Islam is The religion of peace and humanity. It is perfect code of life. The Muslims of the world show their love for Sharia Law.
Poll of global Muslims finds love of Sharia, mixed views on suicide bombings and fear of Islamism The Pew Forum has released a fascinating study of global Muslim attitudes.
The takeaway is that the overwhelming majority favour living under Islamic (ie Sharia) law, but there’s actually a huge difference from country to country in terms of what that means in practice. Here are the key findings: 1. Over three quarters of respondents in the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia want legal issues to be resolved in Sharia courts. That’s not really a surprise: a) it’s their cultural norm and b) religious courts probably offer “fairer” judgements than those run by local dictators or corrupt state officials. But Muslims are split evenly over the extreme stuff associated with Sharia (cutting off hands, death to the apostate), which gets its biggest support in South Asia. Crucially, most do not think that Sharia laws should be applied to non-Muslims.
2. Suicide bombing is mostly rejected – a welcome relief to those of us who might be a target. Alas, it remains popular among sizable minorities in Palestine (40 per cent), Afghanistan (39 per cent), Egypt (29 per cent) and Bangladesh (26 per cent). The latter result is a surprise because it’s not a country in direct conflict with the West, and its attitudes on most other issues are very tolerant.
3. Muslims do not think other people should be compelled to follow Islam. The lowest level of support for religious freedom was found in Egypt (77 per cent) and the highest in Bangladesh (97 per cent).
4. Sexual attitudes remain very conservative – we shouldn’t expect any Afghani basketball stars to come out of the closet anytime soon. Three quarters of all respondents said abortion was wrong and 80 per cent thought homosexuality was a sin. Majorities in every country said that wives should obey their husbands. But views on compelling women to wear a headscarf were more complex – 89 per cent said “give them a choice” in Tunisia but only 30 per cent agreed in Afghanistan. 5. Support for democracy is high in South Asia but low in the Middle East and lowest in Pakistan (only 29 per cent favoured it there).
Depressingly, only 54 per cent back it in Iraq – despite America’s thoughtful decision to invade and give it to them in 2003. The diverse mix of opinions reminds us that Islamic attitudes are shaped partly by the central tenets of the faith but also by national culture and historic experience – they are not a monolith. Where there’s been more war and more upheaval, attitudes seem to be considerably more conservative. Where there’s been a longer period of peace and a more constructive experience of democracy, there’s a definite liberal bent. Moreover, while there’s a commitment to theologically-inspired ethics surrounding sex and womanhood there’s obviously a debate sizzling away about how far these should be matters of state policy or of conscience. We tend to obsess in the West about the rise of radicalism and the political influence of Islamism. We have every right to, considering the number of terrorist atrocities committed by fundamentalists. But we also shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that we really are talking here about a (albeit significant) minority of militants and not a common “Muslim attitude”. Of course, we should remain savvy about the enormous cultural gulfs that does exist between us – globally, Muslims are not enthusiastic about secularism and they might understand “democracy” as something guided by faith rather than constitutionally separated from it. But there’s plenty here to engage with and to find common ground over. Perhaps the most encouraging result from the Pew survey was the finding that Muslims are far more worried about Islamic attacks than any other kind of violence. They hate the buggers just as much as we do.