5 Facts: Muslims and Islam – Now and Then

Can Islam rediscover the tolerance it practiced for many centuries?

October 15, 2014

Al-Azhar University (Credit: - Waj Shutterstock.com)

1. Of the top ten countries where terrorist attacks took place in 2013, seven were Muslim-majority.

2. Of the 24 countries that are most restrictive on the exercise of religion, 19 are Muslim-majority.

3. Of the 21 countries that have laws against apostasy, all have Muslim majorities.

4. The Islamic world was generally more tolerant of minorities than the Christian world, until approximately the last 70 years.

5. More than one million Jews lived in the Arab world until the early 1950s — nearly 200,000 in Iraq alone.

Sources: “Bill Maher gives Islam a bad rap,” by Fareed Zakaria (Washington Post, October 10, 2014). “Religious Hostilities Reach Six-Year High,” (Pew Research Center, January 14, 2014). “Peace Be Upon You: Fourteen Centuries of Muslim, Christian and Jewish Conflict and Cooperation,” By Zachary Karabell (Knopf, 2007).

Takeaways

All countries with current laws against apostasy are Muslim-majority.

Islam was more tolerant than Christianity, until about 70 years ago.

Over 1 million Jews lived in the Arab world until the early 1950s.