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BBC poll finds that many are baffled by Ramadan

03 July 2015

DEMOTIX

Greeting: the Anglican Archbishop of Jerusalem, the Most Revd Suheil Dawani, welcomes religious officials before hosting a Ramadan breakfast, in Jerusalem, on Tuesday 

Greeting: the Anglican Archbishop of Jerusalem, the Most Revd Suheil Dawani, welcomes religious officials before hosting a Ramadan breakf...

MOST people believe that cultural diversity is a good thing, a new survey suggests, but only half of those questioned understood what Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, was about.

The survey, commissioned by the BBC's Religion and Ethics department to coincide with the start of Ramadan on 18 June, found that views on cultural diversity seemed to vary with age.

More than 80 per cent of 18-to-24-year-olds thought that cultural diversity was a good thing, but the proportion fell to 55 per cent among the over-65s.

Of the 2036 people questioned by the research company TNS for the BBC, 52 per cent said that they understood Ramadan. Among young adults, the figure was 51 per cent; but only 43 per cent of over-65s thought that they had a clear understanding. The survey did not ask what faith, if any, was held by the respondents, but was weighted to reflect the country's ethnic mix.

Ramadan takes place on the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. Muslims endeavour to adhere to three types of worship: sawm (fasting), zakat (charity), and salat (praying). These are three of the five pillars of the Islamic faith. The other two are hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca), and shahada (belief in one god).

Thirty-five per cent of those aged 18 to 24, compared with 41 per cent of over-65s, believed that only devout Muslims did not eat or drink during the day. While 68 per cent of the younger people said that they would be embarrassed to talk about Ramadan, that fell to 58 per cent among the over-65s.

The BBC is running a series of programmes during Ramadan ranging from a documentary marking the 20th anniversary of the genocide at Srebrenica to regional weather forecasts.

In a statement, the BBC said: "The purpose of the poll is to give an insight into people's understanding of Islam, and, in particular, Ramadan. The poll was representative of the country's population, and was not broken down by religious groups. The information we have on the 2036 people polled includes ethnic origin, age, and geographical area only."

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