As Muslims continue to grow in population and likely to spread around the world, many have their opinion that one day(though many years later) Muslims will dominate the world. Western countries are debatable, though. But, what about the Asian countries like China, Korea, and Japan?
China, Korea, and Japan have strong belief on their own folk religious tradition so mass conversion to Islam might not be possible in these countries. And to add more, they also have Christianity majority more than Muslims. China does have an absolutely large Muslim minority, but the concentration of Islam among ethnic minorities in the west of the country that seem to be increasingly feared as prone to violent terrorism does not indicate good things.
There is less chance from immigration in these countries so far because most immigrants to Japan and South Korea come from China (ethnic Chinese and Koreans, mainly) and from non-Muslim countries of Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Philippines, Thailand). The situation is more complex in China, which is increasingly starting to become a destination for migrants, not only from its neighbouring countries (Korea, Southeast Asia) but from points further afield like Africa. Many of these African immigrants do come from countries with large Muslim populations. Could immigration into East Asia become overwhelmingly Muslim? it is sceptical.
Muslim fertility rates are somewhat higher than non-Muslim ones, substantially because of the relative laxity of population control laws in China for ethnic minorities, but not that much higher.
Could foreign conquest occur? Conceivably, sure. It’s an open question as to who would be able to conquer East Asia, a prosperous region of the world with strong militaries and (in the cases of South Korea and Japan) alliances with the United States. The nearest Muslim countries of any size to East Asia, in post-Soviet Central Asia and in insular Southeast Asia, seem uninclined to become conquerors and in any case lack the size needed to challenge any of these countries.
All this could change if there is unforeseen change, of course. For the time being, there’s no reason to expect this unforeseen change to occur. You would need a whole flock of black swans to make Islamic domination of East Asia possible.
Historically, Muslims in China have had heavy conflicts with Han Chinese. The earliest example was that Muslims in Fujian (south China) coordinated with Mongols in the persecution of the royal family of the Song dynasty, who were forced out of the Muslim areas and into the sea where they all drowned. Another example is the Muslim rebellions in the north-west China from 1862 – 1873. Hui Muslims and Han Chinese went into heavy clashes and genocides which resulted in a great reduction in population (about 15m).
Another factor will prevent Islam from dominating China is culture and traditions. Islam appeared in the 7th century when China has already established its own sophisticated culture and traditions that have a deep impact on Chinese. It is not very easy for Islam to penetrate into such a mature civilisation which began 2,000 years earlier than it and continued without interruption. We can see that many Chinese traditions will contradict Islam, like ancestral worship, diet habits, the way of living and even ethics.
The third factor is that China has never liked theocracy. While in the world of Islam theocracy is very much preferred. This will be a big problem if Islam wants to take over China. It is only in the prehistoric times that China had ever harboured theocracy which was then abandoned in the era of legends. Only a few Chinese emperors converted to Buddhism. Most of them only used religions as a means of reigning. Also, the ruling class is actually quite wary of the practice of religions among the ruled because religions are organisations, which will pose a great threat to the regime.
But, there is a slight probability that Islam might dominate China if Muslims tend to have more children than non-Muslims in China. However, this would be a long run and who knows what would happen in a hundred years?
Korean Muslim Soldiers
Koreans lifestyle is very demanding. Practising Islam would put restrictions on a Koreans demand that is already quite pushed to the max. Koreans who feel the need to live up this lifestyle, Islam would just be adding more pressure and stress to a demanding situation. A lot of Koreans like to drink. Islam prohibits drinking. Koreans like to express themselves through fashion. Islam would curtail that by dictating that women and men cover up their bodies and wear Islam approved clothing. Koreans enjoy eating a variety of foods. Islam would tell them that pork is forbidden and that all foods must be halal, conforming to Islamic dietary standards, meaning meat must be slaughtered by a Muslim in addition to other requirements. Islam is a small minority religion in Korea, so it would not be practical for Koreans to limit themselves to halal food when there are not enough Muslims to staff the butchery of livestock.
There are various other things that would make the adoption of Islam particularly difficult in Korea such as the requirement to pray five times a day as well as fasting for a month. Koreans would have great difficulty adhering to both as the work culture can be very demanding. Most employers who are non-Muslim would have great difficulty accepting time off for prayer and would not want to hire Korean Muslims who were strict about this. The demands of living up to the standards of Korean society, working hard at school/work, taking care of family, etc. would make it extremely difficult for Koreans to take up the religion. After taking on these responsibilities, Koreans just want to relax and have fun. Adopting a religion that can be very strict and harsh on its followers is not the way to do that.
The motivation behind this question is not pure as if someone truly wanted to benefit a people, they would go where it would provide the most help. So you don’t hear questions like, When will a country from Africa adopt Islam as a majority religion? We know that there are Muslims in Africa. It is because of the Korean Wave and the popularity and reputation of Korean products in the Middle East, where Islam is prevalent, that such a question is asked. Because some Muslims want to associate with Koreans and their image. It is not about helping an impoverished country, but benefiting from one that has already been developed on its own. In fact, a Korean Muslim was interviewed on why Muslims wanted to spread their religion to Korea. He said that because Koreans presented themselves well, they would be of great benefit in spreading Islam. That is what he was told by some Muslim religious leaders from other countries. Surely, that is not the only reason, but the desire of Muslim countries to spread their religion to Korea is well-documented. The Saudi Arabian government and other Islamic countries have funded several mosques to be built in Korea (
Japanese wrestling legend Antonio Inoki becomes Muslim
Islam will not dominate Japan in the foreseeable future because we must look at the history of Japan. In Japan’s case, Actually nobody think the media has anything to do with why Japanese think Islam will not dominate Japan. History is only a part of the reason but it does shape how we view things today so let’s focus on that.
Islam is simply “Un-Japanese” (for lack of a better word) and Japan has been xenophobic in regards to religion in the past. This is due to a variety of reasons but Japan being an island nation has been rather isolated for a long time and even this was self-imposed at one point. The religion of Islam and even Christianity is seen as something that is foreign and alien. This does not mean that the Japanese in general hates Islam, it’s just that Islam is seen as foreign and Japan being Japan is very conservative.
Japan’s native religion is Shinto which is animistic and has many gods. The another dominant religion is Buddhism which also has “foreign” origins but will read the case of Buddhism further below. These two faiths are very different from Islam and Shinto has very strong Buddhist influences.
First, let’s see Christianity as an example as to how the Japanese have treated foreign religions. During the Sengoku Period (around the mid 15th to early 18th century), Christianity was brought into Japan by Jesuits and European traders. Over the years, Christianity managed to gain a lot of followers which included not only the common folk but also those in power such as the Daimyo and local warlords. The conversion took place for a variety of reasons.
Some became Christian for economic reasons, others to gain access to European firearms and others because of purely religious reasons but most Japanese people became Christian because their overlords were. Whatever the reason or reasons, by the time the Sengoku Period ended and the Tokugawa Shogunate began, there were a large amount of Christians in Japan.
The Tokugawa Shogunate was worried about the influence of the Europeans in Japan and they had received reports that the Philippines were conquered by the Europeans who were also Christian. So in response to a perceived foreign threat, the Tokugawa expelled all foreigners from the land and banned Christianity. A large number of Japanese Christians were executed during this time. Some were thrown into a volcano and others were simply beheaded.
Anyway, the events that took place during the Tokugawa Shogunate may have influenced the way Christianity and other foreign religions are looked upon by the Japanese today. But also note that more than 1000 years ago, Buddhism was also seen as foreign in Japan and that worshipping the foreign “gods” of Buddhism would “offend the kami (gods or more precisely, the spiritual forces or beings that live in this world and reside in nature or things derived from it)”.
Buddhism was brought over to Japan by the Chinese and Koreans who also brought along their civilisation to Japan. Eager to learn more from the Chinese or to become civilised themselves, the Japanese (well some) embraced Buddhism. The spread of Buddhism was rather slow but it was encouraged by the Imperial Government and over many many years, spread to everyone else.
Christianity did not receive the same amount of patronage and the Europeans at the time did not influence the Japanese the same way the Chinese and Koreans did. Islam has never received any official support and Islamic Civilisation, at the time, has not influenced Japan in the same way Chinese Civilisation has. This combined with the fact that Japan is rather ethnocentric makes it hard for any religion to be established.
Given Japan’s history and also MAYBE because of what is being reported in the media, we can assume that Islam will not be a dominant religion in Japan but who knows.