Dating politics religion
Attitudes of Lebanese Muslims appear to mirror this political and legal structure: While roughly three-in-ten (29%) say sharia should be the official law of the land, about half (53%) say religious judges should have the power to decide family and property disputes.
Tunisia’s legal framework is, in key respects, the opposite of Lebanon’s: The Tunisian Constitution favors Islam over other religions, but religious courts, which once governed family law, were abolished in 1956.
The survey involved a total of more than 38,000 face-to-face interviews in 80-plus languages.
It covered Muslims in 39 countries, which are divided into six regions in this report – Southern and Eastern Europe (Russia and the Balkans), Central Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, and sub-Saharan Africa.
Medians of at least six-in-ten Muslims in sub-Saharan Africa (64%), the Middle East-North Africa region (74%) and Southeast Asia (77%) also favor enshrining sharia as official law.
But in two regions, far fewer Muslims say Islamic law should be endorsed by their governments: Southern and Eastern Europe (18%) and Central Asia (12%).
Asked whether religious judges should decide family and property disputes, at least half of Muslims living in countries that have religious family courts answer yes.
In many countries, Muslims with higher levels of religious commitment are more likely to support sharia.
When comparing Muslim attitudes toward sharia as official law and its specific application in the domestic sphere, three countries are particularly instructive: Lebanon, Tunisia and Turkey.
In Lebanon, Islam is not the favored religion of the state, but the major Muslim sects in the country operate their own courts overseeing family law.
Perhaps reflecting this history, more than half of Tunisian Muslims (56%) want sharia to be the official law of the land, but a minority (42%) says religious courts should oversee family and property law.
Turkey’s evolution in the early 20th century included sweeping legal reforms resulting in a secular constitution and legal framework.