pew, religion & the muslim world

“And the dawn came to the trusted ones and He who had cast them out returned and it was then that the light was shown.”

Muhammad in the KoranControversy Continues To Swirl Around Erection Of Mosque Near Ground Zero



As part of the newer PewResearch studies they took a look at the Muslim world and Islam religion <note: most of this post is a direct pull from the Pew report>. The survey, which involved more than 38,000 face-to-face interviews in over 80 languages, covered 39 Muslim countries and territories.



Let me begin with something that I believe will make you want to read on <because I imagine it does not align with many of the perceptions most people have>.


“Most Muslims Want Democracy, Personal Freedoms, and Islam in Political Life”

July 2012 Pew



I often believe we in the western world have a skewed perception of Muslims and the religion of Islam therefore there are some things I would like to share from a Pew Research study.


Before I do … consider this.



Fundamentalists are … well … fundamentalists <and often extremists>. Sounds obvious but needs to be stated upfront. I will not call them wackjobs but I will suggest that (1) they are in the minority <in all religious beliefs> and (2) their voices and actions are significantly louder than their sheer numbers and (3) regardless of the religion we may decide to discuss their actions will always be at the fringe of what is acceptable to the mainstream.



I think it is crazy for a Christian based group to base their perceptions on a small fundamentalist <albeit far too often radical> Muslim group … just as I believe it would be crazy for a Muslim moderate majority to base their perceptions on a small fundamentalist <albeit sometimes radical> Christian group.






Just think and try and keep an open mind … and read some of what a non-biased research study states.


The study.



We are many months past what we called the Arab Spring. And the news continues to review the struggles of new government and new social construct. Yet, there continues to be a strong desire for democracy in Arab and other predominantly Muslim nations.


Solid majorities in Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt, Tunisia and Jordan believe democracy is the best form of government, as do a plurality of Pakistanis.





Even Pakistan.



A quick side note … we in the united states should never confuse a desire for democracy to be a desire to be friends with the United States. America does not own democracy nor does America have the “how to” guide that other countries can follow <unless you want to skip to chapters called ‘revolution’ and government unrest>.





These countries not only support the general notion of democracy but they also embrace specific features of a democratic system, such as competitive elections and free speech.





They do not want a separation of ‘church & state.’ They would like religion to play a significant role in their country and government.



A substantial number in key Muslim countries want a large role for Islam in political life. But we should note that there are significant differences over the degree to which the legal system should be based on Islam.



This all means that while democratic rights and institutions are popular, they are clearly not the only priorities in the Muslim majority nations surveyed. In particular, the economy is a top concern. And if they had to choose, most Jordanians, Tunisians and Pakistanis would rather have a strong economy than a good democracy. Turks and Lebanese, on the other hand, would prefer democracy. Egyptians are divided.



–          the challenge religious beliefs createpew religion survey all



There is a strong desire for Islam to play a major role in the public life of these nations and most want Islam to have at least some influence on their country’s laws.

Majorities in Pakistan, Jordan and Egypt believe laws should strictly follow the teachings of the Quran, while most Tunisians and a 44%-plurality of Turks want laws to be influenced by the values and principles of Islam, but not strictly follow the Quran.


The world’s 1.6 billion Muslims are united in their belief in God and the Prophet Muhammad and are bound together by such religious practices as fasting during the holy month of Ramadan and almsgiving to assist people in need. But they have widely differing views about many other aspects of their faith, including how important religion is to their lives, who counts as a Muslim and what practices are acceptable in Islam, according to a worldwide survey by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life.



The survey finds that in addition to the widespread conviction that there is only one God and that Muhammad is His Prophet, large percentages of Muslims around the world share other articles of faith, including belief in angels, heaven, hell and fate (or predestination). While there is broad agreement on the core tenets of Islam, however, the Muslims surveyed differ significantly in their levels of religious commitment, openness to multiple interpretations of their faith and acceptance of various sects and movements.

Generational differences are also apparent. Across the Middle East and North Africa, for example, Muslims 35 and older tend to place greater emphasis on religion and to exhibit higher levels of religious commitment than do Muslims between the ages of 18 and 34. In all seven countries surveyed in the region, older Muslims are more likely to report that they attend mosque, read the Quran (also spelled Koran) on a daily basis and pray multiple times each day. Outside of the Middle East and North Africa, the generational differences are not as sharp. And the survey finds that in one country – Russia – the general pattern is reversed and younger Muslims are significantly more observant than their elders.


–          a bruce thought.

This is being posted at the same time as my observations on the Religion in America Pew study … and I found it interesting that when you put on some harsh ‘truth goggles’ you begin to see some key generational similarities when discussing religion.

I believe all religions have a challenge with the younger generations.

By the way … this is not a ‘new issue’ in that the world has faced it before. Without going into excruciating detail from the 4th Turning and how religious belief ebbs & flows from generation to generation suffice it to say that the religious challenges today are not solely driven by technology or the ‘flattening of world’ but also by how generations interact with each other.

A couple of thoughts.


We should never be surprised by what we perceive is happening in our little corner of the world is actually happening in many little corners of the world. Call it the 100 Monkey Theory or just call it being human … but it happens.


Religious leaders, of all religions, shouldn’t be freaking out. And they shouldn’t be wringing their hands worried over the demise of religion. It is simply a demise of the religion as they know it. the construct and core can remain steadfast but out f the general chaos and ‘destruction’ can be built a newer stronger belief system. Out of that being broken something new and stronger can be built.

<call me religious leaders … I would be happy to help>


–          both Democracy and Economy Are Priorities

Majorities in five of the six nations polled (and a plurality of Pakistanis) believe democracy is the best form of government. Moreover, there is a strong desire in these nations for specific democratic rights and institutions, such as competitive multi-party elections and freedom of speech.

pew muslim 1


Other goals are also clearly important. Many say political stability is a crucial priority, and even more prioritize economic prosperity. When respondents are asked which is more important, a good democracy or a strong economy, Turkey and Lebanon are the only countries where more than half choose democracy. Egyptians are divided, while most Tunisians, Pakistanis and Jordanians prioritize the economy.

Overall, views about the economic situation in these countries are grim, although Turkey is a notable exception.


–          a Bruce note

Well. this certainly sounds relevant doesn’t it? money, or prosperity, is important to the happiness of people. Actually balance is important to people. The happiest people tend to be economically sound <not necessarily wealthy> and ‘valuely’ sound <some religious foundation>. They are happiest because they are well grounded in head, heart & wallet. That my friends … is called balance. It always seems crazy to me when all the talking heads expound on one aspect over the other … well … because it is crazy. One aspect can certainly be more important and can dominate within an individual but the happiest has aspects of all. Balance. What a crazy thought. 


–          limited support for extremist Groups



This is an important one.


Across the survey and the key six Muslim nations, less than 20% have a positive opinion about al Qaeda or the Taliban. In Turkey and Lebanon, support for these groups is in the single digits. However, fully 19% of Egyptians rate these extremist organizations favorably.pew muslim 2


 Extremist groups are largely rejected in predominantly Muslim nations, although significant numbers do express support for radical groups in several countries. For instance, while there is no country in which a majority holds a favorable opinion of the Palestinian organization Hamas, it receives considerable support in Tunisia, Jordan and Egypt.


The militant Lebanese Shia group Hezbollah receives its highest overall ratings in Tunisia, where nearly half express a positive opinion. Sizable minorities in both Jordan and Egypt also have a favorable view, but Hezbollah’s image has been declining in both countries in recent years.



It is extremely rare that extremists have complete support … and they tend to do have more support within economically challenged groups <because in some odd way they represent ‘hope’ … a powerful attribute>.



–          a bruce note

Extremists are … well … extreme. And most people reject the extreme … in anything. However, religious extremists, within any and all religions, are difficult to completely reject because at their foundation, their soul as it were, they have an undying belief in something true. Allah, or God, is not a bad thing to believe in. they struggle to understand that most people believe that the path to salvation is not paved with stones of the extreme. Rather they are paved with some basic beliefs and most of us do not believe we have to, or should have to, walk a gauntlet of pain & suffering in order to be accepted by whatever Higher Being we believe in. We get this. Extremists do not get this. And before ‘we’ start casting stones at the Muslim world we should take a good look around us and at our own brand of extremists hovering around our own world.

It may also be helpful for us to take a look at extremists and terrorism and note that Muslim extremists kill more Muslims <and Christian extremists kill more Christians> as we think about this.

Ok. My point? Religion per se is not the issue. Extremism is the issue.

We should not confuse the issue.


That’s it.


It was good information and I wanted to share all under the enlightened thinking heading.



Studies like this are at the foundation of Enlightened Conflict.

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Written by Bruce