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Do Muslims believe that a person's religion influences their behaviour?

I've heard people say, when Muslim X does bad action Y, that Islam isn't to blame for Y. The people saying that are usually atheists or pretty close to atheistic in their thinking, and probably think religion is meaningless. I can sometimes see the logic in such statements, but it makes me wonder.

Surely some, if not all, actions done by Muslims are influenced by their religion. If none of the actions done by Muslims are influenced by their religion, then what's the point of being religious?

From the perspective of Muslims, does a person's religion influence their behaviour?

  • I think you should clarify your question. I guess you mean a situation where X justifies Y by referring to some teaching of Islam? – Andreas Veithen Jan 25 '15 at 1:09
  • I think you have confused a few different issues here. If an evangelical Christian bombs an abortion clinic, is he influenced to act by Christianity? Yes. Is Christianity to blame? No, because most people well tell you that Christianity doesn't call for bombing abortion clinics. That's not incompatible with saying that he was motivated by Christianity. It's just his incorrect understanding of what his religion demands of him. – Daniel Feb 4 '15 at 13:31
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Muslim X does bad action Y, that Islam isn't to blame for Y:

In some cases Islam and its ambiguities or the correct or wrong interpretation of it is to blame. For example, if a Muslim read the qa'ran and interpreted the teaching (as an extreme) 'strapping a bomb to his chest and blowing up Shia muslims in the market place' or 'insisting your wife is not allowed to drive a car' Then we must say that Islam is to blame because that is how in their interpretation of it is written in the book.

In the same vain, if a Muslim does good things, then his/her religion has guided them to do good things. For example give earnings to charity or help the poor.

Inherently, Muslims are not bad as no-one is born bad. But the interpretation of Islam can cause Muslims to do good or bad, therefore through this logic people are influenced by their religion.

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Here is my view on the matter:

I've heard people say, when Muslim X does bad action Y, that Islam isn't to blame for Y.

The reality is Islam is not to blame for the action of that said person. Let me explain, for instance one can call themselves a Muslim, and not hold to the faith strictly.

Example: A Muslim drinks alcohol, and becomes intoxicated, then proceeds to get into a car crash.

The Muslim did commit a bad action, and Islam is not to blame. This is because Islam strictly motions that alcohol is prohibited for a Muslim, the blame lays only upon him, not his religion as his religion clearly is not tied to the bad action.


From the perspective of Muslims, does a person's religion influence their behaviour?

For me my religion does shape who I am, it limits me from my primal urges, without limitation I would assume that my behaviour would be radically different without my religion, as there would be no reason to limit my urge so that certain thing. Islam is also a constant reminder to me that enforces certain behaviours as well, such as that I have patience with others; do good, pray five times a day, and many other things.

On other things:

I've heard people say, when Muslim X does bad action Y, that Islam isn't to blame for Y. The people saying that are usually atheists or pretty close to atheistic in their thinking, and probably think religion is meaningless. I can sometimes see the logic in such statements, but it makes me wonder.

While I addressed some points above I want to go in extent to why many Muslims say this, and why their response is valid. Recall the phrase in statistical analysis, "correlation does not imply causation" classically expressed in logic as: (P & Q) ≠ (P → Q) ٧ (Q → P). While sometimes it looks like there is a correlation, we have to understand that even with a correlation (which there may or may not be) that causation should not be implied. If one wants to say Islam is the cause to the supposed correlation, they should support their view, otherwise it may be dismissed as ill speculation, especially when there is plenty of statistics, and data that argue against them.

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I personally believe that religion does influence a person's behavior. It influences morals, and someone who strongly believes in a religion will generally try to exhibit what their religion defines as good behavior and stay way from what their religion defines as bad behavior. Most Muslims I know avoid drinking alcohol. A lot of religious people try to keep some distance- both physical and emotional- with members of the opposite sex that they aren't related to.

However, unless someone is a perfect embodiment of a religion, you cannot link all their actions back to their religion. I believe in Islam, but that doesn't mean I don't make mistakes. Most people are normal human beings who's behavior is not only influenced by religion. This can be applied to anyone who has moral standards that they try to live by. Someone could get angry by loved one's unintentional mistake, but they might regret their temper later.

In regards to cases where a Muslim exhibits bad behavior because they believe it to be Islam, from my perspective as a Muslim, their religion is influencing behavior. However, I don't believe that they are following the same religion as me. We may be using the same words when we recite what we believe, such as "there is no god but Allah, and Muhammad [PBUH] is His Messenger," but if, for instance, they believe that enacting terrorism is a good deed, they obviously have very different beliefs about God and the Prophet (PBUH) from me, who believes that the Prophet (PBUH) would very strongly disapprove of such actions. My definition of Islam would be different. So I would say that Islam isn't to blame for those bad actions, because condoning such actions isn't in my definition of Islam. I would still say that their religion influenced their behavior, but I would not consider such a person as being a Muslim and following Islam's true teachings.

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