• Islam the world's fastest growing religion, is likely to overtake Christianity by the end of the century. (EyeEm/Getty)
A report by the Pew Research Centre says Islam is the world's fastest growing religion, with the Asia-Pacific region home to the majority of Muslims.
By
Andrea Nierhoff

17 Mar 2017 - 5:46 PM  UPDATED 17 Mar 2017 - 6:15 PM

Research shows Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world, with the majority of Muslims concentrated in the Asia-Pacific region.

The findings, released by the Pew Research Centre, reveal that while Islam is the second-largest religion behind Christianity, it has a rapid growth rate, and is forecast to take the top spot by the end of the century.

This will lead to a global shake-up, with India to overtake Indonesia as having the world’s largest Muslim population – although its Hindu population will maintain its majority status.

Keysar Trad from the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils said he isn't surprised by the findings, believing Islam offers stability and certainty when it’s needed most.

“We as Muslims have deep faith in our religion," he said.

"It’s a religion that gives comprehensive guidance so we’re not left wondering what to do or how to engage or how to deal with issues.

"That in itself has a great appeal to people who reflect and contemplate and who wish to be spiritual, who wish to explore what religions have to offer."

The report shows Europe’s make-up will also change, with the report projecting a tenth of Europeans identifying as Muslim by 2050.

According to findings, the reasons for the continued growth in Islam lies with its demographics, with Muslim families tending to have more children – an average of 3.1, compared with 2.3 for all other religious groups combined.

Another factor is age. Muslims tend to be several years younger than non-Muslims, with a median age of 23 in 2010, and means a larger share of the group will be starting families or thinking about it.

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However Australia appears to be bucking the trend, with recent figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showing that Hinduism is the fastest growing religion in the country.

Figures from the 2011 census reveal the top four countries from which Australia’s overseas-born population originate is the UK, New Zealand, China and India – countries with comparatively low Muslim populations.

Mr Trad agrees that these immigration factors do play a part, but also pointed to the current political climate.

"It’s quite likely that the Islamophobic comments that have been propagated throughout Australia at a number of different levels – political, through the media – have had a negative impact on people, and that could very well be the reason that there is not the same growth that you see in other countries," he said.

"Also immigration policy is a big factor in determining who comes into this country…when you bring all these factors together you can see why this would have an impact on the growth of Islam in Australia."

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