The social and political attitudes of Muslims from around the world are the subject of a new Pew Research Center survey released on Tuesday and, among the numerous insights presented — from the differing interpretations of the application of sharia law to the broad support for democracy — are some interesting discrepancies in viewpoints between the 39 countries surveyed on moral issues.
Yes, there is widespread agreement among respondents in nearly all of the countries surveyed that the consumption of alcohol, suicide, and sex outside of marriage are all immoral behaviors. But there are still sizable minorities in many countries that feel otherwise, along with more diversity of perceptions on issues such as divorce.
Below we round up a few notable examples:
– With 23% of Chadian Muslim respondents regarding alcohol consumption as morally acceptable and a further 20% saying it is not a moral issue at all, it appears that Chad is the friendliest place for a drink among the countries surveyed. With 98% of respondents describing it as morally wrong, the five southern provinces of Thailand are apparently the least tolerant of alcohol consumption.
– Bosnia and Herzegovina, with Albania very close behind, represent the Muslim countries with the most tolerant views towards extramarital sex with 26% and 25% respectively viewing it to be morally acceptable. Once again, Chad deserves recognition for the significant minority who say that prostitution is morally acceptable (10%) with 12% also not regarding it as a moral issue.
– Though in the majority of countries surveyed at least one-in-five Muslims say divorce is not a moral issue (or that it depends on the situation), Turkey and Lebanon’s 64% tie on the moral acceptability of divorce is among the highest — only narrowly beaten out of the top spot by Thailand’s five Muslim provinces, at 65%. At the other end of the spectrum, Ethiopia and Mali are tied at 71% viewing divorce to be morally wrong — with Liberia’s 72% representing the highest rate of disapproval.
– Attitudes towards homosexuality are far more uniform — the majority of Muslims in every single country surveyed say that they find homosexual behavior to be morally wrong. Surprisingly, though, the country with the the highest percentage of respondents saying they regard homosexuality as morally acceptable is Uganda, in the news frequently over the past year over its proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill (popularly known as the “Kill the Gays” bill). Bangladesh represents the Muslim country with the smallest majority of respondents viewing homosexuality as immoral, at 67% (10% said homosexuality was morally acceptable and another 14% did not see it as a moral issue).
– For a country that has traditionally been known as the most “liberal” on social issues in the Middle East, the 40% of Tunisians who view family planning as morally wrong is a bit of a surprise — especially as it stands in direct contrast to the generally accepting attitude of its neighbors, most of whom do not view family planning as a moral issue at all.