September 2, 2014


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) -- Westerners tend to assume most Muslims are strongly committed to the Quran and to establishing Islamic republics, but that isn't accurate, Mike Edens, a professor of theology and Islamic studies, told Baptist Press concerning a Pew Research Center study of more than 38,000 Muslims in 39 countries.

"About 20 percent of any Muslim population is actually committed to Islam having the leading role in their society," said Edens, who teaches at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary after serving 26 years in the Middle East with the International Mission Board.

"Most Muslims are committed to what we would call a secular Islamic worldview or a 'value' Islamic worldview," Edens said, describing "value Muslims" as are those for whom the values of Islam for family and protection of the young and security for women and living a conservative, moral life are much more important than establishing an Islamic republic akin to Iran's.

According to the Pew study, the world's 1.6 billion Muslims are united in their belief in Allah and the Prophet Muhammad and practice widely such religious requirements as fasting during the holy month of Ramadan and almsgiving to the poor, but they vary on how important religion is to their lives.

"The World's Muslims: Unity and Diversity," by Pew's Forum on Religion and Public Life, was conducted in more than 80 languages spoken by about two-thirds of the world's Muslim population. The United States was not included.

Among the results:

-- 97 percent of Muslims in the study declared faith in Allah and the Prophet Muhammad; 93 percent reported fasting during the month of Ramadan; 77 percent gave to charity; 63 percent said they pray five times a day; 9 percent had made the pilgrimage to Mecca.

-- The percentage of Muslims who had made the pilgrimage to Mecca declined with distance from Mecca and was no higher than 48 percent in any country surveyed, Pew found.

-- Traditional Islamic teachings such as belief in one God, belief in fate, belief in angels and belief that the Quran is the literal word of God are widely accepted across the countries included in the study. Read More

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