“in most countries surveyed... women are about as likely as men to read (or listen to readings from) the Quran on a daily basis,” the report said.  — Photo by AP

WASHINGTON: The global Muslim community of 1.6 billion people agree on the core principles of their faith, but differ widely in religiosity and religious tolerance, according to a poll published Thursday.

“Muslims are unified by core beliefs and in core practices” like faith in a single God, believe in the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) and fasting during Ramadan, but “there are differences, sometimes widely” in religious interpretation, James Bell, the principal author of the new Pew Research Center study, told AFP.

The report, which Bell said was “unprecedented” in scope, was conducted in over 80 languages in 39 countries that account for 67 per cent of the world's Muslim population.

Researchers interviewed around 38,000 people in 2008-2009 and 2011-2012 as part of a larger project on changes in global religions.

Between 85 and 100 per cent of Muslims believe in God and revere the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) , the survey said.

Eight of ten people interviewed in sub-Saharan Africa as well as South and Southeast Asia say religion is “very important.”

But only six in ten agreed in sample countries of the Middle East and North Africa, and only one in two agreed in former Soviet countries like Russia and some Central Asian republics.

In the Middle East and North Africa, Muslims aged 35 and over are more religious than their younger counterparts.

The opposite is true of religiosity in Russia.

In 39 countries surveyed, men are more likely than women to pray at a mosque, which Bell explained “is likely to do with social culture about how women publicly observe their worship.”

Still, “in most countries surveyed... women are about as likely as men to read (or listen to readings from) the Quran on a daily basis,” the report said.

A median figure of 63 per cent of Muslims in surveyed countries believe there is only one way to interpret Islam.

Only 37 per cent of American Muslims agreed with that statement.

In countries where Sunnis and Shias live side by side in large numbers, such as Lebanon and Iraq, believers are more likely to accept the other sect.

Conversely, in predominantly Sunni Pakistan, 41 per cent of Muslims believe Shias are not true Muslims.

A quarter of everyone surveyed “identify themselves neither as Sunni nor Shia but as 'just a Muslim.'”

Nine out of ten Muslims interviewed were born into the religion.

Conversion rates are highest in former communist countries, with seven percent of all converts in Russia. Many of the converts were raised in atheism.

“When it comes to conversion ... it is not playing a large role in expanding or growing the number of Muslims around the world,” said Bell.

Pew plans to publish another survey soon on Muslims' social and political attitudes.

Opinion

Editorial

Yemen atrocity
Updated 23 Jan, 2022

Yemen atrocity

The sooner this war is ended, the better, to halt the suffering of Yemen's people and ensure security of all regional states.
23 Jan, 2022

Regressive taxation

THE FBR appears to have kicked up a new and unnecessary controversy by serving notices on currency dealers to ...
23 Jan, 2022

Medico-legal flaws

ON Friday, a 13-page verdict authored by Justice Ali Zia Bajwa of the Lahore High Court revealed a shocking fact...
Updating the economy
22 Jan, 2022

Updating the economy

GDP rebasing doesn’t make countries or people richer; it is just about updated data for policymakers to make informed decisions.
22 Jan, 2022

Covid curbs

CONSIDERING the steep rise in Covid-19 cases in the country over the past few days, the government decided on...
22 Jan, 2022

Cricket hope

SIX Pakistan players named across three teams of the year announced by the ICC is a testament to an uplifting 2021...