They Want Sharia

It has long been an article of faith among many in the West and especially among our learned elites that the vast majority of Muslims are essentially moderate people who want freedom and democracy just as the people of the West do. Terrorists such as Osama bin Ladin and the Tsarnaev brothers who held to be part of a tiny minority of extremists who twist and distort the peaceful teachings of Islam. The problem with this view is that it is simply not true. While the great majority of Muslims are not terrorists and would prefer to live in peace with their neighbors, the truth is that the doctrines of al-Qaeda or the Muslim Brotherhood are a lot closer to the mainstream of Islamic teachings than many in the West would like to admit.

There is a recent public opinion poll of the citizens of various Muslim countries which suggests that a large number of people in these countries would prefer to live under Islamic law or Sharia. Here is the story in Yahoo News which was originally published by Reuters.

Large majorities in the Muslim world want the Islamic legal and moral code of sharia as the official law in their countries, but they disagree on what it includes and who should be subject to it, an extensive new survey says.

Suicide bombing was mostly rejected In the study by the Washington-based Pew Forum, but it won 40 percent support in the Palestinian territories, 39 percent in Afghanistan, 29 percent in Eygpt and 26 percent in Bangladesh.

Three-quarters of respondents said abortion is morally wrong and 80 percent or more rejected homosexuality and sex outside of marriage.

Over three-quarters of Muslims in the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia want sharia courts to decide family law issues such as divorce and property disputes, the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life said on Tuesday.

Views on punishments such as chopping off thieves’ hands or decreeing death for apostates is more evenly divided in much of the Islamic world, although more than three-quarters of Muslims in South Asia say they are justified.

To be fair, it is likely that many of those who support the implementation of Sharia may not realize some of the implications of such rules. It is likely that after a decade or so of living under Sharia, many would come to detest it.

Those punishments have helped make sharia controversial in some non-Islamic countries, where some critics say radical Muslims want to impose it on Western societies, but the survey shows views in Muslim countries are far from monolithic.

“Muslims are not equally comfortable with all aspects of sharia,” the study said. “Most do not believe it should be applied to non-Muslims.”

Unlike codified Western law, sharia is a loosely defined set of moral and legal guidelines based on the Koran, the sayings of Prophet Mohammad (hadith) and Muslim traditions. Its rules and advice cover everything from prayers to personal hygiene.

Amaney Jamal, a Princeton University political scientist who was special adviser for the project, said Muslims in poor and repressive societies tended to identify sharia with basic Islamic values such as equality and social justice.

“In those societies, you tend to see significant support for sharia,” she told journalists on a conference call. By contrast, Muslims who have lived under “narrow if not rigid” Islamic systems were less supportive of sharia as the official law.

Unlike Western law codes which leave a wide space of private actions, Islamic law tends to be totalitarian, in the sense that even private actions and beliefs are covered by the law. If a Man’s home is his castle in the West, under Sharia his home and his life belongs to Allah.

More than four-fifths of the 38,000 Muslims interviewed in 39 countries said non-Muslims in their countries could practice their faith freely and that this was good.

This view was strongest in South Asia, where 97 percent of Bangladeshis and 96 percent of Pakistanis agreed, while the lowest Middle Eastern result was 77 percent in Egypt.

The survey polled only Muslims and not minorities. In several Muslim countries, embattled Christian minorities say they cannot practice their faith freely and are subject to discrimination and physical attacks.

The survey produced mixed results on questions relating to the relationship between politics and Islam.

Democracy wins slight majorities in key Middle Eastern states – 54 percent in Iraq, 55 percent in Egypt – and falls to 29 percent in Pakistan. By contrast, it stands at 81 percent in Lebanon, 75 percent in Tunisia and 70 percent in Bangladesh.

In most countries surveyed, Muslims were more worried about Islamist militancy than any other form of religious violence.

I am sure that if a pollster had asked Whites in the Jim Crow South whether the Blacks were content with their lot, the great majority of Whites would have answered, sincerely, yes. No where in the Islamic world are Christians free to worship as they please. At best they can hope for a grudging tolerance. I have to wonder just what the respondents mean when they talk about democracy. It is no good if they are thinking democracy is a way to vote away other people’s’ rights and liberty.  Freedom is more than just having regular elections, even if they are free and honest. In order for a people to be truly free, they have to learn to respect the rights of others. No one wants to be oppressed. The trick is not wanting to oppress other people, especially the despised minority. So far, the human rights situation throughout the Middle East does not lend much support for the idea that the people of that region really understand this. The article ends on a slightly optimistic note.

Views on whether women should decide themselves if they should wear a headscarf vary greatly, from 89 percent in Tunisia and 79 percent in Indonesia saying yes and 45 percent in Iraq and 30 percent in Afghanistan saying no.

Majorities from 74 percent in Lebanon to 96 percent in Malaysia said wives should always obey their husbands.

Only a minority saw Sunni-Shi’ite tensions as a very big problem, ranging from 38 percent in Lebanon and 34 percent in Pakistan to 23 percent in Iraq and 14 percent in Turkey.

Conflict with other religions loomed larger, with 68 percent in Lebanon saying it was a big problem, 65 percent in Tunisia, 60 percent in Nigeria and 57 percent in Pakistan.

A section of the survey on U.S. Muslims noted they “sometimes more closely resemble other Americans than they do Muslims around the world”. Only about half say their closest friends are Muslim, compared to 95 percent of Muslims globally.

So American Muslims are assimilating. That’s good as far as it goes. I hope there is never any sort of religious revival among our Muslim population.

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