Muslims expected to be America’s second largest religious group by 2040

Muslims are expected to become the second largest religious group in the United States by 2040 amid continued growth fueled by high fertility rates and immigration, according to new estimates from the Pew Research Center.

The report, released last week, is based on a combination of surveys conducted by Pew and data from the US Census Bureau, which does not currently collect information on religious affiliation.

Pew conducted its first survey of Muslim Americans in 2007, when there were about 2.35 million in the United States, according to the organization. Its third and final survey, published in 2017, put the number at 3.45 million.

This file photo taken on December 20, 2015 shows a woman holding a poster during a protest in New York.KENA BETANCUR / AFP-Getty Images

By 2050, Muslims are expected to constitute 2.1% of the total US population, or about 8.1 million people, according to Pew.

As the Muslim population grows, the United States will have to come to terms with the fact that Islam is an important part of the fabric of the country, said Ihsan Bagby, associate professor of Islamic studies at the University of Kentucky and member of the advisory board. . for the 2017 Pews Survey of American Muslims.

“I think a lot of Americans have come to terms with that, but some haven’t,” he said. “And we’re in this transition period where Islam isn’t really seen as part of American society for a large percentage of Americans.”

Over the past decade, Pakistan, Iran, India and Afghanistan were among the countries that sent the largest numbers of Muslims to the United States, said Pew senior researcher Besheer Mohamed.

But according to Bagby, it’s not necessarily the countries that have been responsible for the recent growth.

“There is regular immigration of simple people seeking to improve their economic and educational status, but there are also waves of people fleeing an area,” he said.

Bagby expects to see more Muslims migrating from other countries, including Yemen and Syria, both of which have been in conflict since 2011.

“The more distress there is in the Muslim world, the greater the motivation to immigrate,” he added.

Another key driver of growth among Muslim Americans is the higher fertility rate, in part due to the youthfulness of the group. The 2017 Pews survey found that 35% of respondents were between 18 and 29 years old.

“Muslims tend to be a fairly young demographic both globally and in the United States…so most women still have their childbearing years ahead of them,” Mohamed said.

Bagby predicts that the growth of Muslim Americans will positively influence the overall perception of the group.

Muslims make up about 1% of the total US population and are unevenly distributed across the country, with most concentrated in urban areas, Bagby said. He added that one of the best associations with a positive view of Islam is whether or not a person knows a Muslim.

“The increase in the number of Muslims will actually give them more opportunities to meet a Muslim. The more Muslims come, the more they spread in American society,” he said, adding that it “should actually correspond to a decrease in the negative opinion”. of Islam and Muslims and Islamophobic racist incidents.

According to a 2015 report by the Public Religion Research Institute, 83% of Americans say they know nothing or nothing about the religious beliefs and practices of Muslims.

Over the past few decades, the American Muslim community has matured in terms of involvement in politics and acceptance of its identity, Bagby said. He believes their growing population will translate into growing power and efficiency among Muslims in the United States.

“I think the greatest number with the greatest sophistication will mean an amplification of their voice in this society and a greater dissipation in this society,” he said.

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