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Loving Your Neighbor: Muslim Demographics and Trends

In order to befriend people, it helps to have a general idea of who they are. Of course, the best way to get to know an individual is by meeting them personally, but as a complement, it is good to have an idea of the demographics and statistics. I recently read through some articles on Muslim demographics international and domestic. Here is a short digest with some future projections.

Pew Forum - "Mapping the Global Muslim Population" 2009
ASARB - "Religious Congregations & Membership Study" 2010
Pew Forum - "The Future of the Global Muslim Population" 2011
Pew Forum - "U.S. Muslims: Beliefs and Practices in a Global Context" 2012

  • Global Muslim Population & Trends
    • 2010: 1.6 billion (23.4%)
    • 2030: 2.2 billion (26.4%)
    • Muslim pop growth rate twice that of non-Muslims from 2010-2030
    • Muslim pop growth rate slower than 1990-2010
    • Countries with greatest Muslim populations:
      • Indonesia: 202.9 million (12.9%)
      • Pakistan: 174.1 million (11.1%)
      • India: 161.0 million (10.3%)
      • Bangladesh: 145.3 million (9.3%)
  • European Muslim Population & Trends
    • 2010: 44.1 million (6%)
    • 2030: 58.2 million (8%)
    • Nations approaching 10% Muslim population or more in 2030:
      • France (10.3%)
      • Belgium (10.2%)
      • Sweden (9.9%)
  • United States Muslim Population & Trends
    • 2010: 2.6 million (0.8%)
    • 2030: 6.2 million (1.7%)
    • 2010: Immigrants 64.5%, native-born 35.5%
    • 2030: Immigrants 55.1%, native-born 44.9%
    • Immigrants currently come from
      • 1: Middle-East (41% combined total)
      • 2: Pakistan (14%)
      • 3: Bangladesh (5%)
    • Adherence:
      • Believe religion is important
        • US: 69%
        • Rest of the World (RW): 87% (median)
      • Pray daily
        • US: 65%
        • RW: 76%
      • Say Islam is open to interpretation
        • US: 57%
        • RW: 27%
    • By state:
      • Most Muslim state: Illinois (2.8%)
      • Least Muslim state: Montana (0.034%)
      • States whose highest non-Christian population is Muslim:
        • Alabama
        • Arkansas
        • Florida
        • Georgia
        • Kentucky
        • Illinois
        • Indiana
        • Iowa
        • Louisiana
        • Michigan
        • Mississippi
        • Nebraska
        • North Carolina
        • North Dakota
        • South Dakota
        • Texas
        • Virginia
        • West Virginia
        • Wisconsin
        • Wyoming
2010, ASARB, U.S. Religious Census: RCMS

Christianity in the Public Square: Ravi Zacharias and Nabeel Qureshi

This is a forum in which Dr. Zacharias and I discussed Christianity in the public square at Dartmouth University this fall. I pray it edifies you or a friend. Enjoy! (For iPhone users, click here:

How Can God Hate Sin but Love Sinners, and What is Original Sin? (EQ)

Below is an email question (EQ) I recently received. I hope the answer helps the questioner as well as others!

Dear Nabeel.

I am struggling with two questions that keep me from being a Christian. I truly want to love and praise the Lord but I have some doubts about him.

First of all The Bible says that God hates our sinful personality and everything we do but at the same time He loves us. What is it that He loves? How can he love us if he hates who we are.

The second question is this: Why do I have to get punished for Adams sin. I mean I didn't choose to be born on this sinful earth.

Nabeel. I am so brokenhearted I truly need God in my life and I am so sad because I don't understand who he is. I would really appreciate it if you could answer these two question for me. Thank you so much!

Dear brother,

Thank you for asking these questions. Here is my answer:

1) I encourage you, my brother, to see God as your father. Tell me, how would a good father react if his son were committing crimes? Let's say the son is mugging and beating people on the street. A good father would hate the crimes, denouncing them as the evil that they are. But that father would not stop loving his son. Certainly he would reprimand him, admonish him that he is doing wrong, perhaps even punish him by turning him over to the authorities! But all of this would be done out of love, towards the end that the son would change.

God is the same. He is a Father who loves us, though he hates our crimes (sins). He loves us as the people we are: creations which bear his image. Don't make the mistake of equating humans with their sins. Humans are not their sins, they are beloved creations made in the image of God.

2) Different people answer this question differently, and I am not as well versed in theology as many others whom you could ask. But my answer is this: we are not punished for the sins of our ancestors, at least not directly. Read Ezekiel 18 in its entirety. I will quote vv.18-19: 
Yet you ask, ‘Why does the son not share the guilt of his father?’ Since the son has done what is just and right and has been careful to keep all my decrees, he will surely live. The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them. 
According to Ezekiel, we are not punished for Adam's sin in a direct sense. What Adam's sin did was it introduced sin into the earth, and thereby introduced death. It also shattered the image in which he was made. Imagine a mirror that reflects the image of God; that is how Adam was originally made. When he sinned, it was like taking a hammer to that mirror: the image of God is still there, but it is shattered. Even if the pieces of that mirror are put back together, it will never be the same. Not until it is miraculously remade. Thus are we after Adam sinned, inheriting that broken image of God, which predisposes us to sin such that all men ultimately sin. They are not punished for the sins of their fathers, but their own, an eventuality guaranteed by Adam's sin.

As I have said, this is but one view among many, but I hope it answers your question, and I pray that you will overcome these hurdles and grow in love for our Maker and Father.

In Him,

This Christmas Eve, My Thoughts are on Jesus, Massacre, and the Muslim World

As a former Muslim, Christmas always ushers in a host of confusing emotions for me. I was raised not to give it much thought at all. At the age of 16, while working at Sears, the "holiday season" meant 8 different versions of Frosty the Snowman looping endlessly in the small appliances department. It's no surprise I came to detest Christmas.

When I started following Jesus, I wrestled with whether I should join Christians in celebrating Christmas. I was pretty certain that the historical evidence showed Jesus was not born at Christmas time, and that December 25th was originally a day of pagan celebration, the Roman Saturnalia. My Latin teacher had taught me all this in 9th grade. But ultimately, my friend David's argument won me over: "The date really does not matter. We're celebrating the birth of Jesus, and we can do that on any day. It happens to be December 25th."

"The birth of Jesus." Now there's a mind-blowing thought. If you've followed my ministry, you'll know I have never gotten over this. That God would lay aside His majesty and enter into His creation is inestimably overwhelming to anyone who has not grown habituated to it. He lowers Himself when He deserves to be the Highest! He puts Himself last, dying so that none of us will die, paradoxically making Him First and most humble of all. God cares about His children more than His status. He is willing to leave His heavenly home to enter into our suffering. He is willing to be sacrificed when He could be comfortably worshiped, no less than He deserves.

As I consider who the Lord is and what He has done, the events in Syria shape the contours of my reflections. Rebels have recently pillaged, tortured, and killed a city of civilian Christians; the second worst massacre of Christians during this war, involving dead children, human shields, and mass graves. My heart was immediately burdened by hearing the news, but I could remain silent no longer when I read these words, spoken by an Archbishop in Syria, found at
We feel forgotten and isolated. We sometimes wonder, if they kill us all, what would be the reaction of Christians in the West? Would they do something then?
This Christmas Eve, while we are enjoying the season in our homes, virtually no one is entering into the suffering of our brothers and sisters. Why do we choose to remain comfortable, not sacrificing for our fellow Christians? Is it that we care about our status more than our family? Are we not at this very moment celebrating the very things about Jesus that we are not emulating: self-sacrifice, undue suffering, self-denying love? How can we claim to be His followers if we do not follow Him?

Some might say, "Nabeel, this is certainly an atrocity, but it's one of many in a war that is not ours." You may be right, but why is it that I did not hear about this event until weeks after it happened, when BBC is loudly reporting the death of a young Palestinian girl at the hands of Israel the very day it happened? (BBC Breaking News) Both atrocities in larger contexts, to be sure, but one seems to be unduly silenced by the media.

Some of you will undoubtedly be saying, "But Nabeel, what can we do from here?" Honestly, I don't know. I feel as helpless and frustrated as you do. I am using what little platform I have to say something and inform others, hoping to start a discussion that might be a small part of a lasting change. I speak for myself when I say that I cannot, in good conscience, celebrate Jesus this Christmas Eve while ignoring what He has done and what He commands us to do.

At the very least, let us pray fervently and raise our voices. Pray for respite to our Christian brothers and for a deep-seated calm in the Muslim world. May "peace on earth and goodwill towards men" be cliche no longer on the lips of believers who are, through divine happenstance, comfortable this Christmas Eve. Myself included.

Interview with the Gospel Coalition

Hello folks!

I was recently interviewed by Petar Nenadov at the Gospel Coalition. Read the article here. Below is an excerpt.

Loving requires knowing. And in a new book, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim's Journey to Christ (Zondervan), Nabeel Qureshi aims to help Christians better love their Muslim neighbors by providing an insider's perspective into a Muslim's heart and mind.
Through personal narrative, Qureshi covers a range of topics including the relationship between the Qur'an (Islam's sacred text) and Hadith (Muhammad's words and actions recorded in tradition) as well as the cultural challenges between East (honor-shame cultures) and West (innocence-guilt cultures) in dialogue and evangelism. As one of the newest members of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, Qureshi has the unique ability to address misconceptions on both sides between Christians and Muslims.
I corresponded with Qureshi about what he appreciates about Islam, consequences Muslim converts face, what Western Christians can learn, and more.
As the son of Pakistani immigrants to the United States, you share candidly about the ignorance of many American neighbors and classmates concerning Muslims. What would you like to share with those same people concerning what you appreciate most about Islam?
What I appreciate most about Islam is the discipline it instills in its adherents, the reverence Muslims have toward the Creator, and Muslims' commitment to memorizing the Qur'an. I think Christians could learn a lot from their Muslim neighbors about memorizing Scripture, approaching God with respect, and pursuing personal discipline.
What are Islam's main objections to Christianity?
The primary objection Islam poses to Christianity revolves around the person of Jesus. Orthodox Christianity teaches Jesus is the ultimate revelation, God himself, who through his sacrifice on the cross has paid for the penalty of all mankind. The message doesn't just come through Jesus; the message is Jesus.
Islam, on the other hand, teaches that Christianity is just one of a series of revelations. It teaches that many religious figures have come throughout time, sent by God, Jesus being one of them. He's no more than a messenger. He didn't die on the cross, let alone for the sins of mankind. God hasn't paid our penalty, and we are unsure of our destiny until after the judgment has been cast.
In all these things, Islam challenges the person of Jesus and the path to salvation as taught in Christianity...

To read the full article, click here.

Examples of Variants in Early Qurans

I'm currently at an inaugural meeting of IQSA, the International Qur'anic Studies Association. Fascinating research is being conducted by scholars of many religious backgrounds on the Qur'an. Two scholars that I highly respect, Keith Small and Daniel Brubaker, are here. Both focus on textual variants in Quranic manuscripts.

Instead of keeping their research to myself, I'm adding one of Daniel Brubaker's articles to my blog. Be sure to follow their work if you are interested in Quranic variants! The original article can be found here:

Also, read Keith Small's groundbreaking work here:
Textual Criticism and Qur'an Manuscripts

Partial taping on kalāla in one early muṣḥaf

The earliest Qur’āns represent a tangible anchor to the early history of Islam. Some of the manuscripts we have today are very early, in one case having been radiocarbon-dated with 99.2% probability to 675.5 AD.[1]  In my forthcoming doctoral dissertation, I explore the range and types of scribal change that exist in eleven early Qur’āns or groups of manuscripts, including some discussion of the type of textual treatment I mention below.

SOURCE: Tayyar Altıkulaç, Al-Mushaf Al-Sharif Attributed to Uthman Bin Affān: The Copy at Al-Mashhad Al-Husayni in Cairo / Edited by Tayyar Altıkulaç; Foreward by Halit Eren.– Critical Ed., 2 vols. (Istanbul: Organisation of the Islamic Conference Research Centre for Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA), 2009). 148.

The monumental and early Cairo muṣḥaf al-sharīf  (recently published in facsimile by IRCICA, ISBN 9789290631972, 2vol.)[2] contains in places what appears to be tape covering lines or portions of text. The purpose of this tape is unclear; one possibility related to me recently is that it may have been applied to strengthen the pages at points where overly-acidic ink had eaten through the page.[3]

On page 147 (verso), there is a single instance: the last word of line 7, kalāla of Q4:176, has been taped over in this way. There is no damage to the page evident from the facsimile on the reverse side of the page.

This particular taping has left exposed the tops of the upward-extending letters, namely, the two presumed lams and the upper tip of the presumed ta’ marbuta.  This codex is written with formal and evenly spaced letter forms most similar to those of Déroche’s B.II category.[4]

An interesting feature here is that the space between what appear to be the first and second lam is at least ten times the standard spacing between consecutive lams throughout the pages of this manuscript written by this scribe. There are two other instances of consecutive lams on this page; both are consistent with the standard spacing, which maintains a distance between consecutive lams of about one-third to one-half the width of the nib.

The kalāla of 4:176 is one of two instances of the word kalāla in the Qur’ān; the other is at verse 12 of the same sura. The word kalāla at 4:12 of this muṣḥaf (page 102 verso, possibly the work of a different scribe) is intact and original. The distance between its lams is slightly more than one nib-width.

The overwriting of kalāla at Q4:12 in BNF 328a has been noted by David Powers and forms a basis for his theory concerning the development of the doctrines of inheritance and adoption.[5] The possibility exists that what is under this tape could shed further light on Powers’ theory.

This type of taping is rare in Qur’ān manuscripts.  I have encountered it so far in only one other codex, the Sana‘ā’ muṣḥaf al-sharīf, also available in a quality facsimile edition from IRCICA (ISBN 9789290632351).[6]  The taping, unlike most scribal corrections found in the earliest Qur’ān manuscripts, appears to be a relatively modern phenomenon, perhaps within the last two-three centuries.

I was received warmly and hospitably at IRCICA in Istanbul by its Director, Dr. Halit Eren in November 2011. Dr. Eren was gracious and pleased to see scholarly interest in these early Qur’āns. In the days following my visit, I noted with curiosity the existence of these taped portions throughout this facsimile, which I had obtained from IRCICA on that trip, but did not have the opportunity to look more closely at that time. More recently, I have inquired of IRCICA about the taping in this muṣḥaf; whether the experts there know when it may have occurred or by whom, as well as whether the text underneath is known to be intact.

In addition to the two maṣāḥif mentioned above, two other early monumental Qur’ān codices have recently been published in facsimile editions by IRCICA and ISAM:

Topkapi muṣḥaf al-sharīf (ISBN 9789290631675)[7]

Istanbul muṣḥaf al-sharīf, (ISBN 9789753895231)[8]

These manuscripts are treasures and scholars working in early history of the written Qur’ān will want to be aware of them.