Muslim Population Statistics

Demographic considerations with regard to Muslim populations may prove to be of vital concern in the next millennium. When a large percentage of the population is older, this can affect the socio-political structure of a country. Likewise, when a large percentage of the population is young, that too will affect the socio-political structure of a country.

Here are some population statistics starting from the early 1900s as well as projected figures for the year 2025 of the total overall number of Muslims across the globe.

Comparative chart -  number of Muslims to Christians:

1900 world population
1980 world population
2000 world population 
2025 world population (PROJECTED)

Estimates of the total number of Muslims in the world vary greatly: 

0.700 billion or more, Barnes & Noble Encyclopedia 1993
0.817 billion, The Universal Almanac (1996)
0.951 billion, The Cambridge Factfinder (1993)
1.100 billion, The World Almanac (1997)
1.200 billion, CAIR (Council on American-Islamic relations) (1999)

At a level of 1.2 billion, [in1999] Muslims represent between 19.2% and 22% of the world's population. It has become the second largest religion in the world. Christianity has slightly less than 30%.

Islam is growing about 2.9% per year which is faster than the total world population which increases at about 2.3% annually. It is thus attracting a progressively larger percentage of the world's population. 

The number of Muslims in North America is in dispute: estimates range from under 3 million to over 6 million. The main cause of the disagreement appears to be over how many Muslim immigrants have converted to Christianity since they arrived in the US. 

Statistics Canada reports that 253,260 Canadians identified themselves as Muslims (0.9% of the total population) during the 1991 census. Some estimated that there were as many as 500,000 Muslims in Canada.  Today (.2001) there are an estimated 650,000 Muslims in Canada.

In the Maghrib between 1965 and 1990, the population rose from 29.8 million to 59 million. During the same period, the number of Egyptians increased from 29.4 million to 52.4 million. In Central Asia, between 1970 and 1993, populations grew at an annual rate of 2.9 percent in Tajikistan, 2.6 percent in Uzbekistan, 2.5 percent in Turkmenistan, and 1.9 percent in Kyrgyzia. In the 1970s, the demographic balance in the Soviet Union shifted drastically, with Muslims increasing by 24 percent while Russians increased by only 6.5 percent. 

The increase in the Muslim heartlands will have a significant impact in Muslim minority areas as well. In some countries, such as Tanzania and Macedonia, the Muslims will become a majority within twenty years. Largely through immigration, the Muslim population of the United States grew sixfold between 1972 and 1990. And even in countries where immigration has been suppressed, the growth continues. Last year, seven percent of babies born in European Union countries were Muslims. In Brussels, the figure was a staggering 57 percent. Islam is already the second religion of almost every European state - the only exceptions being those European countries such as Azerbaijan and Albania where it is the majority religion. If current trends continue, then an overall ten percent of European nationals will be Muslim by the year 2020.


If the west's population is top-heavy, (i.e., the ratio of youth to elderly is low) that of Muslim populations is the opposite. For example, today more than half the population of Algeria is under the age of twenty and this situation is similar elsewhere. These young populations will reproduce and perpetuate the increase of Muslims on a percentage basis well into the next millennium.

North America and Europe have increasingly aging populations and one of the most disturbing social issues of the new millennium will concern a more efficient means of disposing of the elderly. (For example, witness the new euthanasia laws in the Netherlands, and the ongoing debate in many countries about this issue.) Medical advances can assure an average life span in the high seventies, although active life spans have not grown as fast. In the early 1900s, a westerner could expect to spend an average of the last two years of life as an invalid. Today, that figure is seven years. As Ivan Illich has shown, medicine prolongs life, but can not prolong mobility nearly as well. Aging populations with their increased healthcare costs are considered a more extensive socio-economic burden to society. For example, the UK Department of Health recently announced that a new prescription drug for Alzheimer's Disease was available on the National Health Service - but its cost meant that it was only available to a small minority of patients.

An aging population tends to be introspective and sluggish, whereas a young population is more likely to be vibrant and energetic. This may or may not bode well for many countries and that will depend on whether their political structure is fragile or not.