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A comparison of the lives and teachings of different islamic scholars

The survey, which involved more than 38,000 face-to-face interviews in over 80 languages, finds that in addition to the widespread conviction that there is only one God and that Muhammad is His Prophet, large percentages of Muslims around the world share other articles of faith, including belief in angels, heaven, hell and fate or predestination. While there is broad agreement on the core tenets of Islam, however, Muslims across the 39 countries and territories surveyed differ significantly in their levels of religious commitment, openness to multiple interpretations of their faith and acceptance of various sects and movements.

Some of these differences are apparent at a regional level. For example, at least eight-in-ten Muslims in every country surveyed in sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia and South Asia say that religion is very important in their lives.

Across the Middle East and North Africa, roughly six-in-ten or more say the same. For more comparisons with U. Muslims, see Appendix A. But religion plays a much less central role for some Muslims, particularly in nations that only recently have emerged from communism.

No more than half of those surveyed in Russia, the Balkans and the former Soviet republics of Central Asia say religion is very important in their lives.

Generational differences are also apparent. Across the Middle East and North Africa, for example, Muslims 35 and older tend to place greater emphasis on religion and to exhibit higher levels of religious commitment than do Muslims between the ages of 18 and 34.

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In all seven countries surveyed in the region, older Muslims are more likely to report that they attend mosque, read the Quran also spelled Koran on a daily basis and pray multiple times each day. Outside of the Middle East and North Africa, the generational differences are not as sharp.

And the survey finds that in one country — Russia — the general pattern is reversed and younger Muslims are significantly more observant than their elders.

  1. The Translation of the Meanings of the Noble Quran 16. Not just in the Middle East and North Africa but in other regions as well, the willingness of Sunnis to accept Shia as fellow Muslims tends to be higher in countries with sizable Shia populations.
  2. Sunni followers believe that their prophet Muhammad did not appoint a specific successor before his death. Iran has national policies that support Shia military groups and political parties in other countries.
  3. But, does this Islamic autonomy authorize Muslims to make their own decisions about life and death? Principles of Healthcare Ethics.

There are also differences in how male and female Muslims practice their faith. In most of the 39 countries surveyed, men are more likely than women to attend mosque. This is especially true in Central Asia and South Asia, where majorities of women in most of the countries surveyed say they never attend mosque. However, this disparity appears to result from cultural norms or local customs that constrain women from attending mosque, rather than from differences in the importance that Muslim women and men place on religion.

In most countries surveyed, for example, women are about as likely as men to read or listen to readings from the Quran on a daily basis. And there are no consistent differences between men and women when it comes to the frequency of prayer or participation in annual rites, such as almsgiving and fasting during Ramadan.

Sectarian Differences The survey asked Muslims whether they identify with various branches of Islam and about their attitudes toward other branches or subgroups. While these sectarian differences are important in some countries, the survey suggests that many Muslims around the world either do not know or do not care about them. Muslims in the Middle East and North Africa tend to be most keenly aware of the distinction between the two main branches of Islam, Sunni and Shia. In many cases, even greater percentages do not believe that some practices common among Shias, such as visiting the shrines of saints, are acceptable as part of Islamic tradition.

Only in Lebanon and Iraq — nations where sizable populations of Sunnis and Shias live side by side — do large majorities of Sunnis recognize Shias as fellow Muslims and accept their distinctive practices as part of Islam.

Outside of the Middle East and North Africa, the distinction between Sunni and Shia appears to be of lesser consequence. Opinion also varies as to whether Sufis — members of religious orders who emphasize the mystical dimensions of Islam — belong to the Islamic faith. Views differ, too, with regard to certain practices traditionally associated with particular Sufi orders.

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For example, reciting poetry or singing in praise of God is generally accepted in most of the countries where the question was asked. In 32 of the 39 countries surveyed, half or more Muslims say there is only one correct way to understand the teachings of Islam. This view, however, is far from universal. In sub-Saharan Africa, at least one-in-five Muslims agree. In South Asia, Southeast Asia and across Southern and Eastern Europe, at least one-in-six in every country surveyed believe A comparison of the lives and teachings of different islamic scholars is open to multiple interpretations.

In some Central Asian countries, slightly fewer Muslims say their faith can be subject to more than one interpretation. For more comparisons with previous surveys of U. What is a Median? The median is the middle number in a list of numbers sorted from highest to lowest. On many questions in this report, medians are reported for groups of countries to help readers see regional patterns in religious beliefs and practices. For a region with an odd number of countries, the median on a particular question is the middle spot among the countries surveyed in that region.

For regions with an even number of countries, the median is computed as the average of the two countries at the middle of the list e. By contrast, figures reported for individual countries represent the total percentage for the category reported.

Core Beliefs Traditionally, Muslims adhere to several articles of faith. Among the most widely known are: Although the survey asked only respondents in sub-Saharan Africa whether they consider the Quran to be the word of God, the findings in that region indicate broad assent.

The survey asked respondents in all 39 countries whether they believe in the existence of angels. In Central Asia and sub-Saharan Africa more than seven-in-ten also say angels are real. And indeed, the survey finds that the concept of predestination, or fate, is widely accepted among Muslims in most parts of the world. The survey also asked about the existence of heaven and hell. Across the six regions included in the study, a median of more than seven-in-ten Muslims say that paradise awaits those who have lived righteous lives, while a median of at least two-thirds say hell is the ultimate fate of those who do not live righteously and do not repent.

Differences Between Sunni And Shia Muslims

The Five Pillars include: Two of these — fasting during Ramadan and almsgiving — stand out as communal rituals that are especially widespread among Muslims across the globe.

Fasting during the month of Ramadan, which according to Islamic tradition is required of all healthy, adult Muslims, is part of an annual rite in which individuals place renewed emphasis on the teachings of the Quran. The survey finds that many Muslims in all six major geographical regions surveyed observe the month-long, daytime fast during Ramadan.

Annual almsgiving, which by custom is supposed to equal approximately 2. As mentioned above, half or more in most of the 39 countries surveyed agree that there is only one way to interpret the teachings of Islam. But even though the idea of a single faith is widespread, the survey finds that Muslims differ significantly in their assessments of the importance of religion in their lives, as well as in their views about the forms of worship that should be accepted as part of the Islamic faith.

Central Asia along with Southern and Eastern Europe have relatively low levels of religious commitment, both in terms of the lower importance that Muslims in those regions place on religion and in terms of self-reported religious practices.

With the exception of Turkey, where two-thirds of Muslims say religion is very important in their lives, half or fewer across these two regions say religion is personally very important to them. Along with the lower percentages who say religion is very important in their lives, Muslims in Central Asia and across Southern and Eastern Europe also report lower levels of religious practice than Muslims in other regions. In other regions included in the study, daily prayer is much more common among Muslims.

In Southeast Asia, for example, at least three-quarters pray more than once a day, while in the Middle East and North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, majorities in most countries report the same. Muslims in Central Asia, as well as in Southern and Eastern Europe, also tend to be less observant than their counterparts in other regions when it comes to mosque attendance. In the remaining countries, fewer than a quarter of Muslims say they go to worship services at least once a week.

By contrast, outside Central Asia and the Southern-Eastern Europe region, substantially larger percentages of Muslims say they attend mosque once a week or more, although only in sub-Saharan Africa do broad majorities in all countries display this high level of religious commitment. It is important to keep in mind, however, that despite lower levels of religious commitment on some measures, majorities of Muslims across most of Central Asia and Southern and Eastern Europe nonetheless subscribe to core tenets of Islam, and many also report that they observe such pillars of the faith as fasting during Ramadan and annual almsgiving to the poor.

Elsewhere in Southern and Eastern Europe and Central Asia, the older generation of Muslims generally places a greater emphasis on religion and engages more often in prayer. The biggest generational differences are found in the Middle East and North Africa. In Lebanon, for example, Muslims ages 35 and older are 28 percentage points more likely than younger Muslims to pray several times a day, 20 points more likely to attend mosque at least weekly and 18 points more likely to read the Quran daily.

On each of these measures, age gaps of 10 points or more also are found in the Palestinian territories, Morocco and Tunisia. And somewhat smaller but statistically significant differences are observed as well in Jordan and Egypt. Women and Men Similar, Except in Mosque Attendance Across the six regions included in the survey, women and men tend to be very similar in terms of the role religion plays in daily life.

This holds a comparison of the lives and teachings of different islamic scholars for the importance that both sexes place on religion, as well as for the frequency with which they observe daily rituals, such as prayer and reading or listening to the Quran. The one exception to this pattern is mosque attendance: This gender gap is largest in South Asia and Central Asia.

Sectarian Differences Vary in Importance The survey finds that sectarian identities, especially the distinction between Sunni and Shia Muslims, seem to be unfamiliar or unimportant to many Muslims. Sectarian identities appear to be particularly relevant in South Asia and the Middle East-North Africa region, where majorities identify as Sunnis or Shias. In the Middle East and North Africa, moreover, widespread identification with the Sunni sect is often coupled with mixed views about whether Shias are Muslims.

In five of seven countries surveyed in the Middle East and North Africa, at least four-in-ten or more Sunnis say Shias are not Muslims. Indeed, Sunnis in these two countries are at least 23 to 28 percentage points more likely than Sunnis elsewhere in the region to recognize Shias as Muslims. In this regard, Sunnis in these two countries resemble their fellow Shia countrymen more than they resemble Sunnis in neighboring countries such as Egypt and Jordan.

In Lebanon sectarian attitudes vary significantly by age. Lebanese Sunnis who are 35 and older are less willing than younger Sunnis to accept Shias as Muslims.

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The history of sectarian conflict in Lebanon in the 1970s and 1980s may help explain the generational difference. Sunnis who came of age during the conflict years are less inclined to view Shias as fellow Muslims. Yet, even with this generational difference, both younger and older Sunnis in Lebanon still are more willing than most Sunnis in the Middle East-North Africa region to say that Shias share the same faith.

  1. Views of Sufis vary greatly by region. It is central to Shi'a identity even today and is commemorated every year on the Day of Ashura.
  2. The famous Battle of Siffin in 657 demonstrates the religious fervour of the time when Mu'awiya's soldiers flagged the ends of their spears with verses from the Qur'an.
  3. In 32 of the 39 countries surveyed, half or more Muslims say there is only one correct way to understand the teachings of Islam. Similarities between the Sunnis and Shias The two sects, while different, also share many beliefs.
  4. For example, at least eight-in-ten Muslims in every country surveyed in sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia and South Asia say that religion is very important in their lives. Shi'a reports say he took Ali's hand and said that anyone who followed Muhammad should follow Ali.
  5. Sunni-ruled countries have often perceived this as a threat to their well-being and responded by increasing funding to its interests everywhere.

Not just in the Middle East and North Africa but in other regions as well, the willingness of Sunnis to accept Shia as fellow Muslims tends to be higher in countries with sizable Shia populations. Sunni and Shia identities first formed soon after the death of the Prophet Muhammad in 632 C. Over time, however, the political divide between the two groups broadened to include theological distinctions and differences in religious practices as well.

Members of Sufi orders, which embrace mystical practices, can fall within either the Sunni or the Shia tradition. In some cases, Sufis may accept teachings from both traditions. Oxford University Press, pages 290-93 and 304-307. Views of Other Groups The survey also asked about attitudes toward Sufis and members of regionally specific groups or movements. Views of Sufis vary greatly by region. However, significantly fewer Muslims in other regions surveyed accept Sufis as members of the Islamic faith.

Especially in Central Asia, the low percentage that accepts Sufis as Muslims may be linked to a lack of knowledge about this mystical branch of Islam: Views of regionally or locally based groups and movements are mixed. Only in Bangladesh do as many as four-in-ten recognize members of this movement as fellow Muslims; elsewhere in the two regions, a quarter or fewer agree.

See Glossary for brief definitions of these groups. About the Report These and other findings are discussed in more detail in the remainder of this report, which is divided into six main sections: