What the Muslim world believes, on everything from alcohol to honor killings, in 8 maps, 5 charts (2023)



A sweeping, 226-page report from the Pew Forum explores attitudes and opinions from Muslim communities around the world. In the process, it turns up some fascinating insights into not just the views held in the "Muslim world" but the wide diversity of those views between Muslim communities. Here, we explore some of those insights using maps and charts.

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First, some caveats. The findings here do not represent all Muslims; just as they show diversity of opinion between communities, so, too, is there diversity within communities. After all, a poll of all American Christians would not capture the differences between Baptists and Catholics, much less between New Jersey Catholics and Louisiana Catholics. There is, in other words, no such thing as a monolithic Muslim worldview.

Also, Pew unfortunately did not survey the world's third-largest Muslim population, which is that of India, and does not include Muslims from Iran, China or Saudi Arabia, much less those who now live in the Western world. But it does offer a wide, comprehensive view of many of the world's largest Muslim communities and their opinions.


Now the data.

1. Most want to implement sharia, disagree about what that means

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Support is lowest in Central Asia and Europe, where only minorities support sharia. In Turkey, where an Islamist political party has been in power for several years and has implemented some Islam-influenced conservative legislation, only 12 percent say they support sharia.

Pew points out that "sharia law" is not exactly clear, and people who say they support it often disagree on what it means. There is a wide divergence of opinion among people who support sharia, for example, on whether or not corporal punishment for thievery is acceptable, or on social issues such as divorce. In other words, Muslim communities seem to favor the idea of sharia law far more than any specific laws.

2. Most Muslims prefer democracy

Wide majorities of Muslims in most countries say they prefer democracy over a "strong leader," which is Pew's standard question for determining support for democracy. Support is particularly high in Africa and Southeast Asia. It's more mixed in the Middle East, with opinion varying between countries but generally leaning pro-democracy. Support is weakest in post-Soviet countries, as well as in Pakistan.


What's interesting here is that, in general and with some significant exceptions, people seem to get the kind of government they want. Demand for democracy is high in Egypt and Tunisia, where protesters led peaceful revolutions in 2011, but it's lower in Jordan, a monarchy, and in countries with authoritarian-leaning governments such as Russia, Kazakhstan and Afghanistan.

If there is any causal truth to this trend -- in other words, if people are more likely to get the kind of government they want -- then Pakistan's unusually high support for a "strong leader" does not bode well for its troubled democracy.

3. Few support suicide bombings, with exceptions

Unsurprisingly, most Muslims say that suicide bombings in defense of Islam are never justified; majorities in every Muslim community surveyed reject the tactic. The only exception is the Palestinian Territories, where only 49 percent say they're never justified.

There are two countries where more than a third say suicide bombings are sometimes justified: the Palestinian Territories, at an alarmingly high 40 percent, and Afghanistan at 39 percent. Suicide bombings have not been common in Israel-Palestine since the Second Intifada, which ended almost a decade ago. But they are still common in Afghanistan.



I was surprised to see that there does not appear to be a clear, consistent correlation between countries where suicide bombings are prevalent and countries where Muslims condemn or accept them. Suicide bombings are far less likely to be supported in Pakistan than they are in Afghanistan, for example, though they occur in both. And the bombings are widely condemned in Iraq, where they've been causing havoc for years, but receive 29 percent support in Egypt, where they are very rare.

4. Most Muslims reject alcohol, often by wide margins

I admit that I was surprised by this: Across dozens of surveyed countries, a majority of Muslims in every single one said that drinking alcohol is "morally wrong." The percentage of Muslims who reject alcohol soars well into the 90s in several countries, including in hard-partying Thailand.


The numbers in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia are generally on par with those in the Middle East. Even in the post-Soviet world, which otherwise appears relatively liberal in Pew's results, majorities condemn alcohol.

Of course, just because people believe something is morally wrong doesn't mean they never do it. As I've written before, the alcohol trade is prosperous even in ultra-conservative and officially booze-free Iran.

5. Mixed views on honor killings

Pew asked asked survey respondents "whether honor killings are ever justified as punishment for pre- or extra-marital sex." In the practice, a person is killed -- often by his or her own family -- for having sex out of wedlock. The victim is typically a woman.

Honor killings still happen, and the data reflect why: Majorities of Muslims surveyed rejected the practice in only 14 out of 23 countries. Support for honor killings appears to be highest in Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt and Jordan.


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Survey respondents were generally more likely to support honor killings when the "offense" was committed by a woman rather than a man, although the margin is typically quite small. The difference was highest in Jordan, where Muslims are more than twice as likely to oppose an honor killing of a man than of a woman.

6. Wide support for Islamic political parties

Most people surveyed tended to say that they prefer Islamic political parties to other parties, with exceptions in the post-Soviet world and, surprisingly, in Turkey.

Islamic political parties are least popular in the Palestinian territories -- perhaps indicating a rejection of Hamas -- as well as in Kazakhstan and Bosnia. They also found little support in Turkey, where an Islamist party has been in power for a decade, a hint of trouble for Turkish Islamist leaders.


Amazingly, after the two years of painful and sometimes violent political turmoil since Islamists took power in Egypt, Egyptians showed more support for Islamic political parties than in any other country surveyed. That's good news for the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood's hold on power.

7. Majorities in six countries support the death penalty for anyone who leaves Islam

A majority of Muslims in several countries say that any Muslim who leaves the faith should be executed, with the share who support this nearing two-thirds in Egypt and Pakistan. In Afghanistan, 78 percent say apostates should be killed.

As I wrote yesterday, the issue of apostasy is a complicated one with its roots in Islam's unique foundational history. But the effect is a deeply chilling one for religious freedom, with atheists and converts often persecuted.

8. Religious conflict seen as a big problem in Pakistan, Nigeria, Tunisia

In most countries surveyed, less than half of Muslim respondents said religious conflict was a very big problem in the country. But majorities do believe this in Tunisia, Pakistan, Nigeria and Niger.


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Each of these cases is obviously quite different, and keep in mind that calling conflict a "very big problem" is relative and subjective. Perhaps Tunisians, whose country is actually quite peaceful, answered yes in such large numbers because they are more sensitive to the violence that has come to their country since the 2011 revolution.

Religious violence, sometimes involving attacks with dozens killed, is indeed a big problem in Nigeria and Pakistan. In the latter, Shiite Muslims are most often targeted. The former has struggled with Muslim-Christian violence for years.

But the good news is that most do not see religious conflict as a very big problem in their countries, particularly in post-Soviet states.

9. Most see Islam as compatible with modern society

Earlier Islamist movements have argued that Muslim communities should return to conservative, traditional practices because their faith is somehow incompatible with modern society. But, with a small handful of notable exceptions, this view does not appear to have taken hold; most Muslims say their religion is not in conflict with modern society.

In a number of countries, though, Muslims are about as likely to answer yes to this question as no. Most of these are in Africa, although Pakistanis and Tunisians also appear to be struggling with questions of how to be at once Muslim and a member of the modern world.


Still, wide majorities in many countries say they see no such conflict, from the Middle East to Southeast Asia to Europe. And maybe this is the thing to keep in mind with the overall Pew survey and its findings.

Religion is in many ways subjective, and can be experienced differently within different cultural contexts. Attitudes about its place in the world are, often, self-actualizing: Muslims who see democracy or Islamist parties as preferable tend to put them into power. Muslim communities that accept honor killings tend to get them. And people who believe their faith is in conflict with the broader world are perhaps more likely to see that belief manifest. But that does not mean that Islam and the world are necessarily at odds, any more than it means that sharia must necessarily forbid, say, divorce. Opinions, after all, can and do change.


What does Islam say about Honour killings? ›

In Qur'an, prophetic tradition, and law, one finds a very strong presumption of women's chastity along with numerous safeguards to prevent any imputation of unchastity. Within such a context, honor killings are utterly criminal.

What are honor killings quizlet? ›

-Honor killings refer to premeditated murder of women and girls by male members of the immediate or extended family, usually as a reaction to some alleged act of sexual impropriety on the part of the victim. Men's honor is often tied to the sexual purity and infidelity of the women in their families.

Which country has most Honour killings? ›

Middle East and North Africa
  • Egypt. Honor killings in Egypt can occur due to reasons such as a woman meeting an unrelated man, even if this is only an allegation; or adultery (real or suspected). ...
  • Iran. ...
  • Iraq. ...
  • Israel. ...
  • Jordan. ...
  • Kuwait. ...
  • Lebanon. ...
  • Palestine.

What is the definition of an honor killing? ›

honor killing, most often, the murder of a woman or girl by male family members. The killers justify their actions by claiming that the victim has brought dishonor upon the family name or prestige.

Is honour killing legal? ›

Penalties under IPC (Indian Penal Code)

The penalty for non-murder culpable homicide is life imprisonment or imprisonment for up to 10 years, and fine. Section 307: Penalises threaten to kill for up to 10 years of imprisonment, and a fine. If a person gets injured, the punishment can extend to life in prison.

Is honour killing legal in Pakistan? ›

The death of the victim is viewed as a way to restore the reputation and honour of the family. It is likely that honour killing has been a practice in Pakistan for thousands of years, and, despite recent legal reforms, it remains a common practice in Pakistan today.

Which religions believe in honor killing? ›

Most of the perpetrators were Muslims, as were their victims, and most of the victims were women.” Indeed, while Sikhs and Hindus do commit such murders, the honor killings in her study, both those in the West and in the rest of the world, are mainly Muslim-on-Muslim crimes.

What are the effects of honour killing? ›

Therefore, the practice of honor killing has very adverse impact on the society. It violates a large number of rights of the victims ranging from the right to live to freedom of choice. Also in most of the case the victims are women which further imbalances the male-female sex ratio.

Which one of the following is a leading case on honor killing? ›

Manoj–Babli honour killing case.

Is Honour killing legal in India? ›

As there is currently no national legislation specifically addressing honour killings, crimes related to honour fall under the general penal provisions outlined in the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (“IPC”).

Which state has highest Honour killing? ›

India. Honour killings have been reported in northern regions of India, mainly in the Indian states of Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

In which state Honour killing is more? ›

Killing or physical assult made over a girl or a women who marries to the boy (disapproved by the family of that girl) is illegal. In india , the state of Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh contain more cases of honour killing .

How do you honour killing? ›

The term "Honor Killing or Honour Killing " refers to the homicide of a family member by other family members who believe that the victim violated community norms and has brought shame to the family. Due to this crime, many youths in India have been killed to date.

What is honour killing essay? ›

An honor killing or honour killing (also called a customary killing) is the murder of a member of a family or social group by other members, due to the belief of the perpetrators (and potentially the wider community) that the victim has brought dishonour upon the family or community.

How can honor killing be stopped? ›

What more needs to be done :- Separate Law on honor killings is needed to punish the criminals and to rehabilitate and support the affected family. Law should include the issue of harassment faced by the young couple that decides to marry against the wishes of their families.

Is honor killing legal in Canada? ›

Canada's openness and generosity do not extend to barbaric cultural practices that tolerate spousal abuse, “honour killings,” female genital mutilation, forced marriage or other gender-based violence. Those guilty of these crimes are severely punished under Canada's criminal laws.

How often does honor killing happen? ›

The UN estimates that 5,000 women and girls are murdered each year in honor killings, which are widely reported in the Middle East and South Asia, but they occur in countries as varied as Brazil, Canada, Iran, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Egypt, Sweden, Syria, Uganda, United Kingdom, the United States, and other countries.

Is honour crime illegal in the UK? ›

Forced marriages and honour violence

Laws to prevent forced marriages and provide a way out for those already in unconsented unions were introduced in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in November 2008. Anybody convicted of trying to force someone into a marriage could be jailed for up to two years.

Is killing in self defense legal in Pakistan? ›

According to Section 97 of the Pakistan Penal Code, 1860,

Every person has a right to defend his own body, and the body of any other person, against any offence affecting the human body.

What religion believes in death? ›

Hinduism. Hindus believe in reincarnation and that the soul passes through a cycle of successive lives (samsara), until liberation from reincarnation, pain, and suffering occurs and enlightenment (moksha) is attained.

How many honour killings are there in India? ›

The National Crimes Record Bureau's report for 2020 revealed that 25 cases of “honour killing” were reported in the preceding year. In the previous years, the reports stated that only one incident each took place in 2018 and 2017.

What religion worships death? ›

Andrew Chesnut, Ph. D. in Latin American history and professor of Religious studies, followers of Santa Muerte is the single fastest-growing new religious movement in the Americas.
Santa Muerte.
Our Lady of Holy Death Nuestra Señora de la Santa Muerte
ArtifactsGlobe, scale of justice, hourglass, oil lamp
7 more rows

What type of poem is Honour killing? ›

A revealing portrayal of the place of women in Eastern and Western society, Honour Killing by Imtiaz Dharker is a free verse poem that explores the concepts of freedom and identity, inspired by a real-life case of a young woman in Pakistan, who was killed by her family for wanting a divorce.

What are the reasons for honor killings in India? ›

In many cases we could notice refusal to arrange marriage was one of the major causes for honour killing cases happening in the country. Marrying a person outside the caste or religion: Marrying a person outside the caste or religion is also one of the causes of honour killing in the country.

Do honor killings happen in Israel? ›

Honour killings in Israel are carried out in the Arab community.

Is honor killing common in Iran? ›

Honor killings are prevalent in some parts of Iran mostly due to societal beliefs and the Islamic Republic's lax laws and light sentences that encourage the behavior.

Is honour killing violation of human rights? ›

These crimes for honour violates human rights, infringes the right to live with dignity as per article 21 of the Indian Constitution.

How many honour crimes go unreported? ›

The police are failing the victims of “honour” crimes, with just 5% of reported cases being referred to the Crown Prosecution Service, a leading charity has warned.

Is Honour killing violation of human rights? ›

These crimes for honour violates human rights, infringes the right to live with dignity as per article 21 of the Indian Constitution.

Is honour killing legal in India? ›

As there is currently no national legislation specifically addressing honour killings, crimes related to honour fall under the general penal provisions outlined in the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (“IPC”).

Who is responsible for Honour killing? ›

Honour killing is basically an act of murder by the family members . It is the dirty behavior of the members thinking about the purity of their family instead of the life of one. It is done to eradicate the dishonour and shame brought by family member.

What is the punishment for honor killing in India? ›

Section 307: Punishes threaten to kill for up to 10 years of imprisonment and a fine. If a person gets injured, the punishment can extend to life in prison.


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