Conflict, theology and history make Muslims more religious than others, experts say
A recent global survey suggests that Muslims are more religious than Christians and Hindus.
December 3rd, 2011
10:00 PM ET

Conflict, theology and history make Muslims more religious than others, experts say

By Richard Allen Greene, CNN

(CNN) - Every religion has its true believers and its doubters, its pious and its pragmatists, but new evidence suggests that Muslims tend to be more committed to their faith than other believers.

Muslims are much more likely than Christians and Hindus to say that their own faith is the only true path to paradise, according to a recent global survey, and they are more inclined to say their religion is an important part of their daily lives.

Muslims also have a much greater tendency to say their religion motivates them to do good works, said the survey, released over the summer by Ipsos-Mori, a British research company that polls around the world.

Islam is the world's second-largest religion - behind Christianity and ahead of Hinduism, the third largest. With some 1.5 billion followers and rising, Islam's influence may be growing even faster than its numbers as the Arab Spring topples long-reigning secular rulers and opens the way to religiously inspired political parties.

The case against TLC’s “All-American Muslim”

But while there's no doubt about the importance of Islam, experts have different theories about why Muslims appear to be more religious than members of other global faiths - and contrasting views on whether to fear the depth of Muslims' commitment to their faith.

One explanation lies in current affairs, says Azyumardi Azra, an expert on Islam in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim majority country.

Many Muslims increasingly define themselves in contrast with what they see as the Christian West, says Azra, the director of the graduate school at the State Islamic University in Jakarta.

"When they confront the West that they perceive or misperceive as morally in decline, many Muslims feel that Islam is the best way of life. Islam for them is the only salvation," he says.

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That feeling has become stronger since the September 11 attacks, as many Muslims believe there is a "growing conflict between Islam and the so-called West," he says.

"Unfortunately this growing attachment to Islam among Muslims in general has been used and abused by literal-minded Muslims and the jihadists for their own purposes," he says.

But other experts say that deep religious commitment doesn't necessarily lead to violence.

"Being more religious doesn't necessarily mean that they will become suicide bombers," says Ed Husain, a former radical Islamist who is now a Middle East expert at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

In fact, Husain argues that religious upbringing "could be an antidote" to radicalism.

American Muslim women who cover explain their choice

The people most likely to become Islamist radicals, he says, are those who were raised without a religious education and came to Islam later, as "born-agains."

Muslims raised with a grounding in their religion are better able to resist the distortions of Islam peddled by recruiters to radical causes, some experts like Husain argue, making them less likely to turn to violence.

But he agrees that Muslims are strongly attached to their faith, and says the reason lies in the religion itself.

"Muslims have this mindset that we alone possess the final truth," Husain says.

Muslims believe "Jews and Christians went before us and Mohammed was the last prophet," says Husain, whose book "The Islamist" chronicles his experiences with radicals. "Our prophet aimed to nullify the message of the previous prophets."

The depth of the Muslim commitment to Islam is not only a matter of theology and current events, but of education and history, as well, other experts say.

"Where religion is linked into the state institutions, where religion is deeply ingrained from childhood, you are getting this feeling that 'My way is the only way,'" says Fiyaz Mughal, the director of Faith Matters, a conflict-resolution organization in London.

The Ipsos-Mori survey results included two countries with a strong link between religion and the state: Legally Muslim Saudi Arabia, which calls itself the guardian of Islam's two holiest sites, Mecca and Medina; and Indonesia, home of the world's largest Muslim population.

The third majority Muslim country in the study is Turkey, which has a very different relationship with religion. It was founded after World War I as a legally secular country. But despite generations of trying to separate mosque and state, Turkey is now governed by an Islam-inspired party, the AKP.

Turkey's experience shows how difficult it can be to untangle government and religion in Muslim majority countries and helps explain the Muslim commitment to their religion, says Azyumardi Azra, the Indonesia expert.

He notes that there has been no "Enlightenment" in Islam as there was in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries, weakening the link between church and state in many Christian countries.

"Muslim communities have never experienced intense secularization that took place in Europe and the West in general," says Azra. "So Islam is still adhered to very strongly."

But it's not only the link between mosque and state in many Muslim majority countries that ties followers to their faith, says professor Akbar Ahmed, a former Pakistani diplomat who has written a book about Islam around the world.

Like Christians who wear "What Would Jesus Do?" bracelets, many Muslims feel a deep personal connection to the founder of their faith, the prophet Muhammad, he says.

Muhammad isn't simply a historical figure to them, but rather a personal inspiration to hundreds of millions of people around the world today.

"When a Muslim is fasting or is asked to give charity or behave in a certain way, he is constantly reminded of the example set by the prophet many centuries ago," argues Ahmed, the author of "Journey Into Islam: The Crisis of Globalization."

His book is based on interviews with Muslims around the world, and one thing he found wherever he traveled was admiration for Muhammad.

"One of the questions was, 'Who is your role model?' From Morocco to Indonesia, it was the prophet, the prophet, the prophet," says Ahmed, the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington.

But while Ahmed sees similar patterns across the Islamic world, Ed Husain, the former radical, said it was important to understand its diversity, as well.

"There is no monolithic religiosity - Muslims in Indonesia and Saudi Arabia are following different versions of Islam," says Husain. "All we're seeing (in the survey) is an adherence to a faith."

Political scientist Farid Senzai, director of research at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding in Washington, raised questions about the survey's findings.

"Look at the countries that are surveyed - Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and Turkey," he says. "There are about 300 million Muslims in those three countries, (who make up) about 20% of Muslims globally."

Islam is "incredibly important" in Saudi Arabia, he says.

"But in Tunisia or Morocco you could have had a different result. It would have been nice if they had picked a few more Arab countries and had a bit more diversity," says Senzai.

The pollster, Ipsos-Mori, does monthly surveys in 24 countries, three of which are majority Muslim – Turkey, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia. The other countries range from India to the United States, and Mexico to South Korea, and are the same each month, regardless of the subject the pollsters are investigating.

In the survey released in July, about six in 10 Muslims in the survey said their religion was the only way to salvation, while only a quarter of Hindus and two out of 10 Christians made that claim about their own faiths.

More than nine out of 10 Muslims said their faith was important in their lives, while the figure was 86% for Hindus and 66% for Christians.

Ipsos-Mori surveyed 18,473 adults via an online panel in April and released the findings in July. Results were weighted to make the results as representative as possible, but the pollster cautioned that because the survey was conducted online, it was harder to get representative results in poorer countries where internet access is not widespread.

CNN polling director Keating Holland also warns that in an "opt-in" survey, where respondents actively choose to participate, results tend to come from "people who are confident in their opinions and express them openly... not good for intensely private matters like faith or income or sex."

Online surveys in countries that are not entirely free are also open to the possibility that pollsters get "the approved response" in those nations, "where the people who are most likely to be willing to talk about such matters are the ones who hold, or at least verbalize, opinions that won't get them in trouble if they are expressed," Holland says.

That may have been an issue in Saudi Arabia, where respondents were given the choice of not answering questions on religion due to their potential sensitivity in the kingdom. The Saudi sample was the smallest, with 354 participants, meaning "findings for Saudi Arabia must be treated with caution," Ipsos-Mori said.

About 1,000 people participated in most countries, but sample sizes were smaller in the three majority Muslim countries and in eight other countries.

The survey participants did not reflect the true percentage of Christians and Muslims in the world. Christians were over-represented – as were people who said they had no religion – and Muslims were under-represented.

Nearly half the respondents identified themselves as Christian. Eleven percent were Muslim, 4% were Buddhist, 3% were Hindu and 3% were "other." A quarter said they had no religion and 6% refused to say.

Fiyaz Mughal, the interfaith expert, argues that even though the countries surveyed might not be representative of the entire Muslim world, the findings about Muslims rang broadly true. Muslims in different countries were committed to their faith for different reasons, he says.

"Saudi Arabia is an institutionally religious state. Indonesia has religion tied into its culture," says Mughal.

But Muslim immigrants to Europe also show strong ties to their religion, either as a defense mechanism in the face of a perceived threat, or because of an effort to cling to identity, he contends.

He detects a link between insular communities and commitment to faith regardless of what religion is involved. It is prevalent in Muslim Saudi Arabia, but he has seen it among Israeli Jews as well, he says.

"The Israeli Jewish perspective is that (the dispute with the Palestinians) is a conflict of land and religion which are integrally linked," Mughal says.

"What does play a role in that scenario is a sense of isolationism and seclusion in Israeli Jewish religious communities, a growing trend to say, 'Our way is the only way,'" he says.

Religious leaders of all faiths need to combat those kinds of attitudes because of the greater diversity people encounter in the world today, he argues.

They have a responsibility to teach their congregations "that if they are following a religion, it is not as brutal or exclusive as possible," Mughal says. "Things are changing. The world is a different place from what it was even 20 years ago."

Politicians, too, "need to take these issues quite seriously," he says.

"In the Middle East there are countries - the Saudi Arabias - where you need to be saying that diversity, while it may not be a part of the country, is something they have to deal with when moving in a globalized area," he says.

But Senzai, the political scientist, says that it's also important for the West to take the Muslim world on its own terms.

"Many Muslims want religion to play a role in politics," he says. "To assume that everyone around the world wants to be like the West - that they want liberal secular democracy - is an absurd idea."

- CNN's Nima Elbagir and Atika Shubert contributed to this report.

- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: 9/11 • Islam • Middle East

soundoff (5,459 Responses)
  1. Pete

    They have to be or one of their own will kill them, to me they are sheep like at Jonestown waiting to drink the koolaid, or blow them self up. That's not what any god wants. All these religions are pretty much the same, good shysters making uneducated people set them up in power so they can satisfy their ego's

    December 3, 2011 at 11:13 pm |
    • sas72

      All I have to say is that you are shockingly ignorant. I honestly should not dignify your comment with a response, but i did just in case anyone reads it and believes that there is any truth to what you're saying. And it's quite ironic that you refer to other "religous" people, no matter what religion they follow as "uneducated" since you are clearly the one in need of an education!

      December 5, 2011 at 9:57 am |
    • Dan

      I see nothing wrong with what he said and I'm pretty well educated. The death penalty IS part of the law in much of the Muslim world. That's just an inarguable fact. People DO get killed in much of the Muslim world for not being pious enough. That's just an inarguable fact. Religious people of all faiths ARE sheep. Following around what some other human tells them and taking it all on faith that this person or people have some direct phone line to whatever God is. Pete's right.

      December 5, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
  2. Jim

    Islam asks for more from its participants than many forms of Christianity. And as a result, they get more. Islam asks you to pray morning noon and night. With some forms of Christianity, salvation can be achieved by saying a few words at the moment of your death without ever really engaging yourself. I think this doesn't ring true for Muslims and they believe that a relationship with god must be exercised. While I am not a Muslim, there is much to be said for religion that engages everyday, and not just Sunday morning from 9-10. But, of course, the author is making a broad generalization comparing Muslims to "Christians". All Muslims aren't the same and neither are all Christians. Perhaps next he can write an article about how Satan worshipers are much more devout than Mormons. I know I would look forward to not reading it and then blogging about it.

    December 3, 2011 at 11:13 pm |
    • blinky

      They don't ask, Jim. If you don't comply, then at the very least you can expect to be ostracized for life. In extreme cases you will face a death sentence.

      December 3, 2011 at 11:17 pm |
    • Boris Hadenuf

      Blinky, yep. Just ASK some Islamist what happens when they DON'T do what they are supposed to do.

      December 3, 2011 at 11:28 pm |
    • Yusef

      Boris, have you every asked an "Islamist"? (i.e. the believers of the faith of Islam are called Muslims). I guarantee you haven't and you're making a very uninformed generalization about the followers of this faith.

      December 4, 2011 at 1:09 am |
    • Agent Smith

      There is nothing positive to be said for any religion being taken seriously in 2011 primate Jim.

      December 4, 2011 at 2:30 am |
    • Jomama

      They took our jobs!

      December 4, 2011 at 3:23 am |
    • Muneef

      They are hard workers and would accept any job while your type might be lazy and looking in inferiority to certain jobs....

      December 4, 2011 at 8:11 am |
    • JamalJZ

      i agree


      December 4, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • Amanda

      Nice propaganda JamalJZ.

      December 4, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • Alex


      First of all this video is trying to single out Obama for things all american governments have done.
      Each of them sold weapons to Saudis, especially Bush family which had personal business relationships there.
      The real Jews, the religious ones are not recognizing the today's Israel as their state. They all say clearly:
      – The current state of Israel IS NOT THE MESSIANIC STATE WE ARE WAITING FOR.

      According with the Jewish tradition the real Israel will be restored when Messiah comes.
      The current state of Israel was founded by a group of people named Zionists, all being declared as ATHEISTS.
      So, don't blame the Jews for the Israel's existence as it is today. Blame the Zionists.

      The real issue started once the Jews came home after 2000 years. These people needed to be given a place to live
      They were given a place to live at the expense of Palestinians. Many don't know that initially were made by the Zionists abominable crimes against Palestinians. In that respect what the Palestinians should do in such case?
      They took the weapons and fight them.

      Moreover, many of the Jews which left in time their own country, have sold their own properties to the Palestinians.
      Many of the Palestinians have papers proving that. I am not saying all Jews sold their country, but a numerous of them did that. So, how come? You are selling me your house and after a while you are coming and say:
      – Give me my house back or I will kill you!

      Another facts if you would like to consider:
      – The Romans did the Census "in the land of Palestine"!!! Ah.... where is Israel?
      – When God gave them these lands the Palestinians were there, with some giants.

      So, I wonder:
      – Why God would give the lands of other people already living there at their expense?
      Especially that those people will become one of the most dedicated of Monotheists.
      While, I have respect for God's decisions I have a doubt over this account that these lands were given to them.

      Finally, we should see that there is no other way out from these issues other than sitting and discussing to find the right solutions.
      I say that:
      – Let's get rid of ALL of these nuclear weapons for good. Every single country which possess nuclear weapons should start a process of destroying them. These nuclear weapons should be TOTALLY BANNED, as the chemical and biological weapons

      We either do this in time or we will all perish at the hands of our own evil decisions.
      Let's hope, we don't come to that, but if we do, we will be a failed civilization... at least this planet Earth will get a respite from the disease which were the Humans...

      All the best,

      December 4, 2011 at 9:44 pm |
  3. VRage13

    Be religious or DIE!! That is one heck of a motivational tool they use.

    December 3, 2011 at 11:11 pm |
    • GodOfAbraham

      what r u talking about stupid? where did u come up with such idea. I grew up in a muslim country where all major religions enjoiy their religous holidays. In this country it is just christians.

      December 3, 2011 at 11:24 pm |
    • Fanta

      Which country?

      December 3, 2011 at 11:58 pm |
    • said

      All central Asian countries for example. Russians calibrate Easter in Muslim neighborhoods. Jew do too. Even though 80+% of population are Muslims.

      December 4, 2011 at 1:39 am |
    • ambreen

      feel sorry for ignorant ppl like u.

      December 4, 2011 at 1:52 am |
    • Will S

      Tolerance for other faiths by Muslims was not something I experienced when I lived in Saudi Arabia.

      December 4, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • Jesus

      That's how Christianity took hold. After the 1st Council of Nicea in 320 AD or so which formulated a close to version of our present Bible while throwing away many books (e.g. the Book of Giants & Infancy Gospels) it was decreed that any other religion or Biblical worship other than the Bible that was "Constantine approved" as a result of the 1st Council of Nicea would result in death. The lesson here is that a believe or die approach usually creates more believers than dissenters.

      December 4, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • Browny

      I agree with you, unlike the bunch of ignorant useful idiots replying negatively to the truth you posted. Islam is a cult/government of death under the banner of religion, and unfortunately many people are mislead into believing it is comparable to the true Judeo-Christian faiths.

      December 4, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
    • vahellbilly

      GodofAbraham... Try conducting any non-Islamic religious ceremonies or prayers within in the borders of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA)... Or, try and bring a Torah or Bible into the KSA and see what happens to the book and yourself once it is discovered.

      I lived in the KSA for two years and I can tell you personally that the KSA is not one of your open-arm Muslim nations. If you think I am joking or telling a lie, get yourself a ticket and a Bible and try and get through the KSA entry authorities. Make sure that ticket is one way though, as you will not be returning from whence you came for a little while.

      It's easy to talk trash about the USA but at least a mosque can be built and used here... Try building a church or synagogue in a Muslim nation and it would be considered an act of holy war and a slap in the face of Islam. Look at what has happened in places like Eqypt where Coptic's have been in place centuries before Mohammed was even born.

      December 5, 2011 at 11:24 am |
    • Chicago

      That is not true. I wish people stop being so ignorant like you and start finding the facts instead of listening to some propaganda and passing it on to others.

      December 5, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
  4. truthtolight

    indeed....well written and from a non-biased standpoint. honestly, you could write about $#!T in a shoebox, and the hordes of naysayers and negativity spreaders would be all over the story, spitting venom. surely this story will attract them, as well, but i appreciate that it was tastefully written.

    December 3, 2011 at 11:11 pm |
  5. Henkv

    Catholics were also much more religious during the inquisition. Nothing new here.

    December 3, 2011 at 11:11 pm |
    • Boris Hadenuf

      And the last time the Catholics dictated people's lives was .... when?

      December 3, 2011 at 11:14 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      The rcc has not stopped dictating how their cult members should live. What has changed is the degree to which the sheep are listening and following.

      December 3, 2011 at 11:26 pm |
    • GodOfAbraham

      Boris, all major religions dictate life. It is up to the individual to decide which one to adopt. Yes there r few muslim countries that imposes but that is not the face of all muslim countries. Please read and learn about the world and religions. Dont just read news that highlight bad incidents. There r abortion laws, for example, that is imposed on females in this country which is based on religion. Xmas is a 'imposed' religious holiday in the form of law in the USA. list goes on...

      December 3, 2011 at 11:32 pm |
    • Steven

      They dictated today ... and yesterday ... and will tomorrow. As they have every day for hundreds of years.

      December 3, 2011 at 11:33 pm |
  6. Fanta

    Perhaps it's that Islamic countries tend to be more impoverished and less educated? There could be a myriad of reasons. Egypt and Pakistan are great examples. Both are overpopulated, both have an enormously impoverished populace, and many Pakistanis and Egyptians can't even read. These two countries are quite religious, and Pakistan is fanatical, to say the least.

    December 3, 2011 at 11:10 pm |
    • FunkyMonkey7

      Religious belief increases among the more impoverished, but according to political scientists, religious fundamentalism, particularly militant fundamentalism, is more prevalent among the educated lower middle class, compared to the other socio-economic classes

      December 4, 2011 at 12:22 am |
    • ambreen

      Fanta u r such a RETARD.

      December 4, 2011 at 1:59 am |
    • AY

      Seriously? My brother who is MUSLIM and was born in PAKISTAN graduated from HARVARD. My sister, a lawyer, graduate of the UNIVERSITY of MICHIGAN .. Both incredibly successful, by the way .. ah, shucks. But they are Pakistani .. they must be such idiots.

      Ha. It is so unfortunate people like you even waste your time to post. God bless your heart and all the negativity it holds.


      December 4, 2011 at 6:32 am |
    • Genghis Khan

      your paki siblings are successful because they are in christian america. if they were in pakisitan, they would be uneducated idiots like the rest of them. kapish?

      December 4, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
    • Anonymous

      AY, why didn't you say anything about your qualifications and prestigious affliations? By the way, Bush graduated from Yale who once uttered: "Even people with 2.0 GPAs can become presidents".

      December 4, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
    • Amanda

      Genghis Khan, His/he Pakistani sibling s are successful because they are from rich Pakistan family. They could afford to go wherever they want to and succeed. You are an idiot

      December 4, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    • sino

      I don't think the original poster is trying to be offensive or insult Muslims' intelligence. I also don't think (s)he's unaware that Pakistanis may be very intelligent and for the wealthy, very well-educated; your comment about your brother at "HARVARD" is just unnecessary and I don't think anyone is impressed or cares. Fanta is just making a generalization. And s/he didn't say all Pakistanis were idiots, it's very rude of you to put words in someone's mouth. I mean, come on, there is a wide gap between wealthy and poor in education in Pakistan, is there not? It is true that the "so-called West" (as the article calls it) represents money, and that most (not all) Muslim countries are more impoverished. Of course, it's a generalization, and there are many exceptions. I'm sure (s)he knows that too. If someone can't try to talk about things openly without being attacked as a "retard" or a racist, then we're not going to get anywhere, are we? I think Fanta might be trying to say, though I'm not sure, that there is a trend that less wealthy and educated regions are more religious. And, sure, it's true on the whole. Of course, this is not the only region Muslims are more religious. Of course, there's also other factors.

      December 5, 2011 at 2:41 am |
  7. Nida

    I LOVE Islam!

    December 3, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
    • truthtolight

      I LOVE Islam as well! i am Muslim and have respect and LOVE for ALL religions and peoples of the world. say that i am a rarity, that i am not being truthful, or that as a Muslim, it is impossible for me to do those things, but i maintain that Allah, God, The Most High, The Universe put me here to LOVE and STRIVE for PEACE! peace and blessings.....

      December 3, 2011 at 11:15 pm |
    • Observer

      The Bible supports the inferiority of women. It also supports slavery and discrimination against the handicapped. Like the Bible, too?

      December 3, 2011 at 11:15 pm |
    • GodOfAbraham

      If terrorists didn't hijack Islam, more would have loved it too. Pretty unfortunately what the extremists has done to it's image! If and only if the majority of the people of this country knew what I am talking about. But that is not going to happen. The generalization and stereotyping will continue on...

      December 3, 2011 at 11:15 pm |
    • GodOfAbraham

      Boris Hadenuf just proved what ignorance can do to people. The west is more educated while vast majority of muslims population are not as developed or educated demographically. So there are lot more undereducated/ignornant Boris in those countries who hates the west for their foreign policies such as Iraq, Afganistan, ... forever blind love for Israel.

      December 3, 2011 at 11:20 pm |
    • Boris Hadenuf

      So, prove it to me - under Islam, women are better off ..... how?

      December 3, 2011 at 11:26 pm |
    • Lisa

      You are an idiot.

      December 3, 2011 at 11:30 pm |
    • @Boris

      Classical case of pure ignorance. Generalizing an entire people based on your wild notions of how you think Islamic society works.

      December 3, 2011 at 11:33 pm |
    • said

      Thank you for Sounding off. I DO LOVE MY RELIGION ISLAM too!

      December 4, 2011 at 1:47 am |
    • ambreen

      Me too 🙂

      December 4, 2011 at 2:00 am |
    • Dan

      All religious people are sinners. Stop pretending.

      December 4, 2011 at 2:07 am |
    • C.D.Spurgeon


      December 4, 2011 at 7:21 am |
  8. manuel

    Poor, rural people are always more religious/conservative. That describes most of the Muslim world.

    December 3, 2011 at 11:07 pm |
    • Boris Hadenuf

      Too bad they never had the benefit of our founding fathers.

      December 3, 2011 at 11:11 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      And much of southern USA.

      December 3, 2011 at 11:11 pm |
    • ambreen

      Shut up maneul.

      December 4, 2011 at 2:03 am |
  9. hga

    "Husain argues that religious upbringing "could be an antidote" to radicalism."
    ....so religious upbringing could be an antidote to religious radicalism..
    what about a rational upbringing, would that be an antidote to secularism?

    December 3, 2011 at 11:06 pm |
  10. Boris Hadenuf

    Muslims more religious? Muslims more seeking POWER. Plain and simple.

    December 3, 2011 at 11:06 pm |
    • GodOfAbraham

      why don't u take a chill pill boris

      December 3, 2011 at 11:21 pm |
    • Boris Hadenuf

      "U" take it for me, G. Saves me the trouble.

      December 3, 2011 at 11:27 pm |
    • said

      Borya Borya, Who does not need the Power in this world?

      December 4, 2011 at 1:52 am |
    • Muneef

      Poor Israel it never seeked any power over any Arabian lands by using the powers of USA and Allies through their Zionest supporters who plan as Masters of the World to rule the whole world through it's rulers and agents...!?

      The ignorent Islamists are supposed to submit to those above with out any sort of resistance what's so ever, and are supposed to stretch their necks like sheep for slaughter to be good as good as dead Indians...!? Haha so strange that is really 🙂

      December 9, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
  11. jimatkins

    Most other religions don't consider apostasy a capital crime.

    December 3, 2011 at 11:05 pm |
    • Observer

      The Bible does. Which ones don't?

      December 3, 2011 at 11:18 pm |
  12. Atlas Scruggs

    "Experts say"" The sure sign of bovine feces. Only slightly more smelly if it's

    December 3, 2011 at 11:05 pm |
    • Boris Hadenuf

      Wishing there were a *bing* app for your post.

      December 3, 2011 at 11:11 pm |
  13. blinky

    In Muslim countries, Islam is the only sanctioned spiritual outlet. All the others are shunned or criminal. If you disavow Islam or disbelieve in God you can get killed. Big surprise that the only religous game in town is fervently clung to.

    December 3, 2011 at 11:05 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Much like christianity in many countries for many centuries. I think we're just coming out of the dark ages when it come to religion. Won't be long before non-belief in imaginary friends is in the majority.

      December 3, 2011 at 11:10 pm |
    • Joe

      Good Point. When hatred of everyone else is your mantra, I guess that makes you more committed as well.

      December 3, 2011 at 11:13 pm |
    • blinky

      HotAir, I think that spiritual expression, provided as an option, is a vital and creative part of life. I think we'll see people slowly let go of the dogmatic aspect of organized religions.

      December 3, 2011 at 11:26 pm |
    • Facts_Guy

      in Dubai..1.5 millions are Hindus
      in Lebanon 50% are Christians
      in Egypt 10 millions are Christians
      in Bethlehem all are christian ..etc and yet, they survive will full rights.....go do your homework

      December 3, 2011 at 11:41 pm |
    • Genghis Khan

      Dubai is not exactly Muslim!! its like Las Vegas. You should use the neighbor Saudi Arabia as an example instead.

      December 4, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
    • sino


      December 5, 2011 at 2:47 am |
  14. Dino38w

    Abject poverty is rampant in much of the arab world. People think 72 virgins is a better option than the lives they live. That's why religiosity is prevalnt among many muslims. Same is true of Christianity in America. Religion exists in areas of high poverty.

    December 3, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
    • ian

      High poverty huh? So kind of like how 80% of Americans(who live in the richest country in the world) believe in God. Or what about the countless doctors, lawyers, college professors who believe in God?

      December 3, 2011 at 11:13 pm |
    • Facts_Guy

      i am not sure if ppl of Saudi Arabia are poor ....

      December 3, 2011 at 11:43 pm |
    • Muneef

      Well many oil producing countries are spending their wealth on western arms and weapons rather than letting their populations enjoy it and thanks to the western policy for that creating fears all around...!

      December 4, 2011 at 8:05 am |
    • sino

      @Ian, it's not black and white, but there is some truth to less affluent Americans being more religious. As well as across the world. It's a generalization so I hope no one needs to point out "my brother is MUSLIM and went to HARVARD. My sister is a LAWYER. There's exceptions, of course, such as all the poor atheists in China and all the rich believers in US/Mid East etc. And there's other factors, too, obviously.

      December 5, 2011 at 2:55 am |
  15. Summary

    Ugh. What a mishmash of verbiage. And all you need to know is that this article says religious people are religious because they are religious.

    What a waste of space.

    December 3, 2011 at 11:02 pm |
    • Summary

      I guess CNN decided to "in your face" with this article. Did I strike a nerve? I think so.

      December 4, 2011 at 2:18 am |
  16. Bill

    They cling to their religion and their guns. Ask Obama, he's the expert.

    December 3, 2011 at 11:01 pm |
    • CJ

      Your comment isn't clear. Is Obama the expert because you believe he's Muslim? Because from your first sentence, "Clinging to religion and guns," that's more of a conservative ideology, which Obama is not.

      December 3, 2011 at 11:21 pm |
    • marinedad05

      @ CJ

      I believe it refers to a comment, Obama made about some right wing religious nuts.

      December 4, 2011 at 12:38 am |
    • BHS

      hwe is a traitor

      December 4, 2011 at 1:47 am |
    • Sarah

      Oh my goodness! Why does it matter if he's Christian or Muslim? Either way, it's a belief in God. Which just makes him as delusional as anyone else who believes in God.

      December 4, 2011 at 7:12 am |
  17. Millie

    The power of mass mania and brainwashing is exponentially higher with lower intellects.

    December 3, 2011 at 11:01 pm |
    • ian

      Do a little research on Francis Collins, then get back to me.

      December 3, 2011 at 11:14 pm |
    • hga

      Francis Collins is a victim of cognitive dissonance

      December 3, 2011 at 11:31 pm |
  18. hga

    because it's a newer religion

    December 3, 2011 at 11:01 pm |
    • Didi

      I agree. In terms of time since the founding of the religion, Islam is fairly young. Think of where Christianity was around AD 1400. Major monotheistic religions have all gone through phases, and right now Islam is in its zealous phase. Spiritually inclined people see it as a guideline for their lives, and those who might personally disagree often feel pressured to go through the motions of adherence. In another 800 years Islam will probably be where Christianity is today: strictly interpreted by fringe groups and otherwise commercially exploited to meaninglessness.

      December 3, 2011 at 11:22 pm |
    • hga

      Yes, Didi, I totally agree.

      December 3, 2011 at 11:24 pm |
    • meemee

      You are wrong. Islam already had its era of explosion. It is historically called "The Arab Expansion" which was a series of wars and invasions that got as far as Central France in the 8th century. It was stopped by Charles "The Hammer" Martel at the Battle of Tours in 732. Islam remained in most of Spain until finally ejected in 1492. The Muslim Ottoman Turkish Empire invaded the Balkans and fought to enter Europe for 500 years, at one point the battle was in front of the gates of Vienna. Islam today only exists in power because of oil. Before that , it had subsided into a very low key, but barbaric subculture of petty pirates and slave traders, right up to the 20th century. In fact, I know two women who as children traveling in North Africa with their parents were sought out for purchase from their parents. Islam today is only attempting to do what it's cause has always been, to make the world submit to the will of "Allah." Islam means "submit."

      December 5, 2011 at 3:01 am |
    • hga

      Charles Martel may have stopped the Saracens' expansion into France in 732. However, Islam has found a way to infiltrate many nations since.
      The gist of my post is that adherents to newer religions tend to be more "religious." This is in line with my impression of such religions as Mormonism, Islam, Christianity, and Judaism.

      December 5, 2011 at 11:45 am |
  19. jdoe

    There is a word for this: Fanaticism.

    December 3, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
  20. Cool story, bro!

    bro, cool story!

    December 3, 2011 at 10:57 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.