The Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) in India, under its research program Lokniti, in collaboration with German think tank Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) recently conducted a survey on 6,277 people aged 15-34 across 18 states of India. The results of the survey were released under the title “Indian Youth: Aspirations and Vision for the Future“.
One crucial aspect of this report caught our eye here at Muslim Memo — as per the survey results, young Muslims (aged between 15 to 34 years) seem to be showing a significant decline in their religious viewpoints and beliefs, as compared to the other communities, measured over the last five years (2016-21).
In other words, the survey found that the proportion of Muslims praying, fasting, visiting masjid, and engaging in religious acts was comparatively lower than it was in 2016 when the last CSDS-Lokniti survey was conducted.
Muslims also differed from other communities in another aspect: their experience of being discriminated against by their friends because of religion. While two other religious minorities, Christians and Sikhs, were similar to Muslims in expressing a “strong sense of despair” about communal harmony in India, a much lower proportion of them reported experiencing religious discrimination.
Here is what the report mentions:
Decline in Prayer
The 2016 CSDS youth survey, which was conducted on 5,681 Indian Muslims found that Muslim youth reported higher religiosity than any other community. As per thr oldrt survey of 2016, 97 percent of Muslim youth said that they prayed regularly, followed by Hindus (92 percent), Sikhs (92 percent), and Christians (91 percent).
However, in 2021, there is a significant decline of 13 percent as the survey reported only 86 percent of Muslim youth said that they prayed regularly. In comparison, there is a reported incline of 4 percent among Sikhs, that is, the share of youth who report praying regularly has raised to 96 percent and the share of youth who prayed regularly among Christians has raised to 93 percent, respectively.
Decline in Attendance at Masjid
In 2016, as many as 85 percent of Muslim youth reported that they visited their place of worship rather frequently; but in 2021, only 79 percent said they do so. There is a sharp decline of 6 percent and it is the highest across communities.
For Hindus there was a decline by 4 percent i.e. (from 92 to 88), for Christians, 2 percent (from 91 per to 89), and the least decline was among Sikhs at just 1 percent (from 97 to 96).
— Lokniti-CSDS (@LoknitiCSDS) December 31, 2021
Lower Religious Participation
Religion and faith is a subjective matter because people are not always okay with others’ form of worship even in the same religion. For example, in Muslims (especially Indian Muslims), some believe it is perfectly fine to visit Dargah, whereas some are totally against it. As such, self-perception of religiosity becomes an important factor in such surveys.
In the conducted survey, a greater share of Muslims reported a net decline in their perception of religious participation and activities. As many as 20 percent of Muslim youth said that they are engaging in religious activities on a lesser scale than before.
On the other hand, Hindus, that are a religious majority in India, reported a net increase in their perception of their religious participation. About 20 percent of Hindu respondents reported a rise in religious participation and activities.
Despair and Pessimism
The CSDS report took note of data from the National Crime Records Bureau (of India), pointing out that 857 cases of communal/religious rioting were registered in 2020, nearly doubling from 438 in 2019.
The report also mentioned recent “hate crimes and lynchings” targeting minority communities (primarily Muslims) as well as the new citizenship law of India, that aims to award citizenship to residents of neighbouring countries on religious lines, focusing on all religious communities excluding Muslims. In this context, the survey asked the respondents whether they thought religious harmony would improve or worsen in the next five years.
Muslims again stood apart from other communities in this aspect; they had the highest experience of being discriminated against by their friends because of religion. While two other religious minorities, Christians and Sikhs, were similar to Muslims in expressing a “strong sense of despair” about communal harmony in India, a much lower proportion of them reported experiencing religious discrimination. 31 percent of Christians and 33 percent each of Muslims and Sikhs said they believed religious amity would decline in India in the coming years.
As per the 2011 Census, Hindus make up about 80 percent of India’s population, followed by the three major minority communities — Muslims (14.23 percent), Christians (2.3 percent), and Sikhs (1.72 percent). Among the minorities sampled in the survey, Muslims reported experiencing discrimination from their friends on a regular basis.
About 44 percent of Muslim respondents said that they faced discrimination from their friends, with 13 percent saying this happened often, and 31 percent saying it occurred every once in a while. Only 18 percent Christians (4 percent often, 14 percent sometimes) and 8 percent Sikhs (3 percent often, 5 percent sometimes) reported such discrimination.
Making Sense of the Report
The results of the above survey can briefly be summed up as:
- Muslim youth in India are showing a decline in religious interests, praying less often, visiting masjid less frequently, and broadly, becoming “less Muslim” day by day, sadly.
- They are frequently facing discrimination and bias due to their Muslim identity — this is despite the fact that several Muslim youth are trying to shed their “Islamic” identity, and relating less and less to their own legacy.
While we wrote “despite the fact” in the above statement, the correct wording should be “due to the fact” — Indian Muslims are suffering such discrimination mainly because they are moving away from their roots, forgetting their own values, and not adhering to the true tenets of Islam.
All stats and figures based on the analysis of the survey published by The Print.