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.
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In most countries where a question about so-called “honor” killings was asked, majorities of Muslims say such killings are never justified. In two countries – Afghanistan and Iraq – majorities condone extra-judicial executions of women who have allegedly shamed their families by engaging in premarital sex or adultery.Skip to next paragraph
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Morality. Muslims around the world overwhelmingly view certain behaviors as immoral, including prostitution, homosexuality, suicide, abortion, euthanasia, and consumption of alcohol. But the polling found that attitudes toward polygamy, divorce, and birth control are more varied.
Religion in politics. Most Muslims want to see the teachings of Islam shape their societies, but the percentage of Muslims who say they want sharia to be “the official law of the land” varies. That percentage is fewer than 1 in 10 in Azerbaijan, but is a solid majority in many nations from Africa to Asia. That includes 71 percent of Muslims in Nigeria, 72 percent in Indonesia, 74 percent in Egypt, and 99 percent in Afghanistan.
At the same time, the survey finds that even in many countries where there is strong backing for sharia, most Muslims favor religious freedom for people of other faiths. In Pakistan, for example, three-quarters of Muslims say that non-Muslims are very free to practice their religion, and fully 96 percent of those who share this assessment say it is “a good thing.”
That finding, repeated in other nations, is important as indicator of the potential for tolerance to coincide with the desire for religion to influence public life, the Pew Forum’s James Bell said in a conference call with reporters Tuesday.
And in many countries, a majority of Muslims say sharia law should not apply to people of other faiths. (But majorities in Egypt and Afghanistan say sharia should apply more widely, and Indonesia is divided down the middle on this issue.)
At least half of Muslims in most countries surveyed say they are concerned about religious extremist groups in their country. The worry is more about Islamic extremists than about Christian extremists.
Islam versus other faiths in US. Within the US, it’s possible to draw comparisons between some views of Muslims and the views of people of other faiths.
For example, US Muslims are generally less likely than the general US population to believe that many religions can lead to eternal life (56 vs. 70 percent).
But they are in the middle of the pack when it comes to viewing their religion as the one true faith. About 33 percent of US Muslims believe that, similar to historically black Protestant churches (34 percent) and evangelical Protestant churches (36 percent). A higher share of Mormons (56 percent) felt that way, while the level was lower for a number of other faiths. Sixteen percent of Roman Catholics, 12 percent of mainline Protestants, and 5 percent of Jews in the US saw their religion as the one true faith.
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