Are the Overwhelming Majority of Muslims Peaceful Moderates?

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This article is an essay/op-ed by Islamo-Critic. Pen-icon2.png
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There was once a time when the media and apologists would defiantly proclaim, "Muslim extremists are only a tiny minority!!!", and Muslims and non-Muslims alike would make nonsensical statements such as "only 0.01 % of Muslims are extremists", etc.

Today, due to many in-depth polls and studies on the subject (e.g. here and here), this claim has been proven false and Islam's apologists have been forced to adapt their rhetoric. Now they tend to claim "the overwhelming majority of Muslims are peace loving moderates".

So, are the "overwhelming majority" of the world's 1.5 billion Muslims peace loving moderates? This is an important question. We are now constantly force-fed this claim that they are. But does reality agree with the propaganda?

Dalia Mogahed & John Esposito

Dalia Mogahed and John Esposito co-authored the book "Who Speaks for Islam" which grew out of a 2008 survey conducted by the Gallup polling agency, which was intended to answer this very question.

Unfortunately, the controversy-riddled Dalia Mogahed and John Esposito are both Islam apologists, so there is little surprise that they had to "cook the books" in order to create the desired results.

The authors claim only 7 percent of the world's Muslims are "political radicals". Yet in order to reach this figure, they were forced to term Muslims who think 9/11 was "partially" or "some way justified", who want to impose Shari'ah law, who support suicide bombings, and who oppose equal rights for women, as "moderate" followers of Islam.

From The Weekly Standard:

In that article, she and Esposito wrote: "Respondents who said 9/11 was justified (4 or 5 on the same scale) are classified as radical." In the book they wrote two years later, they redefined "radical" to comprise a much smaller group--only the Fives. But in her luncheon remarks, Mogahed admitted that many of the "moderates" she and Esposito celebrated really aren't so moderate after all.

MOGAHED: I can't off the top of my head [recall the data], but we are going to be putting some of those findings in our [updated] book and our website.

To clarify a couple of things about the book--the book is not a hard-covered polling report. The book is a book about the modern Muslim world that used its polling to inform its analysis. So that's important: It's meant for a general audience, and it's not meant to be a polling report. One very important reason why is because Gallup is selling subscriptions to its data. We are a for-profit company; we are not Pew. We are Gallup. So this isn't about .  .  . it was not meant for the data to be free since we paid $20 million to collect [the data] .  .  . that we paid all on our own. So just to clarify that  .  .  .  

So, how did we come up with the word "politically radicalized" that we unfortunately used in the book? Here's why: because people who were Fives, people who said 9/11 was justified, looked distinctly different from the Fours  .  .  .  At first, before we had enough data to do sort of a cluster analysis, we lumped the Fours and Fives together because that was our best judgment.

QUESTIONER: And what percent was that?

MOGAHED: I seriously don't remember but I think it was in the range of 7 to 8 percent [actually, 6.5 percent].

QUESTIONER: So it's seven Fours and seven Fives?

MOGAHED: Yes, we lumped these two and did our analysis. When we had enough data to really see when things broke away, here's what we found: Fives looked very different from the Fours, and Ones through Fours looked similar. [Mogahed then explained that, on another question, concerning suicide bombing, respondents who said 9/11 was only partially justified clustered with those who said it wasn't justified at all.] And so the Fives looked very different; they broke, they clustered away, and Ones through Fours clustered together. And that is how we decided to break them apart and decided how we were to define "politically radicalized" for our research.

Yes, we can say that a Four is not that moderate .  .  . I don't know. .  .  .You are writing a book, you are trying to come up with terminology people can understand. .  .  . You know, maybe it wasn't the most technically accurate way of doing this, but this is how we made our cluster-based analysis.

So, there it is--the smoking gun. Mogahed publicly admitted they knew certain people weren't moderates but they still termed them so. She and Esposito cooked the books and dumbed down the text. Apparently, by the authors' own test, there are not 91 million radicals in Muslim societies but almost twice that number. They must have shrieked in horror to find their original estimate on the high side of assessments made by scholars, such as Daniel Pipes, whom Esposito routinely denounces as Islamophobes. To paraphrase Mogahed, maybe it wasn't the most technically accurate way of doing this, but their neat solution seems to have been to redefine 78 million people off the rolls of radicals.

The cover-up is even worse. The full data from the 9/11 question show that, in addition to the 13.5 percent, there is another 23.1 percent of respondents--300 million Muslims--who told pollsters the attacks were in some way justified. Esposito and Mogahed don't utter a word about the vast sea of intolerance in which the radicals operate.

And then there is the more fundamental fraud of using the 9/11 question as the measure of "who is a radical." Amazing as it sounds, according to Esposito and Mogahed, the proper term for a Muslim who hates America, wants to impose Sharia law, supports suicide bombing, and opposes equal rights for women but does not "completely" justify 9/11 is . . . "moderate."[1]
May, 2008

As you can see from the above figures, 36.6 percent of Muslims think the mass-slaughter of innocent non-Muslim (and some Muslim) civilians on 9/11 was either completely, partially or some way justified. This does not support the claim that the "overwhelming majority" of Muslims are peace loving moderates.

Sure, "peace loving" Muslims, according to this survey, are a majority. But when almost 4 out of every 10 Muslim is a terrorist-supporting "radical", they are hardly "overwhelming". It is a proven fact that Islamic extremists are certainly not "a tiny minority".

Support for Shari'ah & Killing Apostates

As The Weekly Standard's Robert Satloff rightly pointed out, this "test" involving questions about 9/11 to ascertain who is and who is not a moderate, is fundamentally flawed. Even if a Muslim disagrees with the Islamic terrorist attacks on innocent US civilians, if they still want to impose Shari'ah law on others and if they oppose equal rights for women etc., how on earth could they ever be considered "moderates"?

The number of possible extremists is a lot larger than you would think, when you consider that a Muslim country that has only a little support for Jihad, could still have a large number who support the execution of apostates. The percentage who support execution are obviously extremists regardless of their views on Jihad and visa-versa.

Case Studies


I previously did some number-crunching for "extremists" in Pakistan after it was reported that a December 2010 Pew poll found that even today “The majority of Muslims would favor changing current laws in their countries to 'allow stoning as punishment for adultery, hand amputation for theft, and death for those who convert from Islam as their religion'”.[2][3]

Using Pakistan as an example, I noted that the poll found that 76 percent of Pakistanis agree apostates are to be killed. In a country with a population of 172,800,000[4] (96 percent of whom are Muslim)[5] that would be more than 126 million people in a single country. Conversely only a mere 13 percent of Muslims opposed killing apostates.

So, according to indisputable facts, Muslim "extremists" are not a "tiny minority", but form the vast majority of the population in Pakistan and some of the other countries polled. In fact, the number of "extremists" in Pakistan alone form about 8 percent of the world's entire 1.5 billion Muslim population. We reach this shocking figure even before we take into consideration the possibility that a lot of those Pakistanis who disagree with killing apostates may still support jihad.


Over in "moderate" Indonesia, a survey conducted from 2001 to March 2006 found 43.5 percent of Muslim respondents were "ready to wage war for their faith" and 40 percent would use violence against those blaspheming Islam.[6] 85 percent, or 200 million, of the country's 230 million population are Muslims. This means approximately 87 million Indonesians, or more than 4 out of every 10 Muslim there, is a violent Islamic "extremist".

Note that this massive figure is not for those Indonesian Muslims who simply support a violent interpretation of Islam, but for those Muslims who are actually prepared to act on them by committing violence against others. If we were to know the number of those who simply support jihad but are not prepared to join in themselves, like in Pakistan, the "extremists" would most certainly be in the majority. And again, this is without taking into consideration that many of the Indonesians who support stoning adulterers to death [42%][3] or killing apostates [30%][3] may not support jihad at all, but would also clearly have to be labeled as "extremists" for holding such barbaric views.

United Kingdom

The picture is not much brighter when we learn the views of young Western-born Muslims who often tend to be more "extremist" than their older Eastern-born counterparts. For example; in the United Kingdom, where 1 out of every 3 British Muslim aged 16 to 24 agree that apostates should be put to death,[7] and where only 3 percent of all Muslims are "consistently pro-freedom of speech".[8]

Anecdotal Evidence

In addition to indisputable figures, there is also a lot of anecdotal evidence that suggests the claim that Muslim extremists are only a "tiny minority" or that the "overwhelming majority" of Muslims are peace-loving people, is complete rubbish. For example;

  • In Egypt, a mob of nearly 20,000 Muslims attempted to break into and torch a Christian church. They were demanding the death of the church's pastor. They terrorized the Copts trapped inside (who didn't even make up 100 in number) by pelting the church with stones, and torching Christian-owned homes and cars.[9] Seriously, how on earth would you find 20,000 "extremist" Muslims in one place if the vast majority of Muslims were peaceful and tolerant?
  • In Bangladesh, at the urging of local Muslim leaders, police tortured a pastor and two other Christians for legally proclaiming their religion. The next day, thousands of Muslim villagers demonstrated in front of a local government office chanting, “We want a Christian-free society,” and “We will not allow any Christians in Cuadanga.”[10] There is no way that this was a "few" Muslim extremists, it was probably the entire Muslim population of the village.
  • Again in Egypt, a mob of over 3,000 Muslims attacked Copts in the village of Kobry-el-Sharbat (el-Ameriya). Coptic homes and shops were looted before being set ablaze.[11]
  • In Pakistan, three churches, two houses of priests, one convent, one high school and the homes of three Christian families were set alight by a mob of around 2,500 Muslims.[12]
  • Again in Bangladesh, 20,000 Muslims attacked an Ahmadiyya festival site, torching its canopy, tents and stage while shouting "Allahu Akbar".[13] Ironically, Ahmadis are the biggest defenders of Islam and often dishonestly pass themselves off as "Muslims" to an ignorant Western audience.
  • Again in Egypt, two nuns were trapped inside a guest-house belonging to the Notre Dame Language Schools by an estimated 1,500 angry Muslim villagers brandishing swords and knives. They even threatened to burn them out.[14]
  • And more than 300 Egyptian Muslim lawyers (yes, lawyers, not a band of uneducated village folk) issued death-threats and prevented defense lawyers representing a Christian accused of "blasphemy", from going into court.[15] These educated men even tried to assault the chief judge who managed to escape a lynching via a rear door.

The Insignificant Peaceful Majority

There is a lot of statistical data available about Muslims and in the future I plan on expanding my analysis of Pakistan and Indonesia to cover all Muslim countries. But before I wrap up, I would like to add something that a friend of mine noted:

[...]of 1.5 billion Muslims the overwhelming majority live in peace. Most of them are law obeying citizens. Well that’s true. But so were the Nazis in Germany in the forties. Most of them were good fathers and mothers who only wanted what was best for their children. Only a small percentage worked in concentration camps or committed war crimes. When Muslims get to rule I expect more or less the same. A small group fanatics takes control and the rest are law obeying citizens who will turn their head away when a holocaust occurs. They'll probably even say that it’s against Islam.

In essence, whatever the case may be, a silent majority is an insignificant one. The situation non-Muslim minorities find themselves in today proves this. All over the Islamic world, Buddhists, Christians, Hindus and other groups are being "ethnically cleansed" from their ancestral homes. To these unfortunate communities who are facing Nazi-like atrocities, the percentage of peace-loving moderate Muslims may as well be 99.99 percent for all the difference it would make to them.

Or if we take this a little further, in the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., "He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it."[16]

This page is featured in the core article, Islam and Propaganda which serves as a starting point for anyone wishing to learn more about this topic Core part.png

See Also

  • Terrorism - A hub page that leads to other articles related to Terrorism
  • Persecution - A hub page that leads to other articles related to Persecution


  1. Robert Satloff - Just Like Us! Really? - The Weekly Standard, May 12, 2008, Vol. 13, No. 33
  2. Devonia Smith - Pew Poll: Most Muslims favor law to allow Islam stoning , amputation & death - Examiner, December 8, 2010
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Survey Reports - Muslim Publics Divided on Hamas and Hezbollah - Pew Research Center, December 2, 2010
  4. 2008 World Population Data Sheet - Population Reference Bureau
  5. Population By Religion - Statistics Division, Government of Pakistan
  6. Ridwan Max Sijabat - Survey reveals Muslim views on violence - The Jakarta Post, July 28, 2006
  7. Stephen Bates - More young Muslims back sharia, says poll - The Guardian, January 29, 2007
  8. Bootie Cosgrove-Mather - Many British Muslims Put Islam First - CBS News, August 14, 2006
  9. Mary Abdelmassih - 20,000 Muslims Attempt to Kill Pastor and Torch Church in Egypt - AINA, February 15, 2012
  10. Bangladesh: Police Torture Pastor, Two Others - Compass Direct News, August 4, 2009
  11. Mary Abdelmassih - Over 3000 Muslims Attack Christian Homes and Shops in Egypt, 3 Injured - AINA, January 28, 2012
  12. Yaqoob Khan Bangash - Mob wreaks havoc in Sangla Hill, Pakistan - Franciscans International, November 29, 2005
  13. Bangladesh mob torches sect's festival site - Emirates 24/7, February 7, 2013
  14. Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti Calls For Destruction Mideast Churches; Nuns Attacked In Egypt - BosNewsLife, March 16, 2012
  15. Mary Abdelmassih - 300 Muslim Lawyers Storm Egyptian Court, Prevent Lawyers for Christian From Entering - AINA, March 16, 2012
  16. Martin Luther King, Jr. Quotes at BrainyQuote, accessed August 20, 2012