A study by Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan American think tank, says that Islam will overtake Christianity as world’s most popular religion shortly after 2050.
In 2010, there were some 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, or about 23 per cent of the global population, according to the study. In comparison, there were 2.2 billion Christians at the time, or about 31 per cent of world population.
The report by Pew Research Center analysed world religion demographics and revealed that the two religions will reach near parity in their membership by 2050. After that date, Islam will become the world’s number-one religion.
According to the report, the main reason for the shift is that Muslim families tend to have a greater number of children than Christian families. It did not elaborate on other potential reasons, including the impact of mass communication media on the spread of Islamic teachings.
It also said Muslims were generally younger than Christians as many developed countries where Christianity is mostly based are on the path of aging.
The report highlighted the fear of nationalist, far-right groups in those countries that believe refugees and migrants coming from developing countries, many of whom Muslims, could replace the dying-out natives.
While Islam historically grew out of regions in the Middle East, it has spread to countries in Asia and the Pacific, areas where the largest concentrations of Muslims now live, with Indonesia currently the number-one Muslim country on the planet.
By 2050, the number-one spot for Muslim majority will become India, with 310 million, or some 18 per cent of that country’s population, Pew report says.
Accompanying research by Pew revealed that when asked to rate their perception of Muslims, from 0 (negative) to 100 (positive), respondents gave a less-than average rating of 48. Some 49 per cent of Americans polled think at least “some” US Muslims are anti-American, the report said.
There is a clear partisan political split on the perception of Muslims in the US as well, with Democrats tending to give a more positive rating of Muslims and Islam, as opposed to Republicans, who take a more predominantly negative view of the faith.