Too often British Muslims are shone under the spotlight in the media. National news and radio talk shows regularly invite so-called ‘experts’ on Islam to talk about what Muslims believe and don’t believe. Often, the various ‘interpretations’ are highlighted to show that Muslims are not homogeneous but have many differences. While it is true that there are differences of opinion, there are certain things about which there is a strong agreement.
To investigate, Muslim news website 5Pillars commissioned market research company PCP to carry out a study of religious views of influential British Muslims.
The editor of 5Pillars Roshan Muhammad said:
“Negative coverage of Islam and Muslims has become increasingly mainstream and socially accepted. A significant degree of responsibility lies with journalists and politicians who perhaps only have a rudimentary understanding of what Islam is and what Muslims believe. I sincerely hope that this report will clear up some misconceptions that have been born out of the disproportionate exposure given to fringe organisations who currently dominate the mainstream discourse.”
Deputy editor Dilly Hussain added:
“5Pillars commissioned this report in an attempt to ascertain what British Muslim leaders regard as the basic tenets of their faith. Of course, British Muslims aren’t a homogeneous community with a single spokesman but we were confident that even with the political, theological and sectarian differences that exist, there’d still be some level of consensus on the core principles, values and beliefs of the religion.
Out of a list of 352 British Muslim leaders 150 completed the survey. The participants consisted of Imams, professionals, activists, bloggers, politicians and others.
The following are 11 statements in which there was strong agreement:
- “God is the sole creator, uniquely One and has no partners” (99% strong agreement);
- “God is the only One worthy of worship and all acts of worship should only be directed to Him alone” (98%);
- “The Prophet Muhammad is the last and final prophet and messenger of God” (97%);
- “The Quran is the direct and unchanged revelation and word of God, sent down for the whole of humanity” (97%);
- “The Prophet Muhammad is a mercy to all of humanity” (97%);
- “Forced marriages are forbidden in Islam” (97%);
- “Islam is the final true religion God has revealed to mankind” (96%);
- “Islam does not discriminate or differentiate between people based on race, nationality or the colour of their skin” (96%);
- “Muslims have a religious duty to be compassionate, just and ethical to all living beings” (95%);
- “There is no compulsion in religion. No one can be forced to become a Muslim” (95%);
- “God does not take the form of His creation” (95%).
And the following 11 statements are those which had an agreement of 76% and below:
- “Jihad, as is mandated in the Quran, is used to maintain or restore order, peace and security or to remove oppression and injustice” (76% strong agreement);
- “Islam obligates people to obey and follow their leadership and their community as long as it does not conflict with Islamic morals, principles and values” (76%);
- “Authentic prophetic practices and teachings (known as Sunnah) are revelation from God and are infallible” (75%);
- “The niqab is a legitimate piece of Islamic clothing. Women should have the right to choose to wear it or not, without harassment, bans or fear of prejudice against them” (75%);
- “Nationalism is seen in the same manner as racism. It is not right to unfairly give advantage to others based on their nationality or race” (74%);
- “The affairs of the Muslims are considered as one united affair, irrespective of geographical distance or difference between them” (71%);
- “The true Caliphate (or any other Islamic equivalent) is considered the ideal Islamic way of governance for all people” (69%);
- “Consensus of the companions of the Prophet Mohammed forms definitive evidence” (67%);
- “The true Caliphate (or any other Islamic equivalent) is not a theocratic state” (61%);
- “Opposing established consensus of the companions of the Prophet is impermissible” (60%);
- “The segregation of men and women in religious and closed public settings is recommended for the best interest of society and acts as a safeguarding mechanism for the preservation of virtue” (58%).
Read the full report here.