Join 3,375 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


What Muslims Really Think
July 28, 2008 7:12 AM   Subscribe

Who are Muslims? Gallup has conducted a poll "in 40 predominantly Muslim nations and among significant Muslim populations in the West. It is the first set of unified and scientifically representative views from 1.3 billion Muslims globally." They'll be parsing and interpreting this data for years, but for the time being, they've offered some of their key results online and in print. See also, the Muslim-West Facts Initiative. (via)

Some excerpts:

Do Muslims Want Democracy and Theocracy?
What Makes a Radical?
What Do Muslim Women Want?
Islam and the West: Clash or Coexistence?

Initial results were published in 2006 in Foreign Policy: "What Makes a Muslim Radical?" in pdf.
posted by anotherpanacea (37 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is great, although it's kind of sad that basic things like this even need to be said: When asked to describe their dreams for the future, Muslims don't mention fighting in a jihad, but rather getting a better job.

Also: Muslims and Americans are equally likely to reject attacks on civilians as morally unjustified.

So I guess an American Muslim is even more likely to reject such attacks? Good news.
posted by DU at 7:26 AM on July 28, 2008


Ironically, we don't have to look far from home to find a significant number of people who want religion as a source of law. In the United States, a 2006 Gallup Poll indicates that a majority of Americans want the Bible as a source of legislation. Forty-six percent of Americans say that the Bible should be "a" source, and 9% believe it should be the "only" source of legislation.

Ironically.
posted by three blind mice at 7:41 AM on July 28, 2008


Forty-six percent of Americans say that the Bible should be "a" source...

I'd like to see the results of this poll with the questions given a little more granularity and/or specificity. That is, are these people saying they want stuff that is in the Bible made into law because it's in the Bible or because they happen to agree with it? I'm pretty sure a lot of atheists and pagans are more than happy that Thou Shalt Not Kill is codified.

(Granted, "source" would seem to imply the first reading, but a lot of people don't read/listen that closely and if the wording isn't crystal clear it's going to get muddy.)
posted by DU at 7:47 AM on July 28, 2008


I haven't seen a breakout of American Muslims from the Gallup poll: it looks like they're holding that back for now. There's Muslims and Americans: The Way Forward, though:
Americans and Muslims share common values, such as a high regard for liberty and equality. The most frequent response among Americans -- a near majority of 48% -- when asked what they admire most about Western culture is "fair political system, respect for human values, liberty, and equality." This same response is also given by a significant number of citizens in the predominantly Muslim countries surveyed: 23% of Jordanians; 22% of Saudi Arabians and Iranians; 37% of Moroccans; 40% of Lebanese. Therefore, what many Muslims admire most about Western societies are values Americans also admire.

Perhaps even more startling, large percentages in most of the predominantly Muslim countries surveyed associate the idea of liberty with the United States more than they do other Western democracies, such as Britain, France, and Germany. For example, 68% of Iranians say citizens of the United States enjoy many liberties, compared with only 39% who say the same about Britain, 36% about France, and 24% about Germany.

Just as there are commonalities between Americans and Muslims regarding what they like about the West, they also share views about what they do not like. Citizens of predominantly Muslim countries and Americans are critical of a perceived "moral and ethical corruption" in the West, as well as excessive personal freedom. These responses reflect both societies' religious sensibilities -- 68% of Americans say religion is an important part of their lives, as do majorities in the predominantly Muslim nations surveyed, ranging from 74% in Iran to 98% in Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:47 AM on July 28, 2008


Saw this recently in the Times UK: Almost a third of them said that killing in the name of religion was justified.
posted by allkindsoftime at 7:56 AM on July 28, 2008


I wonder how these answers would stack up against "What Christians Really Think".

What Do Muslim Women Want?
Now that would be an interesting Mel Gibson movie...
posted by mkultra at 8:03 AM on July 28, 2008


More ironical, given the constant talk in these polls of "Americans and Muslims" is this:

Muslims around the world do not see the West as monolithic. They criticize or celebrate countries based on their politics, not based on their culture or religion.
posted by DU at 8:08 AM on July 28, 2008


*ululates, issues blanket condemnation of monolithic entity known as The West, twirls Kalashnikov*

What? You didn't think that we were all reasonable, did you?
posted by Burhanistan at 8:14 AM on July 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


<sarcasm> I support any study or survey that combines one billion people into one homogeneous group. It makes it easier to figure out who I'm talking about when I say "them". After all, I imagine they're all identical killing machines worthy of nothing but the most hideous end. </sarcasm>
posted by blue_beetle at 8:14 AM on July 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Did they also interview secret Muslims?
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:15 AM on July 28, 2008 [2 favorites]


Unfortunately they won't release the actual data to academics without a $28,500 fee.
posted by proj at 8:26 AM on July 28, 2008


allkindsoftime: Your quote is highly misleading. The sentence you cite, "Almost a third of them said that killing in the name of religion was justified," addresses British Muslim students, which is a pretty small sample size and doesn't reflect the attitudes of the world's Muslims any more than New York Jews speak for global Jewry. The Times poll is radically different than the Gallup poll: Gallup did interviews, not surveys, and the had open-ended answers. So when someone says, for instance, that they support democracy and hope thereby to achieve Sharia law, they mean something different by Sharia than our worst prejudices suggest. Muslim women who support Sharia also want equality of opportunity and expect to be treated equally to men in the eyes of the law.
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:50 AM on July 28, 2008


Ironically, we don't have to look far from home to find a significant number of people who want religion as a source of law. In the United States, a 2006 Gallup Poll indicates that a majority of Americans want the Bible as a source of legislation. Forty-six percent of Americans say that the Bible should be "a" source, and 9% believe it should be the "only" source of legislation.

There's a problem with this statement, though. It assumes that your average American will read this and say "Gosh, I guess we aren't too different from those Muslims" and then a new age of tolerance and understanding will begin.

Actually it won't, because for the majority of people who believe that the Bible should be "a source of legislation" also believe that the Quran is an evil, satanically-inspired book worthy of nothing but the bonfire. So, naturally, they would reject any equivalence between wanting laws based on the Bible (which is the Foundation of Freedom and Honest Euro-American Ethics) and wanting laws based on the Quran (which is a demonic tome of ancient Middle-Eastern gibberish).

Its a bit like saying, "Baptists and Mormons both go to church on Sunday! Why can't they just see that and get along?" Why, you ask? Because they both believe the other to be the Antichrist, that's why.
posted by Avenger at 9:06 AM on July 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


allkindsoftime: Your quote is highly misleading.

I see your point. I didn't mean it the way you took it, however, I just thought it was an interesting key part of the article. In fact, it was the central theme of another article the Times ran on it recently (the original one that I read, which I couldn't find). I was really just trying to offer up the article to broaden the conversation, I in no way meant to imply that the quote spoke to the attitude of all Muslims. Sorry I wasn't more clear on that.
posted by allkindsoftime at 9:26 AM on July 28, 2008


@allkindsoftime, To add to anotherpanacea's criticism, I am also concerned by the quote you provide because it does not do any comparisons to, say, what other fundamentalists from other religions/philosophies and hate groups (yes, I separate these two categories and am not trying to conflate them) rate on the same sorts of questions.
posted by kalessin at 9:31 AM on July 28, 2008


Americans and Muslims share common values

I love how one country is casually pit against an entire religion and I don't mean the good kind of love.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:14 AM on July 28, 2008


allkindsoftime: Your quote is highly misleading.

I see your point. I didn't mean for it to imply that I or anyone else thought that about all Muslims, but I can see how it could be inferred from what I quoted. I was just pointing out another data point to broaden the discussion, is all. Sorry it came across differently.
posted by allkindsoftime at 10:15 AM on July 28, 2008


Gah...my response did go through the first time. Anyway...

I am also concerned by the quote you provide because it does not do any comparisons

Yeah. Because its an article on Muslims, specifically. There weren't any other quotes in the article that would have really satisfied your need for said comparisons. So I guess you're criticizing the article?
posted by allkindsoftime at 10:19 AM on July 28, 2008


That is, are these people saying they want stuff that is in the Bible made into law because it's in the Bible or because they happen to agree with it?

I would suspect it's an interplay of both. Lots of people agree that ideas like "Thou shalt not kill" is a good law. Lots of religious folk see that statement in their text of choice, and think "Gee, this book got that right!", and end up with the idea that their text of choice is the "source" of this sort of law. It's because they want to see their religion as important, nevermind if the rest of the world already got the point that killing is wrong, without the aid of their book.

So I would split that block of 46% into a group that enjoys attributing basic laws to the bible, and a group that actually relies on the bible to determine what should or should not be permitted. I'm not too concerned about the first group; the second is more worrisome. I think the number of people that read the question as "Do secular laws coincide with biblical laws" is negligible.
posted by kiltedtaco at 10:20 AM on July 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Forty-six percent of Americans say that the Bible should be "a" source,

I agree with this statement. The bible informs much of our society's common morality (and common law), for better or for worse, and using it as one source of law is A-OK with me.

Using it as the sole source of law would be confusing. Would we have to keep kosher, or no? Beats the hell out of me.

the majority of people who believe that the Bible should be "a source of legislation" also believe that the Quran is an evil, satanically-inspired book worthy of nothing but the bonfire.

And you know this how? Or are these just your personal feelings about what those ignorant Christians believe?
posted by sondrialiac at 10:49 AM on July 28, 2008


Sondrialiac has provided a great example of the first group I mentioned. I think they're dead wrong on this idea that the bible "informs" morality, but as long as they don't suggest that X is bad because the bible says so, I'm not too concerned.

More to the topic, maybe this just means we need a study of "Who are christians?" too.
posted by kiltedtaco at 11:00 AM on July 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Using it as the sole source of law would be confusing."

It would be, but I'd have my Canadian slaves figure it out for me.
posted by mullingitover at 11:03 AM on July 28, 2008


Americans and Muslims share common values

I love how one country is casually pit against an entire religion and I don't mean the good kind of love.


Gallup merely reflects a common comparison by grounding it in facts. Many people suggest that 'they' and 'we' are at odds, that 'they' hate 'us,' that 'they' hate freedom, that 'they' believe this or that. It may be that this opposition is spurious, that 'we' and 'they' often coincide in membership, but Gallup set out to ask 'them' what they actually think, and reported its findings in this way precisely so as to undermine the common prejudices among 'us' about what 'they' think. Is that really so dangerous?
posted by anotherpanacea at 11:20 AM on July 28, 2008


the majority of people who believe that the Bible should be "a source of legislation" also believe that the Quran is an evil, satanically-inspired book worthy of nothing but the bonfire.

I can't speak for the majority of them, but pretty much all of the televangelists preach this kind of hatred, and further state that Allah is nothing but a moon god. Rabid Muslim fundamentalists certainly foam at the mouth a lot about the evils of the so-called west and how Christians are all misguided human-worshippers, but they don't make up stories like that.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:59 AM on July 28, 2008


(Allah is the word Arab Christians use for "God" also. /End derail)
posted by Burhanistan at 11:59 AM on July 28, 2008


Allah is nothing but a moon god

The proper response to this is, "Yes, and Jesus is nothing but a sun god."
posted by Sys Rq at 12:21 PM on July 28, 2008


Who are muslims?
Muslims are the ones who really care
Who are muslims?
Muslims are the ones who are always there

posted by anazgnos at 12:40 PM on July 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think they're dead wrong on this idea that the bible "informs" morality, but as long as they don't suggest that X is bad because the bible says so, I'm not too concerned.


I see where you're coming from.

At the same time, it's hard to condemn all biblically-based Christian movements as unfit to influence our lawmaking, especially in light of the many important peace and social justice movements that were based on "x is bad because the bible says so."
posted by sondrialiac at 12:52 PM on July 28, 2008


Hold on here a minute, so if I'm understanding this correctly, Muslims don't sate themselves on the blood of innocent children? Because I had all these t-shirts printed up and this is going to be awkward...
posted by quin at 1:31 PM on July 28, 2008


Almost a third of British Muslim students believe killing in the name of Islam can be justified, according to a poll.

The study also found that two in five Muslims at university support the incorporation of Islamic sharia codes into British law.
posted by plexi at 4:40 PM on July 28, 2008


plexi, that's according to an online poll of 1400 students, only 600 of whom were (or rather, claimed to be) Muslim. "Almost a third" represents less than 200 people.

Is it ever justifiable to kill in the name of religion?
Yes in order to preserve and promote that religion. 1% Non-Muslim, 4% Muslim
Yes but only if that religion is under attack. 1% NM, 28% M
No it is never justifiable. 94% NM, 53% M
Not sure. 4% NM, 15% M


(Emphasis mine.)

The "study," among other "Muslims want to kill you" reports, was commissioned by The Centre For Social Cohesion, an offshoot of the Civitas thinktank, which appears to have a decidedly Christian, conservative, anti-immigration bias.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:11 PM on July 28, 2008


Of course, no one involved in this poll wanted to interrupt the love feast by bringing up that whole, you know, Jew thing.
posted by Faze at 6:48 PM on July 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


it's hard to condemn all biblically-based Christian movements as unfit to influence our lawmaking, especially in light of the many important peace and social justice movements that were based on "x is bad because the bible says so."

I'd never condemn a social justice movement for being based on the Bible, but "x is bad because the Bible says so" isn't a legitimate motivation for a law, period. End of discussion. That's not a rational basis. Either come up with a rational, secular, non-Biblical reason for creating a law, or the law shouldn't be made.

I don't think that's a particularly onerous task for social-justice legislation, and the alternative (actually allowing non-secular, non-rational justifications for secular laws) is a road to Hell.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:14 PM on July 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


A poll of more than 1,000 British Muslims, conducted by the Policy Exchange think-tank [in 2007], found that 36 per cent of Muslims aged between 16 and 24 believe those who convert to another faith should be punished by death.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 11:42 PM on July 28, 2008


I CAN HAZ SURVEY DESIGN? Policy Exchange is a partisan think tank that falsifies its results.

A poll of a REPRESENTATIVE SAMPLE of more than 10,000 Muslims in 9 countries, conducted by Gallup, a reputable and non-partisan polling company, [between 2001 and 2007] found that 7% of Muslims in those countries believe that attacks on innocents are ever morally or religiously justified. By way of contrast, 6% of Americans believe that it is completely justified to deliberately target civilians.
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:38 AM on July 29, 2008


Wow, that's pretty damning stuff on Policy Exchange. I admit I had never heard of them before (I'm North American), but it will be difficult to trust anything that comes from them in the future. Interesting that, as with the TANG memos, the clue to skulduggery in the mosque book buys was in the typography. Amateurs may think it's easy to fake stuff with a computer and printer, but it's more difficult than it may seem.

The survey mentioned in the Guardian story that I liked to, though, seems to be valid. It may have been commissioned by Policy Exchange, but was not conducted by them. It was conducted by Populus, a polling organization affiliated with the Times, which seems to be quite reputable. They talk about their methodology on their website.

The raw poll results are available here. The question about converts to non-Muslim religions being punished by death is covered on page 77 of the pdf. It says what the Guardian story says.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 7:59 AM on July 29, 2008


A chart from page 4 of this report. Who knows if the formatting will stick, so if what follows looks like gobbledy-gook, just read the pdf.

There are many acts some people may do in life. I will read out to you number of these acts I would like you to indicate to which extent it can be morally justified...

.................... London Muslims ...... Public
Violence for a
Noble Cause ............. 81% ........... 72%
Not Justified

Attacks That
Target Civilians ......... 88% .......... 92%
Not Justified

posted by anotherpanacea at 8:30 AM on July 29, 2008


« Older The Victorian Web...  |  Cuil... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments