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93% World’s Muslims Moderates (Gallup Poll): Didn’t Believe Us First Time ‘Round?

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In Case You Didn’t Believe Us the First Time ‘Round

I dunno about you, but I’m getting bored of all these “revelations” that the majority of Muslims condemn terrorism, are not “radical,” believe in democracy (or at least, don’t mind it), and all that jazz.

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Anyway, in case you don’t believe Muslims telling you that most Muslims don’t condone terrorism, aren’t radical, believe in democracy, etc. maybe you’ll believe the Gallup poll telling you that most Muslims don’t condone terrorism, aren’t radical, believe in democracy, etc.

The Great Gallup informs us that:

  • 93% of the Muslim population is “moderate.”
  • Only 7% of the Muslim population is “radical.”
  • Being a religious Muslim doesn’t make you a radical.
  • “Radicals” are politically extreme, not necessarily religiously extreme; and give political reasons, not religious reasons, for condoning terrorism.
  • “Radicals” are better educated, have better jobs, and are more hopeful about the future than are “moderates”; they also support democracy/ believe in democracy more than the “moderates” do, but are just cynical about getting it themselves.
  • Muslims don’t want secularism or theocracy, but a democracy based on religious values.
  • Muslims don’t hate the West, they just don’t want Western ways imposed on them.

The most amazing thing is that it took them 6 years of interviewing approximately 95% of the world’s Muslim population to discover what we’ve been saying all along. It’s nice to see that people pay attention to us… NOT!

Anyway, these are basically the main points that the poll reveals, “challenging Western stereotypes of Islam and Muslims.” Personally, I consider the poll to be as useful as Captain Obvious, but whatever. If people choose to listen to another survey instead of what we’ve been saying all along, then fine. Whatever will help people get over their misconceptions about us is worth having around, I guess.

Since I’m supposed to pretend that I’m a political analyst for now, it’s time I get all politically analytical… so here goes.

The first three points aren’t really worth commenting on, since we’ve only been saying it since forever; although as I said, since nobody seems to ever believe us, maybe they’ll believe the Gallup poll. I am, however, quite interested in the second half of the findings – they may not be new to me, but they probably are for the majority of the non-Muslim audience.

If nothing else, the survey creates a new definition for “radicalism,” distinctly different from the one we’ve gotten used to hearing from the media. Rather than defining radicalism or extremism as something linked to religiosity (e.g. a practicing/ conservative Muslim is usually eyed askance and suspected of being ‘radical’), Gallup points out that it’s far more political. Religious reasons are rarely, if ever, given when support for terrorism or terrorist acts are being explained; political views, particularly resentment against America and its disastrous foreign affairs legacy, are what most people use to justify or understand (if not totally approve) the motivations of the terrorists.

The main character in “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” (by Mohsin Hamed) comes to mind as I think about it – Changez is a young Pakistani man, Muslim in name alone, who goes to New York and lives it up… yet about 9/11, he says: “…I smiled. Yes, despicable as it may sound, my initial reaction was to be remarkably pleased… I was caught up in the symbolism of it all, the fact that someone had so visibly brought America to her knees…”

Perhaps not a real-life example of what Gallup is trying to tell the West, but an example nonetheless.

The survey shatters another stereotype: say “radical Muslim” and most people immediately start thinking of a swarthy, bearded, robed guy with his face scarily contorted as he screams out “Death to America!” or (to those less gender-discriminatory) of a niqaabi waving a burning flag. Yet the poll tells us that “radical Muslims” are more likely to be highly educated and have better jobs – basically, professionals!

This different look at what radicalism is and who it affects should lead us to thinking about why it exists in the first place. Instead of settling on simplistic and grossly incorrect explanations such as “they hate democracy” and “they hate our freedom,” those who are truly concerned about the socio-political climate that exists today must realize that there are many shades of grey and there’s no black-and-white when it comes to who’s right and who’s wrong. It’s not about some comic-book-like secret organization suddenly deciding to take over the world, as Islamophobes are constantly claiming is the goal of “Islamists”; rather it’s a much more complex situation with deep roots in the past and constantly experiencing “plot twists” as the political situation becomes more extreme.

Furthermore, it also goes to show that “radical Muslims” do not hate democracy or freedoms, as Bush has (in)famously claimed: it’s quite the opposite! Most Muslims, not just the so-called radicals, agree with the concept of democracy… however, what we do disagree with is the idea that America seems to have, that whatever they do and say is what everybody else should be doing also. In fact, if America truly believed in freedom, then it would give the rest of us the freedom to believe in a society different from America’s; in a way of life different from America’s; in a political system different from America’s.

In recent debates about Shari’ah in the West, many non-Muslims argue that they don’t want Shari’ah imposed on them – now, is it so difficult for them to realize that Muslims don’t want Western ways imposed on us? We’re not telling non-Muslim women to start wearing hijaab, so why do they insist on telling us to stop wearing hijaab (perhaps not in so many words, but that’s the basic message)? It’s attitudes like this, on a societal level and a political level, which so many Muslims disagree with – yet the West must realize that just because we disagree with you, doesn’t mean we hate you and are out to destroy you.

In conclusion, I hope that this poll’s findings cause people to think more deeply about the issue of Muslims and “radicalism,” and to explore the many nuances of the socio-political issues related to Muslims and Islam in the West. Hopefully, this will foster tolerance and understanding of different points of view, which are sorely needed in a time when people are quick to label things as black-and-white and refuse to agree to disagree.

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Zainab bint Younus (AnonyMouse) is a Canadian Muslim woman who writes on Muslim women's issues, gender related injustice in the Muslim community, and Muslim women in Islamic history. She holds a diploma in Islamic Studies from Arees University, a diploma in History of Female Scholarship from Cambridge Islamic College, and has spent the last fifteen years involved in grassroots da'wah. She was also an original founder of MuslimMatters.org.

18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Ikram

    March 1, 2008 at 10:08 AM

    This is urgent; Someone has opened a chatroom in Paltalk in which hate letters and pictures are posted about the Prophet (peace be upon him).
    Paltalk has asked for 4 million votes to close down the room.
    As for now (2:07 PM GMT), 1,577,260 people have voted.
    Vote now and post this to your friends! Show them what Muslims can do.
    To Vote (it takes a few seconds):

    http://www.petitiononline.com/Steyr/petition.html

    -Ikram, maintainer of Sheikh Yusuf Este’s Minbar on Myspace

  2. Manas Shaikh

    March 1, 2008 at 11:55 AM

    I believe some people will learn from this. I also believe some people will come up with “practice what you preach”- which is very funny, because it can be turned around on them.

    Anyway, what is important is to keep on working first within the community, and then building trust outside it.

    And Allah knows best.

  3. awake

    March 1, 2008 at 12:50 PM

    The 7% translates into approximately 91 million people worldwide, roughly a third of the population of the US.

  4. mcpagal

    March 1, 2008 at 2:42 PM

    awake: 7% of 1.2 billion muslims = 84 million, not 91 :)

    In general, I don’t see that it’s necessary to treat this research with hostility, it’s always good to have statistics to back up what you’re saying!

  5. SumDumGuy

    March 1, 2008 at 10:20 PM

    How about a link to the gallup poll itself?
    When you argue with the dhimmi-wannabes, linking to a blog doesn’t count for much without first sources to back it up.

  6. amad

    March 1, 2008 at 10:36 PM

    The link is available to the BBC report in the very first paragraph.

    The link to the report on Gallup:

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/104629/Who-Muslims.aspx

  7. SumDumGuy

    March 1, 2008 at 11:32 PM

    Thanks. Links in your articles have the same color as the rest of the text and are not underlined either. They do change background color if I hover my mouse directly over the link. But all in all it makes it very difficult to distinguish a link from regular text.

  8. amad

    March 1, 2008 at 11:35 PM

    Good point. I think we should try to highlight important links better next time.

  9. me

    March 2, 2008 at 3:44 AM

    i’m a radical..so sue me!

  10. BrotherD

    March 2, 2008 at 6:54 PM

    Is the IDF considered a terrorist organization? Ditto for the CIA and US armed forces. It serves to define terrorism, but survey after survey simply mentions the term without defining it. Is a radical anyone that believes in the use of violence? What about self-defense?

  11. Asma

    March 3, 2008 at 3:32 PM

    believe in democracy or at least don’t mind it? no way. When muslims “support democracy,” it means that they want to choose their leaders, and they think that’s democracy. It _doesn’t_ mean that they are willing to give men the right to legislate, and that’s what democracy _is_. There’s no way it’s acceptable for a muslim to support democracy.

  12. Hassan

    March 4, 2008 at 10:02 AM

    A relevant interview, must read:

    http://www.counterpunch.org/wajahat03042008.html

    BTW this post ends my boycott. I had lot of self retrospection and thinking done. Hence I decided I would post. (plus Amad paid for the food when he was in Houston, that was quite convincing.)

    For those who don’t know what boycott Hassan is talking about, it was related to the “discussions” around the pledge what seems like ages ago. Amazing what a plate of food can do -amad

  13. Pingback: Articles of Interest, March 4th, 2008 « The American Muslim

  14. eli

    March 8, 2008 at 11:02 AM

    “In fact, if America truly believed in freedom, then it would give the rest of us the freedom to believe in a society different from America’s; in a way of life different from America’s; in a political system different from America’s.”

    Amazing…

    Do you believve that people have a choice not to choose shariah? or choose to eat pork, or non-halal?

    How about women? doyou believe they have the freedom to choose to wear a veil…or not?

    Do women have the freedom to drive in muslim countries, go shopping on their own, wear what they choose?

    I think you are in serious denial aka, a moderate muslim. Let’s see if you respond as a moderate

  15. Pingback: Who Speaks for Islam? Introduction | MuslimMatters.org

  16. captainjohann

    August 30, 2008 at 11:36 AM

    The Kashmiri Leader gillani is very truthful about it “that Muslims donot want DEMOCRACY. for them democracy is a country in which Islam alone is practised and others coexist paying zizia. Same is the testament of Indian Mujahadeen and also the most populat cleric in India Dr.Zahir naik.

  17. Pingback: That New York mosque...ITS NOT A MOSQUE! - Politics and Other Controversies -Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Conservatives, Liberals, Third Parties, Left-Wing, Right-Wing, Congress, President - Page 6 - City-Data Forum

  18. Pingback: Islam Q&A & Discussion

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