Saturday, March 18, 2017

Comparing Levels of Extremism in Muslims Who Favor Sharia as the National Law Versus Muslims Who Oppose It


The Pew Research Center’s The World’s Muslims (2013) report showed that in most of the countries surveyed, most Muslims favored “…making the sharia, or Islamic law, the official law of the land” in their countries (Q79a).[1]  Here, I use Pew’s publicly-available microdata to compare the subset of Muslims who “favored” sharia as the national law with the subset of Muslims who “opposed” it.[2]  I compare these two groups on their responses to questions about harsh punishments and women’s rights and equality. Support for a harsh punishment, or opposition to women’s basic rights and equality, is deemed “extremism” here, insofar as such views differ from modern secular liberal values. Although Pew’s (2013) report shows some of the differences between the two subsets on some questions for a limited number of countries (e.g., see pp. 26, 87, 90, 99), it does not give averages over all surveyed countries. In the analyses reported below, I provide the overall mean percentages of responses for several of these questions, for the favor- versus oppose-sharia subsets.

The comparisons, reported below, show that those who favor making sharia the official law of their country (Q79a in the main survey) generally have higher levels of support for harsh punishments and higher levels of opposition to women’s rights and equality. The results also show that a subset of respondents favors sharia as the national law but opposes at least one of the harsh sharia punishments (Q92b, c, or d in the main survey), while another subset opposes sharia as the national law but favors at least one of those harsh sharia punishments.

Pew’s Q79a confounds the concept of sharia with that of a nation state making sharia the official law of the land. The question, then, likely measures not only support or opposition to sharia, but also one’s views on the nation state implementing sharia, the implied comprehensiveness of a system of laws implemented at the national level, and associated issues. On the other hand, if Pew had not specified some real context for the implementation, the “sharia” mentioned in the question might have been too vague to elicit interpretable favor and oppose responses. The concept of sharia is broader than Islamic law per se, but Pew has at least narrowed the subject to “Islamic law” by including that phrase in Q79a.

Fortunately, Pew (2013) also asked another question about applying sharia, specifically in family and property law. Q92a does not use the term sharia explicitly, but asks Muslims whether they favor or oppose “…giving Muslim leaders and religious judges the power to decide family and property disputes” (for results, see Q92a, p. 218). The levels of support and opposition to Q92a are for the most part roughly similar to, though not exactly the same as, those for Q79a (compare p. 218 with p. 201).

I chose to include a manageable number of questions that seemed clear enough to produce interpretable results, and which elicited a fairly wide range of support or opposition among countries. The analyses included countries where Q79a and the questions about the harsh sharia punishments or women’s rights/equality issues were asked. Russia and Thailand were excluded because the versions of Q79a asked there differed from the standard version. However, in additional analyses not reported here, I found that the general pattern of higher extremism in the favor-sharia as compared to the oppose-sharia subset was also shown in the Russian and Thai data (2012 Dataset). Uzbekistan could not be included because Q79a was not asked there. Except where noted otherwise, Morocco is excluded because Q92b, c, and d, and some of the other questions, weren’t asked there. Iran was not included because most of the questions below were not asked there, and its sharia question (Q80) has a small but important difference from Q79a in wording. I include Niger in the analyses because the relevant questions were asked there and it is in the 2012 Dataset, though Pew omits it from some of their tables in their (2013) report.

Note that the numbering of the questions differs between the main 2011-2012 survey and the sub-Saharan 2008-2009 survey. I cite the question numbering for each survey report below.

Those readers who have not yet read Pew’s sub-Saharan (2010) and World's Muslims (2013) survey reports should read at least the relevant sections to get a sense of the variation in opinions between countries for each of the questions included here. This article compliments Pew’s reports by presenting the overall means of that data for the two subsets. The population-weighting used here follows the same procedure that I reported in my article “Estimated Numbers and Percentages…” (see Appendices A and B) except that it is carried out on the subset populations. Using Pew's publicly-available microdata, it is possible for those readers who have adequate knowledge and skill to verify the analyses reported below. I provide some basic instructions on how to get started in analyzing Pew's data here and here.



Analyses Comparing the Favor- vs Oppose-Sharia Subsets


Analysis 1a. Harsh Punishment Extremism Scores

The “extremism” or hardline sharia punishments scores were calculated by adding 1 point for each favor response, and zero for each “oppose” or don’t know or refused response. The three harsh sharia punishment questions were about death for apostasy, whippings and cutting off of hands, and stoning of adulterers. Respondents' scores ranged from a maximum of 3 to a minimum of 0 (zero).

Survey Reports: Pew (2013) Q79a: pp. 46, 201; Q92b, c, d: pp. 52-56, 219-221. Pew (2010) Q95a: pp. 11, 289; pp. 50-51; Q95c, d, e: pp. 291-293.

Q79a “Do you favor or oppose making the sharia, or Islamic law, the official law of the land in our country?”


Table 1a

Mean Extremism Scores (0 – 3)* for the Favor- vs Oppose-Sharia Subsets

Subset
Mean
Extremism
Score
Sample
Population
Sharia as the
National Law
Favor
1.72
19221
403091986
Oppose
0.67
11201
144374335
Notes. 35-country subset populations are of Muslim adults. See text regarding weighting of mean scores.
Datasets: Pew’s The World’s Muslims 2012, Pew’s Sub-Saharan African Survey 2009.
*From responses to three questions: death for apostasy, whippings/cutting off hands, stoning adulterers.


The mean extremism score, weighted by the 35 countries’ favor-sharia subset populations, was 1.72, more than 2.5 times higher than the comparable mean score of 0.67 for the oppose-sharia subset populations. Combined, the two subsets capture 93% (547466321 / 589941200) of the estimated Muslim adult population of those 35 countries (68.3% favor sharia, 24.5% oppose sharia). Note that Morocco is excluded here.

Readers may find it helpful to compare these mean results with other presentations that show the distribution of countries. For a ranked list of countries where the general sample of adult Muslims favors at least one versus opposes all three of these punishments, see Table 3.2 of my article “Analyzing Multi-Question Sets…” Sixty-three percent (63%) favor at least one, and 32% oppose all three. Also see the distribution of high levels of support for religious jurisprudence among adult Muslims on p. 51 of Pew (2010).


Analysis 1b. Harsh Punishment Extremism Scores by Sharia Scores

This analysis makes use of both sharia questions, Q79a (national law) and Q92a (family and property law). The sharia score is based on how many of the two sharia items the respondent favored: both = Favor 2, only one = Favor 1, or neither = Favor 0. Those three subsets together capture all (100%) of the estimated Muslim adult population of the 35 countries. Note that the “Favor 0” subset includes not only those who opposed both Q79a and Q92a, but also those who responded with some combination of oppose and “don’t know” or “refused” responses. For clarity, Table 1b shows the results for the “Oppose Both” subset separately. Q92aTUR, the version of Q92a asked in Turkey, was similar enough to the standard version to be included.

Survey Reports: Pew (2013) Q79a: pp. 46, 201; Q92a: pp. 19, 23, 50, 218; Q92b, c, d: pp. 52-56, 219-221. Pew (2010) Q95a: pp. 11, 289, 50-51; Q95b: pp. 50-51, 290; Q95c, d, e: pp. 291-293.

Q92 “Do you favor or oppose the following? a. giving Muslim leaders and religious judges the power to decide family and property disputes.”

Table 1b

Mean Extremism Scores (0 – 3)* and Sharia Score** subsets

Subset
Mean
Extremism
Score
Percentage
of 35-Country Population
Population
Sharia Score
Favor 2
1.86
55
322369019
Favor 1
1.24
26
151474091
Favor 0
0.42
20
116098090



Oppose Both
0.35
15
89746253
Notes. 35-country subset populations are of Muslim adults. See text regarding weighting of mean scores.
Datasets: Pew’s The World’s Muslims 2012, Pew’s Sub-Saharan African Survey 2009.
*From responses to three questions: death for apostasy, whippings/cutting off hands, stoning adulterers.
**From responses to two questions: sharia as national law, and sharia in family and property law.


The majority (55%) of Muslim adults in the 35-country population favored sharia in both Q79a and Q92a, with a subset population-weighted mean extremism score of 1.86 out of 3. In other words, this subset favored almost two out of three harsh sharia punishments. Those who opposed both Q79a and Q92a were roughly 15% of the 35-country population, about 77% of the “Favor 0” subset, and had a mean extremism score of 0.35 out 3. Those who favored only one of Q79a or Q92a constituted 26% of the 35-country population and had a mean extremism score of 1.24.



Analysis 2. Death Penalty for Apostasy

Survey Reports: Pew (2013), Q92b, p. 219. Pew (2010), Q95c, pp. 50, 291.

Q92. “Do you favor or oppose the following? … b. the death penalty for people who leave the Muslim religion”

Table 2

Opinions of the favor- and oppose-sharia subsets: Death penalty for apostasy

Death Penalty for Leaving Islam
Favor
Oppose
Don’t know
Refused
Sharia as the National Law
Favor
48
46
5
1
Oppose
19
79
2
0
Notes. 35-country subset populations are of Muslim adults. See text regarding weighting of percentages.
Datasets: Pew’s The World’s Muslims 2012, Pew’s Sub-Saharan African Survey 2009.


A plurality of 48% of the favor-sharia subset favored death for apostasy and 46% opposed it. In the oppose-sharia subset, 19% favored death for apostasy and a large majority (79%) opposed it.

Results for individual countries: See Pew’s (2013) full report, general sample (p. 219), favor-sharia subset (p. 55).

Mean results for the general sample: See Table 1.2 in “Estimated Numbers and Percentages…” where 39% favored and 54% opposed the death penalty for apostasy.



Analysis 3. Whippings and Cutting off of Hands for Crimes Like Theft

Survey Reports: Pew (2013) Q92c, p. 220. Pew (2010) Q95d, p. 292.

Q92. “Do you favor or oppose the following? … c. punishments like whippings and cutting off of hands for crimes like theft and robbery”

Table 3

Opinions of the favor- vs oppose sharia subsets: Punishments like whippings and cutting off of hands

Whippings and Cutting Off of Hands
Favor
Oppose
Don’t know
Refused
Sharia as the National Law
Favor
61
35
3
1
Oppose
23
74
2
0
Notes. 35-country subset populations are of Muslim adults. See text regarding weighting of percentages.
Datasets: Pew’s The World’s Muslims 2012, Pew’s Sub-Saharan African Survey 2009.


Results for individual countries: See Pew’s (2013) full report, general sample (p. 220), favor-sharia subset (p. 52).

Mean results for the general sample: See Table 3.2 in “Estimated Numbers and Percentages…” where 50% favored and 46% opposed whippings and cutting off of hands for crimes like theft.



Analysis 4. Stoning of Adulterers

Survey Reports: Pew (2013) Q92d, p. 221; Pew (2010) Q95e, p. 293.

Q92. “Do you favor or oppose the following? … d. stoning people who commit adultery”

Table 4

Opinions of the favor- vs oppose sharia subsets: The stoning of adulterers

Stoning of Adulterers
Favor
Oppose
Don’t know
Refused
Sharia as the National Law
Favor
63
32
4
1
Oppose
24
73
2
1
Notes. 35-country subset populations are of Muslim adults. See text regarding weighting of percentages.
Datasets: Pew’s The World’s Muslims 2012, Pew’s Sub-Saharan African Survey 2009.


Results for individual countries: See Pew’s (2013) full report, general sample (p. 221), favor-sharia subset (p. 54).

Mean results for the general sample: See Table 2.2 in “Estimated Numbers and Percentages…” where 51% favored and 43% opposed the stoning of adulterers.



Analysis 5. “Honor” Killing of a Male or Female

This analysis combines male and female honor killing responses into one response set.
Survey Report: Pew (2013) Q53 and Q54, p. 190.

For coding of responses for the combined analysis, see Analysis 5 in “Estimated Numbers and Percentages…

Morocco and Niger are included. For Afghanistan and Iraq, Pew asked alternative versions of Q53 and Q54.

Q54 “Some people think that if a woman engages in premarital sex or adultery, it is justified for family members to end her life in order to protect the family’s honor. Others believe that this practice is not justified, no matter the circumstances. Do you personally feel that this practice is often justified to defend the family honor, sometimes justified, rarely justified, or never justified?”

Q53 asks about killing a male family member. It has the same wording as Q54, except that it uses “man” and “his.”

Table 5

Opinions of the favor- vs oppose sharia subsets: Honor killing of a male or female

Honor killing of a male or female is “…justified?”
Often/
Sometimes
Both
rarely
One rarely,
One never
Both
never
Remainder
Sharia as
National
Law
Favor
33
9
5
47
6
Oppose
22
7
7
60
5
Notes. 21-country subset populations are of Muslim adults. See text regarding weighting of percentages.
Dataset: Pew’s The World’s Muslims 2012.
Often/Sometimes includes Q53/Q54 response pairings having at least one “often” or “sometimes”.
Remainder includes Q53/Q54 response pairings of dk/ref. & dk/ref., dk/ref. & “rarely”, and dk/ref & “never”.


As Table 5 shows, the favor-sharia subset is more likely to say that honor killings are often/sometimes justified. Only in the oppose-sharia subset does the majority (60%) say honor killings are never justified.

Results for individual countries: See Pew’s (2013) full report, general sample (p. 190), favor- and oppose-sharia subsets for some countries (p. 90), killing of male versus killing of a female (p. 89).

Mean results for the general sample: See Table 5 in “Estimated Numbers and Percentages…” where 30% said honor killings were often or sometimes justified and 50% said honor killings were never justified.



Analysis 6. Whether a Wife Should Have the Right to Divorce Her Husband

Survey Report: Pew (2013) Q77, p. 199. 

Morocco is included. Afghanistan is excluded because Q77 was not asked there.

Q77 “I will read you two statements, please tell me which comes closer to your view, even if neither is exactly right.
1—A wife should have the right to divorce her husband
OR
2—A wife should not have the right to divorce her husband”

Table 6

Opinions of the favor- and oppose-sharia subsets: Whether a wife should have the right to divorce her husband

“A wife should…
have the right to divorce”
not have the right to divorce”
Neither/
depends
(vol.)
Don’t know
Refused
Sharia as
National
Law
Favor
38
51
8
2
1
Oppose
60
31
6
2
1
Notes. 20-country subset populations are of Muslim adults. See text regarding weighting of percentages.
Dataset: Pew’s The World’s Muslims 2012.


Results for individual countries: See Pew’s (2013) full report, general sample (pp. 28, 94, 199), favor- and oppose-sharia subsets for some countries (p. 99).

Mean results for the general sample: See Table 7 in “Estimated Numbers and Percentages…” where 44% said a wife should, but 45% said a wife should not, have the right to divorce.



Analysis 7. Must a Wife Always Obey Her Husband?

Survey Report: Pew (2013) Q78, p. 200.

Includes Morocco.

Q78 “Now I am going to read you a statement. Please tell me if you completely agree with it, mostly agree with it, mostly disagree with it or completely disagree with it: A wife must always obey her husband.”

Table 7

Opinions of the favor- and oppose-sharia subsets: Whether a wife “must always obey” her husband

“A wife must always obey her husband.”
Completely agree
Mostly
agree
Mostly
disagree
Completely
disagree
Don’t know
Refused
Sharia as National Law
Favor
63
29
5
2
1
0
Oppose
38
35
15
9
2
1
Notes. 21-country subset populations are of Muslim adults. See text regarding weighting of percentages.
Dataset: Pew’s The World’s Muslims 2012.


Results for individual countries: See Pew (2013) full report (pp. 93, 200), favor- and oppose-sharia subsets for some countries (p. 99).

Mean results for the general sample: See Table 6 in “Estimated Numbers and Percentages…” where 55% completely agree, 31% mostly agree, and 12% disagree (mostly or completely) that a wife “must always obey” her husband.



Analysis 8. Inheritance Rights of Sons and Daughters

Survey Report. Pew (2013) Q83, p. 203.

Includes Morocco.

Q83 “In your opinion, who should have a greater right to parents’ inheritance – sons or daughters, or should both have equal rights?”

Table 8

Opinions of the favor- and oppose-sharia subsets: Inheritance rights of sons and daughters

“…who should have a greater right to parents’ inheritance…?”
Sons
Daughters
Both Equal
Neither (Vol.)
Don’t know
Refused
Sharia as National Law
Favor
45
5
49
1
0
1
Oppose
25
4
68
1
1
1
Notes. 21-country subset populations are of Muslim adults. See text regarding weighting of percentages.
Dataset: Pew’s The World’s Muslims 2012.


A plurality of 49% of the favor-sharia subset says that sons and daughters should have equal inheritance rights, but 45% say sons should have greater rights, while 5% (4.5%) say daughters should have greater rights. In the oppose-sharia subset, a clear majority (68%) supports equal rights, but 25% say sons should have greater rights, and 4% (4.4%) say daughters should have greater rights.

Results for individual countries: See Pew (2013) full report (pp. 28, 95-99), general sample p. 203, favor- and oppose-sharia subsets for some countries (p. 99).



Analysis 9. Is Polygamy Morally Acceptable?

Survey Reports: Pew (2013) Q84b, p. 205; Pew (2010), Q85g, p. 274

Q84 “Next, I’m going to read some behaviors. For each, please tell me whether you personally believe that it is morally acceptable, morally wrong, or is it not a moral issue… (b) Polygamy – having more than one wife.”

Table 9

Opinions of the favor- and oppose-sharia subsets: Polygamy

“…please tell me whether you personally believe that it is…”
Morally Acceptable
Morally Wrong
Not a Moral Issue
Depends on the Situation*
Don’t Know
Refused
Sharia as National Law
Favor
39
41
10
9
1
0
Oppose
28
55
11
6
1
0
Notes. 35-country subset populations are of Muslim adults. See text regarding weighting of percentages.
Dataset: Pew’s The World’s Muslims 2012, Pew’s Sub-Saharan African Survey 2009.
*Volunteered.


Results for individual countries: See Pew (2013) full report (pp. 84-85), general sample p. 205, favor- and oppose-sharia subsets for some countries (p. 87).



Analysis 10. Should Women be Allowed to be Religious Leaders?

Survey Report: Pew (2010) Q59c, p. 195.

Note: This question was asked in the (2008-2009) sub-Saharan survey, not in the main (2011-2012) survey.

Q59 “Now I’m going to read you two statements. Please tell me whether the FIRST statement or the SECOND statement comes closer to your own views — even if neither is exactly right. …c. 1 - Women should be allowed to serve in religious leadership roles, such as pastor, priest or imam
OR
2 - Only men should be able to serve in religious leadership roles, such as pastor, priest or imam
…”

Table 10

Opinions of the favor- and oppose-sharia subsets: Whether women should be allowed to be religious leaders

“Women should be allowed…” versus “Only men…”
Women allowed
Only men
Neither/
Both (vol.)
Don’t know
Refused
Sharia as
National
Law
Favor
19
76
3
2
0
Oppose
28
67
4
1
0
Notes. 15-country subset populations are of Muslim adults. See text regarding weighting of percentages.
Dataset: Pew’s Sub-Saharan Africa Survey 2009.


Results for individual countries: See Pew (2010) full report Q59c, general sample p. 195, comparison of Christians versus Muslims for some countries p. 55.

Mean results comparing Christians versus Muslims: See Table 8 in my article Comparing Levels of Extremism in Muslim and Christian Populations…” where a large majority (72%) of Muslims say only men should be allowed to be religious leaders, and a slight majority of Christians (52%) said women should be allowed to be religious leaders.




Disclaimer

Pew Research is not responsible for my analyses or my interpretation of their data. From the Pew instructions for downloading data sets: “All manuscripts, articles, books, and other papers and publications using our data should reference the Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project as the source of the data and should acknowledge that the Pew Research Center bears no responsibility for the interpretations presented or conclusions reached based on analysis of the data.”



References
  
[1] Cited here as Pew (2013): The World’s Muslims: Religion, Politics and Society, Pew Research Center (April 30, 2013), full report pdf http://www.pewforum.org/files/2013/04/worlds-muslims-religion-politics-society-full-report.pdf
Also, cited here as Pew (2010): Tolerance and Tension: Islam and Christianity in Sub-Saharan Africa, Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life (April, 2010), full report pdf. http://www.pewforum.org/files/2010/04/sub-saharan-africa-full-report.pdf

[2] The data sets used in the analyses include the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life’s Africa Survey 2009 and Pew Religion’s The World's Muslims Dataset 2012. These data set packages contain multiple files in addition to the data files proper, such as a Codebook and detailed Questionnaire.


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