a weapon against fellow member Iran.

    Saudi Arabian citizens propagated AQ and IS in order to advance their own versions of Islam.

    Saudi Arabia continues to manipulate oil markets
    to (it believes) to gain political advantage.

    Saudi Arabia is using oil as a weapon not against
    the Jews or Christians but against fellow Muslims.

    Saudi Arabia is currently bombing it’s neighbor,
    Yemen, the poorest country in the region,without provocation. (zero casus belli)

    Saudi Arabia aligned itself with Israel plotting attacking a common enemy, Islamic Iran, with zero provocation. Deal with that Palestinian and others on your ‘Arab Street’.

    Saudi Arabia has driven Venezuela, a fellow OPEC member, to the brink of bankruptcy, out of US sphere of financial influence into China’s.

    Such a nation has no business being a ‘swing producer’.

    None of the above charges, may I add, were propagated by V. Putin or Iran.
    The so called ‘Royals’ brought ruin down on themselves.

    OPEC will be rebuilt, under a different name.
    I playfully call it OPEC ver 2.0

  22. Makati1 on Wed, 8th Apr 2015 7:49 pm 

    You all might want to take a look at this and see how Muslims are in EVERY country in the world. (~3,000,000 in the US by now) They will be a much larger percentage of the population in ALL of those countries by 2070.

  23. Newfie on Thu, 9th Apr 2015 6:22 am 

    Pakistan will be a failed state before 2030. Four Muslim state have already failed: Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen. Afghanistan is on the watch list. The list will grow. Islam is incompatible with science, democracy, modernity, rationality, etc. Embrace Islam and you embrace failure.

  24. BobInget on Thu, 9th Apr 2015 12:13 pm 

    Speaking of ‘failed states’, unlike Pakistan,
    Yemen has already run-out-of-water.
    Fact #1

    The US, unlike China, Japan, India, evacuated all of their nationals that wished
    to leave. The Chinese brought in ships that had been on pirate patrols to move almost a thousand nationals out.
    Fact #2

    (if the US leaves citizens in place the US can claim ‘protection’ when and if invasion is deemed)

    Pakistan refuses to lend troops to Saudi Arabia for suicide missions. (in Yemen)
    Fact #3

    Saudi Internal Unrest

    Fact #4

    Saudis already have military ‘advisors’ on the ground in Yemen.
    (What happens if Iran does the same?)

    Saudi Warships are steaming to confront Iranian Warships.

    Stay tuned. Since KSA dropped all pretense
    of “Proxy War” with Iran and adopted the real
    thing, fiction of an ‘oil glut’ continues on without them. So many traders are shorting
    oil (and) oil companies they are scurrying
    to understand new realities.

    When, not if, Saudi Arabia explodes internally
    or from external forces, there will be a great scramble for everyone to get through a 32″
    door at the same time. (called ‘short squeeze’). This will be the Monday when
    oil rockets to new heights, thus killing any
    possible WW ‘recovery’.

    When KSA implodes, the US will doubtless
    double down and bomb Iran, there by cutting off oil from Iran and Iraq.

    Keep in mind this disaster is all of our own making.

    Away we go.

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