Some of my buddies and I were having a little discussion, and it kinda devolved into a rant from one of them about how much he hates Iraq and the Iraqis/Arabs/Muslims, but he claimed that (go ahead and assume when I mention a religion that I’m referring to the adherents of that religion) Islam is *by far *the least educated religion as a whole.
I challenged this statement, and he quickly and unambiguously declared that I am a moron, at which point I mostly stopped bothering, but it got me wondering, and y’all are the only people I’d consider asking for the straight dope. I have an issue with two parts of his assertion:
- He didn’t qualify it with anything like “of the Abrahamic religions” or “of the major religions,” but I would assume that, at the very least, the religions of some indigenous peoples would qualify as less educated than Islam. This may be nitpicky, but, when I pressed him on it a little, I discovered that his observation was based solely on his time in Iraq. Meaning that if he had spent some time volunteering for the Peace Corps, his assertion might have been that the Chinese religions are the least educated. In short, he had zero evidence to back up his claim here.
- Say he had said, instead, “Islam is by far the least educated of the major religions,” which in my mind includes Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism. By far? Really? Is this sort of thing even quantifiable, and, if so, how? Can any Dopers find any evidence that this is true? I suspect that, even if Islam is the least educated major religion, it’s not by much. I understand that there may be inherent vagaries in the way religious adherents are tallied, but I’m just looking for some kind of statistic here.
He went on to claim that Islam endears itself specifically to poorer, less educated people and purposefully insinuates itself into places where Christianity has yet to reach. I didn’t really bother disputing these claims, mostly because I’m kind of ignorant about Islam myself, but are either of them true?
As for the first part, I thought that Islam in its purest sense offered basically the same thing as the other Abrahamic religions (an eternity in paradise, let’s call it heaven, granted by God in exchange for certain behaviors and attitudes… that may not be the best way to describe it, but that’s what I’m going with), which I suppose might be attractive to any group of people down on their luck, but no more so than Judaism or Christianity’s version of the afterlife. Is Islam’s heaven easier to get into than the other two?
As for the second part, my cynical view is that there’s no place left on Earth where Christian missionaries haven’t tried to convert the local populace for whatever reason, but do well-to-do Muslim missionaries find the poorest people in the world who don’t call themselves Muslims and go there to spread the word? I guess I find it hard to believe that they do this any more than Christians do.
I guess that’s all I want to ask… hopefully I’ve at least got the basic facts straight here, but I’m trying to educate myself more than I’m doing this for the guy with whom I was arguing.