The Corner

Huge Flaw in Pew Survey on Muslim Views about Sharia

There will be more to say about the findings of the newly released Pew survey ”The World’s Muslims: Religion, Politics and Society.” Of course, such revelations as the approval by upwards of two-thirds of Middle Eastern Muslims of the death penalty for apostates, and by one-third of suicide bombings, are depressing — though not at all surprising for anyone who has been paying attention. (I wrote about similar poll results in The Grand Jihad.) But what is striking is that the depressing state of affairs is manifest despite Pew’s best efforts to make things seem better than they are. Principally, the survey is about Muslim views about sharia, Islam’s legal system and framework for society. It is intimated that Pew’s study is exhaustive, involving interviews with 38,000 Muslims across 39 countries. But, as my friend Andy Bostom pointed out to me this morning, guess which countries are not included in the survey? That would be Saudi Arabia, Iran and Sudan — perhaps the three most sharia compliant countries in the world, home cumatively to nearly 150 million Muslims. (Scroll down from here to see which countries are included in the survey.)

This gaping omission invites the standard progressive fairy tale about sharia, and Reuters does not disappoint: “Unlike codified Western law, sharia is a loosely defined set of moral and legal guidelines based on the Koran, the sayings of Prophet Mohammad (hadith) and Muslim traditions. Its rules and advice cover everything from prayers to personal hygiene.”

In point of fact, sharia is the law of Saudi Arabia and Iran. These countries profess themselves as reflections of the true Islam (Saudi Arabia from the Sunni perspective, Iran from the Shiite) in which no law but sharia is necessary and no departures from sharia are permissible. Sudan (a Sunni Muslim country) is already close to the Saudis and Iranians in this regard and is sure to be more so when it finally adopts a new constitution (which it has been threatening to do for several years). Moreover, as I have repeatedly pointed out in these pages, there is a manual of sharia law that has broad acceptance among Islamic supremacists — whose ideology is dominant in the Middle East. It is called “Reliance of the Traveller” and it is expressly endorsed, in the manual’s foreword, by the scholars at al-Azhar University in Cairo (the most important and influential institution in Sunni Islam since the tenth century) and by the International Institute of Islamic Thought (the influential Islamic-supremacist think tank established by the Muslim Brotherhood in Virginia).  

It is true enough that there are authentic moderate Muslims who are moderate precisely because they rationalize ignoring sharia by construing it as mere “advice” or “loosely defined . . . guidelines.” But Reuters reports their interpretation as if it were controlling and authoritative – as if it were what sharia is, rather than what these moderates claim it is. And their claim is not persuasive. When the Saudis say homosexuals must be killed and that non-Muslims are not permitted to set foot in Mecca, that is not just “advice.” People are killed, maimed, imprisoned, ostracized, and tormented over  failure to comply with the dictates of sharia. Your First Amendment right to free speech is threatened because the Obama administration supports the supremacist campaign to impose sharia blasphemy standards that forbid frank discussions of Islam. To keep telling people, as the media does, that sharia is nothing to be concerned about because it is just an airy, aspirational, personal moral compass is dangerously irresponsible.

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