Will Islam Overtake Christianity in 2075?
I was perusing some blogs about Islam and came across an article published by the Guardian, a UK newspaper that prints sensationalist type articles. The author, Harriet Sherwood, wrote the article "Islam set to become world's largest religion by 2075, study suggests," back in 2017. In my forthcoming book, Muslim Mechanics, I dispute that outcome for reasons I'll identify a little later on. What got my attention about the article are the comments that were listed. The people who commented appeared to be Muslim just from their tone, but their perception of what is happening is right on target.
First, I'll describe the content of the article. Second, I'll list the reasons I think they're wrong. Third, I'll list some of the comments, and fourth, I'll comment on their thoughts.
The Guardian article, published April 5, 2017, reflects a Pew Research Center article, "The Changing Global Religious Landscape," in which babies born to Muslims will begin to outnumber Christian births by 2035. Pew Research summarizes this global demographic study, and it shows population growth by religion. In a nutshell, in 2060, Christianity will still be the largest religion, but by 2075, Islam will be the largest.
Pundits have been predicting that Islam will overtake Christianity sometime within the next 30-50 years. The youth of their population and their family units' fertility is the basis of their growth projections. A family unit composed of a patriarch with several young wives could propagate their growth beyond expectations. However, there are two reasons why I do not believe that will happen.
First, looking at world population growth, some credible organizations backed by the United Nations' funding suggest that the world population will plateau by 2050-60. Climate change and environmental disorders are acknowledged as culprits causing famines, food shortages, and resource depletion. These problems will hit the poorer nations much worse than those with capital resources and technology to bail them out. As painful as it sounds, several Muslim countries fall into that category. The UN estimates 100 to 200 million people are facing crisis levels of starvation or worse.
Second, there are no developed Islamic countries like the United States, Japan, or Germany, in economic development. However, there are numerous emerging countries like Iran, Jordan, and Turkey. An emerging country is one with a high level of economic growth, usually through industrialization. On the other hand, developing countries have low levels of living and a heavy reliance on agriculture. Different sources designate anywhere from 45 to 50 states as an Islamic majority country. According to the World Bank, approximately 25% of these Islamic majority countries have per capita incomes that put their populations in the middle-class or better. This middle-income designation includes countries like Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia.
Where I am going with this argument is that a substantial number of Islamic countries have tasted the bitter fruit of capitalism. They are working hard to modernize their countries, and with modernization, women become emancipated; children cease to become a form of social security, and childbearing statistics shrink. We experienced this shrinkage in the West when families, in the space of two generations, shrank from 10-15 family members to two to four, it can happen throughout the Muslim world as countries move from developing country status to emerging country status. Take Iran; for example, Iran is one such nation where the fertility rate has collapsed. In 1969, the fertility rate was seven children per female. In 2015, there were between 1.6 and 1.8 children, a trend that points to national suicide.
What was entertaining about this Guardian article were the comments. Let me list just a few (I have not changed the spelling or the contents):
1. "Imagine thinking your religion is real because of having the most uneducated people in the world who are breeding fervently with caring about neither their children's quality of life nor future of the planet.
2. As far as I'm concerned it already is the world's largest religion considering the majority of Christians don't even bother to practice. In any case we need quality not quantity, being the biggest is meaningless if it's inflated with people who don't practice.
3. Would agree with you. Would also say a lot of Muslims are not very practicing either. At least from what I see in the West.
4. True even among muslims a large part don't practice a lot except during the month of ramadhan perhaps.
5. Yes, I believe that is quite true. I know many "Christian" people who do not practice Christianity. I completely agree with you on all points. Ameen."
I think people who comment like this say what they feel about a situation because they can be anonymous and hidden from view. Comment 1 reflects the truth about Muslim demographics. A good portion of the babies are being born to poor indigent Muslims who have no hope for a quality of life. Comments 2,3,4, and 5 reflect that both Christians and Muslims are poor practitioners of the faith. Comment 2 also had a profound thought: "…being the biggest is meaningless if it's inflated with people who don't practice." That would apply to Christianity as well. Both religions now have their marching orders. Make faith meaningful to the individual so that they want to participate in it.