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What Do Influential British Muslims Believe?

“Normative Islam Report”: A study of the religious views of influential British Muslims

Results from a survey of Influential Muslim scholars, leaders and activists from different schools of thought across the UK were released today.[1] The survey was supported and endorsed by many Muslim organisations including Islam21c, and many of the most-read authors took part directly in the survey. It was carried out by British Muslims news site 5Pillars and market research specialists Pickersgill Consultancy & Planning (PCP).

In recent times, due to both shrewd political tactics and remarkable blunders, many mainstream Islamic beliefs, values and practices have been pushed into the public spotlight to concentrate public fear and hostility by some demagogues. As a result, many fair and balanced non-Muslims who do not subscribe to white supremacy or Islamophobic narratives, may unsuspectingly adopt the perverted taxonomy of the “moderate” and “extreme” Muslim or Islam, instead of probing further.

It is therefore useful to some extent to show that many of those things which are used as scapegoats for public outrage by certain jingoistic politicians and ideologues, are not signs of “extremism” but rather normative Islamic beliefs and practices. This is something well known to Muslims and non-Muslims who study Islam in a fair or robust method, since the textbooks of orthodox Islamic schools of thought have been translated into English for centuries. Speaking about the survey, Shaikh Dr Haitham al-Haddad said:

“As expected, the results of the survey did not differ significantly from the Islam that had been agreed upon by early Muslims and inherited by successive generations. However it is important to remember that normative Islam is not what is defined by a group of British scholars; it has been defined by the scholars from all over the world throughout history.”

The survey gives a good indication into the beliefs of Muslims and the lived experience of Islam in the UK, but does not claim to be a decisive reference for Islam or Muslims generally. It surveyed 150 from a pool of 352 “influential British Muslims” chosen from various sects and schools of thought.

The following is an executive summary of the findings of the report:

The average level of agreement with the great majority of the 95 statements about mainstream Islamic beliefs was extremely high. On average across all 95 statements, 86% “strongly agreed” and a further 9% “agreed”. Only 1% “disagreed” or “strongly disagreed”.

Statements under the heading “Belief in God”, “Revelation”, “Global Humanity” and “Prophethood” attracted the highest level of agreement. On average, at least 90% of respondents “strongly agreed” with the statements under these headings.

Lowest (though still extremely high) levels of agreement were recorded for the statements under the heading “Citizenship”, “Islamic Law and Consensus” and “Jihad, Extremism and Terrorism”. On average, 81% or fewer were in strong agreement with these statements.

Eleven individual statements attracted 95% or higher levels of strong agreement. These were:

  • “God is the sole creator, uniquely One and has no partners” (99% strong agreement);
  • “God is the only One worthy of worship and all acts of worship should only be directed to Him alone” (98%);
  • “The Prophet Muhammad is the last and final prophet and messenger of God” (97%);
  • “The Quran is the direct and unchanged revelation and word of God, sent down for the whole of humanity” (97%);
  • “The Prophet Muhammad is a mercy to all of humanity” (97%);
  • “Forced marriages are forbidden in Islam” (97%);
  • “Islam is the final true religion God has revealed to mankind” (96%);
  • “Islam does not discriminate or differentiate between people based on race, nationality or the colour of their skin” (96%);
  • “Muslims have a religious duty to be compassionate, just and ethical to all living beings” (95%);
  • “There is no compulsion in religion. No one can be forced to become a Muslim” (95%);
  • “God does not take the form of His creation” (95%).

The eleven statements attracting the lowest levels of strong agreement (76% or below) were:

  • “Jihad, as is mandated in the Quran, is used to maintain or restore order, peace and security or to remove oppression and injustice” (76% strong agreement);
  • “Islam obligates people to obey and follow their leadership and their community as long as it does not conflict with Islamic morals, principles and values” (76%);
  • “Authentic prophetic practices and teachings (known as Sunnah) are revelation from God and are infallible” (75%);
  • “The niqab is a legitimate piece of Islamic clothing. Women should have the right to choose to wear it or not, without harassment, bans or fear of prejudice against them” (75%);
  • “Nationalism is seen in the same manner as racism. It is not right to unfairly give advantage to others based on their nationality or race” (74%);
  • “The affairs of the Muslims are considered as one united affair, irrespective of geographical distance or difference between them” (71%);
  • “The true Caliphate (or any other Islamic equivalent) is considered the ideal Islamic way of governance for all people” (69%);
  • “Consensus of the companions of the Prophet Mohammed forms definitive evidence” (67%);
  • “The true Caliphate (or any other Islamic equivalent) is not a theocratic state” (61%);
  • “Opposing established consensus of the companions of the Prophet is impermissible” (60%);
  • “The segregation of men and women in religious and closed public settings is recommended for the best interest of society and acts as a safeguarding mechanism for the preservation of virtue” (58%).

Most of the statements attracting the lowest levels of strong agreement also tended to be those for which disagreement was highest. However, no more than 7% of the sample expressed disagreement (whether strong or otherwise) even with these statements. The two statements attracting 7% disagreement were: “The segregation of men and women in religious and closed public settings is recommended for the best interest of society and acts as a safeguarding mechanism for the preservation of virtue” and “Opposing established consensus of the companions of the Prophet is impermissible”.

No more than 3% of the sample “strongly disagreed” with any of the statements.

Respondents following the Salafi theological creed and the Shafi’i or Hanbali School of jurisprudence showed strongest agreement with the statements.

Respondents following the Jaafari or “other” school of jurisprudence showed least strong (though nevertheless still very high) average agreement with the statements.

Source: www.islam21c.com


[1] The report can be downloaded here: http://5pillarsuk.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/5Pillars_Normative_Islam_Report_2016.pdf

The views expressed on Islam21c and its connected channels do not necessarily represent the views of the organisation.


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About Dr Salman Butt

Salman studied Biochemistry at Imperial College London followed by a PhD in Chemical Biology, carrying out research into photosynthesis. During his years at university he became involved in Islamic society da'wah and activism, and general Muslim community projects. He is the Chief Editor and a regular contributor at Islam21c, and also has a blog on the Huffington Post.


  1. I l learnt as a psychiatric nurse that it’s a waste of time arguing with a delusion. Therefore I don’t argue with the concept of “God”, of whatever variety.

    Let’s concentrate on making life better for people, whatever their beliefs, without clogging up the process without pointless, feudalistic hair-splitting over “God”.

    Some chance!

  2. Your incorrect. I am a young Muslim and I’m not being taken on any ride. The media just want you to believe every Muslim is some sort of salafistic, wahhbistic, jihadistic! Or whatever that is they say these days. Whatever the current islamophobic buzz word is. Rise above it and don’t buy it. The vast vast majority of Muslims follow the middle path which is what Islam is.

    • Hectorsotherhalf

      Seem radicalised

    • 76% of “influential British muslims” are jihadistic in that they strongly agree that “Jihad, as is mandated in the Quran, is used to maintain or restore order, peace and security or to remove oppression and injustice” It’s all very well to “follow the middle path”, but where is it in the middle of?

      • Hector my son (as you did call me you dad in another post)

        Do you want me to list the West’s torture, extremism, rendition, violation of UN and human rights. You know I will from non Muslim websites too!
        When you start to see things on both sides you will understand your blatant blinding hyprocricy.

        • But under sharia “torture, extremism, rendition” aren’t “violation of UN and human rights” but perfectly acceptable practise.

          • Of course they are! Fox News and the Daily Mail aren’t gonna lie to you are they? Carry on fearing Sharia torture, killing, drowning puppies and making pita bread with the blood of non-Muslim children…

            Just don’t waste time questioning the multinational conglomerates and powerful elite that are so kindly telling you to fear these “facts”…

            • So, the injunctions as to how to punish “criminals” in the koran and hadith [“The Quran is the direct and unchanged revelation and word of God, sent down for the whole of humanity” (believed by 97% of “influential British muslims”)] and the basis for the practise of the “divinely-guided caliphs [“Consensus of the companions of the Prophet Mohammed forms definitive evidence” (believed by 67% “influential British muslims”)] are lies? I’m delighted to hear it.
              Where’s the bit about drowning puppies, though?

              • This guy really is a testament to the formidable certainty of the ignorant.

                I wish I could study this specimen as (and IF) he heads out of the tabloid press to get his simple convictions shattered. Could be suicidal.

                • Cppme on, Jensk, when and where was there a state administering sharia which didn’t think it meant torture, mutilation and killing?

          • Under the warped interpretation you have it would be!
            1 in 4 people on the p!anet will be Muslim very soon. You still have time to join in and feel wanted.

          • Islam in its texts and prescriptions is a religion of mercy for mankind.
            What people do is what people do!
            It doesn’t reflect the core scripture or texts!
            You have tomseperste the two.
            I could fill this entire website with links to when non muslims or westerner’s have not followed UN laws or even moral laws! Even with regards to Armies whonhave strict codes.
            In its scripture Islam is much more a religion of peace and forgiveness with mercy at its heart. Even when compared to the Bible in a recent study.
            The Quran had 3 x the verses mentioning forgiveness and mercy compared to the Bible!

  3. “many of those things which are used as scapegoats for public outrage by certain jingoistic politicians and ideologues, are not signs of “extremism” but rather normative Islamic beliefs and practices.”

    Certainly. By the standards of nearly everyone except muslims many normative Islamic beliefs and practices are extreme. Torture, mutilation and death as routine penalties for crimes and “crimes”, the claims to superiority and dominance over others and to impose muslim norms of behaviour and the aspiration to achieve that dominance by force are obvious examples. It is not at all surprising to see confirmation of this in a survey of “influential British muslims”.

    • It’s in the middle of the place that is outside of your understanding. Once you even get close to the middle path I’ll explain further.

      • The middle of nowhere then.

        • As I said for you it is nowhere. Which is outside of YOUR understanding.
          Hector I understand you are on the path to find the truth. I pray one day you become a Muslim, it will make your life and the one coming easier. God willing.

          • Even if your figures above are correct, Abu Mustafa, three people out of four won’t be muslims. If being “wanted” matters so much to you, Abu Mustafa, why not join them? It will make your life easier, if that is so important to you, whether or not god is willing, if there is a god.

            • My point is if islam is so backward and barbaric as you wrongfully claim. Why is it the highest converted too religion in the West?

              • What is your evidence islam is “the highest converted too religion in the West”? Give sources for your figures, please.

            • The point to also note is they are not my figures! They are non Muslim Western organisations.

    • The Bible has more verses about killing and less about mercy than the Quran!
      It’s your warped view of the essence of what Islam is that is the problem.
      If I go out get smashed and then get beaten up by a group of non Muslims does it mean that that’s what you all believe and it’s an inherent part of your norms culture and customs? Does it mean this is the ideal you all aspire to? Does it mean these people who beat me up were applying rules in the Bible about killing?
      A few people had a bender got angry and ended up fighting ! However it’s spun doesn’t matter.
      You need to think beyond the agenda your being fed by the media tobe a robot with an amoeba for a brain is exactly what the multi billion pound media machine needyou to be.
      Break free.

  4. Hectorsotherhalf

    I just feel sorry for all those young Muslims being taken on a religious ride by people with an ulterior motives. Being sold the ultra conservative narrative the salafi narrative and all the other mess out there. Leave all the young people alone. Stop trying to control Islam and Muslims let people be.

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