Sunday, August 15, 2010

Islam, the Incredible Shrinking Religion

If Islam were the largest religion in the world, we could be sure that Muslims would be shouting it from the rooftops (right along with “Allahu Akhbar”, “Death to the Infidels”, and “I love the Dearborn Police”). Since this isn’t the case, Muslims have to settle for the doubtable, second-rate claim that Islam is the fastest growing religion, a claim made with such frequency and often interjected into discussions at the oddest points (usually when things are going badly), that you get the impression many Muslims think this constitutes some kind of an argument for the divine origin of Islam. Sometimes I hear this claim so often in the space of a single day or week that I am almost inclined to believe, whatever may be said for the truth or falsity of this assertion, that this is the fastest growing argument for Islam.

The point of this post, however, is not to look at whether this claim is true or false as far as the hard evidence goes, which should be fine since most Muslims making this claim don’t know the first thing about how they would go about proving it anyway (and the burden to do so rests on them). Neither is it the point of this post to challenge whether such a claim can properly be considered an argument that Islam is true even if it is the fastest growing religion, though it may be said briefly that this would no more constitute a positive argument for the truth, goodness or beauty of Islam than it would for gangrene, which also spreads quite rapidly. Rather, the point of the present post is to observe that this idea actually contradicts what is taught in Muslim sources.

To make this argument, at least two things must be born in mind:

In the first place, according to the Qur’an, before anyone was ever born, Allah extracted all people from the loins of Adam’s children and made everyone testify to Islamic monotheism:

When thy Lord drew forth from the Children of Adam - from their loins - their descendants, and made them testify concerning themselves, (saying): "Am I not your Lord (who cherishes and sustains you)?" - They said: "Yea! We do testify!" (This), lest ye should say on the Day of Judgment: "Of this we were never mindful": Or lest ye should say: "Our fathers before us may have taken false gods, but we are (their) descendants after them: wilt Thou then destroy us because of the deeds of men who were futile?" (YA, Surah 7:172-173)

Commenting on these ayats, Ibn Kathir said:

“Allah stated that He brought the descendants of Adam out of their fathers' loins, and they testified against themselves that Allah is their Lord and King and that there is no deity worthy of worship except Him. Allah created them on this Fitrah, or way, just as He said, (So set you (O Muhammad) your face truly towards the religion, Hanifan. Allah's Fitrah with which He has created mankind. No change let there be in Khalqillah.) [30:30]….” (Tafsir Ibn Kathir)

Secondly, not only did Allah extract everyone from the loins of Adam’s children before their birth and make them testify that Allah is their lord to the exclusion of all others, but everyone at the time of their actual birth “is born upon this fitrah”, as Ibn Kathir also says above. This point is confirmed by Bukhari in the following hadith:

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle said, "No child is born but has the Islamic Faith, but its parents turn it into a Jew or a Christian. It is as you help the animals give birth. Do you find among their offspring a mutilated one before you mutilate them yourself?" The people said, "O Allah's Apostle! What do you think about those (of them) who die young?" The Prophet said, "Allah knows what they would have done (were they to live)." (Bukhari, 8.77.597)

Because Muslims believe that everyone was made to testify to the truth of Islamic monotheism and later were born Muslims, with the added idea that it is their parents who make them a Jew or a Christian, they will often tell people that Islam is their “birthright”. Similarly, when people convert to Islam, Muslims will speak of them as “reverts” rather than as converts, because on this view they are returning to the state of nature in which they were created.

But if everyone is born a Muslim (as Muslims claim), and if the majority of people in the world are not Muslims (as Muslims are forced to admit), then this means that non-Muslims, i.e. those who comprise the majority of people in the world, actually turned from Islam some time after they were born, thus committing apostasy in some sense. It also means, and here is the punch line: According to Islamic sources, Islam is the fastest shrinking religion on the planet.


David Wood said...

Ha! I've wanted to make this point for a while, but you beat me to it. I constantly hear Muslims say that no one leaves Islam. Yet after Muhammad died, Abu Bakr had to fight the "Apostate Wars," where he had to march armies against all of the people who were leaving Islam. On top of this, according to Islam, all Christians, Jews, atheists, etc., are former Muslims.

I should make a video: "David Wood, Former Muslim, Explains Why He Left Islam."

Yahya Hayder Seymour said...

Oh wow,

when you put it that way, Nabeel's rejectimony does seem slightly credible if your'e referring to apostasy from fitrah as opposed to religion.

It also explains how people like Walid Shoebat can credibly live with calling themselves ex-muslims.

Maybe Ergun Caner too.

David Wood said...

Hmmm. Totally unprovoked attack on Nabeel.

Still claiming to be a former Christian, Yahya?

Christie said...

"rejectimony" lol, I like that

-Chris Cali

Pat said...

I'd need to look for a quality source to substantiate this claim, but while we're on statistics, I hear that 90% of the growth of Islam is due to the births not conversion.

And @Yahya, stuff like that just makes you look incredulous...

Anthony Rogers said...


The Qur'an says Allah made all people testify that he is their lord and that there is no god but him. This goes beyond fitrah.

Also, given that Muslims deny the doctrine of original sin, why is it that all people who are not indoctrinated into Islam do not naturally become Muslims, this in spite of the fact that they are (allegedly) born with the predisposition to do so?

If you reply that it is because their parents incline them towards Judaism, Christianity, or some variety of paganism, then:

(1) How does this account for the rejection of those who are not proactively taught to believe any religion, and that no individual actually becomes a Muslim apart from being taught Islam?

(2) Does this mean non-Muslims can, after all, blame their failure to confess Allah as the only lord on their parents?

If you reply "no" to the latter question on the basis that the Qur'an precludes this in Surah 7:172-173, which says every person was made to testify to Allah's sole lordship, then you are at least implicitly acknowledging that such people have not only gone against some kind of inborn tendency to believe in Islamic monotheism (i.e. fitrah), but they have gone against the positive confession of Islamic monotheim.

mkvine said...

Yahya Seymour,

That was totally uncalled for, and that made you look like a jerk.

By the way Samuel, great post, I never thought about that.

Anthony Rogers said...


Samuel didn't write this post. But thanks for the compliment.

mkvine said...

Oh my bad Anthony, I was reading the other Samuel's other post when I was reading this one lol. Anyways, great post.

Methodus said...

Wonderful post. I'm astounded as to how much is wrong with the religion of Islam even if one were to consider only the ramifications of its professed tenets.

Fernando said...

Oh, Yahya... that was tottaly desnecessary... why did you offended Nabeel? Is that what islam tought you? Sure it was not your Christian parent... to sad to see whate a religion (although a false one) can do to a person... may Jesus, our common God, heal your soul...

hugh watt said...

S.3:52. When Jesus found
Unbelief on their part
He said: “Who will be
My helpers to (the work
Of) God?” Said the Disciples:
“We are God’s helpers:
We believe in God,
And do thou bear witness
That we are Muslims.

According to this ayah 'Muslims' were around before Muhammad, strange; every Muslim I've ever spoken to say 'no one can be a Muslim without believing in Muhammad as Allah's final messenger;' so how did people become 'Muslim' before then!? Does this mean there are 2 types of Muslim; or is it a case of, those who were in submission to Allah before Muhammad, i.e, the pagans, and those who are in submission to Muhammad!!!?

minoria said...

Hello Yahya Seymour:

Interesting to see you back.It seems the increase in Muslims is due to the fact that they have a HIGHER BIRTH-RATE than NON-MUSLIMS.For example,in non-Muslim Latin America the birthrate has been going DOWN.The Latin American population(from MEXICO to CHILE,including BRAZIL)is a mere 500 million.

You might say it is alot,it is,but the population in EUROPE(not including Russia)is 500 MILLION,and Europe is alot smaller that,say,only South America.One country,Colombia,is the size of France and Spain combined.


Now in the US 30,000 convert to Islam every year and 20,000 Muslims convert to Christianity every year(however,this figure doesn't include Muslims who become atheists,agnostics,etc).

In 10 years it is 300,000 converts,but 75% of them LEAVE ISLAM within 5 years.How many converts to Christianity,from Islam,leave it,in 5 years,I don't know,but if it were very high and they came back to Islam then the Muslim organizations would be saying it.I doubt many ex-Muslims return to Islam,it seems to be rare.However,the percentage of converts who leave Islam is very high,very high,3 out of 4.

Fisher said...

The five fastest growing religions in terms of absolute numbers (new adherents per year, in millions):

1. Christianity - 25,210,195
2. Islam - 22,588,676
3. Hinduism - 12,533,734
4. Chinese folk religions - 3,715,548
5. Buddhism - 3,687,527

The five fastest growing religions in terms of relative growth compared to existing size of religion:

1. Zoroastrianism - 2.65%
2. Bahá'í - 2.28%
3. Islam - 2.13%
4. Mandeans - 2.12%
5. Sikhism - 1.87%

The five fastest growing religions by conversions (new adherents per year, in millions):

1. Christianity - 2,501,396
2. Islam - 865,558
3. Buddhism - 156,609
4. Sikhism - 28,961
5. Baha'is - 26,333

The five fastest growing religions by births (new adherents per year, in millions):

1. Christianity - 22,708,799
2. Islam - 21,723,118
3. Hinduism - 13,194,111
4. Ethnoreligionists - 4,098,003
5. Animists - 3,985,506

Christianity - 3
Zoroastrianism - 1
Islam - 0


Anthony Rogers said...

Thanks Fisher, that's good stuff.

Fisher said...

By the way, if you're wondering why the number of Hindu births is higher than the absolute number of new Hindus, it's because around half a million Hindus convert again from Hinduism every year, with virtually nobody converting into it.

Unknown said...

Interesting arguments put forward, and the also interesting to note that half a million hindus leave hinduism, we hindus think of everything as an extension of the oneness of universe and we find both allah and christ as appealing. Therefore since we have so much freedom we do not feel the need to convert. Infact many christians in india are also hindus as they come and pray with us in our festivals. Indian philosophy is all encompassing. Therefore i really doubt if such a large numbers are converting, infact hIndu practisies the world over are increasing. Yoga is one of the basis of Hinduism and an atheist is also a Hindu. A hindu will happily go to pary in a temple, church or mosque based on the oneness concept. God can be celebrated in so many ways.

quicreva said...

All very good points. The utter illogic of Islamic claims across the board never ceases to astound me. How does this "religion" manage to hang on to any adherents with brains? I think the best explanation is anthropological: Islam thrives in very traditional patriarchal societies, especially self-isolating societies. Once modernity reaches the isolated population, however, Islam typically goes into a tailspin. It simply cannot compete in the marketplace of ideas. It is too rigid and anti-intellectual for the modern world, moreover it requires the support of the whole society if not the government. Islam is truly the hothouse flower of religions, while Christianity is more like the garden weed. Orchids need very controlled environmental conditions to survive, while weeds like dandelions are almost impossible to eradicate. The future does not look bright for Islam. Christianity wins - but then, most Christians already knew that that outcome was inevitable.