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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.

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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. WR

    Blind ignorance

    December 4, 2011 at 5:56 am |
    • urantia

      why is CNN interested in everybody's religion these days. for some reason they think they need to post this all the time. i would like to hear about things we haven't heard about yet.

      December 4, 2011 at 6:34 am |
  2. Islamohater

    Why are muslims more religious? Because if your main purpose in life is to blow up school girls then you need a strong opiate to justify your barbaric actions. Simple.

    December 4, 2011 at 5:55 am |
  3. trekfuel

    muslims tend to be of the lower class and somewhat dim-witted, therefore you'll have more of them committed to fairy tales and such.

    December 4, 2011 at 5:54 am |
    • HOLY

      Fareed Zakaria, Muhammed Ali, Kreem Abdul Jabbar, Ali elshi< David Chappel, Shaquuel Oneil Dim witted??

      December 4, 2011 at 6:23 am |
    • trekfuel

      @HOLY-yes the whole bunch of them are of the lower class...

      December 4, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
  4. TK

    As a secular muslim, my problem with islam is the doctrine against apostasy. It seems to revolve around the punishment as death, which is my point of contention with islam. other than that it is pretty much as ignorant as other religions. but the article is right in that muslims are crazier when it comes to religiosity and having crazy doctrine compared to other religions.

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

      TK, Koran says if you apostate then God will replace you with others that loves Him and He loves..nothing more than that.

      December 4, 2011 at 6:14 am |
    • AtheistRite

      Bravo! Hit the nail on the head.

      December 4, 2011 at 6:15 am |
    • Mirosal

      ummm.. Kat .. no it doesn't. Look again. Turning your back on Islam merits the death penalty. There is now a case before the Iraninan courts about a Muslim who converted to become a Christian minister. He's on trial for his life.

      December 4, 2011 at 6:20 am |
    • HOLY

      Apostasy Quran= "let there be no compulsion in religion". There is no punishment for apostasy in Islam; however, in Medina spying or treason during wars (which indirectly caused deaths of innocent people) was punishable by death. Muslims confuse death penalty for treason with death for apostasy.

      December 4, 2011 at 6:27 am |
    • Kat

      Mirosal, you look again, I know what I am talking about. No death penality in Koran for apostacy. Koran even stresses "let there be no compulsion in religion.."
      yes I heard about this guy who is being tried for raping boys, like other christians have done else where, not for apostacy.

      December 4, 2011 at 6:29 am |
    • Eli

      Kat is right. The Qu'ran only states that apostates should be treated poorly by both humans and Allah and will rot in hell (3:86-88). The whole kill-apostates thing is mentioned around a dozen times in Hadith, which evidently Kat does not follow!

      December 4, 2011 at 6:36 am |
    • Mirosal

      I know about the abuse charges. The indictment was amended to that from apostasy after worldwide questioning.

      December 4, 2011 at 6:44 am |
  5. Kat

    Atheist, no, first you talk, not sleep, then tap (beat is not correct as it implies physica/mental damage which is banned in islam).
    I would believe you are a good decent person that I can be your friend. It is up to you how you want to live your afterlife. You will be awarded for your good deed in this life but they weight nothing against the offense on your soul of rejecting its creator.

    December 4, 2011 at 5:52 am |
    • Eli

      What, is this like the rule of thumb? Only hit your wife with something that won't leave a mark? And if we're gonna play the Arabic game, how can you translate "أضربه " to mean "tap her"?! It means "to hit"!

      December 4, 2011 at 5:55 am |
  6. Mike D

    To be honest, I feel Islam is where Christianity was during the Dark Ages. They have yet to see their Renaissance. You see the more affluent and traveled Muslims becoming more moderate when their faith gets in the way of their personal development. The trick for the Muslim faith is for it to reconcile itself with the modern world.

    December 4, 2011 at 5:51 am |
  7. Rick

    Moozlums just happen to be the biggest idiots of them all.

    December 4, 2011 at 5:44 am |
    • arthur

      AND BE SIDE IT'S EAIER TO PRACTICE A LIE THAN IT IS TO LIVE IN TRUTH PEACE AND HARMONY AND THEY ALLLOOK THE SAME,

      December 4, 2011 at 5:53 am |
  8. Eric

    Could it be because the vast majority of muslims live in countries where the government itself is muslim by law? Could it be that people are stoned and chemically burned every single day for offenses against the religion of Islam in those countries, so they feel some pressure to walk the line? Could it be because the countries actually run the media and control what is said and heard in those countries in a level comparable to China? Common sense tells me...they are no more "faithful" than any other group. They appear so more outwardly because it is essentially illegal and socially unacceptable not to.

    December 4, 2011 at 5:38 am |
    • Leil

      Did you ever sit to think that perhaps it's the governments who punished not by Islamic law, but by their own whims and wills? That perhaps everything the governments or what a few individuals do is not Islamic at all?? There are Muslims outside of Muslim countries and no one is forcing us to do anything. Just as the article stated – if you read it well at all – not every Muslim was raised in the same way with the same understanding of Islam. Not all Muslims were taught Islam in the right way. There are Muslims, just like Christians or Jews, or any other faith that only know the basics of their religion and then learn wrong information from other so-called Muslims who have a personal agenda.

      Please don't make such quick judgements without knowing a background first.

      December 4, 2011 at 5:45 am |
    • Kat

      no, , no, and no, your assumptions are all false. Almost all muslim nations are secular by law, some are run by secular dictatorship that people are revolting against and are now voting democratically for islamic parties that had been banned and its members tortured for decades.

      December 4, 2011 at 5:45 am |
    • Eli

      You are quite right, Leil. Many Muslims were NOT taught Islam in the right way. This is why some Muslims do not chop the hands off thieves, confine lewd women to their homes until death, or lash adulterers. They were not taught the proper Islamic teachings, you see, and thank the FSM for that.

      December 4, 2011 at 5:49 am |
    • Joel Weymouth

      Or maybe Lell you are in a very small minority and to revert to the more aggressive forms of Islam will get you all killed. Remember you are a paltry minority in the US. In the UK, they are more agressive and they are 5.5 million of 67 million people – almost 10%. Look at Nigeria – where the Islamic population is almost equal in size to the Christian – and there is a lot of violence. This would be consistent with the Koran. Passages where the Muslim was to be "nice" to the infidel where written during times of subjugation of Mohammed. Passages that are more intolerant of infidel were written after Mohammed had attained supremacy over the Arabic tribes. I mean we have Eli saying the Muslims were not "taught correctly" based on his years of training in comparative religion and his ability to translate Arabic?

      December 4, 2011 at 6:06 am |
  9. Leil

    I honestly see the same thing on every Muslim or Islam-related blog/post/etc. Nothing but hate against the religion without true understanding, as well as those who like to pick out random text from the Qur'an without actually knowing the context OR knowing the context and purposely picking out certain verses just to prove a point and get others to think like you. Who is really the "ignorant" or "uneducated"? If you don't go into anything with an open mind, you will always be stuck in the same cycle of vicious thinking and hatred. And that is something Islam has taught us not to do. Thank you.

    December 4, 2011 at 5:35 am |
    • Eli

      Please, Leil, do provide "context" to this:

      Qu'ran 9:28-30 O you who have believed, indeed the polytheists are unclean, so let them not approach al-Masjid al-Haram after this, their [final] year. And if you fear privation, Allah will enrich you from His bounty if He wills. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Wise. Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture – [fight] until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled. The Jews say, "Ezra is the son of Allah "; and the Christians say, "The Messiah is the son of Allah ." That is their statement from their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved [before them]. May Allah destroy them; how are they deluded?

      December 4, 2011 at 5:37 am |
    • Kat

      Eli, that refers to self-defense fight, not aggression fight – the word is "katel" = fight when get fought vs. oktul = initiate fight/aggression

      December 4, 2011 at 5:43 am |
    • Eli

      @Kat

      Hmm... *pulls out Arabic dictionary*

      katel قاتل 1 noun: killer, assassin, or murderer 2 verb: fight, war, engage, or combat 3 adjective deadly, lethal, or murderous

      Nope. Nothing about self-defense there. Try again.

      December 4, 2011 at 5:46 am |
    • Leil

      Thank you Kat. It talks about the fact that the non-Muslims at the time were the ones fighting against the Muslims, not vice versa. Islam tells you to fight ONLY if the others are fighting you and pushing you from your home. Allah also says here, you fight them UNTIL they pay jizyah- a tax to be paid by the non-Muslims. There are many books that show that the Muslims and non-Muslims had times where they lived peacefully side by side, until the non-Muslims broke the treaties. That is when the fighting began. Islam never tells us to fight just because. And for the record I'm sure Christianity preaches the exact same thing.

      December 4, 2011 at 5:49 am |
    • Eli

      Leil, that is hilarious. Islam was spread through war. They were "persecuted" because they were slaughtering people. Surely not even you can deny that. Mohammed established his empire through war, his successors did the same. And how kind of them, to ONLY kill people if they refused to give them money. What thugs.

      December 4, 2011 at 5:52 am |
    • Eli

      BTW Kat, I have consulted three different dictionaries now and none of them say that katel is used to describe self-defense. Please post your source for that.

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

      Eli, that's not true. The prophet of Islam and his followers did not fight and were under severe persecution to the point of starvation. They first escapted to Ethopia and then to Medina. They only started fighting back after they migrated to Medina and were still under attacks of genocide. Islam did not spread through the sword at all. There are functionining churches that date back before Islam in muslim countries because muslims let people be...on the other hand, name one religion that used to be in the 1st century AD that has survived christinity?

      December 4, 2011 at 6:09 am |
    • Eli

      Kat, I'm sorry sweetheart–truly I am–but you have been completely brainwashed. Mohammed's successors invaded lands throughout the entire Middle East and Northern Africa. Tell me, Kat, who was oppressing Muslims in Egypt in the 7th century, when no Muslims lived there before the Caliphate rolled up and invaded? They didn't "fight back". They fought. Period. This is a historical fact and comes not from a place of hatred for Islam (although I do hate it) but from reality. Consult any history book. Please.

      December 4, 2011 at 6:12 am |
    • Kat

      Eli, yes, the whole Middle East was occupied in the 7th century by the European Romans who were to put it mildly tyrants. What were the Romans doing in the Middle East? They even banned eastern sects of christianity, including coptic christianity in Egypt and Syriac christianity in Syria. Islam restored coptic christianity and its pope who was in exile. The natives of the middle east, the arabian client states in Syria and Iraq decided to ally with the early Muslims to rid the region of the oppressive roman and persian empires. I did not say Muslims did not conqure new lands but early Muslims were native to the region and were ridding it with cooperation of local jews and christians of foriegn occupiers. They did not force Islam in the conqured lands. The first Arabic empire in Syria (Ummyads) discouraged conversion to Islam.

      December 4, 2011 at 6:26 am |
  10. Jeff TLH

    More people have been slaughtered by atheistic regimes in Nazi Germany (6 million), Stalin's Russia (20 million) and Cambodia (over 6 million) than by all the other "religions" of the world combined. This is because atheism and secular relativism are also "worldviews" or religions. We all have "worldviews" but the Prince of Peace is Jesus Christ, who seeks to convert hearts by love, not by the sword.

    December 4, 2011 at 5:33 am |
    • Prabu

      Those were not atheistic regimes, they were political regimes with the leaders using themselves as the center of a personality cult. They wanted to murder people. That is not atheistic, that is human sociopath mentality that, in most of those cases, literally forced people to worship the leader. North Korea is doing this, as are other countries.
      China is good this time of year. Why don't you go visit them and tell them they are murdering their own citizens because they do not believe in a god when they worship the leader? They will laugh at you and maybe shoot you for disrespecting their leader, much like Muslims murdering people who disrespect their leader who was an uneducated thug who rose to power amongst other thugs. They robbed people and murdered them. And they did that to as many people as they could.
      Back when Mohommed was alive, it was not a religion at first, but a personality cult that plagiarized from other religions as you would expect from uneducated highway robbers.
      You are speaking against hate to the wrong people, Jeff. Go look in a Bible and tell me your religion can never be used to justify murder and never has. Religion is a mental disease that only works as escapism and infantilism and little else.

      December 4, 2011 at 5:47 am |
    • peakarach

      lol! WWW1 and WWW2 combined have killed over 100 MILLIONS people mostly in European countries that just happen to be a Christian countries. During European colonialism empire there have been 10 of millions of people been killed in the name of religion all over the world. Atheist on the other hand do not kill anyone simply because they don't belief in god. lol! During Khamer Rouge ruler there was about 1 to 3 millions people have been killed mostly in starvation not 6 millions that you have mention.

      December 4, 2011 at 6:18 am |
  11. edutron

    Let's just get it over with and declare a Christian Holy war against Islam. Oooops, we already have, it's called the second coming of the Crusades and has been enforce since the Egytian / Israeli war. Christians do not need to exploit themselves as they have inner salvation without having to express ones being upon another. Islamists desparately try to inflict them selves uopn others because they do not know of a true faith. Their faith is of a man that was depressed and disgruntled at life because that man (muhammed) knew that he was not a true holy icon or spirit – HE WAS JUST A MAN! With that said, Islam is of false icons defining the the true finger of Lucifer.
    Islam itself has initiated the modern day crusades with no near end in sight regardless of what one may believe.
    Ask a Buddhist!

    December 4, 2011 at 5:30 am |
  12. simple truth

    "Why are Muslims more religious? Every religion has its true believers and its doubters, but new evidence suggests that Muslims tend to be more committed to their faith than other believers"

    –Seriously? What other choice do they have? What other religion is so insecure that they threaten their members and families with killing them if they ever try to convert to another religion!? Freedom of religion is NOT something that Muslims allow. As for extreme/radical Muslims, there is no appeasing them...they want the whole world to convert to their firebrand form of extreme religion or die!

    December 4, 2011 at 5:30 am |
    • jayp

      You are so right! Is this really a religion or a violent cult that preaches hate for anyone that is different or a 'non-believer'. This is not a religion.

      December 4, 2011 at 5:40 am |
    • peakarach

      lol! actually Christianity have murder more people than any other religions combined. WWW1 and WWW2 all started by the Christians in Western European countries that have killed over 100 millions people. The Crusaders have killed ten of millions of people around the world in the name of their religion. During European empired they also have killed ten of millions of people around the world in the name of their religion.

      December 4, 2011 at 6:39 am |
  13. mike

    Gotta love the academics and the "experts". They waste hundereds of thousands of dollars surveying thousands of people for years and then come to the wrong conclusion. It only takes a regular person seconds to realize Muslims are are more fanatical and more devoted because they are less educated and more ignorant than the other groups. That's also the reason they haven't been able to reform their religion.

    December 4, 2011 at 5:30 am |
    • peakarach

      lol! Both Christianity and Islam are the most radical and the most violence religions in history.

      December 4, 2011 at 6:44 am |
  14. Allah

    Its simple. Because Islam is a violence doctrine to begin with. It starts off its teachings to do what is written in Kuran or else you will be punished even for little things. The fear of punishment is what drives these Muslims to be engrossed in their religion.

    They dont dont really do it out of LOVE but out of FEAR.

    December 4, 2011 at 5:29 am |
  15. crc

    Because they are killed if they try to leave the faith.

    December 4, 2011 at 5:27 am |
  16. Epimetheus

    Who cares? Religosity is a indicative of overall low IQ's and psychological issues. And, that anyone would prostate themselves multiple times a day to worship some make-believe deity speaks so poorly of humankind. Quit praying and do something useful with your time.

    December 4, 2011 at 5:21 am |
    • Seth

      opinions are like as*holes...kinda like you. =)

      December 4, 2011 at 5:24 am |
    • AtheistRite

      The question is, is it a consequence or the cause of low IQ and psychological issues?

      December 4, 2011 at 5:25 am |
    • Randy

      Actually the opposite is true. A number of large studies have found higher IQ among those who practice a religon.

      December 4, 2011 at 5:26 am |
    • Eli

      @Randy: [citation needed]

      December 4, 2011 at 5:27 am |
    • AtheistRite

      @Eli: Nice work 🙂

      December 4, 2011 at 5:34 am |
    • Seth

      Eli, you're parents must be proud of you, with those mad Microsoft Excel skills!

      December 4, 2011 at 5:36 am |
    • Eli

      Seth, you are either a troll or a complete idiot. I didn't make that plot.

      December 4, 2011 at 5:38 am |
    • Joel Weymouth

      Very Good Eli, you must not attend University- WIkipedia is not considered a scholarly source and is not accepted by any reputable University. Most schools, to use it will earn you a C at least. I know of professors that will not accept the paper and you will earn an F if you cite a source from Wikipedia. Wikipedia is not peer reviewed. Furthermore this enthrallment with IQ tests is strange, seeing that Shockley had also studies (and these WERE peer reviewed) that African Americans were less intelligent than Whites because the scored lower on IQ Tests. I would not go down that route friend, it will burn you.

      December 4, 2011 at 5:52 am |
    • Joel Weymouth

      By the way, I don't agree with Shoclkey's findings.

      December 4, 2011 at 5:54 am |
  17. ObjectiveReality

    Granted, a vast number of Muslims are absolutely very well educated. And very few Muslims actually receive the punishment of those who veer from authoritative doctrine. With this in mind, does the following thesis contain any or some truth:

    Limitations on education (particularly for women) + the threat of stoning (cranium cracking stones delivered at high velocity while buried up to your neck in dirt) = subservience to doctrine

    Discuss.

    December 4, 2011 at 5:21 am |
    • ObjectiveReality

      Not to say similarly atrocious scenarios don't occur in other religions. They do...that exceptionally pious one has it's crusades and child "love" issues + cover-it-all-up issues to contend with. But yeah, that stadium scale "rocks to the head" part is fairly...um, motivational, isn't it?

      December 4, 2011 at 5:35 am |
  18. trueusa.

    Because they are more BACKWARD

    December 4, 2011 at 5:20 am |
  19. Bballer86

    I don't really care how religous they are. Religon is what is tearing the world apart. It's not my fault that most people on Earth are uneducated and ignorant.

    December 4, 2011 at 5:16 am |
  20. AtheistRite

    To challenge those friends who defend Islam by claiming that it "treats women as equals", "respects non-believers", or is based on "rationality and critical thinking", I quote certain verses from the Koran. I speculate that their first line of defense will be that I am taking things out of context, so, I request them to enlighten me with the right context:

    On women: [4.34] Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great.

    About leaving Islam: [2.217] ... whoever of you turns back from his religion, then he dies while an unbeliever– these it is whose works shall go for nothing in this world and the hereafter, and they are the inmates of the fire; therein they shall abide.

    About Allah's hatred of the unbelievers: [2.24] ... be on your guard against the fire of which men and stones are the fuel; it is prepared for the unbelievers. [40.6] And thus did the word of your Lord prove true against those who disbelieved that they are the inmates of the fire. [48.13] And whoever does not believe in Allah and His Apostle, then surely We have prepared burning fire for the unbelievers.

    About explicitly slaying idolaters: [9.5] So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

    So, where is the critical thinking in Koran that some of you claim? It is entirely prescriptive nonsense.

    December 4, 2011 at 5:15 am |
    • AtheistRite

      Let me clarify. I am not saying that other religions are necessarily good either. Nor am I a Muslim hater. My wife and her family are Muslims, and love them.

      December 4, 2011 at 5:24 am |
    • Eli

      How does that work, out of curiosity? Your wife thinks that you are going to hell and will be tortured forever, but you love her and her family? Ah, women, the things they do to a man...

      December 4, 2011 at 5:25 am |
    • Kat

      then we will just have to have your wife admonish you....

      December 4, 2011 at 5:26 am |
    • AtheistRite

      Well, she is a practicing atheist, but won't say so. She will celebrate Eid. So, she is about as much a Muslim as most urban Americans are Christians, is the way to put it... celebrate their respective religious holidays but do not follow the bs of the books.

      December 4, 2011 at 5:28 am |
    • AtheistRite

      Also, most believing Muslims that I have come across, such as my mother-in-law, either ignore Allah's evident hatred for non-believers, or keep those views to themselves out of their inherent goodness. This is similar to how most Christians don't believe that I am a sinner either.

      December 4, 2011 at 5:31 am |
    • AtheistRite

      @Kat, or I can convert to Islam, beat my wife, and take three other ones, perhaps younger and prettier. Sounds like a good plan.

      December 4, 2011 at 5:36 am |
    • Kat

      the right context about women is that it goes on to say in the following verses that if there is still disagreement, bring in a judge form her family and a judge from his family to rule on their disputes in a settlement, with the option of divorce available, so the verse you quoted does not imply a marriage must continue with quarrels....
      regarding the second and thirst verses, they refer to afterlife punishment in hell, not that muslims are to impose these punishments.
      Regarding the last verse, it refers to events that took place 1400 years ago – the sacred months passed then, it refers to the Meccan aggressors who had fought and kicked out the early Muslims, not a general open-ended command as you seem to imply.

      December 4, 2011 at 5:37 am |
    • AtheistRite

      @Kat, so you agree that FIRST you beat your wife, and THEN if there is still any disagreement left, you can call a judge. Bravo!

      December 4, 2011 at 5:39 am |
    • yavuz

      my friend, it is really sad to see your ignorance.. some of the verses you mention are complete with the next few verses they follow or precede.. do not just pick some of them and let others trapped in your thinking..

      December 4, 2011 at 5:44 am |
    • AtheistRite

      @Kat, Yes, these verses about hellfire for unbelievers refer to the afterlife. Now, if you knew that I am a decent man, who helps people around him, and do not harm those who do not harm me, but I don't believe in Allah. What do you think of me? What, according to you, will happen to me after death? Will be good deeds be of any use if I simply refuse to believe in Allah?

      December 4, 2011 at 5:44 am |
    • AtheistRite

      Also, even some of these verses have some context, how educated is an average or born-again Muslim about the entire context? In any case, Allah's evidently hates unbelievers, no matter what the context. Do you disagree? If so, please point out the cases and verses where Allah loves certain unbelievers. Belief is the necessary condition to escape hell fire.

      December 4, 2011 at 5:47 am |
    • Kat

      Atheist, no, first you talk, not sleep, then tap (beat is not correct as it implies physica/mental damage which is banned in islam).
      I would believe you are a good decent person that I can be your friend. It is up to you how you want to live your afterlife. You will be awarded for your good deed in this life but they weight nothing against the offense on your soul of rejecting its creator.

      December 4, 2011 at 5:56 am |
    • Kat

      Atheist, Koran reminds people of God's graces on humanity..it uses reason to convince people of the existence of God. Disbelief in Islam means one who rejects God because of ego and pride despite knowing He exists, not because he/she does not know or is not sure. At the end, you make your own destiny and how you will be in there hereafter.

      December 4, 2011 at 6:00 am |
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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.