Excerpt from Daniel Pipes
The book that most shaped my understanding of modern Muslim life was Wilfred Cantwell Smith's Islam in Modern History (Princeton, 1957). To reduce Smith's nuanced thesis to a few sentences, he argues that Muslim military, economic, and cultural success in the premodern period created an expectation that God's people would be rewarded for their faith in mundane ways. That expectation left Muslims incapable of explaining what happened when, in modern times, they fell behind in those same arenas.....
This background comes to mind with the publication of two recent studies, in the United Kingdom and in India. Each of them makes my point in spades. Some highlights of the British report, as summarized by Reuters:
Based on data from the 2001 national census, the 162-page study paints a relatively bleak picture of life for Britain's 1.8 million Muslims, most of whom are ethnic Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis. "Of the different religious groups, unemployment rates among Muslims were more than double those in other groups," it found. Some 17 percent of Muslim men and 18 percent of Muslim women were unemployed compared to just five percent of Christian men and four percent of Christian women. "Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Black African groups had low levels of participation in the labor market," the study found. "Their high unemployment rates suggest that even when active in the labor market they experienced difficulties finding employment."
A third of Muslims lived in households which, according to the census definition, were overcrowded, compared to just six percent of Britain's Christians. Some 44 percent of ethnic Bangladeshi and 26 percent of ethnic Pakistani households were deemed to be overcrowded, against an average for the country of seven percent. In a country of nearly 59 million where home ownership is widespread and regarded as a key measure of wealth, Muslims were less likely to own their own houses than followers of other faiths. Just over half of Muslim households owned their houses compared to a national average of nearly 70 percent.
The Indian report has not been released, only portions leaked. From a summary by the prime minister's office: The Muslim community is "lagging behind" in most areas: they are "relatively poor, more illiterate, has lower access to education, lower representation in public- and private-sector jobs and lower availability of bank credit for self-employment. In urban areas, the community mostly lives in slums characterized by poor municipal infrastructure." Some particulars, as presented by the New York Times:
in many states Muslims are significantly overrepresented in prison. In the western state of Maharashtra, for instance, Muslims make up 10.6 percent of the population but 32.4 percent of those convicted or facing trial. In the famed national bureaucracy, the Indian Administrative Service, Muslims made up only 2 percent of officers in 2006. Among district judges in 15 states surveyed, 2.7 percent were Muslim.
Educational disparities were among the most striking. Among Muslims, Mr. Shariff said, the literacy rate is about 59 percent, compared with more than 65 percent among Indians as a whole. On average, a Muslim child attends school for three years and four months, compared with a national average of four years. Less than 4 percent of Muslims graduate from school, compared with 6 percent of the total population. Less than 2 percent of the students at the elite Indian Institutes of Technology are Muslim. Equally revealing, only 4 percent of Muslim children attend madrasas, Mr. Shariff said.
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