Statistic field study on Syrians’ patterns of Islamic faith
By: Hamza Rastanawi
The percentage of participants who adopt a discriminatory attitude that justifies killing for doctrinal reasons i.e. criminal Muslim is 4% like in the case of abandoning prayers and the marriage of Muslim girl to a Christian, or the marriage of Sunni girl to a Shiite man. 8% expressed the same attitude towards cursing God, and 17% towards doctrine conversion from Islam to Christianity. 32% expressed a hostile attitude towards homosexuality.
10 percent of Syrians consider smoking in public during Ramadan as a crime that should entail prison with mandatory fasting till the end of Ramadan. 63 percent consider getting a loan from the bank is a sin that should be avoided. 22 percent support amputation of the hand of thieves in public.
These percentages are remarkably high and constitute a risk factor. How come a Muslim is considered as a killer? How can we describe a Muslim as a danger to the society? Isn’t it an underestimation of the Muslim doctrine? In return, there is the tolerant Muslim and the vital Muslim. This study adopts a holistic approach that never separates Muslims from Islam. It spots the doctrinal presence away from puritanism and incrimination. It seeks to reinforce a vital understanding of Islam away from fabrication, glorification and deviation. This study tries to explore, document, identify and analyze risk factors and defuse this phenomenon so as to help society to overcome its current and potential immaturity.
People usually express their opinions towards their own religious doctrines or doctrines of others in a way that reflects psychological and social inclinations.
They strongly attribute perfection, righteousness and piety to their religious doctrines with the least doubt or investigation. Muslims usually claim that fanatic concepts don’t reflect real Islam, or a minor phenomenon that is limited to some cases which are exaggerated and used by politicians and media persons. Some other participants look at Islam as a fanatic religious doctrine with an exemptive essence. The key question that comes to mind is:
What is the criterion for Fanatic Islam or tolerant Islam?
Many Muslims consider killing apostates or cutting the hand of a robber not to be fanatic concepts. This study tries to approach these dilemmas from a perspective that claims objectivity and full understanding that are based on field statistics study.
The dilemma of the study
The basic dilemma of this study is the difficulty of designing a gradual and applicable criterial correlative that helps in eliciting quantity evaluation. Such evaluation is supposed to spot different forms of Islamic religiosity with Syrians, forms that fluctuate between introversion and discrimination on the one hand, and extroversion and tolerance on the other.
Presentation of the questionnaire and results of the filed study
The questionnaire was titled “Questionnaire on the strength of Muslim’s faith and his/her Efficiency”. This title was chosen in order not to provoke religious participants who are the main targets of the study and because it connects the dominant conception of faith and competency with social consequences of this faith.
This questionnaire was designed as a soft copy via google drive technique as a presentation. It was sent to more than 3000 Syrian Muslims. It was done in July and August 2018. The criteria for selection of the participants is that he or she should already believe in Prophecy of Muhammed and the Quran as a holly book regardless of doctrinal and ritual differences between Muslims. It was sent to different age groups, social classes, genders, areas, sects and cultured elites inside and outside Syria. 368 responses have been collected, results have been found out and classified in online soft diagrams on the website of the google drive. Results will be displayed later in this study.
Introduction of the questionnaire
Peace be upon you. Please answer the questions in this questionnaire which has been designed for research purposes that reinforce a vital understanding of Islam in a society. The questionnaire needs approximately 10 minutes to fill. It is specially designed for Syrians at this stage. This is intended for Muslims who do believe in the prophecy of Muhammed and that the Quran is a holly book. There is no need to put your name or email address. No personal data is required; just go through and reply to questions. Just log in and when you finish, just click “Submit”.
How do you classify yourself?
1 for Sunni, 2 for Shiite, 3 for just a Muslim with no specific doctrine variety, 4 for other sects like Ismaeli, Duroz, Alwites, etc.
How do you classify yourself?
Most participants classified themselves as Sunni (62%). 34% classified themselves as just Muslims with no specific sectarian identity. No participants classified themselves as Shiites. Others like Alwite, Duroz and Ismaeli constitute only 5% of the participants.
Gender: chose 1 for male or 2 for female.
Most participants are male (84%), only 14% are females
Level of education: 1 for university degree and above, 2 for secondary school certificate, 3 for preparatory school and less
most participants are highly educated. 78% are university graduates and above. Only 7% are preparatory school certificate holder and less.
A person you know has stopped praying, even Friday prayers. What is the best option for dealing with him?
4% chose number one, punishment including execution, whereas 49% considered it a private issue that doesn’t require any procedures on their part i.e. no procedure or discussion or advice.
A Christian Youngman with qualification and good reputation wants to get married to a Muslim girl and she agrees. What is the best choice?
4% justified killing the girl if she gets married to a Christian, 45% considered this a private issue and it needs no intervention including threatening her, 48% chose polite advice and non-violent intervention to stop this marriage.
A Shiite Youngman wants to get married to a Sunni girl and she is willing, or the opposite, A Sunni Youngman wants to get married to a Shiite girl and she is willing. What is the best option for dealing with this?
4% justified killing the Sunni girl if she gets married to a Shiite Youngman, whereas 54% considered this to be a private issue that should entail no intervention or discussion. 36% chose polite intervention to persuade the girl no to get married to a Shiite Youngman.
A non-Muslim journalist with good reputation and qualification wants to enter Mecca to make a documentary film. What is the choice?
22% totally rejected the entry of Non-Muslims to Mecca, 16% agreed if accompanied with Muslim journalists and 45% encouraged the entry of Non-Muslim journalists to Mecca.
What is the sentence that the upcoming Syrian constitution should include?
35% od the participants supported a religious state in Syria, 53% supported citizenship state regardless of religion.
A person who is not needy stole a big sum of money. What is the appropriate punishment for him?
22% of the participants supported amputation of the robber’s hand in a public place. Only six persons supported amputation of the robber’s hand in prison. It is noticeable that only 5% supported reduction of imprisonment if the robber memorized the Quran.
In time of need for a loan to buy a house, what is the best option?
37% of the participants supported taking a loan with fixed interest. 63% considered taking a loan as violation of religious rules that should be avoided. Only 8% supported taking a loan with fixed interest.
While in the street, you see an angry person cursing Allah. What is the appropriate choice?
8% of the participants considered this as a crime that should entail a punishment that might mount to execution. 41% considered it to be a private issue that we don’t need to interfere with. 36% preferred providing polite advice. More than ten percent preferred scorning and boycotting him.
Question No. 9
During Ramadan, a Muslim smoke in the street, what is the appropriate choice?
10 percent considered not fasting in Ramadan is a crime that should entail imprisonment with mandatory fasting till the end of Ramadan. 50% considered that smoking in the street in Ramadan is a private issue that should not be interfered with or discussed.
A person you know has converted from Islam to Christianity, what is the appropriate choice to deal with him?
17 percent of participants considered conversion from Islam into Christianity as a estrangement crime that should entail a punishment including execution. About 52 percent considered it to be a private issue that should not entail any procedures or discussion. 26 percent believed in providing polite advice. 9.3% supported secretly praying for guidance.
As for women’s cloths outdoors, what is the right option?
51 percent of the participants supported imposing Hijab including face and hair of women alike. 61 percent of them considered that Hijab is a private issue that needs no intervention or discussion. 21 percent of them supported polite advice.
One male of female is practicing homosexuality. What is the appropriate procedure?
32 percent of the participant considered homosexuality to be a crime that should entail punishment including execution. 34 percent of the participants considered it to a private issue that should not entail any intervention or discussion. 16 percent chose boycott and scorning. 11 percent believed in polite advice.
What is the destiny of Luis Pasture, the French Non-Muslim who invented vaccinations in the hereafter?
16 percent of the participants considered him as an apostate that contributed to humanity, but he deserves punishment in the hereafter as he was not accordant with them in terms of doctrine. 61 percent considered that it is not their own business to decide or he might be rewarded although he is not identical in terms of doctrine. 12.5 percent considered him to not be likely to be forgiven.
As for slavery, what is the appropriate choice?
51 percent of participants said that Islam completely prohibit slavery. 27 percent considered that Islam prohibited slavery through the mitigation of its sources. 10 percent considered that Islam recommend Muslims to free slaves, but it is not mandatory.
There is a statue of Abu Al Alla’a Al Ma’ari in a public square. What is the best choice for you to deal with it?
59 percent of participants never minded the existence of statues in public square. 9 percent of them demanded destroying the statue and removing it.
Methodology of data collection and calculating results with their indications
Choice number one reflects a racial and fanatic attitude that justifies killing for doctrinal reasons. The key sentence “a punishment that is decided by the Judge including execution”. It is equal to the interests of a religious and totalitarian state that never accord with the spirit of the modern age. It is the criminal Muslim.
Choice number two reflects an explicit racial attitude that justifies verbal and physical violence for doctrinal reasons. The key phrase threatening and beating which is equal to terrorist behavior that is hostile to society and social freedom i.e. the dangerous Muslim
Choice number three reflects another racial attitude that negatively expresses itself through social estrangement of those who are different. The key phrase is scorning and Boycott. This accords with the term “Introvert Muslim”.
Choice number four reflects potential racist attitude, but less violent. It believes in the righteousness of its own doctrine and tries to gently correct others’ doctrines and sets of behavior with no coercion. Advocates of this attitude are closer to proselytizers as a preaching Muslim.
Choice number five reflects a tolerant attitude that never alters others’ feelings. The key words for this are “respect of others”freedom and care for their feelings that accords with the term tolerant Muslim.
Choice number six reflects a tolerant and anti-racist attitude. The key concept is respecting freedom of others and even protecting them from any possible threat. This refers to the vital Muslim who adopts a renewed understanding of Islam that compromise with the World. He emphasizes common human values and welfare. Such attitude reinforces justice and freedom priorities.
The total grade of the questionnaire is calculated by allotting 15 mark for each answer. Choice number one equals 90 points which means the highest level of introversion of the person. Choice number six is equal to 15 points which refers to the lowest level of introversion and highest level of tolerance. It reflects an open and vital pattern of Islam that stands against racism.
90 points refers to a criminal Muslim. 75 points refers to a dangerous Muslim. 60 points refers to an introvert Muslim. 45 refers to a proselytizer Muslim or a preacher. 30 points refers to a tolerant Muslim. 15 points refers to an extrovert and vital Muslim (renewed containment).
If a participant gets 45, he can be classified as a preacher Muslim. But if he gets 60, he can be classified as an introvert Muslim. One objection might come to mind: How can we describe a Muslim to a killer or dangerous? Isn’t it an underestimation of Islamic doctrine?
To answer this question, we can say:
Analysis of the statistics field study with conclusions
Poor response was due to many reasons like:
The majority of participants in the questionnaire were between 25-45 years old and 78% of them are university graduates. This means that they are the most active age group in the future and life of the society.
The majority of participants are male (84%). Female participation was very poor (16%) although the questionnaire was shared with many females. This caused unstable representation of the sample. This is due to many reasons:
4% adopted a racial attitude through their choice of answer number one in question about prayers, religiously heterogeneous marriage. 8% chose number one in question about cursing Allah. 17% chose number one in the case of religion conversion. As for homosexuality, 32% chose number one. These figures are considered as risk factors as:
The percentage of vital Muslims and tolerant Muslims who never interfere with others’ affairs (choices number 5 and 6) constitute 40% in the case of homosexuality, 41% in the case of cursing Allah, 45% in the case of marriage of Sunni girl to a Shiite or Christian, 48% in the case abandoning prayers, 50% in the case of smoking in public during Ramadan and 52% in the case of religion conversion or Non-Muslim journalist entering Mecca and up to 61% in the case of women Hijab.
The percentage of those who advocate non-violent intervention, polite advice, a preacher Muslim, is 11% in the case of homosexuality, 22% in the case of women’s cloths, 26% in the case of conversion from Islam into other religions, 36% in the case of marriage of a Sunni girl to a Shiite man, 37% in the case of smoking in the street during Ramadan, 48% in the case of marriage of a Sunni girl to a Christian young man and up to 49% in the case of suspension of prayers.
More racial and violent attitudes and more violent practices have been spotted towards homosexuality. 32% of the participants justified killing homosexual persons. Only 40% were tolerant with them and adopted a peaceful approach to dealing with them. This is because homosexuality constitutes a violation of the social male taboo. It is also a religious taboo despite the fact that there is no explicit script that prohibits homosexuality among jurisprudence scholars.
The percentage of participants who advocate slavery in the present time due to doctrinal reasons has reached 22%. They believe that it is acceptable to enslave misbelievers, both males and females, and that there are verses in the Quran which regulate the process of slavery. For them, Islam never prohibits slavery, but recommend mutual respect between slaves and their masters. Islam, for them recommend liberating slaves, but it is not mandatory.
Conservations and reasons for rejection of the questionnaire
Most responses to the questionnaire were negative. They can be classified as follows:
“You are hypocrites. Your questionnaire is kind of shit” a Facebook response said. “You pretend to be Mufti. You have distorted religion” one Whats App respond said. “You are a misbeliever and heretic person” another responder wrote on Whats App. Another response on Facebook said: “Do you want us to tolerate a naked girl prostituting in the street?” and your questionnaire wants me to choose what to do! You want me to say it is none of my business!
Undoubtedly, there are some intelligence behind this questionnaire. It reinforces a sectarian trend. I think there will be some other questionnaire that will address other sects to continue dispersing us.” Said another one on Facebook.
“Does the questionnaire mean that Sunnis are the obstacle in the way of establishing a citizenship state? Is it the reason for addressing Sunnis by this questionnaire? I think it is more important to address other minority sects. If we address other sectarian groups which are mostly secular, are they going to respond? Let us continue burying our dead persons on daily basis and then stab us in the back. We will never surrender.” Wrote another Facebook responder.
“It is an illogical and deluding questionnaire that comes in the context of incriminating Sunnis and fighting their identity because they are True Muslims. Why didn’t you prepare a similar one for Christians and political Christianity which we see in many Facebook posts that underestimate Muslims and scorn their history and existence?” One Facebook responder wrote.
Sunni Muslims are the most tolerant and civilized people in Syria and other Arab countries. They are the most influential majority. It is not their fault that other sectarian components are imprisoned by their supper sectarian ego. This ill-founded and suspected questionnaire can’t affect a civilian structure based on Islam as the cornerstone.” One more Facebook responder wrote.
“The subject matter of the questionnaire is not liable to discussion at all. Human beings are not allowed to discuss religious concepts. It contains doctrinal and issues that are not subject to viewpoints or discussion. Those who published the questionnaire claim that they are advocates of freedom, but in fact they are bargaining this freedom. Nobody is entitled to interfere with my faith and my commitment to my religious doctrines.” Someone replied on Facebook. They quote verse 38 of Al Maeda (the Banquet) Surah of the Quran: “ As for the thief, male or female, cut off his or her hands: a punishment by way of example from Allah, for their crime: And Allah is exalted in power.”
“Following the amputation of the hand as a Godly punishment, not human one, it is clear that hand of the robber must be cut. There is no other meaning that can accord with your mentality. As the Quranic script is very clear, why do we need to discuss it? I think that God’s instructions are sanctified.”. Another Facebook account replied.
“I think that the instructions of Allah are sacred. The marriage of a Muslim girl to a Christian guy is a personal issue that relates to the boy and girl. It is not a social phenomenon that we need to be advocated. Please don’t understand our sanctification of our religion is not extremism or backwardness. Our religion is our identity. All knowledge of the World is nothing if compared with the eternal truth of one verse of Quran” one more person replied on Facebook.
Another replier said: “How come Godly legislation is put for polls and questionnaires? You can get answers to all your questions by referring to Quran interpretation books and books of Al Sunnah. You can’t extract one or two lines and take them as final judgement. Questionnaires and polls can be carried out about things that never contradict with Allah heavenly rules.”.
“Why don’t we design a questionnaire about the efficiency and democratic commitment of secularists?” Replied one of the Facebook accounts.”. “A patient is supposed to go to the doctor, not to the public to get the right remedy.”. “These questions are irrelevant and mistimed. These are the rules that are mentioned in the Quran and inspired by Allah. Therefore, those who truly believe in Allah don’t need to discuss such issues”.
One of the responders wrote about superiority, culture claim and superiority. “The faith of a Muslim can’t be measured by these controversial and naughty questions. It is clear that those who designed the questionnaire have got pre-determined values and judgements about Islam and Muslims as a dull nation that is interested only in trivialities”. “Even Imam Shafea’i can’t answer such questions. This can’t be considered as a questionnaire. You want to make the participant as a judge who sentence people to death or amputation of the hand!”.
“Some options are missing and some existing options can’t cover my ideas. Sometimes options are interrelated. For example, I am a Sunni by birth, but I believe in religion is for Allah. From my own experience, I would like to approach Islam as a thought, not as stupid practices that are followed by people nowadays.” This message came via Whats App.
“This questionnaire attempts to frame and limit thoughts. It is not appropriate for research purposes. It seems that the designer of the questionnaire intends to guide it in the way he likes by limiting the participant to narrow specified choices. The sequence of choices is also problematic.”
Some questions are too general and vague. Making judgement about an issue needs details. Why did the Questionnaire admin disregarded fanaticism of other social and sectarian components?
“Do Christians accept the idea of a Christian girl getting married to a good Muslim?”
“Some questions have got two answers like the one about Luis Pasture; the last two answers are good. Only Allah is supposed to hold creatures responsible according to their good deeds during their life. I answered one of the questions although it was wrong. There are 14 prohibitions in Quran. They are explicitly mentioned in tow verses and nothing else is prohibited.”
Another comment on Facebook said that these questions are not applicable for Muslim society nowadays. The choices presented in the questionnaire cover only three trends: one is committed to Sharia rules. One is careless and the third rejects the idea of Sharia to organize people’s lives in addition to the relationship between Muslims and Allah.”.
Questions in the questionnaire should be asked to state institutions, both executive and legislative when they are formed depending the social values and social contract.
Currently, there is no state that is implementing Sharia away from those who pretend to and utilize religion. Jurisprudent rules can never be enacted unless there is an Islamic state with a caliph. However, Every Muslim is responsible for the prevention of sins and the advocation of virtues. Now there is no Sharia judge to decide these cases”.
We hope that the above-mentioned study will incite confidence in the individual through the emphasis on the value of freedom and the ability of a Muslim to choose with his/her own free will. This freedom should be away from theocratic authorities that have always monopolized the right to interpret religious scripts.
This study is based on the concept that there is nothing absolutely right or absolutely wrong in Islam or any other doctrine of any other religion. A religious doctrine is a social dimension that is subject to many historical, geographical, scientific, economic and political factors of the social existence. There are common traits of Islam that have been formulated in different ways and with different vitalities. These traits can be comparatively studied according to their commitment to justice and freedom as priorities for us all.
This questionnaire has been designed with the aim of finding out numeric values that can be compared, classified and investigated according to trans-sectarian criteria without altering these sectarian references. The idea is to adopt these values according to general human and moral instincts.
This study is a shy attempt to discuss a controversial and problematic issue in the Arab and Muslim societies about the relationship between what is social and what is religious. The aim is to develop open research approaches that are open to methodologies and modern sciences. The approaches proposed are liable to revision, verification and criticism in relation to Islamic applications. It is just a start to conduct this questionnaire and other similar ones in the future with wider social components so as to get more reliable, representative and authentic results.
Copyright © 2018 The Middle East and North Africa Media Monitor.
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