Poll shows how US Muslims are like Protestants – and how they're not
A worldwide Pew poll of Muslims charts opinions on issues from women's rights to which religion is the one true faith, and details how US Muslims fit into the American matrix.
Compared to Muslims worldwide, adherents of Islam in the United States are more likely to have close friends who are non-Muslim. They are far more likely to say that believers in many religions can attain heaven. They are considerably less likely to view suicide bombing as acceptable.Skip to next paragraph
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Those are some of the results from a major global poll of Muslims in 39 countries, released Tuesday by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.
The survey’s release comes, coincidentally, in the same month America was shaken by Boston Marathon bomb attacks, which focused the nation on the risk of domestic Islamic terrorism. The two suspects named in the case by investigators so far, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, are Muslims of Chechen heritage who had lived in the US for a decade.
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While the Tsarnaev brothers appear to have been drawn toward the ideology of violent jihad in defense of Islam, according to emerging evidence, the Pew survey paints a broader portrait of Muslims worldwide – finding, for instance, that a large majority of the world’s 1.6 billion adherents of Islam disapprove of such attacks against civilians.
The poll also puts in sharp relief how varied the views are from country to country, within a religion that encompasses about one-fourth of the global population. (The survey itself was a gargantuan effort spanning five years – through 2012 – with 38,000 face-to-face interviews in 80-plus languages.)
One true faith? In all but a handful of the 39 countries surveyed, most Muslims agree with the view that their religion is the one true faith leading to eternal life in heaven. And they say belief in God is necessary to be a moral person.
America is one of the exceptions to this pattern, although about two-thirds of US Muslims are foreign-born, according to Pew Forum researchers. Some 56 percent of US Muslims agree with the view that many religions can lead to heaven, compared with 18 percent in the median nation in the global survey.
Terrorism. Around the world, most Muslims reject suicide bombing and other attacks against civilians in the name of Islam. Some 81 percent of US Muslims, on one end of the spectrum, say such violence against civilians is never justified, while some say it is either often justified (1 percent) or sometimes justified (7 percent) to defend Islam.
By contrast, substantial minorities among Muslims in several countries say such acts of violence are at least sometimes justified, including 26 percent in Bangladesh, 29 percent in Egypt, 39 percent in Afghanistan, and 40 percent in the Palestinian territories.
Role of women. In most countries surveyed, majorities of Muslim women and men alike agree that a wife is always obliged to obey her husband. However, majorities in many countries surveyed say a woman should be able to decide for herself whether to wear a veil