Islam Secularizing

To go along with my recent post on how Islam is not immune to secularization (as opposed to just being pre-disposed to radicalism) a new, massive Pew Research study makes the point that the Islamic world is increasingly losing its religiousity.

To begin with, Muslims 35 years and older have a higher level of committment than Muslims between the age of 18 and 34.  The difference is most stark in the Middle East and North Africa.

There is an increasing divide between Sunni and Shia Mulsims with 40% of Sunni's not acceting Shias as fellow Muslims, particluarly in the Middle East and North Africa.  An example of the divisions within Islam.

There is quite a bit of uniformity on the idea that there is only one way to interpret Islam, however, --once again the center of Islam is breaking down with Tunisia, Morocco, and the Palestenian territories saying their are multiple interpretations.  American Muslims share that more liberal attitude towards Islams absolutes.

As with Christianity, Africa shows a high level of religiousity compared to other regions.  However, it's key to note that Muslims in Europe and the Former Soviet Bloc tend to have a much lower degree of committment toward the faith than other regions.  Going back to my point---Islam is not immune to secularization.

Another key factor which is predictable:  Turkey's traditional separation between Church and State has kept Turkish people pretty committed to religion despite modernization.  Expect this number to drop if Islam is increasingly forced down people's throat in this democracy.

Islam's fierce absolutism and the fact that it is so deeply embedded in local culture means that committment levels (or at least identifying as a Muslim) remain high.  It is significant, however, that in the heart of Islam (the trend setting region of Islam) we are seeing swift declines in religiosity.  The internet, Al-Jazeera, satellite dishes, the "democratic" revolutions, and the global branding of Dubai, Qatar and others as they attempt to move away from oil economies to service economies is having an impact.