Pew’s 2012 survey of Muslims

I’ve referred to in the past of the huge survey Pew did in 2012 of almost 32,000 Muslims in around 40 countries. I’ve blogged some of their published findings.

What I didn’t realise was their entire dataset was available for download, allowing me to get the full data.

I’m blogging some of the results here to highlight both that there are big differences in views between Muslims (ie not a homogenous group), but also some concerning minority views.

  • 34% think Islamic political parties are better than other parties, 16% think they are worse and 38% much the same
  • 55% think religious leaders should have some or much influence in political matters and 39% think not much or none
  • 81% think you have to believe in God in order to be moral and have good values
  • 46% believe in evolution and 40% think humans have existed since beginning of time
  • 59% identify as Sunni, 10% as Shia and 25% as “Just as Muslim”.
  • Only 27% attend mosque more than once a week. 46% attend just a few times a year or never
  • Only 21% would be comfortable with their son marrying a Christian’
  • 91% believe in heaven and 86% believe in hell
  • 35% believe Jesus will return to Earth during their lifetime to initiate the Day of Judgement
  • 96% mostly or completely agree Muslims have a duty to try and convert others to Islam
  • 20% think it is sometimes or often justified to kill a man who has premarital sex or adultery to protect family honour
  • 24% think it is sometimes or often justified to kill a woman who has premarital sex or adultery to protect family honour
  • 43% think it is sometimes or often justified to kill a man who has dishonoured his family
  • 48% think it is sometimes or often justified to kill a woman who has dishonoured his family
  • Only 8% have made a pilgrimage to Mecca
  • 75% support blasphemy laws
  • 39% say a wife should not be able to divorce their husband
  • 80% agree mostly or completely that a wife must always obey her husband
  • 48% think sharia law should apply to non-Muslims in their country
  • 33% say polygamy is morally acceptable
  • 85% say pre-marital sex is morally wrong
  • 86% say homosexual behaviour is morally wrong
  • 56% of Muslims are concerned about extremist religious groups. Of that 56%, 48% are mostly concerned about Muslim extremist groups, 13% mostly Christian extremist groups and 33% both
  • 16% think suicide bombings are sometimes or often justified
  • 35% favour the death penalty for people who leave the Muslim religion
  • 45% favour stoning people who commit adultery
  • 99% of Muslims who are married, are married to a Muslim

I found it interesting that 25% of Muslims don’t identify as Shia or Sunni. Media often report it as if every Muslim is one or the other.

There are very few issues which get over 90% agreement. Only a belief in heaven, a duty to convert and marrying within the faith. Good to see a high level of concern over extremism.

It is concerning to see such high levels of support for killing apostates or adulterers.

In the US, the views of American Muslims are more moderate . Some data from a 2017 Pew survey:

  • Only 42% pray five times a day
  • 82% concerned about extremist Muslims (in fact US Muslims more concerned about Islamic extremism that other US citizens)
  • Only 12% say violence against civilians can be justified to further a cause (US Muslims more likely than non Muslims to say violence is never justified(
  • 90% of US Muslims say they are proud to be American
  • 52% say traditional understandings of Islam need to be reinterpreted in light of modern contexts
  • 52% of US Muslims say homosexuality should be accepted by society (up from 27% a decade ago)

It is no surprise that US Muslims are more moderate than say Muslims in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan etc. What the US data shows is the views do change over time, just as they have with Christianity.

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