Survey Finds Conservative Youths

The Jakarta Globe

The nation’s Muslim youth are conservative, but not necessarily religious, according to a new survey released on Tuesday.

The poll found that Muslims aged 15 to 25 overwhelmingly disapproved of premarital sex, drug use and polygamy. But less than half of the respondents said they prayed five times a day.

The survey asked 1,496 Muslims about the role of Islam in their lives, political orientation and personal and professional goals.

“It needs to be understood that conservatism does not mean that a person is religious,” said Burhanuddin Muhtadi, a senior researcher at the Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI).

The group conducted the survey along with the Goethe Institute and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty (FNF).

Some 96.2 percent of those polled disapproved of pre-marital sex, while 88.7 percent were against alcohol consumption and 99.2 percent of taking mild illegal substances. Only 13.5 percent of respondents approved of polygamy, which is allowed in Islam. Far more women were against the practice than men.

More than half —59.6 percent — said they fasted during Ramadan. But only 28.7 percent said they prayed five times a day and a mere 11.7 percent professed to understanding much of Islam’s holy book, the Koran.

An overwhelming 90 percent said they believed it was important to believe in God, but only 60 percent felt it was important to be a good Muslim.

Nearly all of those surveyed — 95 percent — said technology was important to them, with 83 percent possessing a cellphone.

The survey was also sent to 1,060 Malaysian youths, and revealed differences between the two cultures.

More than 90 percent of Indonesians surveyed said they were unwilling to marry a partner from a different culture. Fewer Malaysians took exception to this, with 61.9 percent answering the same.

But in Islamic issues, Malaysians often emerged as the more conservative group.

The majority of Malaysian Muslims — 69.3 percent — said women should wear headscarves, while 38.1 percent of Indonesians answered the same.

When asked about corporal punishment, 71.5 percent of Malaysian agreed that thieves should lose a hand for their crime; only 49 percent of Indonesians agreed.

Similar opinons emerged on questions of the death penalty, with 92.5 percent of Malaysians in favor compared with 66 percent of Indonesians. As for flogging those caught consuming alcohol, 92 percent of Malaysian youth approved of the practice, compared with 68 percent of their neighbors.

But their values aligned on questions of politics. Muslim youth in Indonesian and Malaysia both expressed a lack of interest in the subject.

“[They] tend to distrust the government and disagree when asked whether religious leaders should play an active role in politics,” said Rainer Heufers, the representative of the LSI’s branch in Jakarta .

He said Indonesia should be viewed as a model of the integration of Islam and democracy.

“Indonesia is the role model of how much Islam is included in the Constitution and society, so Islam can be part of the solution and at the same time democracy can be preserved in Indonesia,” he said.

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