The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life has just released a report that indicates that the global Muslim population is now very close to a quarter of the estimated total population of humankind. About 60% of this population resides in Asia, with Indonesia having the highest proportion with 12.9% of the overall Muslim population worldwide.
The rest of the report has some interesting findings and is well worth a read. The Pew Forum is also building up to some large long-term studies being released during 2010 which should provide some great findings on the growth of Islam and Christianity around the world.
Of the 232 countries studied, the Americas show by a wide margin the lowest population percentages – with many countries in South America indicating less than half a percent of the population as Muslim. The United States of America also has a very low proportion of Muslim residents, with less than a percent of the total population adhering to one of the various strands of Islam.
It is a very interesting study, although the projected growth study coming up next year might prove to be even more illuminating. What it certainly highlights is the need for a far greater level of tolerance and understanding about the Muslim faith – and I believe particularly in its relation to the Judeo-Christian traditions.
Collectively Judaism, Christianity and Islam make up for well over half of the world’s population. A truly staggering amount of influence when you consider that these three religions can all trace themselves back to a common source.
Further education about the Muslim faith needs to be implemented, particularly throughout ‘Western’ society, and hopefully this latest in-depth study will go some way to promoting such initiatives. Islam truly is one of the greatest influences on global human society, second only to Christianity with which it actually shares a lot of teachings.
The commonality of these two religions needs to be focused upon so that a sense of understanding and community can be developed where now there stands quite a lot of mistrust and misunderstanding.
It also goes quite a far way in showing that a lot of the media rhetoric surrounding the ‘loss of faith’ is strongly localised to areas of Western Europe. For quite a few years now there has been a lot of talk about the waning influence of religion on our daily lives, with many people even quite vehemently talking about the evils of organised religion and how thankful they are that such influence is dissipating.
Although many questionable things have been done in the name of religion, the same is also true – if not even more so – of all secular ideologies and we cannot just focus on the negative aspects without also seeing the great benefit that religion has provided humanity throughout our history.
What we certainly can’t say anymore is that the world is ‘turning away’ from religion, because from the indications of study such as this and many others it certainly seems that religion has as much influence on global communities as it always has – if not even more so.
We must seek to promote the great benefit that can come from all spiritual paths, for they can truly speak to a part of us that seeks connection to something transcendent of ourselves. This sense of something of higher significance – whatever form it may take – often allows us to find a deeper understanding of universal morality and social altruism, even though in some instances it can become politicised and used to segregate and demonise.
By focusing on the benefits of a spiritual path, a greater sense of commonality can be created amongst all people around the world that will become increasingly necessary during any upcoming periods of environmental, economic or political upheaval.
It will also be fascinating to see how religions of all kinds grow with the technological explosion that is increasing exponentially, and I’m definitely going to be keeping an eye out for anything to report on this matter.
I believe that the way in which technology and religion can interface will bring us some of the most interesting and unexpected applications of new technology in many different areas of our lives. Human spirituality runs through all aspects of our varied global society, and we must never forget this as we forge headlong into an unknown future.