Sunday, March 29, 2009

What Arabs Think

This book by James Zogby analyzes the views of 3,800 Arab adults polled by Zogby International from eight countries (Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Kuwait, Morocco, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Palestine).

I've only read the first two chapters, but I could not resist commenting on what I read so far. (mararti itfa2a3it!!)

In chapter two, and when asked: "What matters most in life?", and out of the nine specific choices they were given (family, friends, marriage, the quality of their work, job security, political issues in their country, political issues facing the Arab nation, leisure time, and religion), what do you think the top answer for the Egyptians surveyed was?

Yes, it was religion!! An astounding 93% said religion is what matters most in life. Morocco & Saudi Arabia also ranked religion at the top, while it was raked 5th in Lebanon, and 6th in UAE.

Zogby then went on to further analyze the responses of the sample polled. He examined how the responses in each area differ when compared not only by country, but by age, gender, education, and Internet access.

Guess what!! In Egypt, old & young, male & female, those educated up to secondary school or less & those with college degrees or higher, and those who have access to the Internet and those who don't have, all these groups have agreed on one thing. Religion is what matters most in their life!!! Only Moroccans managed to duplicate the same boring result.

To me those results are pretty depressing. Not that I have anything against religion, on the contrary, I have deep respect for all religions. And not that I will pretend that results were a total surprise, since I have repeatedly heard and read that the Egyptians are supposed to be the most religious people in the world!!! It's just that if over 90% of Egyptians across age, gender, education, & Internet access lines think that Religion is such an important aspect of their lives, you would expect Egypt to be Heaven on Earth.

And since it is not, to say the least, then what is wrong? Are those surveyed a bunch of liars? Did 93% of Egyptians surveyed misunderstand the question? Or do they, and many Egyptians like them, simply misunderstand religion itself?

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