(RNS) Muslims in America are much less inclined to support suicide bombing than other Muslims abroad, and are more likely to believe that people of other faiths can attain eternal life in heaven, according to a new report released Tuesday (April 30) by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

“The World’s Muslims” report looks at Muslim views across seven categories: Islamic law; religion and politics; morality; women; relations among Muslims; interfaith relations; and religion, science, and pop culture. There is also a special section on U.S. Muslims.

Mosque Prayer

Men pray toward the direction of Kabah in Mecca during 1:30 prayer at the Islamic Society of Greater Kansas City on Tuesday afternoon, June 26, 2012. RNS photo by Sally Morrow


This image is available for Web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

Of the countries surveyed, only a majority of Muslims in America — 56 percent — believe people of other faiths can go to heaven; by contrast, that figure among U.S. Christians is about 64 percent. U.S. Muslims are also less likely than Muslims abroad to believe in evolution, sharing views that are closer to those of U.S. Christians.

On suicide bombing, 81 percent of U.S. Muslims said it was never justified, 7 percent said it was justified to “defend Islam,” and 1 percent said it was “sometimes justified.”

Globally, most Muslims also reject suicide bombing, although significant minorities in several countries say such acts are at least sometimes justified, including 26 percent of Muslims in Bangladesh, 29 percent in Egypt, and 39 percent in Afghanistan.

At least half of Muslims in most countries surveyed say they worry about religious extremists in their own country, including two-thirds or more of Muslims in Egypt, Tunisia, Iraq and Indonesia.

The percentage of Muslims who say they want Shariah, or Islamic law, to be “the official law of the land” varies widely around the world, from fewer than 8 percent in Azerbaijan to 99 percent in Afghanistan. “Solid majorities” in most predominantly Muslim countries surveyed, however, favor the establishment of Islamic law. (The report did not ask the same question of American Muslims.)

That view did not preclude religious tolerance, the survey found, as most Muslims also favor religious freedom for people of other faiths.

The reason for the variation? “Muslims have different understandings of what Shariah means in practice,” said James Bell, the Pew Research Center’s director of international survey research, adding that support for Shariah cut across age, gender, and economic groups.

In most countries surveyed, majorities of Muslim women and men agreed that a wife is always obliged to obey her husband, including more than 90 percent in Morocco, Tunisia, Afghanistan and Indonesia.

The 157-page report is based on more than 38,000 face-to-face interviews conducted in more than 80 languages with self-identifying Muslims in 39 countries and territories. The report combines findings from a 2011-2012 survey of 24 countries in Africa, Asia, and Europe and a 2008-2009 survey of 15 other countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

11 Comments

  1. Did the surveyers ask what are Muslims views on putting people to death for leaving Islam? that is “death for apostasy” Most Islamic scholars say Muhammed taught that if a Muslim rejects his faith he should be put to death.

  2. Mattnurse,

    You can see views on apostasy on page 55 of the report:

    http://www.pewforum.org/uploadedFiles/Topics/Religious_Affiliation/Muslim/worlds-muslims-religion-politics-society-full-report.pdf

  3. The question is which religion is more tolerant?
    Tolerance has a holiness all to itself that transcends all religions, all cultures and all races. It’s the ideal civilized man should strive for; and the single barometer he should be measured with at the end of his life.
    This is because tolerance demands learning, understanding and life experience; it demands courage to express it; and constant vigilance, for the herd mentality is always encroaching, and will forever be the easiest road to follow.

  4. Ramesh Raghuvanshi

    Simple answer to question why U.S. Muslims are more moderate than Muslims worldwide,.U.S Muslims must be moderate otherwise they will be remain backward, perhaps strive in foreign country.They are working with multicast people must adopt same norms learn same language obey same law..In isolated Muslim countries no question arises of competition, so they are not moderate.There is old proverb If you are staying in Rome be behave just like Roman. I give another example those Indians who are migrated in Western countries they obey discipline,,work hard,adopted all western norms. completely changed their attitude but those who remain in India they behave old traditional way.We must remember man only changes with circumstances and not by preaching

  5. How do they know that the Muslims interviewed were not using taqiyya-Islamic principle of lying (http://www.islam-watch.org/Warner/Taqiyya-Islamic-Principle-Lying-for-Allah.htmto cover up what they REALLY think?

    The word “Taqiyya” literally means: “Concealing, precaution, guarding.” It is employed in disguising one’s beliefs, intentions, convictions, ideas, feelings, opinions or strategies. In practical terms it is manifested as dissimulation, lying, deceiving, vexing and confounding with the intention of deflecting attention, foiling or pre-emptive blocking. It is currently employed in fending off and neutralizing any criticism of Islam or Muslims.

    Falsehoods told to prevent the exposing teachings of Islam, to protect oneself, or to promote the cause of Islam are sanctioned in the Qur’an and Sunna, including lying under oath in testimony before a court, deceiving by making distorted statements to the media such as the claim that Islam is a “religion of peace”. A Muslim is even permitted to deny or denounce his faith if, in so doing, he protects or furthers the interests of Islam, so long as he remains faithful to Islam in his heart. ”

    The Muslim antisemitism is now worse then in was in Europe after Hitler came to power but media do not write about it ,”The Sons of Pigs and Apes”: Muslim Antisemitism and the Conspiracy of Silence (http://www.potomacbooksinc.com/Book/BookDetail.aspx?productID=271884).

  6. Ramesh Raghuvanshi

    Are all Muslims terrorists?Why American immigration department harassing each and every Muslims? American people even bitten Shikh religion people also,.Is this not abnormal tendency of American? I think psyche of white American civilization based on fear so take doubt any person who wear turban and kept bread. .I think American by nature credulous people only they are rich mighty so take revenges weak people

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