Who Speaks For the 1.6 Billion Muslims?

Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

Since the tragic events of September 11, 2001, we have countless experts in the West, in almost every news media, on Islam and terrorism, who seem to be speaking for or about the 1.6 billion Muslims of the world?

Does each and every Western expert, articulate and eloquent that most of them are, speak for the Muslims?

Every politician in the West today has strong views about Islam or at least radical Islam and Islamism, especially the Presidential candidates like Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. Do they speak for the Muslims?

There are at least 70 sects among the Muslims, each claiming to possess, greater truth than the others. Does anyone of them speak for all the Muslim sects?

There are a few dozen Muslim countries. Does the most liberal or the most militant speak for them all?

There are a dozen terrorist group, in almost every so called Muslim country, ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Taliban, Boko Haram, Al Shabab and their splinter groups. Do they speak for the Muslims? The Western Islamophobes, both the right wing and the left wing, will have us believe that they and only they speak for the Muslims. So, these hawkish experts can do all the hate-mongering in the Western countries to advance their nefarious political agenda.

Yesterday a splinter group of Taliban killed more than 70 in Lahore and injured more than 200, mostly Christians on their holy day of Easter. What a shameful act! But, do they speak for all the Muslims?

If we let them speak for all the Muslims then all Muslims are terrorists, by guilt by association. But, this would be strange logic. As if all white men are racists because some are or every Catholic priest is a pedophile, because some are. We do not need this kind of distortion in our thinking in this age of enlightenment.

I believe, each and every Muslim speaks for himself or herself. If others are going to speak for them then it would be as if the Muslims do not have religious freedom and do not have the right to profess their faith.

Pew Research Center tells us precisely, what proportion of the Muslims support or condone terrorism, in each country:

no to suicide bombing

We do not need to deny any Muslim his or her God given right to speak for himself or herself and polls and demographics provide us an easy and honest way of hearing each and every one of them.

The above slide shows that the Muslims in the countries, which have seen some positive Western influence, a very large majority, 82-95% is against the menace of terrorism.  The evidence is clear and need not be embellished or misquoted.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides for religious freedom of each and every citizen of our global village, including the 1.6 billion Muslims. Article 18 states:

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

If we do not let a group represent themselves and let others define them, then it is as if we are taking freedom of religion from those, who loose their own representation.

Translated into day to day lingo, the Islamophobes and ‘the experts’ on national television do not speak for the 1.6 billion Muslims.

The 1.6 billion Muslims speak for themselves.

What do the Muslims say about democracy and religious freedom? Let us have each and every one of them speak.

gsi2-overview-16

Most Muslims around the world express support for democracy, and most say it is a good thing when others are very free to practice their religion. At the same time, many Muslims want religious leaders to have at least some influence in political matters.

Given a choice between a leader with a strong hand or a democratic system of government, most Muslims choose democracy. Regional medians of roughly six-in-ten or more support democracy in sub-Saharan Africa (72%), Southeast Asia (64%) and Southern and Eastern Europe (58%), while slightly fewer agree in the Middle East and North Africa (55%) and Central Asia (52%). Muslims in South Asia are the most skeptical of democratic government (a median of 45% say they support democracy).

A majority of Muslims in most countries surveyed say they are “very free” to practice their religion. The only countries where fewer than half of Muslims say they are very free to practice their faith are Iraq (48%), Egypt (46%) and Uzbekistan (39%).

The survey also asked Muslims whether people of other faiths in their country are very free, somewhat free, not too free or not at all free to practice their religion; a follow-up question asked Muslims whether they consider this “a good thing” or “a bad thing.” In 31 of the 38 countries where the question was asked, majorities of Muslims say people of other faiths can practice their religion very freely. And of those who share this assessment, overwhelming majorities consider it a good thing. This includes median percentages of more than nine-in-ten in South Asia (97%), Southern and Eastern Europe (95%), sub-Saharan Africa (94%), Southeast Asia (93%) and Central Asia (92%). In the Middle East-North Africa region, nearly as many (85%) share this view.

The Muslims living in the West are generally more liberal than those living in the so called Muslim countries.

In 2011, the Pew Research Center conducted its second nationally representative survey of Muslims in the United States. When that survey is compared with the global survey of Muslims, some key differences emerge between U.S. Muslims and Muslims in other countries. In general, American Muslims are more at ease in the contemporary world. About six-in-ten Muslims living in the U.S. (63%) say there is no tension between being religiously devout and living in a modern society, compared with a median of 54% of Muslims worldwide. American Muslims also are more likely than Muslims in other parts of the world to say that many religions can lead to eternal salvation (56% vs. global median of 18%). Additionally, U.S. Muslims are much less likely than Muslims worldwide to say that all or most of their close friends are Muslim (48% vs. global median of 95%).

Muslims in the U.S. are about as likely as Muslims in other countries to view science and religion as fully compatible. In the U.S., 59% of Muslims say there generally is not a conflict between science and religion, compared with a median of 54% globally among Muslims. However, American Muslims are somewhat less likely to believe in evolution than are Muslims in other parts of the world (45% vs. global median of 53%). Indeed, when it comes to evolution, U.S. Muslims are closer to U.S. Christians (46% of whom say they believe in evolution) than they are to fellow Muslims elsewhere in the world.

American Muslims are even more likely than Muslims in other countries to firmly reject violence in the name of Islam. In the U.S., about eight-in-ten Muslims (81%) say that suicide bombing and similar acts targeting civilians are never justified. Across the globe, a median of roughly seven-in-ten Muslims (72%) agrees. (For more details on how U.S. Muslims compare with Muslims worldwide, see Appendix A: U.S. Muslims — Views on Religion and Society in a Global Context.)

We can let each and every 1.6 billion Muslims speak in the form of polls like Pew Research Center has done over the years. As these polls are done, updated and analyzed, these can become very powerful tools for the 1.6 billion Muslims and non-Muslims to  talk to each other also and gradually bring each and every one of them to the cherished values of secularism, religious freedom and human rights, in the 21st century, for peaceful coexistence in our global village.

In the final analysis, every Muslim speaks for him or herself.

Whoever represents them precisely and sympathetically speaks for them.

Pew Research Center speaks for them as long as it polls them objectively. The Muslim Times speaks for them as long as it covers all ordinary 1.6 billion of them with sympathy and empathy.

Suggested Reading

A Million Muslims Detained in China: What Could Save Them?

14 replies

  1. Best to split out the rarely and the never responses – the question refers to suicide bombing innocent civilians in defence of islam

  2. American Muslims are even more likely than Muslims in other countries to firmly reject violence in the name of Islam. In the U.S., about eight-in-ten Muslims (81%) say that suicide bombing and similar acts targeting civilians are never justified. Across the globe, a median of roughly seven-in-ten Muslims (72%) agrees.

    • Mr Shah – what you are saying is that 1 in 5 muslims think that the indiscriminate butchering of innocent civilians is acceptable as an act in defence of a religion.

      Are your expectations of Muslim behaviour that low that you are proud of this statistic?

      Would you invite 5 strangers into your house knowing that one of them might murder you?

      What sort of upbringing or indoctrination does it take to make people think this way?

  3. Allahu Akbar ——————— Ya Rasulullah

    Iman gives the identity with the name of Allah through holy Rasul Sallallahu Alaihihe Wasallam which is the life & liberty of soul & life.

    – ”Imam Hayat Alaihi Rahma”

    World Sunni Movement

  4. NARAYE TAKBIR–ALLAHU AKBER NARAYE RESALAT- YA RASULULLAH

    Islam is a religion of truth, love, humanity, knowledge,right, democracy, liberty, freedom, safety & peace given by beloved holy Rasul Sallallahu Alahi Wasallam. No tyranism, terrorism, oppression and radicalization in Islam, who commits these crimes never belongs to beloved holy Rasul nor Muslim but destroyer of Islam.

    – ”Imam Hayat Alaihi Rahma”

    World Sunni Movement

  5. It is a matter of concern that 20% of the population is not rejecting the terrorism or preferring to be silent over terrorism . We should not be satisfied that 80% are rejecting . We should analyze the factors behind the perception . To tackle the problem , it is necessary that those people are made aware of Islam . The easiest way is that MTA be available . The Muslim Times may also play the vital role . For all these , those 80% who know Islam , will have to take initiative .

  6. Mr. ashdeville , Sir we are doing every thing to make 81% to 100% . Watch the MTA , read the speeches of Imam jammat ahmadia ; all efforts are towards make people aware of true Islam . We will be satisfied ( not proud ) when we succeed in making 81% to 100% . Secondly, as per the statics, a very large number of Muslims reject the terrorism , so Islam or entire community shouldn’t be blamed . Yes , there is a group who are doing heinous crimes , they should be crushed . Being a purely religious people , we are educating people to be a true Muslim I.e; a Muslim is he from whose hands and tongue others are safe .

  7. Well I make that out to be about 320 million people who think that my murder in defence of allah and mohammed would be of no consequence. Surely you have to accept that this is an horrific and obscene figure.

    Muslims love to brag about their burgeoning growth rate – is it any wonder that the rest of the world sees this as a terrifying prospect. And no number of speeches by an imam will make a shred of difference to how this figure will undoubtedly increase.

    Personally I can only imagine rare circumstances where such an act would be acceptable- perhaps the oft cited scenario of killing Hitler before the 2nd world war in order to save the lives of millions.

    There has to be something intrinsic to islam that leads to adherents having such a low regard for the value of human life. Is it the slavish obedience and submission that it demands from its adherents?

    Is it the way that islam sets up mohammed as an idol to be emulated without question regardless of his significant personality defects?

    Is it the emphasis on life in paradise after death that devalues life in the here and now?

    Is it the fact that you have a huge number of people who have been conditioned to believe that their religion grants them a special status in the mind of the creator of the universe? Which makes them see everyone else as being inferior and only worthy of contempt at best and disgust at worst?

    Is it the bitter resentment that muslims will have when they see that the kuffir live lives of wealth, freedom and happiness when by and large muslims live in failed states and their lives are marked by poverty and violence?

  8. Sir, you are talking about that ideology which is to be corrected and what ahmaddiyya community is doing. It is trying its best and utilizing its resources to educate people that there is no compulsion in the matter of faith ( Quran ) . It is representing that Islam which not only validates all moral values but also accepts religious diversity when announces ” your religion is for you , mine is for me ” . It warns people when quote ” murder of one innocent is like the murder of entire humanity – Quran. ” and ” whosoever indulges in the jehad by sword , he will be ashamed – promised Messiah ” . My dear sir , life of any individual is precious and must be saved , whosoever commits the heinous crime , authority must take strong action . As far as Islam is concerned , the meaning of word Islam is peace and its Prophet is rahmatulalameen I.e; merciful for all . So Islam cannot be blamed . Yes, there are some Muslim groups who are not only committing barbaric & heinous crime against humanity but also maligning the beautiful teachings of Islam ; let authorities take firm actions against them . Being a religious community , we are working tirelessly to make such people who believes that ” love for all , hatred for none ” . Efforts of The Muslim Times is a example.

  9. Syed – I wish you good fortune in your endeavours. However when you talk about “that ideology which is to be corrected” you no doubt appreciate that the people who follow that ideology would be just as happy killing you as they would be killing me!

    Don’t you sometimes think that all our lives would be immeasurably better if religious folk jettisoned their beliefs and dogmas.

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