Though demographics provide only one glimpse of the complexity of religious expression world-wide, numbers do allow a window into the key areas to watch in the next decade.

In this recent Pew study, the “center of gravity” of the Muslim faith in the next decade resides in Asia (defined here quite broadly, from China to Turkey), with more than 972 million of 1.57 billion global Muslims total (approximately 23% of the estimated global population today).

Together, North and South America have only 4.6 million of this total global population so far, though globalization continues to drive further religious diversity and a move away from national or regionalized religions.

So what does this mean for religious understanding and polarization between Muslims and non-Muslims in the US context, moving forward?  The challenges are clear.

Gallup’s Center for Muslim Studies as well as the collaboration between Gallup and the Coexist Foundation point to alarming polarization between Muslims and non-Muslims in the U.S.

For example:

  • Islam is the most negatively viewed of the major world religions
  • People in the U.S. are more likely to express prejudice toward Muslims than other religious groups.

Among the drivers of this polarization?:

  • Lack of knowledge about Islam
  • Lack of personal relationship with someone who is Muslim.