Pew study charts growth in Muslim population

The U.S. Muslim population is expected to double over the next 20
years, fueled by immigration and higher than average fertility rates,
according to a new Pew report.

The study comes as some critics
accuse Muslim Americans of seeking to impose Shari'a, or Islamic law, in
the U.S., and some Europeans raise the specter of a Muslim-dominated
"Eurabia" if countries don't tighten immigration. The fears are
overblown, the report said.

"The numbers are very far away from
the Eurabia scenario of runaway growth," said Alan Cooperman, one of the
coauthors of the report, "The Future of the Global Muslim Population,"
released in Washington on January 27 by the Pew Forum on Religion &
Public Life.

The number of Muslims in the United States is
projected to rise from 2.6 million, or 0.8 percent of the U.S.
population, to 6.2 million, or 1.7 percent in 2030. That rate of growth
would make Muslims about as numerous as Jews or Episcopalians in the
U.S. today.

Although Muslim populations in some Western countries
are expected to double in the next 20 years, they would still not be
high enough to fundamentally shift the religious or ethnic balance of
European societies, the authors said.

Even some conservatives
expressed skepticism at the idea of homegrown Islamic fundamentalism
threatening to overtake the U.S. "We welcome all Mus­lims here who
pledge allegiance to the Constitution and believe in the separation of
religion and state," said Richard Land, president of the Southern
Baptist Convention's Ethics and Liberty Com­mission. "I don't worry
about Shari'a creep because Americans won't let it happen."

also found that nearly two-thirds (64.5 percent) of Muslim Americans
are immigrants, while 35.5 percent were born in the U.S.—a figure that
is projected to rise to almost 45 percent by 2030.

On the
assumption that many of these young immigrants start families, the
number of U.S. Muslims younger than 15 will more than triple by 2030, to
1.8 million in 2030.

According to the report, the world's Muslim
population is expected to increase by about 35 percent in the next 20
years—rising from 1.6 billion in 2010 to 2.2 billion by 2030—compared to
a general population growth rate of about 16 percent.

If current
trends continue, Muslims will make up 26.4 percent of the world's total
projected population of 8.3 billion in 2030, up from 23.4 percent of the
estimated 2010 world population of 6.9 billion.  —RNS

Omar Sacirbey

Omar Sacirbey writes for Religion News Service.

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