The Human Truth Foundation

Islam: A Critical Look at Contemporary Issues

By Vexen Crabtree 2006


#atheism #france #germany #islam #japan #judaism #monotheism #polytheism #saudi_arabia

Links: Pages on Islam, Other Religions
The symbol of Islam
God(s)Atheist / Monotheist / Polytheist / Other
TextsQur'an and Hadiths
AfterlifeHeaven or hell
Area of OriginSaudi Arabia
FounderBy Muhammad
Numbers in the UK (Census results)
20011.547 million20112.7 million
Muslims Worldwide (Pew & WM)
World: 20.1%. Iran (99%), Morocco (99%), Somalia (99%), Mauritania (99%), Western Sahara (99%), Yemen (99%), Iraq (99%), Afghanistan (99%), Tunisia (99%), Mayotte (98.6%) 1

Islam is a monotheistic religion based on the revelations of prophet Muhammad as recorded in the Qur'an. The religion was founded in Mecca and Medina in present-day Saudi Arabia. 'Allah' is simply the Arabic word for 'God'. Islam is counted as one of the great world religions2,3. Whilst Europe went through its dark ages of Christian fundamentalism Islam went through a relatively enlightened era, retaining some scientific knowledge, translating some Greek texts and developing maths. But the colonial era saw a resurgent Europe come to rule all 42 Muslim countries (except 4)4. This caused long-term resentment and Muslim cultures still retain an anti-Western outlook that is versed in anti-imperialism. Islam is going through its own dark ages; some signs are that things are continuing to get worse, whilst in some places there are signs of a creeping secularism.

1. Main Pages on Islam

2. Numbers of Muslims Around the World, by Country

Pos.Pew Forum (2010)1Worldmapper (2005)5
5Western Sahara99.0%99.4%
28Saudi Arabia93.0%92.2%
39Sierra Leone78.0%45.9%

The population of 52 countries are half (or mostly) Muslim (2011)1. In 2003 a different count placed the number at 446. Comparing those 52 country(ies) to the rest of the world:

Population growth in the world is highest amongst the poor and the uneducated. Muslims have a disproportionate share of such people12, so their numbers are rising. Factors such as war and instability in the Middle East keep the reproduction rate higher. But this will not continue indefinitely. The Muslim world is slowly aging. "In 1990 Islam's share of the world's youth was 20%; in 2010, 26%. In 2030 it will be 29% (of 15-29-year-olds)". But on average, Muslims are starting to age. "The media age in Muslim-majority countries was 19 in 1990. It is 24 now, and will be 30 by 2030. (For French, Germans and Japanese the figure is 40 or over.) This suggests Muslim numbers will ultimately stop climbing, but later than the rest of the population"11.

Current edition: 2006
Last Modified: 2017 Jul 11
Parent page: A List of All Religions and Belief Systems

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References: (What's this?)

Book Cover

Book Cover

Book Cover

The Economist. Published by The Economist Group, Ltd. A weekly newspaper in magazine format, famed for its accuracy, wide scope and intelligent content. See for some commentary on this source. A newspaper.

Breuilly, O'Brien & Palmer
(1997) Religions of the World. Subtitled: "The Illustrated Guide to Origins, Beliefs, Traditions, & Festivals". Published by Lionheart Books. By Elizabeth Breuilly, Joanne O'Brien & Martin Palmer. Published for Transedition Limited and Fernleigh Books. A hardback book.

Cesari, Jocelyne
(2004) When Islam and Democracy Meet. Published by Palgrave Macmillan, New York, USA. A paperback book.

EUMC. Published by the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia, Vienna, Austria.
(2006) Muslims in the European Union: Discrimination and Islamophobia. A paperback book.

Kurtz, Lester R.
(2007) Gods in the Global Village. 2nd edition. Published by Pine Forge Press, California, USA. Was previously Director of Religious Studies at Texas and holds a master's in Religion from Yale Divinity School and a PhD in Sociology from the University of Chicago. Kurtz is Professor of Sociology at the University of Texas, USA.

Lunde, Paul
(2003) Islam: A Brief History. Revised edition. Originally published in UK in 2002. Current version published by Dorling Kindersley Publishers Ltd, London, UK. A paperback book.

Murray et al.
(2009) Hammond Atlas of World Religions. Published by Hammond World Atlas Corporation, Langenscheidt Publishing Group, New York, USA. Contributing authors: Stuart A.P. Murray; Robert Huber; Elizabeth Mechem; Sarah Novak; Devid West Reynolds, PhD; Tricia Wright; Thomas Cussans. A hardback book.

Pew Forum. Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.
(2012) The Global Religious Landscape: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World's Major Religious Groups as of 2010. Published 2012 Dec 18, accessed online 2013 May 01.

United Nations
(2013) Human Development Report. Published by the UN Development Programme. This edition had the theme of The Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World. Available on UN Development Program: About the Human Development Index.

(2008) Worldmapper Datasets 551-582: Religion. Worldmapper Datasets 551-582: Religion (2008 Mar 26) on, accessed 2013 Nov 11. Authored by John Protchard, published by SASI, University of Shieffield. Data is for year 2005, with some datasets being edited from original sources to remove the effects of double-counting, and, adjusting for population changes between 2002 and 2005.


  1. Pew (2012) .^^
  2. Breuilly, O'Brien & Palmer (1997). Listed amongst 10 world religions, devoting a chapter to each.^
  3. Murray et al. (2009). P.v. Listed amongst 12 current world religions.^
  4. Kurtz (2007). P165. Added to this page on 2016 Dec 08.^
  5. Worldmapper (2008) .^
  6. Lunde (2003). P8.^
  7. UN (2013). Table 1 provides Life Expectancy At Birth for all countries.^
  8. UN (2013). Table 14.^
  9. UN (2013). Table 1.^
  10. UN (2013). Table 4.^
  11. 2011 and 2030 stats from The Economist (2011 Jan 29) p58. The article references "The Future of the Global Muslim Population" produced by the Pew Research Centre. The EUMC reported in 2006 in Muslims in the European Union: Discrimination and Islamophobia p8, that the European Muslim population was around 13 million, around 3.5 percent of the total population of the European Union, based on a sum of country data, some of which are unofficial data & estimates.^
  12. Cesari (2004). P23-25.^

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