The study, in which more than 14,000 people participated in 14 countries, was conducted between April and May 2014. It highlights the growing fear and anger felt by many in Muslim-majority countries when facing a range of militant threats, from that of Boko Haram in Nigeria to ISIS in Iraq and the Taliban insurgency in Pakistan.
Here’s what they found:
- There is increasing concern about extremism in the Middle East
- The people of Pakistan do not look at al-Qaeda positively
- Hezbollah does not enjoy much support in the Muslim world
- There’s a remarkable decline in favorable opinion for Hamas
- An overwhelming majority in Nigeria have an negative opinion of Boko Haram
This is not the first survey that has come out with the "news" that Muslims are basically peace-loving people. A Gallup survey in 2008 aiming to find the answer to the post 9/11 question, “Why do they hate us?” also showed that an overwhelming majority of Muslims condemn radicalism.
So if the people want peace, who is it that is involved in terrorism activities in the name of Islam?
Muslims, of course -- but before one gets it entirely out of context, it needs to be understood that it is a handful of people who are following whatever warped version of their religion. The rest are not criminals or terrorists but culpable by virtue of lack of action.
They are the silent majority. What’s more, they do not have a sincere leadership. Father Samir Khalil Samir, an Egyptian Jesuit and teacher of Islamic studies and the history of Arab culture, nailed it in 2009. He said a successful change will require the emergence of leaders in the Muslim world who have the religious importance to promote a different reading of the Koran and the life of Mohammed.
Paul E. Marek, writing about Why the Peaceful Majority is Irrelevant, recounted an example which just about sums up the situation:
A man whose family was German aristocracy prior to World War II owned a number of large industries and estates. When asked how many German people were true Nazis, he replied, "Very few people were true Nazis, but many enjoyed the return of German pride, and many more were too busy to care. I was one of those who just thought the Nazis were a bunch of fools. So, the majority just sat back and let it all happen. Then, before we knew it, they owned us, and we had lost control, and the end of the world had come. My family lost everything. I ended up in a concentration camp and the Allies destroyed my factories."
Many Muslims around the world are against violence and terrorism but are a silent majority. One of the things that stops them from raising a voice against the terrorism by the fanatical jihadists is also their reverence for their Islam, a religion professed by the fanatics as well.
Father Samir Khalil Samir also addressed the contradiction. “It would be a great help, if really at the international level we make a clear distinction between these two approaches, the religious and the political. And help Muslims to understand that their role in the [international community] is not because they are politically a power as Muslims, but rather that they are spiritual movement and each Muslim country is a single country,” he said.
So the peace-loving majority stays silent while handful madmen hold the world hostage.
Meanwhile the world sees “Muslims” blowing up buildings, killing people for being infidels and demonstrating against Americans and Jews.
“A billion Muslims should be the ones that we look to, to understand what they believe, rather than a vocal minority," said Dalia Mogadeh, director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies. But the billion-strong majority refuses to speak up, take a stance and bring about a change.
So, it is the curse of the silent majority not the vocal minority.
It is about time voices are raised against the madness, death and destruction, isn’t it?