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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.

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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. Boris Hadenuf

    Egypt is the petri dish within which modern rights might well find their rightful niche.

    But NO. The "Islamists" - who HATE women, hate individual rights, and who WANT total power and control, are winning the battle.

    I say - F you, for one thing - and for the second, try NOT to destroy the Pyramids and history in pursuit of your psycho behavior.

    December 3, 2011 at 11:22 pm |
  2. JUSTICETO ALL

    They are much more intolerant of other religions and hence less open minded. That results in a kind of cultural monopoly and closed mindedidness. That in my opinion is why they are more likely to belive they are better and have the right to kill others who disagree with them. Islam because of this has become fascist and most abusive to minorities.

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

      People who use "they" to generalize about 1.5 million people are the least tolerant of all.

      December 4, 2011 at 8:34 am |
    • choudhury

      I could not agree more. Growing up in a thrid world country as a minority I always felt ashamed and afraid that I am not Muslim. But after moving in US I never felt that way despite knowing the minority status of my religion and ethnicity. I feel proud to say that I am Hindu.

      December 4, 2011 at 8:47 am |
    • Candace

      Actually, you have just applied "they" to over 2 billion people. That's how many Muslims there are in the world. Do you know any Muslim people? Maybe you should go out and meet some and then re-evaluate your statement.

      December 4, 2011 at 10:04 am |
    • lee s

      @yas, youre really not to doing much else to help identify you otherwise.

      December 4, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • FrePal

      I wonder who killed 150,000 Muslim in Iraq,100,000 in Afghanistan,1000's Gaza,1000's in Palestine....etc??These civilian people were killed by Christians.

      December 4, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • Aaron

      Please ignore YAS's message. you'd hear the same response from remaining 1.5 billion followers as well. 🙂

      December 4, 2011 at 8:09 pm |
    • Nika

      choudhury-I'm so glad you feel welcome here, We love Hindus!!!! ❤

      December 4, 2011 at 8:43 pm |
    • TRUTH

      just a side note – HINDUISM is the most tolerant religion. Almost all other religions force their followers to feel they are the supreme religion, and promote converting the 'others'. You cannot convert to hinduism – there is reason for that = we have not had conquests and wars to convert people it is not in our religion, we just promote PEACE . I believe in karma and peace and respect Christians Muslims Jews and all others ... I think people should take note of the tolerance and just let us all be happy in whatever we practice ... regardless of religion/culture.... Buddhism and Jain are also very peaceful and arose from Hinduism .

      December 4, 2011 at 9:04 pm |
    • Jose M. Pulido

      FrePal:
      I wonder who killed millions of innocent people in North Africa, Spain and Gaza, and in Palestine...etc? Those civilian people were killed by "Muslims!"

      December 5, 2011 at 5:05 am |
    • Jose M. Pulido

      FrePal:
      I also wonder who killed millions of innocent people in North Africa, Spain and Gaza, and in Palestine...etc? Those civilian people were killed by "Muslims!"

      December 5, 2011 at 5:46 am |
  3. WASP

    I am done with CNN and any other media outlet that promotes Islam... I will send my ability to create advertising revenue dollars to some other website. Wake up Western world. Look between the lines here... we are being forced to accept a "religion" that promotes hatred of Christianity... persecution of females, hatred of Jews, brainwashing of children....the list goes on and on... This country was founded on Christianity... Islam has no place here. If you want to practice it go to the country of the world that leads in the practice of Islam, Iran... Oh that's right its not too pleasant there.... Good bye CNN...

    December 3, 2011 at 11:21 pm |
    • 1954Nana

      Well said and something I am ready to consider also – thanks for putting it so eloquently

      December 3, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
    • Observer

      Persecution of females. Do you mean like in the Bible where it says all you have to do to get a virgin to marry you is to r@pe her?

      December 3, 2011 at 11:24 pm |
    • Boris Hadenuf

      Right ON.

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

      "This country was founded on Christianity" No it was not. It is based on freedom of choice. Those that came over in the 1600s were fleeing religious persecution (non-tolerant Christianity). All religions have had their moment as killers of the innocent.

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

      Your comment is about as Un-American as any ever written on CNN.

      December 3, 2011 at 11:29 pm |
    • truthtolight

      and please, before you paint me out to be something that i am not as a Muslim, know that i served my country in the USAF for 9 years (98-07), am in college on my GI Bill studying to be an Ethnomusicologist, produce music, love record digging, and travel to other, different countries whenever i get the chance. i practice yoga (though some Muslims would object to it)and have friends from every religion out there.....ranging from Buddhism, to Hindu, to Christian, to Baha'i. My Mother raised me to accept all peoples, and though my voice cannot speak for every Muslim out there (esp. those who are bent on destruction) know that I strive every single day to exhibit the best of my faith. if you don't like me simply because of what i believe, fine. i really don't mind.....but please know that there are those of us out there who are NOT cut from the same clothe as those that get the negative press are.

      December 3, 2011 at 11:31 pm |
    • Greg

      Well said here...I too am sick of CNN and their promotion of all things anti-Christian. And this article is for me the last straw for me as well...What do the people of Islam do for the impoverished? Where were their condemnations of the attacks of Sept 11? This dumbing down of American and Christian thinking is reprehensible. Is there a media outlet that reports truth and real news without such bias though?

      December 3, 2011 at 11:35 pm |
    • TheMendicantBias

      "This country was founded on Christianity."

      Two things:

      1. This article wasn't talking about this country at all.

      2. "As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Musselmen; and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries."

      – Treaty of Tripoli, Article 11, signed by Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and signed on the behalf of George Washington by Thomas Jefferson.

      Are you saying the Founding Fathers were lying when they said this country was not founded on Christianity? People like you stun me.

      December 3, 2011 at 11:41 pm |
    • truthtolight

      thank you for posting medicant.....people need to wake up and stop getting their information from sources that are lying to them in an effort to keep them asleep. it is easy....so, so easy to believe that it is all so simple, but things really are so much more complicated than most people could ever imagine. unfortunately, these things are simple pieces of paper to some.....but these statements hold real truth and weight.

      December 3, 2011 at 11:57 pm |
    • ron

      no one knows whats after this life.....religion is a way to control the masses and make money.......it makes people scared to do bad things.....im agnostic! ron

      December 4, 2011 at 1:25 am |
    • Shepherd

      How can christians say we are a christian nation? I will give them that we are a nation comprised of mostly christians, but that doesn't make us a christian nation. If we are to define our nation in such a way, we would also say we are a high school educated, white, christian nation. Using the same logic as you (WASP), I guess if someone isn't part of these groups, they aren't welcome in this country?!? Can't say I'm sorry to see a close minded person leave. Don't let the door hit you on the back side!

      December 4, 2011 at 1:28 am |
    • jesus4you

      Are we so naive? Don't we know who runs all our media outlets? Are we that freaking numb, that we can't see who's our really enemy here? Yes our nation was born on christian fundamentals, but somewhere along the line we got hijacked. And now we are between a rock (zionism) & hard place (islam). And someone has a hand in putting us there! THINK!

      December 4, 2011 at 2:50 am |
    • BostonCowboy

      I couldn't agree more with you, mate.

      Islam is a PRIMITIVE religion and there is absolutely nothing wrong with pointing out this obvious fact. One only needs to look at Muhammad's history and at the contents of the Muslims' holy book, the qu'ran, to understand that Islam is all about promoting world domination, violence towards women, terrorizing non-believers and pedophilia.

      It is not surprising that in Muslim societies pedophilia and violence have become socially acceptable and even the norm since this is what the qu'ran teaches.

      December 4, 2011 at 6:49 am |
    • greg

      aah,too bas wasp,somehow your ego got bruised and your' not playing anymore,running home cos the game wasn't played your' way,grow up,the world really doesn't care if you're in or out,...

      December 4, 2011 at 8:10 am |
    • Yas

      The U.S. was not "founded on Christianity." Talk about brainwashing!

      December 4, 2011 at 8:35 am |
    • Sam

      hahahaha that is the dumbest statement I have ever heard

      December 4, 2011 at 9:40 am |
    • brothaa

      and Christians .. promote what?

      same same exact thing; hatred of those who do not believe their rules.

      helping those only for their own benefit; spreading their religion.

      if you think Islam is any different then those following Christ you've got to be kidding yourself.

      December 4, 2011 at 10:01 am |
    • Steven Brown

      This is the question I have. Freedom of religion, right? Then why can Muslims pray in school and work but Christians do not have the same rights? I am also done with CNN.

      December 4, 2011 at 10:14 am |
    • FSM

      You are an idiot who believes those things don't also describe the history of your pitiful religion.

      December 4, 2011 at 10:46 am |
    • PiedType

      This country was founded on freedom of religion. That means all religions have a place here.

      December 4, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • Daniel

      Steven wrote:

      ""This country was founded on Christianity" No it was not. It is based on freedom of choice. Those that came over in the 1600s were fleeing religious persecution (non-tolerant Christianity). All religions have had their moment as killers of the innocent."

      Actually, many of those who came over did not do so for the principal of religious freedom, but rather that the were not the ones in charge. They themselves wanted to form an intolerant society that persecuted all those who disagreed with their vision of Christiainty. Rodger Williams, for example, had to flee New England to found Rhode Island where TRUE religious freedom was protected.

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

      This is the tolerance that Christians talk about

      December 4, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • Zava

      Did CNN get bought out by Muslims, because this article is a sham! Thank GOD (not Muhammed) that NYT is still good.

      December 4, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • I agree

      WASP you are correct. But it seems all the white guilt is stopping everyone from seeing so. I am going to stop going to cnn.com.

      December 4, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • Ahmed

      I love how every American Christian screams foul when the attention is for something or someone other than them or the jews.

      December 4, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • FrePal

      America is a free country for all Americans.You cant tell anybody to leave this country because of his/her faith.It was mentioned in Qur'an that Islam will spread out in the world without any violence or force, and this is what is happening now.Many people used to say what you say, but now they are Muslims.You better read and understand Qur'an before judging it.

      December 4, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
    • American

      :)) Out of gas ????? Either my way or I am out! :)))) bye , bye WASP.... If and when you come back please educate yourself..

      December 4, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
    • Nika

      I am feeling the same way, glad I'm not the only one!

      December 4, 2011 at 8:45 pm |
    • Nika

      So well said, WASP!

      December 4, 2011 at 8:50 pm |
    • Ray

      @WASP....GOOD RIDDANCE!!! You and your ignorance will not be missed.

      December 4, 2011 at 11:17 pm |
    • shane

      Muhammed the false prophet was a pedophile warmonger, slave trader. All he did was promote hate. http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/Quran/023-violence.htm

      December 5, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • John Smith

      @shane... wow... only an ignorant retard like you can derive to that conclusion from reading one website... must be the only thing you ever read in your life!

      December 5, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
  4. SSampson

    More ritual means more commitment – Christians that take there kids to Church every day, are more likely to raise commited Christians – The Muslim faith involves prayers every day – multiple times

    Simple conditioning –

    Now add in a crazy person into the mix that intertwines itself with the beleif and you end up with AlQaeda, Waco and FLDS...

    Take the same type of immersion using other emthodologies (instead of religion lets say) and you get the Manson Family...

    Faith is about conditioning.... You become a believer usually based on where you are born and who your parents are... Before you get a choice, you are indocrinated into the ideology....

    If people were born without any religion and with the knowledge of basic science, religion would never exist...
    Religion is a great tool to both control and pacify large groups of people – giving people more of a purpose that was ever intended; giving humans a sense of superiority over the universe.

    We are but specks of nothing – get used to it...

    December 3, 2011 at 11:20 pm |
    • MandoZink

      Absolutely! Well put! I was intending to make almost the exact same points. Multiple daily affirmations keep you from straying out of your box. And you inevitably inherit your your beliefs from your family before you have the chance to experience anything else. Unless you have some awakening or enlightened education, you will never leave the safety of your mindset and see the world without blinders. To learn to think for yourself you have to see the box you have made your comfort zone. It is admittedly a difficult thing to do, but for me it was grander than any "religious experience" I have ever heard described.

      December 4, 2011 at 12:48 am |
    • somehow

      If humans are specks of nothing there would be no purpose to our being here. It's arrogant to believe that we humans are the top of the intelligence ladder and that there isn't some higher form of life in existence simply because we (in our lifetimes) haven't seen anything.

      December 4, 2011 at 10:18 am |
    • phillyboy

      well said, in a universe with billions of galaxies, we are in a galaxy with billions of stars and even more planets, only a great fool would believe he has things figured out. we are smaller then specks of dust. Science in time will show religion to be the folly that it truly is.

      December 4, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
  5. Me

    Wow. What unbelievable hogwash! I guess I shouldn't be surprised. The brainwashing liberal media of this country loves to downplay the faith of mainstream Christians; whose gospel teaches love and grace available to all, while extolling the faith of the Muslims who advocate annihilation of any and all non-muslims.

    December 3, 2011 at 11:19 pm |
    • Observer

      The radical Muslims are just practicing the same things that God commanded when he set things up. Without Jesus getting God to change his mind, this is how Bible believers would operate now.

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

      This just illustrates your own rhetorical insecurity and lack of knowledge about Islam. I can say with 110% CONFIDENCE that there is NO PART of Islam that advocates for the killing of ANYONE save for capital punishment for serial killers etc.

      The Middle East was the most tolerant place for Jewish people in the middle ages, as well, when the worst place for Jewish people was Europe.

      But you probably don't care, and are more interested in promoting your weird agenda.

      December 3, 2011 at 11:34 pm |
    • Nika

      Me, EXACTLY

      December 4, 2011 at 9:17 pm |
    • shane

      @TheMendicantBias No violent passages in the Quran? You obviously haven't read it. Here's a bunch in a list, http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/Quran/023-violence.htm

      December 5, 2011 at 10:53 am |
  6. Colin

    The very simple, if politically uncomfortable, answer is a lack of education. The more educated a person is, the less likely they are to believe in the supernatural. Muslim countries tend to be less educated than the West, hence their greater propensity to belive in sky-fiaries.

    The same is true of Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama in the Christian sphere. Poor and ill educated = a greater liklihood to belief in gods, ghosts, goblins and other supernatural nonsense.

    December 3, 2011 at 11:18 pm |
    • Ladarrious

      So Colin, there is no God huh? Everything, you, your family, the world, the universe, it's just a pure accident? Where did it come from? Where did that dust come from in the first place?

      That's not educated to believe that. That's ignorant.

      December 3, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
    • Colin

      So Ladarrious, let me guess. You have the “answer” to such questions and call it “god”. Then when I say, “well, where did your god come from?” you will say “he was always there” or something similar, like “we cannot know such things”.

      In other words, your god answers nothing. It is a cop out, a shrug of the shoulders. A nothing explanation. No, Ladarrious, appeals to magic and the supernatural are no answer. They are crutches for weak minds.

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

      "That's not educated to believe that. That's ignorant"

      So who made God? Isn't it ignorant to believe in talking serpents and unicorns?

      December 3, 2011 at 11:30 pm |
    • William

      The alleged short-cut to knowledge, which is faith, is only a short-circuit destroying the mind. ~Galt's Speech "For the New Intellectual"

      December 3, 2011 at 11:34 pm |
    • FunkyMonkey7

      Actually, according to many political scientists, fundamental religious activity increases in prevalence among lower-class, yet educated individuals.

      December 4, 2011 at 12:19 am |
    • BostonCowboy

      @FunkyMonkey7

      Do you any sources for your claim? Evidence actually suggests that quite the opposite is true and that there is a high correlation between intelligence and atheism. Why do you think it is that many of Nobel Prize winners and high profile scientists do not believe in the fairytales of the talking serpant or Jesus doing funky magic tricks while supposedly walking on water?

      The naive and uneducated are more likely to fall for these shenanigans which is why throughout history religion was always a tool to control the masses.

      December 4, 2011 at 6:54 am |
    • somehow

      Colin- Hate to burst your bubble, but very highly educated people do believe there is a "higher being". It doesn't take much to figure out that humans aren't the "gods in our own minds" that we make ourselves out to be, at least through an atheist point of view (my kid is one).

      December 4, 2011 at 10:27 am |
    • LPS

      If there is a "higher being" of some sort, I'm certain it isn't the one espoused by the religions of this world. "God" as seen by so many, is a flawed, petty, jealous, immature child. Follow me or else! Sends messages through dreams, charlatans, imaginings of fanciful children, and images on toast. C'mon. There may be some sort of creator (although I doubt it) but it isn't anything like the god so many people believe in.

      December 4, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • American

      so..how did it all started..since you know everything including nonexistence of god! explain how.? and do not give me that Big Bang theory..tell me the first action! If there is no GOD! how it all started.

      December 4, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
    • Krista

      @American That's what science is working to figure out. You'll never have any proof that it was "God". And then there's still the question of where God came from. Science is always learning and seeking more knowledge. Scientists don't just give up and decide to accept a supernatural cause for something just because figuring out the scientific cause is taking too long or is really hard.

      December 5, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
  7. William

    One word...Reason. Religion is for weak-minded individuals. This is the difference......reasonable vs. unreasonable.

    December 3, 2011 at 11:18 pm |
    • Maha

      @William,@Colin, SSimpson,
      I am a PhD in computer science, and work with analysis of DNA data, and before everything I am MUSLIM. Talking about weak minded and lack of education?

      December 3, 2011 at 11:41 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Maha, unfortunately indoctrination and relentless pressure from society usually precedes education, and it can be very difficult to self de-program. I hope your education continues and you are able to get the help you need to shed your cult's myths.

      December 4, 2011 at 1:05 am |
    • Yas

      Denial of religion is a religion unto itself.

      December 4, 2011 at 8:38 am |
    • somehow

      @william
      Wow. So....one must be of strong mind ONLY if one is atheist. A great argument for a weak mind.

      December 4, 2011 at 10:31 am |
    • Groo

      People like you who say religion is merely a thing of the weak minded, are the most weak minded of all. Your inability to imagine something greater than yourself or humankind is also a crutch and a pretty good indicator of that same thing.
      I pity you, honestly, but I hope your lack of any faith gives you the strength you need to get you through the day. I for one don't need that.

      December 4, 2011 at 11:21 am |
  8. truthtolight

    @NIda: I LOVE Islam as well! i am Muslim, as well, and have the highest respect and LOVE for ALL religions and rightly guided, upright peoples of the world - no matter their background. i am thankful for all of the Messengers and Prophets who have come before telling us of this incredible, important time that we are living in now. 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 11:18 pm |
    • truthtolight

      and please, before you paint me out to be something that i am not as a Muslim, know that i served my country in the USAF for 9 years (98-07), am in college on my GI Bill studying to be an Ethnomusicologist, produce music, love record digging, and travel to other, different countries whenever i get the chance. i practice yoga (though some Muslims would object to it)and have friends from every religion out there.....ranging from Buddhism, to Hindu, to Christian, to Baha'i. My Mother raised me to accept all peoples, and though my voice cannot speak for every Muslim out there (esp. those who are bent on destruction) know that I strive every single day to exhibit the best of my faith. if you don't like me simply because of what i believe, fine. i really don't mind.....but please know that there are those of us out there who are NOT cut from the same clothe as those that get the negative press are.

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

      Truthtolight, no worries, man. Most Americans don't perceive ALL muslims in a negative light, just a very vocal minority.

      December 3, 2011 at 11:35 pm |
    • BostonCowboy

      How can you call yourself a Muslim and then say that you love all religions? Didn't you read what the qu'ran has to say about other religions?

      And on the subject of Muslims in the US military, it's no secret that the US military has already been infiltrated by all kinds of questionable groups. Look no further than the Ft. Hood shooter to see why Muslims should not be allowed in the military.

      December 4, 2011 at 6:58 am |
    • Sarah

      @Boston Cowboy You, sir, are an idiot! And how horribly wrong of you to attack someone who fought for YOUR freedom simply because he's a Muslim! You think Christians in the military are the only way to go? Educate yourself! See: Timothy McVeigh

      December 4, 2011 at 7:30 am |
    • maverick

      @ Sarah

      Timothy McVeigh before he died said he didn't beleive in God. So scratch that one off your list.

      December 4, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
    • FrePal

      @HotAirAce How limited-mind you are.What kind of faith Christianity is since it can't convince a PHD, me (Engineer), or millions of other people to accept it as a faith??Only intelligent people are embracing Islam after they searched the truth for long time.Do you want me to name for you 100's of Christian priests who spent all their lives in Christianity teachings and finally they embraced Islam?You need to read and understand Quran and look around you how Islam is spreading out very quickly.As much as you try to destroy the image of Islam as much as it spreads faster.

      December 4, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      FrePal, you seem to think I think christianity is a better religion than islam. If so, you have a reading and comprehension problem or share a persecution complex with your christian brothers. I hate all religions equally!

      December 4, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
    • shane

      http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/Quran/023-violence.htm

      December 5, 2011 at 10:55 am |
  9. William Hopper

    This article neglects the most important (and politically incorrect) element to Islamic devotion: Big Brother. While there are many 'true believers', the vast majority of Muslims are just people trying to go about their life and not ruffle feathers. In many countries this means constant lip service to a faith they are legally bound to abide by. Failure to do so means being ostracized at the very least. In many countries, outright rejection of Islam is a criminal offense, and conversion to another faith (or becoming agnostic/atheist) is punishable by death. In short, this is not the all-encompassing religion that some would have you believe. It's a faith that keeps its people in check by rule-of-law, with friends and coworkers always watching to make sure you are living up to the expectations of the umma. If you want to know more, read "The Heathen's Guide to World Religions". It's on Amazon etc.

    December 3, 2011 at 11:17 pm |
    • Bregginkrak

      I don't want to be Muslim. I don't want my children to be Muslim. I don't want to live in a Muslim society. Islam and Muslims believe they are destined to rule the world. I will not allow myself, my children or my society to become Muslim.

      That is the real fear. And if Islam will not reform and change it's end game vision of domination, then ultimately there can only be one action by the non-muslims. Muslims you must guide your religion through reformation and bring Islam into the modern world where it can co-exist on all levels with the rest of the world. If you don't then war will be the ultimate answer.

      December 4, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
  10. 1954Nana

    and this is the reason I am not religious – I am committed to the one true God that loves me and you, I am a follower of God not a religion.

    December 3, 2011 at 11:16 pm |
  11. scott

    Stuck in poverty, the hopelessness they feel combined with resentment of western consumerism bond them to the teachings that that earth is just a pit stop on the way to Allah.... and yes they are foolish and dangerous.

    December 3, 2011 at 11:16 pm |
  12. gretchen

    It is a simple matter of survival to remain muslim in most places where it has become dominant. Millions trapped in this belief system seem more religious because the more fervor they show, the safer they are from horrible treatment by the governments which are controlled by this madness, and the mobs that often form and carry out barbaric acts against those who want out of this miserable and lie-saturated set of beliefs. MANY people living in islam-contolled nations want very much to escape islam completely but are terrified into hiding that fact about themselves. Women are burned, mutilated by knives and machetes, children are kidnapped, homes are burned, churches are burned, people lose desperately needed jobs, girls are forced to marry men they hate, all in the name of this horrible system. Lots of people would be "more religious" facing that day after day from the cradle, don't you think? Hey, cnn, why don't you publish the facts about this religion for a change? What are you afraid of? Afraid of your islamic threat-making audience? or their money connections? You almost never give fair coverage to any faith. You make islam look better than it is by neglecting proper covergae of how brutal and barbaric islam is, and you do a great job of making all other faiths look worse than they are. You do it month after month.

    December 3, 2011 at 11:16 pm |
  13. c s

    The real reason is because so many Muslims happen to live in the Middle East and it has huge supply of oil. What would Saudi Arabia or Iran be without the money that they get from oil? Without the oil, they would have to figure out how to pay for food to support a huge population on land that cannot produce enough food. Both Saudi Arabia and Iran have seen a huge increase in population in the last 30 years. Since this wealth comes mostly without working, their religious leaders state that it come from Allah because they are religious. Almost everyone in Saudi Arabia receives most of their money from the government. The same happens in Iran. Look at the Muslim countries before the discovery of oil. When the oil runs out, the Muslim countries will slide back to being backward countries that cannot feed themselves. Unfortunately, when the oil runs out, war is not far behind.

    December 3, 2011 at 11:16 pm |
    • finalprophet

      Guess you never went to school or maybe were too stoned to remember anything from the world civilizations or history class. I am not even gonna comment further, as I am sure the intellectuals on this forum have picked up my subliminal message...

      December 4, 2011 at 2:55 am |
    • Mosihasteen

      Iran's oil profits have been dwindling by the year and soon there will be no oil profits there. And as far as war over resources in the middle east goes? You say that like its a bad thing.

      December 4, 2011 at 9:14 am |
    • Genghis Khan

      what about other places like pakistan, egypt, indonesia, syria, turkey. they don't have any oil and no one is starving there.

      December 4, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
  14. Rick McDaniel

    Much of it is fear........fear of the consequences if they don't.

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

      That's nonsense. The fear itself has been established because Muslim societies were very religious. It's not that a random government came along one day that said "be a Muslim or be legally penalized," but rather that the people them selves allowed such a government to manifest itself within their countries.

      December 3, 2011 at 11:37 pm |
    • shane

      Fear is exactly right. Lesser devout muslims are killed all the time. The sentence in islam for apostates is death.

      December 5, 2011 at 11:00 am |
  15. Guest

    From the first prophet Adam (PBUH) to prophet Mohammad (PBUH) were all religious as well as Muslim. Now you have to tell me who is intelligent.

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

      Unquestioning belief in a sky fairy might explain why with a billion Muslims you can count the number of Nobel prize winners thay have had on your fingers.

      December 3, 2011 at 11:20 pm |
    • Mosihasteen

      Adam was not a prophet. Hisd name in Hebrew simply means 'the man"

      December 4, 2011 at 9:22 am |
  16. Ali

    "Our prophet aimed to nullify the message of the previous prophets." I'm sorry, but that's wrong. The Prophet Muhammad PBUH came to CONTINUE the message of believing in one God that Abraham, Moses, Jesus, etc. all brought.

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

      Or as I see it to be jealous and make a jew write a Koran for you. Yeah lets pray to a meteor. It has been crapped on, go kiss it.

      December 3, 2011 at 11:46 pm |
    • Mosihasteen

      Don't even be so ignorant as to think Mohammed advanced the teachings of Christ. Christ taught forgiveness in this life, tolerance and love. Mohammed started hi s so – called religion with war, stonings and death. This garbage religion continues these practices today in the form of Saudi Arabia and Iran. You are ridiculous!!

      December 4, 2011 at 9:18 am |
    • LetsThink123

      @Ali
      Hi ALi,
      if muhammed is a prophet, please explain these issues with him:
      Muhammad kills Asma bint Marwan a woman who opposed him coming to her tribe. why would a prophet do that?
      Muhammed married Aisha bint Abu Bakr when she was 6 and slept wither her when she was 9. why would muhammed do pedo stuff?
      Surely a prophet wouldn't do that right?
      what about this quote on treatment of women:
      Tabari IX:113 "Allah permits you to shut them in separate rooms and to beat them, but not severely. If they abstain, they have the right to food and clothing. Treat women well for they are like domestic animals and they possess nothing themselves. Allah has made the enjoyment of their bodies lawful in his Qur'an."
      and u say mohammed was a good prophet? U r completely brainwashed.

      December 5, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
  17. Dan

    Islam is about 400 year newer than Christianity. Think where Christianity was 400 years ago, both in the religiosity of its adherents and in their fanaticism.

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

      the problem is that christianity became "enlightened" (in the senese that church and state should be seperate) when other CHRISTIAN politicians and philosophers began saying it. The problem today is that CHRISTIAN nations are trying to tell MUSLIM nations what to do and that has an inherent psychological tendency towards resistance to the ideas.

      December 3, 2011 at 11:46 pm |
    • Nabil

      No. 610 years newer. Just FYI.

      December 4, 2011 at 9:43 pm |
    • Jose M. Pulido

      Dan: The deadly ideology called Islam appeared 600 years after Jesus, the Son of God retured to heaven to be with his Father God. If Islam had come to confuse all those poor idiots one day after Jesus left, it would still be too late. Even if Islam had appeared before Jesus, it would still have been useles and worthless to umankind.

      December 5, 2011 at 5:17 am |
  18. Cassandra Chu

    it's interesting that the "Christian West" is responsible for WW1, WW2, the civil war, lots of CIA proxy wars, Vietnam, the Cold War and others... and yet the article asks if we should "worry" about Islam's fundamentalists... what a joke! little depth in this article.

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

      None of the wars you mention had anything to do with religion, so what is your point

      December 3, 2011 at 11:42 pm |
    • FrePal

      Bill You are silly.You admit the fact that Christians have killed 100 thousands Muslims and other people, but you justify that it is not related to religion?

      December 4, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
  19. blinky

    Article states "there has been no 'Enlightenment' in Islam as there was in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries." Just you wait. The inevitable counter-revolution in Iran will be directed against the repressive mullahs. Expect young, educated and Western-leaning Iranian students to rise up against religion as surely as the French Revolution hurled invective upon Catholic teachings.

    December 3, 2011 at 11:14 pm |
    • William Hopper

      This always gets me... There WAS an Enlightenment is Islam prior to the Mongol invasion of 1300AD. Before the Mongols got there , Muslims were fairly liberal thinkers, had excelled in inventing algebra, distilling alcohol, and creating great architecture. The is Enlightenment would have put the Islamic world far ahead of the West, but after the Mongol invasion the faith was controlled by a militant, far-right orthodoxy that blames the invasion on lax adherence to the Qur'an. The militants never really lost power, and to this day they run the faith with the same ardent, literalistic interpretation of Islamic law. Had the Mongols not invaded, Islam would have been far, far ahead of the Catholic orthodoxy by now. For more, read "The Heathen's Guide to World Religions". You can find it on Amazon etc.

      December 3, 2011 at 11:31 pm |
  20. M

    Well that explains why most terrorist are muslim.

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

      Statistically speaking, that's untrue. Most are actually South Americans involved in the hundreds of paramilitaries there.

      December 3, 2011 at 11:37 pm |
    • FrePal

      I will never become a Christian because I love my children and I don't want them to be abused in the Churches.Unfortunately, Christianity is led by child abusers priests, hence how do you want people to believe in it????

      December 5, 2011 at 4:53 am |
    • Muneef

      Hmm.

      I thought the USA has more gangsters that are worse than terrorests exceeding the number of all world terrorists put together...!

      December 9, 2011 at 3:34 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.