In a recent post on Foreign Policy, Marc Lynch discusses a Pew Research Center survey which questioned Muslims on their views of their own religion. The answers to these questions reflect how Islam is understood by Muslims as well as how Muslims view their fellow practitioners. Lynch explains:

For instance, the survey found a really disturbing and widespread belief in most Arab countries that Shias are not real Muslims. Interestingly, in Iraq (82 percent) and Lebanon (77 percent), countries with Shia majorities but notably torn by sectarian strife, Sunnis are significantly more likely to say that Shias are Muslims than are Muslims in Arab countries with small Shia populations. But 53 percent of Egyptians, 50 percent of Moroccans, 43 percent of Jordanians, and 41 percent of Tunisians — all countries with very small Shia populations — said that Shias are not Muslims. In Indonesia, 56 percent said they were “just a Muslim” and rejected identification as “Sunni.”

Contrary to the conventional wisdom that the Middle East is being reshaped by a rising Islamist generation, Muslims older than 35 are significantly more religious than those under 35. They are more likely to pray several times a day, to attend mosque, to read the Quran daily, and to say religion is important in their lives. And the margins are pretty wide. In Morocco, the older generation is 19 points more likely to read the Quran daily; in Tunisia, the older generation is 17 points more likely to attend mosque once a week; in the Palestinian territories, the older generation is 23 points more likely to pray several times a day. This generational divide was the widest in the Middle East compared to any other region of the world.

Another interesting question had to do with the question of interpretation. Asked whether there was a single interpretation of Islam or multiple interpretations, more than 50 percent answered “single” in every African country surveyed, as did more than 69 percent of every Asian country. Seventy-eight percent of Egyptians and 76 percent of Jordanians said “single,” but no other Arab country had more than 50 percent.

To read the full post, click here.