The Demography of Muslim Youth and the Future

Category: Faith & Spirituality, Life & Society Topics: Muslim Youth, Youth Views: 6611

Anyone who will be older than 45 in the year 2050 has already been born. This means that demographers can do nearly definitive projections about population trends until then. What they're telling us is that a lot of the world's little ones are coming up in Muslim households and societies.

Those Muslim five-year-olds better get serious quick. Look what they're facing.

The Arab world's population will likely grow by 114 percent to nearly 700 million in the next four decades. Its median age is now 22, with a huge youth bulge of nearly 32 percent. That's the portion that 15 to 24 year olds make up of a region's adult (IS and older) population.

Fertility rate, measured by replacement of two parents (so 2 means no growth), is falling in the Muslim world. But by comparison-especially with Europe and Russia-it remains high. The Arab world's fertility rate is between 4 and 6.5 in Palestine, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan and Iraq. That's triple growth in those countries on our 2050 timeline. It's between 3 and 4 in Egypt, Syria, and Saudi Arabia. Positive increase. But that trend diminishes to very little growth, if any, across North Africa, through Lebanon, and down into the Gulf states (between 2 and 3).

In the rest of the Muslim world, the fertility rate hovers at 3, with glaring exceptions like Afghanistan, a whopping 7.5, and Pakistan at 4. Iran, though you can't tell it yet because of a previous boom that's going to ricochet loudly after a decade, is experiencing the world's single greatest fertility plunge in the history of keeping such demographics. By contrast, Turkey, one of the oldest "modern" Muslim countries, has an older median age of 27, while its fertility rate has already fallen to near replacement levels (no increase). Muslim Albania is the only country in Eastern Europe with a population rate still above replacement, at 2.3.

Equally important is the fact that regional life expectancies in the Muslim world are rising. Among Arabs, it has climbed from 42 to 67 years old and is projected to reach nearly 77 by 2050. Lots of parents and grandparents to take care of.

But there won't be a lot of resources to do it with. The economies of most Muslim countries (Malaysia's been an exception) are shot. Arab youth, for instance, face some of the world's highest unemployment rates, 20 percent region wide: About 28 percent in Jordan, 31 percent in Tunisia, 39 percent in Palestine, 43 percent in Algeria. In a number of Muslim countries, elevated unemployment rates parallel an increase in education. Egypt's most jobless youth are its college graduates.

This means the age at which Muslim men marry is also rising. Fully two out of every five young males in the Muslim world are not married and not working.

But while fertility rates will fall now steadily in the Muslim world for the next 40 years, there will be a massive mini-boom, what they call an echo, in the 2020s. Youth populations of the currently low-fertility countries of North Africa, Central Asia, and Iran will abruptly mushroom: Morocco at 21%. Algeria 32%. Libya 29%. Tunisia 12%. Central Asia's Sums at a collective 16%. And Iran at 30%.

Add to this the high baby production of the other Muslim regions already mentioned, and that's a lot of youth capital- with all the commensurate aspirations and appetites of the young. And since the growth rates of religious families tend to be much higher than their more worldly peers, demographers expect the margin of the devout to tip the balance against the less religious all over the world. And where Muslims are in multi-ethnic societies (all over the West, for instance) or land disputes, their growth differential will tend to significantly outpace their rivals.

A glance at the leading global societies today-almost all in the West-shows an uncanny inverse of the population trends in the Muslim world. Population declines, in not a few countries precipitous, are now inevitable throughout Europe. Interestingly, America will hold a steady demographic pattern through 2050. Though its growth will not match that of other parts of the world, its proportions, both in people and wealth, will grow enormously in comparison to the rest of the West. This relative increase is also reflected in the percentage of native English speakers in the West, which will leap to more than half.

This means that American influence and responsibilities, if these projections hold, will expand considerably in the West and the world. And if current chauvinistic policies and militaristic attitudes prevail-as reflected in The Graying of the Great Powers: Demography and Geopolitics in the 21st Century, published by the Center for Strategic & International Studies, from which most of these statistics have been taken-it means come the 2020s, it will be a time of maximum instability in the world-with Muslims, East and West, smack in the middle.

I hope our Muslim youth in America and abroad are paying attention. They have so much of divine revelation, of prophetic manners, and political courage to learn and to teach in such a short time, in order to avert the machinations of the mutrafeeha, the power elite, here and there.

What is most compelling about the year 2050 is that most of us won't be here any longer to see the outcome. If our Muslim youth fail their task of clear conveyance of this message, whose very name is Peace, if they do not understand enough of Islam to fulfill the Qur'anic command to call to a common word, many of them and their global peers won't be around either.

Article provided by Al Jumuah Magazine, a monthly Muslim lifestyle publication, which addresses the religious concerns of Muslim families across the world.


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  6 Comments   Comment

  1. Kashif from Canada

    Assalmau'alaikum,

    Article started nice yet ended as a Dud. Could have advised concrete steps like increase female Empoverment(lower birthrate) and give the Gift of 'Iqra' reading to the majority of Populations of Aghanistan, Pakistan, and elsewhere. Make the World a Better place by 2050 through positive Actions..Insha'Allah ! 🙂

  2. Zak from USA

    Amer,

    I met you long time in chicago at youth function in the MCC. You are such a pessimist! Or is it that our community is in a denial and thinks people like you who point out negative things are such pessimist. I think we like stick our head in the sand and pretend it aint happening. I for one have accepted that we are destined to always play second or third fiddle in this world. We can always hope for a better hereafter, right?

    Zak

  3. Kam from -

    A note to Defender! Perhaps your statements are true that God created all and He is able to feed all. But how - provided all those created eat grass, leaves and bark of trees and prepared to live on rocks and trees. Birds have done it and also the living wild animals. Why not humans?

    Your faith is touching me!

    Kam

  4. Muslim from UK

    Muslim population seems to be such a concern to Islamophobes & Neo-Imperialists, but not so much for us. What is happening today, is directly related to such concerns. Right-wing Prof.Huntingdon's "Clash of Civilizations" theory was inspired by rightwing Think Tanks in the ashes of the Cold War e.g. Fukuyama. The Vast Military-Industrial Complex was potentially useless as many with naive wistfulness wished a Golden Age of turning swords into ploughshares as the Evil Empire imploded. However the 1990s to the war-mongering/profiteering MIC, created an opportunity of money to be made out of the back to the future return of tribalism e.g. Yugoslavia/USSR. [vide Disaster Capitalism by Naomi Klein]. Why should a whole generation of salaried death-mongers become unemployed & end up on the scrapheap? Demographics IS Destiny as the "Clash" theory so openly worries. Population can equate to power, as it is the percentage of young males that can turn the world upside down, old women aren't good revolutionaries in the round. Chander hasn't paid attention to history, Malthus' doctrines have had to be scrapped & revised. Ever heard of the Industrial Revolution, the rise of modern technology & efficient methods have left Malthusianism in the gutter. Mankinds' intelligence is the intangible variable, solving a myriad of challenges. Population Density CAN be a competitive advantage if utilised correctly. Cities allow for concentration of the brightest & the best.Urbanisation has even taken place in Africa, supporting huge populations.The rise of the BRIC nations & the global shift away from the west highlights the influence of technology.Young populations are potentially the most innovative & change bloody borders by armies/population movements.The PNAC plan highlights US concerns about retaining full spectrum global dominance before the rise of competitors e.g. China. recall the hadiths about Islam & China. If Muslims invest in education,retain our faith & avoid disunity then...

  5. Defender from Asia

    Arabs are only 20 % of the Muslim Population. Nature/Earth is not Mother or Father. Earth is mother for Hindus, not for others.

    God created all and He is able to feed all. A recent article in The Economist magazine says English is first language of only 330 million people. For many millions English is only a second language. As of my knowledge, Arabic is mother tongue of about 300 million people. As the population increases, influence of Arabic also will increase, By the will of God. Spread of Arabic positively influences spread of islam. Already Arabic has become a favorite language of many students of US Universities.

    Beautiful recitation of The Quran, which is in Arabic, can impress any Arabic knowing man or woman living in any part of the Globe.

    I hope, in the near future, Islam will win hearts and minds of millions of thinking human beings of East and West.

    May God Bless.aameen.

  6. Romesh Chander from USA

    In another 40 years, Arab population (i.e., muslim population) will increase to 700 million. I hope they have enough water to take care such a large population; they have barely enough water to take care of only 300 million people now. I wonder if there will be a Big Bang in Arabia soon to create more rivers. (Oops, what will happen to people during Big Bang).

    You can fool Mother Nature only so much and only so long. In the end Mother Nature will win. Why did God not put enough sense into brains of human beings to slow down in procreation? Probably He did, but humans ignored Him. Now they will pay the price.