Islam, Not Christianity Biggest Religion in the World: Impression Needs Correction

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The challenge for religions in today's world does not come from one another but from the anti-religion forces that dominate the world; and the religions need to unite to face this threat rather than fighting each other, writes Dr Javed Jamil

Dr Javed Jamil | Clarion India

IF you ask anybody or google which are the largest religions in the world, the answer will be Christianity followed by Islam. But the truth is that the population of Muslims believing in the fundamentals of Islam is much larger than the population of Christians believing in the basic tenets of Christianity.

Pew Centre shows 2.2 billion Christians (32% of the world’s population), 1.6 billion Muslims (23%), 1 billion Hindus (15%), nearly 500 million Buddhists (7%) and 14 million Jews (0.2%) around the world as of 2010. Obviously, these are little older figures. Wikipedia gives the following percentage of the main religions:

ReligionAdherentsPercentage
Christianity2.382 billion31.11%
Islam1.907 billion24.9%
Secular/Nonreligious/Agnostic/Atheist1.193 billion15.58%
Hinduism1.161 billion1

But while the number of Muslims who are firmly committed to the fundamentals of their religion (One God, Muhammad the Last Prophet, Quran the Book of God, Hereafter) has been continuously growing, the number of Christians believing in the basic tenets of Christianity (Jesus as God or Son of God, Gospel the Divine book) continues to go down with every passing day. Interestingly, while Muslims firmly believe that Jesus was born as a divine miracle from a virgin mother Mary, a large number of Christians will be found rejecting or doubting this.

According to an article, titled “ A Majority Of Americans Think Jesus Is A Great Teacher Yet” (PRNewswire), “A new survey reveals that 52 per cent of American adults believe that Jesus was a great teacher and nothing more.” This is despite the fact that the Christianity in America is stronger than in Europe and Australian continents.

An article titled “Christianity as default is gone: The rise of a non-Christian Europe” by Harriet Sherwood published in Guardian says:

“Europe’s march towards a post-Christian society has been starkly illustrated by research showing a majority of young people in a dozen countries do not follow a religion. The survey of 16- to 29-year-olds found the Czech Republic is the least religious country in Europe, with 91% of that age group saying they have no religious affiliation. Between 70% and 80% of young adults in Estonia, Sweden and the Netherlands also categories themselves as non-religious.”

An article on the situation in Australia titled “Most Australian young people open to change their religious views” says:

Australian research company McCrindle recently released a study called The Changing Faith Landscape in Australia, which shows that 46% of Australians “identify with ChristianityFurthermore, 13% defined themselves as unaffiliated believers; 33% of respondents said they were atheists or agnostic; and 6% practiced other religions.

Regarding the age, “younger Australians are less likely to identify with Christianity than their older counterparts”. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of the oldest generation still consider themselves Christian while just 38% of the Generation Z respondents said that.”

In contrast, Muslims are showing greater commitment to their religion, and this has continued to increase. An article about Muslims in America, “Non-Belief: An Islamic Perspective – Secularism and Nonreligion” by K Sevinç · (2018) says, “The rate of those who believe in God is 94.5% and those who self identify themselves as Muslim is 97%”.

The same is true of the whole Muslim world where the overwhelming majority of Muslims (95-99%) can be easily found as having firm belief in God, Muhammad and Quran.

If only 40-50 % (even less in many parts including Europe) of the so-called Christian world does not even believe in Jesus as prescribed in Christianity, why should their numbers be still counted as above 2.3 billion. The truth is that the number of Christians by faith is not more than 1.3 billion. There is absolutely no reason to doubt that Islam is the biggest religion of the world, and its percentage is expected to continue to increase at least in the next decade.

According to The New York Times, an estimated 25% of American Muslims are converts. In Britain, around 6,000 people convert to Islam per year and, according to a June 2000 article in the British Muslims Monthly Survey, the majority of new Muslim converts in Britain were women. According to The Huffington Post, “observers estimate that as many as 20,000 Americans convert to Islam annually.”

When it comes to the reasons why Islam is growing, the Western experts try to paint it mainly the effect of their having more children. First, the conversion to Islam is definitely much more than that to any other religion. Second, if Muslim fertility rate is slightly higher, the reasons are simple. First, the family system is still strong in Muslim societies whereas it has totally disintegrated in the so-called Christian or Western world. Second, Muslims are much less likely to abort than others, as they consider it a sin. On the other hand, in America and Europe, an overwhelming majority of pregnancies end up in induced abortions. Human Rights organizations do not care of the daily genocide which is going around the world without a break, resulting in the murders of more than 70 million unborn children every year. In India, female foeticide is very common in Hindu community with the Male/Female ratio dropping to less than 100/80 in many states.

Muslims need to tell the world that support to promiscuity, homosexuality and abortions in the name of “Freedom of Choice” is nothing but a support to dismantling and destroying humanity on the earth, in terms of its physical as well as moral and social meanings. If the current trend continues, a time can come sooner than later when the very survival of mankind will be in danger. Those who support and practice these practices can hardly claim to be civilised. But what else can be expected in a world, which is dominated by what I call “Economic Fundamentalism” and where the interests of life, health and peace are only secondary to the interests of the market.

But the West-dominated media will continue to give the misplaced figures because this suits them. If they are showing this it does not mean that they have any love for Christianity. It is only because they think that Christianity in name rather than in its spiritual and moral forms is no threat to their system which commercializes all those practices that are considered immoral  y most religions. They fear Islam more because they feel that the concept of fundamental prohibition is more emphatic in Islam 

I need to emphasise here that if Christianity is losing sheen it makes me worried. Christianity needs to be serious about why it is losing to atheist ideologies of the world. 

I have been arguing for decades that the challenge for religions in today’s world does not come from one another but from the anti-religion forces that dominate the world; and the religions need to unite to face this threat rather than fighting each other. 

_________

Dr Javed Jamil is an eminent Islamic scholar and author.

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