Are Muslims a Minority?

25 August, 2016
Q If Islam is really the true religion, why are Muslims a minority in the world?

Answer

Salam Dear Brother,

Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.

The present Muslim population of the world is reckoned to be between 1 billion and 1.8 billion. The Christian population (that is the largest) is calculated to be about 2.1 billion.

This means that Islam has the second largest following in the world. And judging from several reports in the media, Islam is the fastest growing religion now, notwithstanding the most hostile and adverse propaganda against it.

It is obvious to any one who makes an objective study of the subject, that most “Christians” of the west are Christians only in the census records. Very few of them hold the correct Christian creeds — for instance, taking Jesus to be God — or visit the Church at least once a month.

Several church buildings in the west were kept unused for long; and those in charge were forced to sell them; and many of them were bought by Muslims to convert into mosques. So there is no exaggeration in the Muslim claim that in the present day world, there are more practicing Muslims than practicing Christians.

The editors of Adherents.com say that there is no reason to doubt this claim. That means in reality, of all world religions Islam has the highest number of true adherents.

But are we justified in accepting the strength of numbers — or the counting of heads — as a measure of the truth of a religion or a philosophy?

Let us look at a few verses of the Quran about those who accept the truth and those who reject it:

{The bestowal from on high [of this revelation] issues from the Most Gracious, the Dis­penser of Grace: a divine writ, the messages whereof have been clearly spelled out as a discourse in the Arabic tongue for people of [innate] knowl­edge, to be a herald of glad tidings as well as a warning. And yet, [whenever this divine writ is offered to men,] most of them turn away, so that they cannot hear [its message].} (Fussilat 41:2-4)

{They recognize the favors of Allah. then they deny them; and most of them are (creatures) ungrateful.} (An-Nahl 16:83)

{You are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and believing in Allah. If only the People of the Book had faith, it were best for them: among them are some who have faith, but most of them are perverted transgressors.} (Aal `Imran 3:110)

{Verily in this is a Sign: but most of them do not believe.} (Ashuaraa, 26:121)

The above verses very clearly tell us that those who were ready to follow the Message of Truth, namely the Message of Islam, were much fewer in number than “the perverted transgressors” in different periods of past history.

It is a well-known fact that even the so-called wise people may be wise only in certain areas of human activity, and not necessarily in all areas of life. Can we say that the world’s greatest scientists for instance, are always right in their judgment of art or literature or religion?

And in human history it was often human folly, rather than human wisdom, that had a decisive role. To this day the events of international politics — such as the “war on terror” — clearly show how human ignorance coupled with arrogance — a dangerous combination indeed — leads individuals as well as nations down the path of destruction. May be it is true that the only lesson we learn from history is that we do not learn any lesson from history.

Speaking of majority and minority, we may safely say that the number of adherents of a philosophy or religion can hardly be considered to be a sign pointing to its inherent virtue or goodness. People usually jump on the apparently successful bandwagon. But that does not in any way reflect the actual veracity or virtue of a cause.

For instance, consider the case of Galileo, the famous Italian mathematician and astronomer who declared that the earth was not the stationary center of the universe. Though this was the truth, it was against the Christian belief held by the majority of people at the time.

So he was charged with heresy (then punishable by death) by the Church and so was imprisoned and forced to disavow his statement that the earth moves round the Sun.

It is said that even while in the process of recanting his “heresy” and publicly saying that the earth does not move, he muttered under his breath: “Eppur si muove” in his native tongue of Italian which means: “And yet it moves!”

That is to say, the truth was rejected by the majority of people, and Galileo had to state it softly to himself to satisfy his own conscience.

If the ‘majority-minority’ criterion were the measure of truth, Galileo would have been wrong and the Church authorities would have been right. Today we know better.

And Allah Almighty has said in the Quran about the attitude of the majority of the people about Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him):

{Or do they say, “He is possessed”? Nay, he has brought them the Truth, but most of them hate the Truth.} (Al-Mu’minun 23:70)

The foregoing means that ‘the plurality criterion’ or the strength of number cannot be accepted as a measure of the truthfulness or of the validity of a philosophy, ideology or religion.

And it is worthy of stating emphatically that Allah Almighty in the Quran teaches the lesson that in no period of human history the upholders of justice and truth were a majority. Indeed — as in the Battle of Badr — they were often a small number.

And yet they were victorious over the forces of evil because they had inexhaustible spiritual strength derived from their faith; and so they never had reason to bewail their small number.

I hope this answers your question. Please keep in touch.

Salam.