A majority of Pakistan’s internet users say they consider themselves ‘Muslim first’ (49%) , ‘Pakistani’ second (28%) while 23% voted ‘Other’, a survey conducted by The Express Tribune found. On the flipside, the survey results also showed that overseas Pakistanis identified more with being a ‘Pakistani’ than a ‘Muslim’ as compared to locals.
The survey, taken by more than 1,600 online Pakistanis, including expats was designed to measure the population on three different scales: their level of tolerance, level of religiosity and adherence to tradition.
While 77% of online Pakistanis expressed a belief in a supernatural being, only 46% said they identified themselves as a religious person. Some 75% said they believed in the existence of ‘Heaven and Hell’.
A majority of Muslim respondents (63%) agreed to the statement that “Pakistanis are not perfect but our religion is superior to others”.
In a core finding related to tolerance, 66% of Pakistanis voted against the need to influence others to share their set of beliefs. However, only 11% of total respondents said they would experiment with other belief systems.
Men do their own research
Women proved to be more traditional than men with 72% saying that they shared the same religious beliefs as their parents. A large number of male respondents said they had reached their current set of beliefs through research, while a majority of females said that they were raised that way.
The online survey found males were more inclined than women to researching new ideas and more willing to explore their beliefs. On the other hand men (36%) felt it was important to influence others when it comes to religion.
Education and age
The survey found that those who were older, and those holding a doctorate degree exhibited the greatest degree of tolerance and openness to religious plurality.
Older age groups (30+) and doctorate degree holders also exhibited lowest religiosity, suggesting that higher education and greater age results in lower religiosity.
Muslims and Non-religious groups
The sample consisted largely of Muslim respondents and those who identified themselves as non-religious. While members of other religious communities did respond to the survey their results were too few to be conclusive. In general, the Muslim segment gave very different responses to the non-religious segment, displaying a greater degree of intolerance and traditional thinking. Interestingly, a larger majority of the non-religious segment (92%) said they had researched other belief systems as compared to Muslims (72%).
Locals and Expats
The survey found expats exhibited slightly lower religiosity than local respondents. For example the local population showed greater belief in Heaven and Hell, was more regular in prayers and identified more to scripture. Expats were inclined to be more egalitarian than local respondents with reference to religious tolerance.
While a majority of expats disagreed with the statement ‘Pakistanis are not perfect but our religion is superior to others’ 53% of locals agreed with it. Fewer expats (35%) voted in favor of needing God to be moral, compared to locals (44%). A greater number of expats (81%) said they had researched other belief systems, as compared to locals (75%).
Scope of the research
The survey was available for three days during the month of January, 2012 and The Express Tribune obtained over 1,600 results from online Pakistanis and expats. The figures and information presented in this report only provide information about religious perceptions in Pakistan with reference to the online audience’s views.
Read the complete findings of the Pakistan Religious Identity Online survey report here.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 16th, 2012.