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  • Writer's pictureJacob Hansen

Islam: What Muslims Say.

Updated: Oct 22, 2021

Debates seem to rage daily about the nature of Islam. Instead of getting into ever more reductive debates and "No True Muslim" fallacies. I think a quick way to evaluate Islam is just to ask Muslim's to answer for themselves what they believe and don't believe. So has anyone ever done this in a big way? - Actually yes.

Pew Research is one of (if not THE) premier public opinion research institution in the world. They are trusted and used by people of all political and social points of view. In 2012 they concluded a 4 year study that covered more than 39 countries and Muslims all over the world. They conducted 38,000 face to face interviews and acquired hundreds of thousands of responses to questions in which Muslims expressed their attitudes and beliefs on a wide variety of issues. If you want to know what Muslims as a whole believe this is probably the best resource available.

Please Click Here to see the full study

With that said it's very clear based on this research that Muslims have a fairly wide range of views depending on the issues. Categorizing them simply into moderates or extremists is not robust enough to capture the variety of opinions. My own analysis and in reading/hearing others who analyzed these data, has lead me to believe there should be at least 4 major categories to consider. 1) Radical Islamists : Fundamentalist Muslims who not only advocate that Islam should be the civil law of their own land but are willing to use force to have Islamic law become the law the whole world.

2) Islamists: Fundamentalist Muslims who advocate and take measures political, social and even militarily to enshrine islamic law in the nations they reside in. 3) Fundamentalists: Muslims who hold tightly to traditional interpretations of Islam and the Quran.

4) Moderates: Muslims who hold to looser and more modern interpretations of Islam.

I think any objective look at the data and current events reveals the truth that Islamists actually do represent a very small and disliked group among Muslims. However that does not mean most Muslims are then moderate, but rather it would seem that the vast majority are fundamentalists.

What Muslim's Say

Muslims do not believe we should "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's and render unto God the things that are God's", the idea that the church and state should be separate. The majority of Muslims support Sharia to be the law of the land.

Sharia, or Islamic law, offers moral and legal guidance for nearly all aspects of life – from marriage and divorce, to inheritance and contracts, to criminal punishments. Sharia, in

its broadest definition, refers to the ethical principles set down in Islam’s holy book (the Quran) and examples of actions by the Prophet Muhammad (sunna).

And around 40% believe that Sharia and its punishments should apply to both Muslim and Non Muslim (see full study, p 22).

But don't Muslims disagree about what constitutes Sharia law? Perhaps, but when asked if adulterers should be stoned to death the following was the response. It should also be noted that the largest Muslim populations are located in the Middle East and South/Southeast Asia.

To understand what they think Sharia entails we can look at how theft should be handled?

How about Women's rights in society?

Muslims even seem to be fairly split on if a woman should be free to go without a veil in public.

How about rights for the LGBTQ community? This study only focused on if homosexuality was immoral, which muslims answered overwhelming that they felt it was (in fact it was the question with the widest consensus of all the questions). However, most of the major religions of the west have held this same view.

However, what you will not find common amongst Christians or Jews in the west in the 21st century are more than half of its respondents in a place as advance as the United Kingdom in 2016 saying that homosexuality should be punished by law.

But wasn't homosexuality illegal in the west just last century? Yes. That was wrong. But some societies have learned from the mistakes of the past while it seems that many in the Islamic world, due to fundamentalist views of Islam are still holding onto them even after coming to the west.

One of the most shocking finds was that even in places in eastern Europe you still had as much as 40% of muslims saying that honor killings of women (meaning killing a woman because she violated the families honor by having pre marital sex) could sometimes be justified.

Members of the Church should not forget that it is not uncommon for Muslims to be discouraged from baptism by mission presidents if they feel it would put their lives in jeopardy. Tens of millions of Muslims believe that the death penalty should be executed on people who leave Islam for Christianity.

There really are 2 primary forces on earth stopping the gospel from reaching all of Gods children.

It also should be kept in mind that Muhammed is not just seen as a Prophet, but as an exemplar of how a good Muslim should behave. I suggest studying the life of Muhammed to see if you believe his life is more in line with modern western values or modern Islamists?


Now please note that the data I am sharing above is selective. I encourage everyone to read the full study. I am focusing on the most shocking finds that many who have commented on this data simply ignore. The reality is that the data also shows the vast majority of Muslims detest terrorism and suicide bombings. They also support stable marriages, giving to charity and helping others (including non muslims). Even the data above still shows that huge numbers of Muslims reject things like Sharia law and forcing women to cover their faces. However, the fact remains that 10's and even hundreds of millions of muslims do support insane and repressive ideas like honor killings, and using the law to punish homosexuals. This is simply is what the data are.

If you feel a little bit red pilled by these data keep in mind that I did too. I used to simply think of Muslims as moderate or extremists. But then I looked at the data and realized that this categorization was way too narrow. The reality is that the VAST majority of Muslims (over a billion people) don't fit either into what most people would consider moderate or extremist.

But what about the nice Muslims you met? Don't discount their sincere kindness. Foster those relationships. Love all man. I have no doubt that even around the world the Muslim value of hospitality is generally second to none. However, a person is much more than their hospitable nature. Matters of public policy and social institutions are ultimately built around the ideology of the local population. We must recognize that in places like the United States, Muslims are very different than muslims in places like Afghanistan. In America, you are far more likely to be encountering true moderates. However, it would be silly to generalize about Mormon's based on personal experiences with one small branch attending UC Berkley when the reality is that the bulk of Mormonism, its beliefs and its culture are located in other places.

In the end, these ideas and attitudes did not arise out of nothing. They arose via fundamentalist interpretations of Islam. Islam is in great need of reform. Latter Day Saints should support and encourage the more moderate interpretations of Islam that move it closer to moral truth, closer to Jesus Christ. They also should not be afraid to stand up when something is wrong, even if you get called an Islamophobe.

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