Conversions, birth rates, and migration drive historic growth of Australia’s Muslim community

Australia on track to surpass one million Muslims by next census

20 Apr 2024 09:01am
Dr Susan Carland
Dr Susan Carland

KUALA LUMPUR - The Muslim community in Australia is growing rapidly, and based on current trends, it's very likely that the number of Muslims in Australia will exceed one million by the next census.

This growth is driven by several factors, marking a new chapter in Australia's cultural diversity.

Experts, including Dr Susan Carland, a renowned sociologist specialising in religion at Monash University, confirm this significant increase.

The Research, Impact, and Engagement for the School of Social Sciences Deputy Director has a deep understanding of Islam and the dynamics of Muslim communities in Australia.

“The Muslim community in Australia is indeed expanding, and it is not just a hunch.

"Based on current trends, it is highly likely that the number of Muslims in Australia will surpass one million by the next census, which occurs every three to four years.

“What is particularly intriguing is the significant rise in conversions to Islam observed in recent years.

"Previously, we typically saw around one person per month taking their Shahada to embrace Islam under the guidance of organisations like Benevolence Australia.

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“However, in the past couple of years, this figure has skyrocketed to approximately five new conversions per week,” she told Sinar Daily in an interview recently.

She added that the reasons behind this surge are not entirely clear, but noted that similar trends have been observed in the United States as well.

“Moreover, Australia continues to attract Muslim migrants, further bolstering the community's numbers.

“Muslims tend to have larger families, often with three to five children, which contrasts with the smaller average family size in Australia.

“When you combine factors such as birth rates, migration, and conversions, it is evident that the Muslim population in Australia is on a trajectory of growth,” she added.

Photo for illustration purpose only. - Photo by Canva
Photo for illustration purpose only. - Photo by Canva

Carland was also asked whether the recent genocide in Gaza influenced conversions to Islam.

She suggested that some people might have been moved by the events and the Muslim community's response to the crisis.

“However, what is intriguing is that this trend began before the Gaza bloodshed, notably during the onset of the pandemic.

“It is plausible that the pandemic prompted many people to pause and contemplate the purpose of life, spending more time at home and delving into introspection.

“While I have some personal theories, I am cautious about making definitive claims without proper evidence.

“What we have observed is a notable increase in individuals expressing interest in embracing Islam, which could be attributed to various global factors,” she said.

Ultimately, Carland emphasised that the human search for meaning is a powerful motivator.

"This exploration might be leading more individuals to find answers in Islam, which they hadn't considered before," she said.

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