I was surprised to find out that Islam is the fastest growing religion in West. What is the reason for this?

Please clarify it for me.

Why Muslims are the world’s fastest-growing religious group (US-based Pew Research Center)

Islam: The world's fastest growing religion BBC

Islam will be largest religion in the world by 2070, says report the Telegraph

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    (BTW, cited sources for the statements in your question would improve it.)
    – user1530
    Mar 20, 2015 at 17:14
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    Are you asking why Islam is the fastest growing religion in the West, or worldwide? These are two different questions. Also, whether Islam is anti-women should possibly be a separate question, and may be better suited to Religion.SE. Jan 30, 2018 at 9:44
  • "most of human rights activists claim (...)" I don't think so. Do you have a reference for this ?
    – Evargalo
    Jan 30, 2018 at 10:35
  • 2
    VTC as off-topic. This isn't about governments, politics, or policy. Mar 19, 2018 at 16:12

5 Answers 5


Without any stats to back my speculations, here are a few reasons why I would expect it to be that way:

  • Stating the obvious but recent immigration to Europe included many people from countries where Islam is an important component of the culture (North Africa, West Africa, Turkey…)
  • Christianity is on the retreat and losing ground to irreligion. To some extent, Islam is as well, among some second and third generation immigrants but fresh immigration, conversions and other factors means it's resisting better than christianity.
  • Judaism is also a major religion in Europe but it does not actively proselytize. Antisemitism and other factors also push some European Jews to consider emigration (to Israel or elsewhere).
  • Buddhism or Hinduism are also practiced and might be growing for all I know but I would be surprised to see a strong long-lasting growth trend.
  • Islam is (in spite of silly reports on the future of Islam in Europe) a small minority religion in Europe (do note that some countries like Albania have had a significant muslim population for centuries but they are small). Because the starting point is low, any increase (whether through immigration or otherwise) will look impressive when expressed as a growth percentage.
  • Conversely, catholicism and other established form of christianity are still the largest religion in most places, which means they have little potential to grow.
  • On a related note, depending on where you get your statistics from, you might find the overwhelming majority of the population in some countries described as “christian” or “catholic”, which also limits potential growth, on a purely arithmetic level.

    Case in point: The CIA World Factbook describes France as 83-88% catholic. That's ludicrous, sociological studies find figures closer to 50% (and that probably includes people who are baptized and feel “catholic” but don't go to church regularly or care much about the teachings of the catholic Church) with 35% declaring having “no religion”.

    But serious or not, that also means that any success in converting or bringing people back to church would be very hard to see when expressed as a growth percentage. Consider this: If everybody in France would instantly become a devout catholic, it could only ever be registered as a 14% increase according in the World Factbook.

  • One issue is how you define what counts as a religion. If one of them is “christianity”, I would not expect any large movement, for all the reasons mentioned above. On the other hand, if you look beneath large categories at specific denominations, I would expect some charismatic or pentecostal movements to show some decent growth too (including among immigrants from Africa or Asia). Depending on how you count, orthodox christianity might also be experiencing something of a revival in some countries.
  • You claim to have read a report that says "amongst the new followers of Islam more are women". This is not surprising! Religion is essentially uncorrelated with gender, and a slight majority of the world's adult population is female. Unless the report says that, say over 55 percent of the new members are women, that claim doesn't really have statistical significance. Jun 16, 2016 at 15:06
  • Great write up. You did not mention that Islam also has much better benefits than Christianity and other western beliefs. A college basketball scholarship won't even get you anything close to 72 virgins.
    – Beo
    May 29, 2017 at 19:24
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    @Everyone_Else I claim what?
    – Relaxed
    Jun 3, 2017 at 8:54
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    This answer would be much better with sources and statistics. However, in France at least, no religious statistics are available (it is illegal), so you gotta use a proxy (immigrants and children of immigrants from muslim countries for instance). In most other countries in Europe there are religious statistics, so there is room to improve his answer. An explanation that doesn't figure in your long list is the fact that Muslims in Europe are younger than the average population (so they have more children), and that when age effect is taken into account, they still have higher fecondity.
    – Evargalo
    Jan 30, 2018 at 10:50
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    @Evargalo Surveys about religion are not illegal in France. These surveys reveal that many people with parents from abroad are less religious than their parents so conflating the two is not very good idea. A lower average age is just as much a consequence as a cause of higher fertility.
    – Relaxed
    Jan 30, 2018 at 21:19

There is a rather simple explanation: bookkeeping.

There is no official way to renounce Islam and no longer be counted as a Muslim, as renouncing Islam is itself forbidden in Islam. Children are counted as Muslim from birth.

The Christian churches however keep accurate records of who is a member, require children to formally join of their own free will, and leaving the church is a simple bureaucratic act that in some countries like Germany saves you quite an amount of taxes.

Thus, the number of Muslims is vastly overinflated.


One possible reason is that many of the people with whom Islam is growing rapidly tend to from areas either in conflict or in extreme poverty, usually both. As cited by the Pew article: two areas of high Islam growth are the middle east and sub Saharan Africa, which have both continued conflict, and extreme poverty. While the ME has oil revenues, precious little of that money filters down to the average person.

In desperate times, people are more inclined to turn to religion for answers, because their current society isn't functioning. And in both the middle east and parts of Africa, Islam is the established religion. Religion offers a form of stability where none exists. One would have to live under conditions of poverty and conflict to understand how powerful a motivation that can be.

The desperate situation also accounts for much of the higher birth rate... when life is cheap, as it is with both conflict and poverty, some of the first to suffer and die are the children. The birth rate tends to go up in the hopes that some of the children might survive, and tends to stay high for a while even when the threat lessens.

In Europe, which has seen a huge influx of Islamic refugees, the rate might appear to be growing, when in fact it is just people relocating, courtesy of a nearby conflict, an overland route, and an immigration policy crafted before the volume went sky high. Not more converts, just more people adhering to Islam appearing where they didn't exist in large numbers before. In the absence of context, this might leave the average European prone to thinking that Islam is growing at an incredible rate, when in fact it is growing at a fairly slow rate.

No surprise that British publications would jump on that Pew report... it's the sort of alarming prediction that sells a lot of ads.

As for the claim that Islam will be the world's largest religion, that assumes that it's current growth will continue at a linear or accelerated rate.

Any number of things could change that, from further wars in Africa that result in a high number of deaths (Rwanda on a larger scale is quite possible), to many of those people achieving stability and not needing a religion to lean on, to the rising wave of women's rights coming into conflict with the somewhat dated view of women that much of Islam takes.

The Roman Catholic Church was the fastest growing religion at one point, until Martin Luther nailed a few comments to a door, and Henry VIII decided he didn't like his current wife.

A lot of things could change to slow or reverse that trend.

Finally, remember that Islam isn't one religion, any more than Christianity is one religion. Islam is several religions, that don't necessarily agree with each other. Interesting that the Pew report doesn't break it down into Sunni, Shia, Alawite, Sufi...


According the Oleg Novoselov's terminology ("Women: A textbook for men"), Islam is a harmosized society (and Christianity also was harmonized before about the end of 19th century, the advent of feminism).

In a harmonized society women do the women's job (bear children) and men do the men's job (get resources). The authority of the man is high (artificially raised by the religion and customs) so the women respect them. The customs and rules protect men so that they do not fear investing in their family - in a case of divorce all the property remains to the man.

Conversely, in modern Western society the state strives to lower the men's status, to make bearing children very unattractive for men and to make women independent of men. This leads to the following:

  • Men have lower social status (rank in Novoselov's terminology), they are denigrated and deprived by the state. The state takes their money by force so to give it to women (as alimonies, taxes etc), the state requires men to constantly prove they are not guilty in sexual harrasement, respect laws etc. This all understood by women's instincts as if the men were weak, so not suitable for reproduction.

  • Men are afraid of bearing children and marrying because this becomes very risky in the sense of property. The state sees any man who bore a child as an offender. At any time a woman can divorce and take a lot of man's property and also request alimonies. Thus it becomes very difficult for a woman in Western society to find a man who wants to marry and bear children. Only very poor men, homeless, immigrants and criminals usually agree to marry, since they have nothing to lose.

  • Women do not need men for support. They start to choose by their instincts rather than rationality or parental insistence. And women's instinct is outdated by several tens of thousands years (according to Novoselov). They want a higly primative men (instinct-driven, according to Novoselov and Protopopov) rather than reason-driven, and according to Novoselov, among the inhabitants of poorer countries and social bottoms the number of highly primative men is greater. In Russia we can see that women often seek relations with criminals, even those currently in prison. They send them money and travel to their penal sites for sex. Similarly they travel to poorer countries such as Egypt and Tunisia to have sex with those men.

The above explains why

  • The Muslims have higher fertility.

  • Western women prefer Muslim men so convert to Islam to marry.

  • Muslim men are more likely to agree to marry.

Another factor why the number of Muslims grows is immigration. There is economic an political immigration.

Economic immigration exists because Muslims mostly live in poorer countries so they seek a more prosperous place.

Political immigration happens because in many Muslim countries there are wars, often sparked by intervention of Western countries (Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia etc).

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. Jun 16, 2016 at 23:48
  • @SyedMohammadSannan if you approve, you can upvote.
    – Anixx
    Aug 28, 2021 at 5:09
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    @Anixx Yes just did so, unfortunately, many people can't digest facts. I suggest you try to cover your terms online with translucent wording, etc. so that people would also get the message in a lighter tone and wouldn't get offended, etc. Aug 28, 2021 at 5:18

The Islam in Europe is actually something very interesting to watch. Most people describe this religion as highly dangerous, that several refugees have some dark intentions in Europe or make explanations about how the Islam itself is against human rights (as the OP claimed about women) but we need to see some numbers. The Pew Research Center made some statistics about the Islam process in Europe and found some interesting things that will help your question.

What is the reason for the growth?

According to Pew research, in 1990 muslim population was less than 1% but with the international movements happened in all those years, the muslim population became bigger 4% in 2010 and 6.2% in 2015; now, for your concern and having into account the actual scenario, the will keep growing, estimating to reach almost 8% in Europe to 2030. And you might see the islam is targeted only in new generations. Well, happens that the average European muslim has 32 years old, someone who doesn't practice any religion 37 and Christians 42 years old.

Women in Islam: I don't know what are the accusations (specifically) against women that OP is concerned but I'm going to work about the claims you put:

Women has lower status in Islam:

The Chicago office of the Council on American Islamic Relations explains:

A Muslim woman also has the authority to voice her opinions. The Prophet’s wives would debate with him, and this set an example for the wives in all generations. It is narrated that the women of the Sahaabah used to argue and debate with them, and indeed this is the way in which the Mothers of the Believers [i.e., the Prophet’s wives] used to act with our Prophet (P.B.U.H.). As ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab said to the Prophet (P.B.U.H.): We Quraysh used to control our women, but when we came to the Ansaar we found that they were a people who were controlled by their women. So our women started to adopt the ways of the Ansaari women. I got angry with my wife and she argued with me and I did not like her arguing with me. She said, Why do you object to me arguing with you? By Allah, the wives of the Prophet (P.B.U.H.) argue with him…’ [Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 4895; Muslim, 1479]

The Islam oppress women.

(I'm going to take in one focus to be more specific: education)

Did you know Fatima al-Fihri founded the first university in the world and the Islam in 879 AC? The University of Al Quaraouiyine is the actual name of it. About the education, Randa Abdel-Fattah, Australian muslim writer says:

It is a travesty that Muslim majority countries have forgotten or chosen to ignore the rich history of Islamic jurisprudence which featured at the centre- not in the periphery- so many amazing Muslim women, says Randa, There is a huge gap between Islamic doctrine, our history and what we see today.

And conclude about this point:

The sad truth is, misogynistic fundamentalists deny women (and some men) their education simply because it makes it all the easier to oppress them. This, however, far from being sanctioned by Islamic doctrine, is actually in opposition to it: the first words in the Quran are, Read. Read in the name of your Lord.

Islam doesn't give freedom to women:

Following Randa's explanations:

Many Muslim women do choose to veil of their own volition. That this choice is required only of women does lead to legitimate questions of whether such a choice can actually be free. (..) but, We are all subject to the influence of certain norms and expectations about how we dress, behave, express ourselves…I don't think much of any of our decisions are completely 'free' whether we wear hijab or don't, whether we are religious or not.

Making a fast conclusion

All of our choices are limited by the patriarchal society we live in. The perception that all Muslim women are subjugated is linked to the mistaken belief that the liberation of women in the west is complete.

  • 14
    How does that even address the question?
    – Relaxed
    Jun 17, 2016 at 10:48
  • The OP asked I was surprised to find out that Islam is the fastest growing religion in Europe. What is the reason for this?, so I answered. Then, he asked Additionally, most of human rights activists claim, that Islam is against women ,not giving freedom to women and oppressing them. But the report says that amongst the new followers of Islam more are women. Please clarify it for me. I made an answer based in his questions.
    – nelruk
    Jun 17, 2016 at 17:23
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    No, you didn't, you just quoted some figures that basically confirm it's growing. Your English is very hard to understand but I don't really see much about the reasons for this.
    – Relaxed
    Jun 18, 2016 at 18:05
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    Where do you see a disgreement? You haven't provided anything I could agree or disagree with, you completely failed to offer an explanation. It's lazy and disingeneous to suggest this would be about my political views. And that's most definitely not OK, quite the opposite.
    – Relaxed
    Jun 20, 2016 at 8:25
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    the single piece of sentence that address the main question is "with the international movements happened in all those years" . Notwithstanding the quality of English, do you have any source to quantify the effect of mirgations since 1990 ? Any proof that migrations of muslims play a bigger role than the possibly higher natality among muslim population, or than the conversions on non-muslims to Islam ? Any source confirming that those migrations are more numerous since 1990, and by how much ?
    – Evargalo
    Jan 30, 2018 at 10:42

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