Wednesday, 7 September 2011

How Much Longer, The Clash...?

A project by the Pew Research Center projected that the Muslim population would increase from 1.6 billion in 2010 to 2.2 billion in 2030.

This would mean that Muslims will make up more than 26% of the world’s projected population (up from 23% in 2010). Continuing on current trends, most of the world’s Muslims will live in the Asia-Pacific.

Of particular significance is the estimation that in 2030 Indonesia will no longer become the country with the world’s largest population; that title will go to Pakistan, which presently sits at second. The reasons for this are, among others, the declining fertility rate in Indonesia because of better education and living standards as well as urbanization.

Muslims will also become more present in western societies. In the US, the Muslim share of the population will grow considerably, making the Muslims as numerous as the American Jewish population today. In 2030, nearly 45% of American Muslims will be US-born. France, Spain, and the UK will also experience booms in their respective Muslim populations due to the flow of immigrants. In total, Muslims will make up to 10% of the European population, with Russia having the largest share.

What would this mean to international politics?

Many in the West would look at the estimations proposed by the Pew Research Center as indications of the major threat facing western civilization in the years to come. However, such a view would not be there if certain westerners had not held onto the belief that the West is dominant and superior. A fear of usurpers could never exist in conditions of parity.

There needs to be more efforts into building harmony between Islam (and the Muslims around the world) and the rest, particularly the West. Muslims must learn to live with the rest of the world because despite the Muslim population’s considerable growth, Muslims will remain minorities, particularly in the West. And the West will have to learn to live with Islam and its followers because none is likely to dissipate the way Communism and the Communists did.

As Steve Kull, from the Program on International Policy Attitude, expressed, the West (represented by the US) will most likely improve its relations with the West “as it comes to understand, accept and embrace the whole of Muslim society and the course of development that it has chosen for itself..”

Many in the West perceive the evolution of society along stages that the West has gone through. Religion is largely banished from the public sphere, thus allowing pluralism, the divisions between a private sphere and a secular public sphere. This leads to the elevation of freedoms and democratic principles making the will of the people (rather than religious principles) as the basis of human society. Therefore, when viewed from this perspective, the Muslim society would be seen as simply behind the West in this evolutionary process.

This is a discourse that needs further exploration and development. A discourse that is as much me (a Muslim raised in the West) as it is my surroundings (a country with the world’s largest Muslim population, born-again with western liberal-like values of democracy and human rights). A discourse that I am still grappling to understand, let alone conclude.

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