3 Simple Charts That Explain What Muslims Believe

The Pew Forum recently released a 226-page report exploring opinions and beliefs from Muslim communities around the world. The survey, which was conducted through more than 38,000 face-to-face interviews in more than 80 languages, delves into the Muslim world’s insights on everything from Sharia law to alcohol consumption. The findings were simple: Just as all religions, Islam is subjective in many ways and the few who interpret it in a radical and dangerous way are in no way indicative of the overwhelming majority who don’t.


The first finding — and one that intrigues the Western world the most — is that the majority of Muslims want to implement sharia law, but almost no one was in consensus as to what exactly sharia means.

Support for sharia is highest in Afghanistan, where 99% of the people support sharia. The Palestinian territories, Malaysia, Niger, and Pakistan follow Afghanistan, also holding a high preference for sharia law. Central Asia and Europe, on the other hand, rank amongst the lowest for support for sharia.

But, before all the Islamophobes get up in arms about how Sharia law is taking over the world, Pew notes that there is little agreement even within the Muslim world as to what Sharia law actually is. There is a major split, for example, amongst Muslims as to whether or not corporal punishment is acceptable — religiously, legally and socially – for issues such as adultery, divorce, and thievery. And the reason for that is simple. As Wajahat Ali explains in his article,Understanding Sharia Law, Sharia is neither static nor is it easily defined.

It is open to interpretation in terms of serving as a moral compass, and is largely concerned with religious duties such as praying and fasting, and, most importantly, ensures a welfare state. Because of this, he says, “Any observant Muslim would consider him or herself a sharia adherent. It is impossible to find a Muslim who practices any ritual and does not believe himself or herself to be complying with Sharia.”


In the end, it is clear that Islam is practiced differently with different cultural contexts throughout the world — a clear indication that, just as with all religions, Islam is subjective and can be interpreted very differently by everyone.

A Tunisian Imam Expelled

Wednesday October 31, French police expelled 77 year-old Tunisian imam suspected of preaching the jihad. Mohamed Hammami, the imam of the Mosque of Omar in central Paris, was charged with making comments openly hostile to the values of the Republic. In a statement to the AFP, Minister of the Interior, Manuel Valls accused Hammami of preaching violent jihad, anti-Semitism and the use of violence and corporal punishment against women including whipping-to-death of women accused of adultery.

Allegations of Physical Abuse in Madrassas

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An investigation by BBC Radio 4’s “File on 4” has discovered that Britain’s madrassas faced more than 400 allegations of physical abuse in the last three years. However, only ten of them were dealt with in court, with successful prosecutions in only two cases (as identified by the BBC). While corporal punishment is still legal in part-time education settings in England, including madrassas, if lessons are taught for fewer than 12.5 hours per week, the revelations of both physical and sexual abuse in Britain’s madraddas are alarming and call for more formal regulations of the schools that are attended by more than 250,000 Muslim children every day.  According to the BBC, the cases of abuse reported may only be the tip of the iceberg, as many families are either pressured by their communities not to make a formal complaint or to withdraw complaints if they were made. Mohammad Shahid Raza, chairman of the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board, considers the figures to be “very alarming and shocking” and said the issue needed to be addressed as a matter of urgency.

Islamist Army Lieutenant Declared a Security Risk

A Swiss army lieutenant has been declared a security risk by the Swiss federal constitutional court and has decided that he should be kept away from all confidential information. Gibril Muhammad Zwicker converted to Islam three years ago and has since become a member of the controversial Central Islamic Council of Switzerland (IZRS).
Zwicker has made a number of comments which have raised eyebrows in the top ranks of the military, ranging from supposed acceptable forms of corporal punishment for women to Islam’s being the only true religion. A conviction for the purchase and consumption of cannabis, for which he was fined 300 Swiss francs, contributed to the decision of department for the oversight of personal security in the field of information and material security (IOS) to recommend that he be suspended from all access to confidential information.
In his defense, Zwicker states that he has done nothing contrary to the military or anything that might put anyone in danger. Moreover, he feels betrayed by the army and his superiors, given that he had always correctly accomplished his duties and followed orders.

Investigation into abuse at Dutch Qur’an schools

Integration Minister Eberhard van der Laan has announced that Dutch health authorities will investigate reports of child abuse during Qur’an lessons in mosques.

The investigation, which had already established that corporal punishment was used in the Hague, will now extend to other cities.

Participation in the investigation is voluntary, as authorities can only intervene in cases of child abuse, Expatica reports. Mosques in Amsterdam and Tilburg have refused to cooperate with the inquiry.