Patriotic, respectful and homophobic: a portrait of British Muslims' state of mind

Giant global survey reveals the opinions that shape nation's 2.4 million-strong Islamic population

A startlingly candid snapshot of the views and beliefs of Muslims living in Britain today has been uncovered by the first-ever study of Islamic interfaith relations across the world. The reseach, a collaboration between Gallup and the Coexist Foundation, challenges the view that the country's 2.4 million Muslims are largely intolerant of the British way of life. British Muslims were found to identify more strongly with the UK than the rest of the population, and have a much higher regard for the country's institutions.

However, the poll also found that the vast majority of Muslims have extremely conservative views on moral issues such as homosexuality and the death penalty, which differ dramatically from those held by the rest of the UK population. The wide-ranging study, entitled The Gallup Coexist Index 2009, was based on data collected through polls of residents in more than 140 countries. More than 1,500 interviews were conducted in the UK alone.

77% said they strongly identified with UK

Perhaps the survey's most surprising finding was that more than three-quarters of British Muslims (77 per cent) said they identified "very strongly" with the UK, compared to just half (50 per cent) of the general public. This contradicts the idea that Muslims are outsiders who have little in common with the UK, and is further borne out by a second statistic: 82 per cent said British Muslims were loyal to the country. Professor Ziauddin Sardar, a London-based scholar who specialises in the future of Islam, said that British Muslims with Pakistani or Middle Eastern heritage are all too aware of the troubles in their homelands and can see the UK's benefits better than those who have lived here for generations. "They look at the stability of Britain and appreciate it deeply," he said.

0% thought that homosexuality was morally acceptable

Not a single British Muslim said homosexuality was morally acceptable, compared to 58 per cent of the general public who believed it was. In other European countries with large Muslim populations such as France and Germany, the difference was far less pronounced: more than a third of French Muslims said they did not have a problem with homosexuality.

However, Shelina Zahra Janmohamed, who has written a book about growing up in Britain as a Muslim woman, said the UK's apparently stark contrast did not necessarily point to a divided society. "Part of the British way is that you can have your own opinions as long as you can live harmoniously with others."

76% had confidence in the police

British Muslims were found to have faith in the police, with 76 per cent saying they trusted them compared to 67 per cent of the general public. They were also found to be more likely to have confidence in the Government, the judicial system, financial institutions and the media. "British Muslims and their parents have sometimes had personal experience of societies which are not democratic and where the rule of law is not always followed," said Professor Sardar. "They are not yet disillusioned with the systems of governance, in the way that those who have lived here for generations might be. There is still a lot of expectation."

3% felt that sex outside marriage was morally acceptable

Extra-marital sex was deemed morally acceptable by only three per cent of Muslims, compared to 82 per cent of the general public. And while 15 per cent of the general public considered adultery morally acceptable, only two per cent of Muslims felt the same way. The attitudes of Muslims in France and Germany is very different, where 48 per cent and 27 per cent had no problem with sex outside wedlock. This discrepancy is likely to be caused by the fact that British Muslims mainly originate from rural parts of conservative Islamic countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh and India, whereas French and German Muslims tend to be from Morocco, Algeria and Turkey, where the culture is different.

63% thought that the death penalty was morally acceptable

More Muslims said they believed in the death penalty than the general public, of whom 50 per cent said they regarded such a policy as morally acceptable. This stance tallies with Sharia law, which allows for both corporate and capital punishment. Sharia still provides a moral framework for many moderate Muslims, and many would have answered this question without hesitation.

3% believed people belonging to other religions threaten their way of life

British Muslims appear to be a lot more tolerant than the rest of the UK population when it comes to accepting other religions. More than a quarter of the general public (26 per cent) said they felt the above statement was accurate. According to Professor Sardar, tolerance of other faiths is an important part of Islam and the handful of British Muslims who felt it was under attack could safely be called extremists. "The vast majority of Muslims believe that Christianity and Judaism are not just viable religions but also contain part of the ultimate truth," he said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there