Islam and Terror: The Missing Link

Article excerpt

Devout Muslims, the Quran says, shouldn't make their devotion to Allah "an obstacle to your doing good, guarding (against evil), and making peace between men."

But with all the recent links between Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism, more and more people are wondering if Muslims are heeding the words of their Good Book. A pair of new surveys suggest that, on the whole, they are.

"My analysis shows that Islamic beliefs and devotion are not, in themselves, linked to support for terrorism," said Jeremy Ginges of the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research.

Ginges analyzed a survey of 1,151 Muslim adults residing in the world's most fervently contested areas: Israel's West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The Jerusalem Media and Communications Center, a Palestinian survey organization, asked participants about prayer frequency, mosque attendance, and support for suicide bombing.

Suicide bombing has religious significance because of its potential relation to martyrdom--the sacrifice of the attacker's life for the cause, Ginges told Science & Spirit. But on an individual level, "religious devotion to Islam, measured by frequency of prayer, was unrelated to the odds of a Palestinian Muslim supporting the use of suicide bombing," he said.

On a larger scale, a Pew Research Center survey involving 17,776 Muslims in six Islamic countries and eleven Asian and Western nations, including the United States, showed that most Muslims are "expressing less support for terrorism than in the past. …