Muslim population set to outpace others

January 28, 2011

By Niraj Warikoo

The world’s Muslim population is growing at a higher rate than the population of non-Muslims, a trend some say is playing out in metro Detroit.

The number of Muslims around the world is expected to increase by roughly 35% over the next 20 years, to 2.2 billion, according to population projections the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life released Thursday.

The annual growth rate is forecast at 1.5%, compared with 0.7% for non-Muslims, the report said. By 2030, Muslims are expected to make up 26.4% of the world’s population, up from 19.9% in 1990 and 23.4% in 2010.

In metro Detroit, the growth can be seen in the increase in the number of Islamic centers, schools and businesses run by Muslims. There are about 45 mosques in metro Detroit, roughly double the number 10 years ago, said Dawud Walid, head of the Michigan branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. In just the last two years, four mosques for west African immigrants have been established in the region. And a new mosque opened last year in Dearborn, where about 30% of the population is Arab American.

One of the reasons for the growth is that Muslims, on average, tend to have more children, the Pew report said. The U.S. census doesn’t classify people by religion, so there is no hard data for Michiganders. But Walid said the trend is generally true for Muslim Americans in Michigan.

Suehaila Amen, 31, of Dearborn has seen big growth in the Muslim community. She notes that most students in several Dearborn public schools are Muslim.

“The rate our community has grown is immense,” Amen said.

But although previous generations of immigrants may have had large families, that’s changing, she said.

“You don’t see people having as large families as they used to,” Amen said.


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