It would seem there are a few Muslim stereotypes that need deconstructing. Dinesh D’Souza of Christianity Today writes “Surveys of the world’s Muslims find that most Muslims support democracy and freedom. Indeed, many Muslims complain that they are ruled by Western-supported secular despots who deny people their right to self-government.” Ouch.

But there’s more. The data also suggests that, while most Muslims support classic liberalism, including the right to vote and freedom of assembly, etc, what they really object to is modern liberalism, “which is characterised by the right to blaspheme, pornography as a protected form of free expression, the exclusion of religious symbols from the public square, the right of teenagers to receive sex education and contraceptives, the right to abortion, prostitution as a worker’s right, and so on.” In other words, they object to much the same things as many Christians do.

So maybe, just maybe, there is some common ground here.

For me personally, the biggest barrier to cooperation with Muslims is what I see as Muslim resistance to religious freedom. In particular, the violent reaction of some Muslims to people who convert to another religion, other than Islam that is. Maybe that’s also a stereotype that needs deconstructing, but I know people personally effected by such violence. So Muslims, help me out here. I need to see some evidence before I can believe that.

6 thoughts on “Survey shows most Muslims support democracy

  1. I just came across this site, and seeing as no one has responded to your request for a post from a Muslim, I figured I might point you to an article to help settle your worries of Islamic resistance to religious freedom from the religion’s point of view (not the view of the faulty acts of persons under the surmise of the Islamic religion).
    Please go to
    http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/islam_and_religious_freedom/
    and if you have anymore questions after reading the article thoroughly, I’ll be more than happy to answer you to the best of my knowledge 🙂

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  2. Blah, thanks for the article and for taking up the challenge.
    I’m encouraged by the affimation that there should be no compulsion in religion and that “one should be free to renounce his/her religion if it ceases to appeal to his/her conscience.” How prevalent are such views within Islam though? When we look at Muslim dominated countries it seems to reflect a minority view. Is that perception correct or false? And how prevalent do you see it amongst Muslims in western countries?
    Also, I have a question. Where do you stand on Sharia law. Can one be a faithful Muslim without pushing it on the unfaithful?
    One point of disagreement. The article suggested “In Islam there is no concept of church. No central body is authorised to control religious doctrines. In fact there is no concept of priesthood in Islam. Every individual is free to, and responsible for, his or her own faith.” I would suggest there is a certain amount of projection in this. The understanding of church as “central body…authorised to control religious doctrines” is far from universally held amongst Christians. I for one rail against such a definition. Likewise, as a protestant, and praticularly one from a congregationally governed church, I affirm the priesthood of all believers, and baulk at the assumption that we all affirm Catholic-style priestly classes. The article assumes a greater divine on this point than seems warranted when the full bredth of Christian diversity is taken into account. I think there could be some things we could mutually explore here.

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  3. Great to hear back from you 🙂
    When you ask, “How prevalent are such views within Islam though?” I’m assuming you mean the consensus among the understanding of Muslims today, because the quote you pulled from the article is the ruling taken directly from the religion itself. As for such an understanding among Muslims today, I agree with you, it does seem to reflect a minority view. This, however, is not a problem with the religion Islam itself, but a problem with the people, and their failure to fully study their religion as it has been given. Ignorance is the seed for which the world’s problems occur, and when people don’t find a need to educate themselves, the problem will grow. So the problem I will admit to you here is that Muslims don’t know their own religion, and that is why such resistance is prevalent among Muslims today.
    Having been born and raised in a Western country myself, I tend to see that Muslims are more accepting of religious freedom. This is due impart to the ability to practice Islam freely, as well as the tendency to get educated on Islam without the cultural baggage that can arise when living in a Muslim majority nation, in which a lot of ignorant cultural ideas can be mixed in and accepted as if part of religion.
    Next, I must ask you to clarify what your definition of Sharia law is before I go forth. Because the pop culture ideology is far from what Sharia law actually is. No country practices Sharia law today. I really mean that. Please explain your understanding of what you think Sharia law is and I can try to make some clarifications.
    Also, a Muslim’s “faithful” ness is independent of another’s faith. Islam does not teach to push ideas onto another person, for as the article states, it will only result in the empty actions from the imposed, which is meaningless and useless. So why waste your time to force someone to do something they don’t want to? Islam pushes for the freedom to make decision, so coersion in any form is against what Islam teaches.
    Lastly, I don’t believe the article was trying to push the idea that church is a “central body…authorised to control religious doctrines” universally to Christianity. That is a fundamental difference between Catholicism and Protestants, of course. The term “church” is used because historically the Catholic church has been just that, the governing body authorized as such. This in result has cause modern societies to adopt the separation of church and state. So the “church” which is being referred to is the Catholic church, as the Protestant churches did not display the authority to no degree that the Catholic church historically has. The Protestants also fled to other countries to escape this suggested authority that the Catholic church had assumed. No generalization was intended, but simply to make the point that this structure does not exist in the Islamic religion.
    I think I’ll wait to explain further until I hear back from you, that way I can try to explain properly.

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  4. Blah,
    Okay, here we go…
    Yes, I meant the consensus among Muslims today. But I know what you mean about people misunderstanding their own religion. Many who claim to be Christian don’t understand Christianity all that well either. Many confuse it with middle class culture.
    I must admit my understanding of Sharia Law is fairly sketchy. I am much more familiar with eastern and esoteric religions than I am with Islam. Where I have most frequently heard of Sharia Law is in reference to anti-blaspheme, anti-conversion and divorce laws. Not sure if the Dhimi thing comes under this too. Happy for you to educate me here.
    Just so you know where I’m coming from, I identify most clearly with the Anabaptists of the Radical Reformation, who stress the separation of church and state and the non-separation of clergy and laity even more than your average Protestant. But I was raised Catholic, so I have familiarity with that tradition too. Why I object to references to the Catholic Church as “The Church”, even when no ill will is intended, is precisely the assumption claim that the Catholic Church the most authoritative. I’d agree it’s the most “authoritarian” but not the most “authoritative”. There is no church that is authoritative in its own right, all authority comes from Christ. Our authority, Protestants and Catholics alike, is contingent to the degree to which we are authentically following him.

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