WASHINGTON, May 1 (UPI) -- Most Muslims of the world are deeply committed to Islam and many want the traditional Sharia to become the law in their country, a survey found.
The survey done by the Pew Research Center in 39 countries found a majority of Muslims believe Islam, the second-largest religion, is the one true faith leading to eternal life in heaven, the center said on its website. They want Islam's teachings to shape not only their personal lives but also their societies and politics. The survey involved more than 38,000 face-to-face interviews, the center said.
"Many also think that their religious leaders should have at least some influence over political matters. And many express a desire for Sharia – traditional Islamic law – to be recognized as the official law of their country," the survey said.
But the report said the percentage of Muslims wanting Sharia to be the official law of the land varied from 8 percent in Azerbaijan to nearly 99 percent in Afghanistan.
"But solid majorities in most of the countries surveyed across the Middle East and North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia favor the establishment of Sharia, including 71 percent of Muslims in Nigeria, 72 percent in Indonesia, 74 percent in Egypt and 89 percent in the Palestinian territories."
However, the survey found Sharia meant different things to different Muslims and that even in many countries where there is strong backing for Sharia, most Muslims favored religious freedom for people of other faiths.
Most supporters of Sharia in many countries also said the Islamic law should apply only to Muslims.
The report said in most countries surveyed, there was considerably less support for severe punishments for Muslims who convert to another faith.
Muslims in the United States generally expressed strong commitment to their faith and tended not to see an inherent conflict between being devout and living in a modern society, the survey said. But American Muslims are more open to the idea that many religions can lead to eternal life in heaven.
At least half of Muslims in most countries surveyed said they were concerned about religious extremist groups in their country.
In most countries, majority Muslims said "honor" killings are never justified, the survey said.