The future of Islam or its absence.

Spengler has a new column that points out the coming collapse of Islam as a demographic entity. I have thought for years that Iran, if the population ever succeeds in overthrowing the regime, will abandon Islam as its first priority. Spengler points to a column by David Ignatius that belatedly recognizes a phenomenon that has been noted by others for years.

Something startling is happening in the Muslim world — and no, I don’t mean the Arab Spring or the growth of Islamic fundamentalism. According to a leading demographer, a “sea change” is producing a sharp decline in Muslim fertility rates and a “flight from marriage” among Arab women.

Nicholas Eberstadt, a scholar with the American Enterprise Institute, documented these findings in two recent papers. They tell a story that contradicts the usual picture of a continuing population explosion in Muslim lands. Population is indeed rising, but if current trends continue, the bulge won’t last long.

The second class status of women in the Muslim world has led to important changes in their beliefs, especially about the religion that oppresses them.

Eberstadt’s first paper was expressively titled “Fertility Decline in the Muslim World: A Veritable Sea-Change, Still Curiously Unnoticed.” Using data for 49 Muslim-majority countries and territories, he found that fertility rates declined an average of 41 percent between 1975-80 and 2005-10, a deeper drop than the 33 percent decline for the world as a whole.

Twenty-two Muslim countries and territories had fertility declines of 50 percent or more. The sharpest drops were in Iran, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Bangladesh, Tunisia, Libya, Albania, Qatar and Kuwait, which all recorded declines of 60 percent or more over three decades.

The present fertility rate in Iran is about equal to that of irreligious Europe.

Fertility in Iran declined an astonishing 70 percent over the 30-year period, which Eberstadt says was “one of the most rapid and pronounced fertility declines ever recorded in human history.” By 2000, Iran’s fertility rate had fallen to two births per woman, below the level necessary to replace current population, according to Eberstadt and his co-author, Apoorva Shah.

A July 2012 Financial Times story placed the Iranian fertility rate even lower and cited a U.N. report warning that Iran’s population will begin to shrink in two decades and will decline by more than 50 percent by the end of the century if current trends continue.

Nothing like this has happened since the near extinction of Homo sapiens in south Asia due to the Toba supervolcano eruption 74,000 years ago. We are witnessing the beginning of a severe decline in human population. Why ? In Europe it has been attributed to a decline in religious conviction, possibly related to the European civil war last century. In Japan, it may be a delayed effect of the huge casualty count of World War II. France saw something like this “echo effect” of a drop in the male population after World War I.

In Tehran and Isfahan, Iran, fertility rates are lower than those of any state in the United States.

Eberstadt argues that the fertility decline isn’t just a result of rising incomes and economic development, though these certainly played a role: “Fertility decline over the past generation has been more rapid in the Arab states than virtually anywhere else on earth.”

Books have been written about the oppression of women in Muslim countries. Why would women tolerate this ? One reason is fear and the use of force by men. Many young women have been murdered by male relatives when they seemed to adopt western ways in western countries.

Another reason is religious conviction. We have all read about Muslim women sending their children to be suicide bombers.

What happens when religious conviction declines ?

Iran may be one of the world’s most secular countries; some reports put mosque attendance in the Islamic Republic at just 2%, lower than Church of England attendance. When the odious Islamist regime falls at length, we probably will find that there are as few Muslims in Iran as there were Communists in Russia after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Like other religions rooted in traditional society, for example the nationalist-Catholic faith that Europeans abandoned after the two world wars, Islam cannot abide the onset of modernity. Some forms of religion can flourish in modernity; Islam is not one of them.

What are the policy implications of this phenomenon ?

The point of my 2006 studies in Iran’s demographics was not academic: I argued that a demographic cataclysm helped explained the apocalyptic mindset of the Iranian leadership, which felt that it had nothing to lose by betting everything on a Shi’ite resurgence under the umbrella of nuclear.

But it does not seem likely that the foreign policy establishment, once having noticed the demographic elephant in the parlor, will draw the obvious inference: a society that suddenly stops having children suffers from cultural despair. The same cultural despair that curtains off the future for families afflicts policymakers. Cultural pessimism is a great motivation for strategic adventures. A nation that fears that it may have no future may be willing to risk everything on the roll of a dice. Iran has one last big generation of military age men, the ones who were born in the early 1980s before the great weapons. Nothing but the use of force would stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, with dreadful consequences. With Iran on the verge of building a nuclear bomb, we have hit crunch-time. Will the foreign policy establishment connect the dots in time?

The leaders of the Iran regime seem to be willing to accept suicide if that is necessary to rid the earth of the hated Jew. What if the nation is already on the path to demographic suicide ? The opinion polls of the Muslim world seem to indicate that strict Sharia law is the choice of large majorities.

Specifically, the World Public University of Maryland poll (released February 25, 2009) indicated the following about our putative Muslim ally nations of Egypt and Pakistan: 81% of the Muslims of “moderate” Egypt, the largest Arab Muslim nation, desire a “strict” application of Shari’a, Islamic law; 76% of Pakistan’s Muslims — one of the most important and sizable non-Arab Muslim populations — want this outcome. Furthermore, 70% of Egyptian Muslims and 69% of Pakistani Muslims desire the re-creation of a “single Islamic state or caliphate.”

How many women participated in the poll and how many gave their honest opinion ? They may in fact be voting with their uteri.

23 thoughts on “The future of Islam or its absence.”

  1. That last sentence is a startlingly bizarre image, but possibly a valid point.

    Islamofascism, which is merely another theocratic collectivist ideology when all the alleged supernatural claims are stripped out, is a suicide pact.

    Most people are not suicidal, but many are misled by the relentless indoctrination of a totalitarian culture, which any fundamentalist islamic culture is by definition.

    When the future seems to consist of repression, blatant irrationality, and economic collapse, why bring another generation into it?

    It’s not lack of religion, it’s the lack of hope that kills such tyrannical systems. (And yes, that includes fascist Russia, increasingly socialist Europe, as well as the regimented societies of China and Japan. They may differ in their degree of smothering, but the net effect is the same.)

  2. Aren’t they the fastest growing group in Europe? I know the brave Canadian Muslim activist (under constant death threats) – Irshad Manji – has said Islam will have to go though a reformation

  3. I had not really thought this through, though I knew that birthrates were declining somewhat in Muslim countries. A fascinating take. thanks for posting.

    Bill Brandt, I would say that they have been hoping to have their cake and eat it too, and in our nervousness and leaping to conclusions, perhaps also believed they could do that. When you move the women to London, you might still be able to keep them down 75% – which looks enormous to Western eyes. But then the daughters only 65%, and the granddaughters 50%…

  4. When Iran gets the Bomb, the logical thing would be to nuke Wasdhington DC, destroying the entire federal bureaucracy and the ruling class. America would be utterly helpless without wise bureaucrats telling us what to do and what to eat.

    I would be very upset and I would send a firmly written letter to the Times asking them Muslems not to do it again.

  5. When Iran gets the bomb, the Persian thing would be to use to use the bomb to intimidate the Sunnis (Sauds especially) around the gulf so that it gains control if not ownership of the oil. Then use the oil to bring the west to its knees. If it ever uses the bomb, it will be over Jerusalem first. Getting the bomb there will be lots easier. If it is used over the US, it will be for EMP effects primarily.

  6. Jerusalem is the 2nd holiest site for Islam. If Jerusalem (or any part of Israel) is nuked, the entire region will be unlivable; all the Palestinians will be sick or dead and the Holy Places will be destroyed or unvisitable. Last year I made the Last Chance tour of the Holy Land (Baptised in the Jordan, married at Cana, tied up my horse and ascended to Heaven at the Wall(they lift you using a cable tied to an unseen helicopter), visited all the tombs, churches, temples and mosques.

    Its true the Iranians are Persians (not Arabs) but nevertheless it makes vastly more sense to bomb Washington (home of the great Satan) rather than kill lots of fellow moslems and descecrate some holy places near Jerusalem.

  7. Hiroshima population July 1945, 350,000; 2011 1,200,000.

    Tell the Iraqis of the Iranian reticence about killing moslems.

    I did say if they ever use the bomb. Nukes are ultimately far less effective weapons than they are threats. But if the only way to make the holy places judenfrei is with radiation, well, they will wait 5 years to resume pilgrimages to the cleansed sites. On the other hand, getting a nuke to the US will be a greater challenge and far less effective. They know that and also know they would still have Joooos in their holy places.

  8. Not mutually exclusive, of course (the US and Israel as targets), as long as you have more than one bomb.

    But mere Iranian possession of nuclear weapons and a credible delivery system would have enormous political impact very quickly. Many European politicians are already intimidated by radical Muslims in their own countries…being in range of an Iranian nuclear missile would have them gibbering with fear. The prospect of serious blasphemy laws to prevent “defaming Islam,” with extreme penalties for violators, would surely become much stronger.

  9. Ah yes. The peoples of the book dising each other. I think you are all crazy.

    Anyhoo you may have noticed the almost unceasing threats aimed at Iran by Israel and the US. Perhaps a sane country would arrange some deterrent to these warlike actions. I imagine the threats will stop once the Iranians and the Koreans get their act together. Those who know a little history will remember the Iranian overthrow of the Sha who was imposed on them by the US after an, very probably fair, election that did not please them.

    If you think nuking Washington is the goal you are missing the point.

  10. I am reading The Tenth Parallel (Dispatches from the fault line between Christianity and Islam, from Eliza Griswold. This fascinating book provides a lot of insight into the ongoing religious and demographic problems affecting Nigeria, Sudan and a host of other nations along the tenth parallel as it crosses Africa and Asia, all the way to Philippines. The lines brings together Muslims and Christians, opposing weather conditions, drought and rainy seasons, desert and forests, Muslim nomadic tribes fighting for land and natural resources against christian farmers, fundamentalism from all sides colliding and the ensuing religious violence, death and social chaos.

  11. Thank you for your brilliant analysis, PenGun. It must be a relief to be able to opine without all that reading that others do.

    The Shah’s father was pro-Nazi, like many of his other Muslim brothers. We had a war to win and the route to USSR went through Iran or through the Arctic Ocean. There were no submarines in Iran. The father was deposed, actually by the British, and his son placed on the throne as long as he agreed to behave himself. You might be referring to Mohammed Mossaddegh , who, after he nationalized the Anglo-Iranian OIl Company, was tossed out. Nationalizing companies that have been built by others, as in the case of Cuba, Mexico and Venezuela, often has negative consequences.

    General Haj-Ali Razmara, the Shah’s choice, was approved as prime minister June 1950. On 3 March 1951 he appeared before the Majlis (parliament) in an attempt to persuade the deputies against “full nationalization on the grounds that Iran could not override its international obligations and lacked the capacity to run the oil industry on its own.” He was assassinated four days later while praying in the mosque by Khalil Tahmasebi, a member of the militant fundamentalist group Fadayan-e Islam.

    Mossaddegh’s hands were not exactly clean.

    Maybe the internet was out in the garbage truck the day you thought about Iran.

  12. “Thank you for your brilliant analysis, PenGun. It must be a relief to be able to opine without all that reading that others do.”

    Yeah it’s pretty frightening that I know about all this stuff without having to scare up Google.

    I have been following and reading about this for many years. I am amazed that you lot fail to understand the depth of Iranian fury at having their new PM deposed by the west. “Oh they are just brown people it does not matter what they think”.

    Blowback is in your future, as it has been in your past..

  13. ” “Oh they are just brown people it does not matter what they think”.

    Have you met any Iranians? Do you know where Aryans come from ? I guess you don’t meet many on the garbage truck.

    If you read the post above, you might know more about what you are commenting about.

    I think our problem is with the nutcases running Iran, not the people. It’s about the problems of an obsolete religion that cannot adapt to the modern world. It has nothing to do with “brown people.”

  14. Getting the nuke to Washington is simple. Washington imports 2 tons of opiates from the Taliban each year. Just include the bomb with the next opium shipment. Or tie it to several burros and bring it in through Mexico. The borders are porous if you are smuggling drugs, tobacco or hispanics.

  15. I really never understood why so many people fantasize about a bomb being smuggled into the USA through an allegedly porous border, in a Donkey or an old truck, as if Mexico was a small tiny little country, a Donkey would get nowhere in the vastness of our territories. That is nonsense, if such a thing were possible, the terrorists would have already done that long ago. Fact is, the border might be “porous” for american authorities, for the american public, but it has never been “porous” for Mexican authorities and for the cartels and criminal organizations and communities that control, for real, whatever comes through that border, whatever passes their territories. And stupid, these criminals are not, their transportation and smuggling networks are impenetrable, whatever it is you´re trying to carry through the night, you will taxed by either the authorities, or the criminals, or by both. They will look into whatever you have, they will look at you too, they will want to know where you come from, who you work for and why you speak in one way or the other, no money will ever buy their loyalty, because many of them don´t even have international bank accounts, they´ve never been known for their cosmopolitan nature, they live and die right here. They have controlled traffic of drugs and illegals for decades, even in the midst of a war on drugs, both sides, the authorities and the cartels know what they are doing and the are communication vases between them at different phases and nothing crosses without them learning about it, nothing goes through without permission or license from them.

  16. Michael, I have to say I am really very skeptical about the possibility. The cartels are nothing but a series or a network of local loyalties, different criminal groups working together, but many a time loosely associated, a shipment crosses the territories and passed by numerous hands and controls, the one interest that ties them all is profits and stability, continuity of the business. Cartels are very complex organizations, I sincerely doubt that one terrorist organization can arrive and enter into negotiations with one cartel, because like I say, they are made up numerous smaller organizations, they split and then reunite all the time.

  17. PenGun
    Anyhoo you may have noticed the almost unceasing threats aimed at Iran by Israel and the US.

    It is not difficult to find remarks such as this one made by Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani

    “If a day comes when the world of Islam is duly equipped with the arms Israel has in possession, the strategy of colonialism would face a stalemate because application of an atomic bomb would not leave any thing in Israel but the same thing would just produce damages in the Muslim world”, Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani told the crowd at the traditional Friday prayers in Tehran.

    There goes PenGun once more, speaking truth to power.

  18. And can anyone remind me of any threats made by Israel to destroy, to annihilate, to obliterate, to push the entire state or people of Iran, or the Arabs to the sea?

    Oh! they the Israeli have never said such a thing, even after being under attack for so many years.

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