Myths about Muslim population

By Moin Qazi

A common myth perpetuated by the anti-Muslim brigade in India is that Muslims will outnumber Hindus in the long run. The more hysterical postings claim large-scale conversions to Islam will occur and that there will be widespread killing of non-Muslims. But Muslims are not the only targeted religious group.
Islamophobic propaganda from the right often capitalizes on unfounded fears of a Muslim population expansion. This deep-seated belief has given birth to a conspiracy theory known as “love jihad“, alleging that Muslim men actively seek to entice Hindu women and convert them to Islam.

The vigilante groups have Exploited this theory in the harassment of interfaith couples, mainly when the woman involved is Hindu. Prominent Hindu nationalist figures regularly deliver speeches encouraging Hindu men to marry Muslim women and convert them to Hinduism.
“Saving” the Muslim woman has been an indispensable component of India’s Hindu nationalist narrative, as it helps portray Islam as a religion that oppresses female followers who need intervention from Hindu men for their emancipation.

The Muslim woman is paradoxically the most hyper-present and invisible figure in the political discourse in India. Her life is constantly a subject of public discussion, while her opinion on it is nowhere to be seen.
In fact, in India, the growth rate of Muslims has declined. Many of these conclusions do not sound to be logical. There are a lot of political agendas to manipulate vote banks. One should not overlook the dimension of poverty in the population dynamics. Poverty has a direct bearing on family demographics. Those living in extreme poverty feel their children are more vulnerable to sickness for which they cannot afford the expenses. To offset the fear of losing children to fatal diseases, they hedge this risk by having more children.

There is a direct relationship between poverty and fertility and an inverse relationship between fertility and higher per capita income. New economic programmes are slowly delivering results, and improved living conditions are bound to transform the mindset of this segment of the

The latest National Family Health Survey shows that the Muslim fertility rate dropped the most among all communities between 2015-16 and 2019-20, and now stands at 2.36, almost half of the figure – 4.4 – from three decades ago. While that is still the highest among all religions in India, the gap between it and the Hindu fertility rate – 1.94 – is shrinking. The latest statistics corroborate findings from the Pew Research Center last September, based on older data.

A new report forecasts that the number of Muslims worldwide will grow over the next 20 years at twice the rate of non-Muslims but that the rapid growth will decrease. With more Muslim women getting educations and jobs, people migrating to cities, and living standards improving, the report says, the birthrate in majority-Muslim countries will come to more closely resemble the pattern in other nations.

Rural women, particularly Muslim women, live in the stranglehold of harsh customs. They are primarily underpowered and are often unable to act on their behalf to obtain family planning services to regulate their childbearing. They are also likely to believe that bearing many children will provide a bulwark against poverty in their old age. The financially better-off have easy access to many financial security programmes for planning for a peaceful and hassle-free old age. The poor carry a wrong perception that having more children will provide additional sources of earning, and thus, they will have a better kitty to cope with life’s eventualities. Fortunately, there is a growing awareness among

The current decline is also directly related to the fact that the younger generation of Muslims is more educated and aspirational. Educated and aspirational Muslim women are as careful about family planning as their Hindu counterparts in India. I know countless young Muslim couples in their 30s who have no children despite family pressures because they do not want a child unless they can give it their best.
Global trends also show that the growth of the Muslim population has slowed down and will match the average demographic equation in the foreseeable future. Muslim fertility rates (2.3) have declined faster than any other community, approaching replacement level fertility ( TFR=2.1), as evidenced by empirical surveys like the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5).

A recent study from the Pew Research Center on Religion and Public Life demonstrates that the global Muslim population is expected to grow faster than non-Muslim populations but that the Muslim population is projected to grow slower than it did during the previous two decades. The Pew findings demonstrate that fear of a Muslim takeover is essentially the product of hysteria. France is not headed toward becoming an Islamic republic by 2048, as has been claimed, and Germany is not on its way to becoming a Muslim state by 2050.

Muslim population growth is still out of sync with global trends, but if the latest findings hold up, it should get there soon. The truism is that there is not much to despair about on the population front or to conjure fantasies of Muslim hegemony. What is required is not a political lens. It is the economic prism through which we should view the whole issue and focus on programmes that can further refine the demographic equation and correct the skewed profile.

It is often argued that Muslim women’s exceedingly high childbearing rates hinder their life prospects. However, the fact is that Muslim fertility rates (2.3) have declined faster than any other community, approaching replacement level fertility ( TFR=2.1), as evidenced by empirical surveys like the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5). This leads to the conclusion they have successfully adopted family planning programmes despite their low literacy rate, poverty, and social marginalization.

Strangely, the findings and projections of authoritative studies are less likely to circulate as widely or quickly as statistics about predictions of a Muslim takeover. Commentators seem more focused on ringing false alarm bells than on presenting facts.
The reality is that there is no takeover but a danger of intolerance threatening society’s very fabric.
We are not witnessing a clash of civilizations but cultures fostered by those who portray Islam as a monolith. These people see religious and cultural diversity as a threat rather than a potential source of strength and enrichment. We must safeguard The liberal democratic heritage of our societies and ensure that every dialogue is fair and fearless. Fearmongering that leads to religious and racial discrimination must be rejected and marginalized. We need a world built and envisioned in the future on facts, not fiction.


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