Denmark: Less than half practicing Muslims

Denmark: Less than half practicing Muslims

The researchers here assume that Ramadan is seen by Muslims only as a religious practice. It is a religious practice, but my impression is that it's also very cultural.

A recent survey in France, for example, found that while 33% of Muslims consider themselves 'believing and practicing' and 38% only 'believing' , 70% say they fast all of Ramadan. An additional 9% says they fast some of the time. In other words, even among Muslims who say they are only 'Muslim by origin', there are those who fast at least partially during Ramadan. I would expect Danish Muslims to have similar statistics.


Fewer than half of the 200,000 Danish Muslims practice their religion. Only a few of the Danish Muslims regularly go to the mosque for Friday prayer, and during Ramadan, many will probably do with fasting an hour a day.

With their secularized attitude towards religion, Danish Muslims are comparable to the Muslims in the rest of Western Europe, say two Danish Islam researcher, Jørgen S. Nielsen, professor of Islam at Copenhagen University, and Lone Kühle, religion sociologist at Aarhus University.

"The 200,000 Muslims in Denmark is an ethnic definition. But less than half practice the religion, and many don't keep the fast," says Jørgen S. Nielsen.

He works together with other international researchers on a big study of Muslims in Europe.

Religion sociologist Lone Kühle researched how many of the Danish Muslims use the mosques. And her estimate is that over half have the same attitude towards religion and its institutions as many Danes have towards the Danish Church: it's good, it's there, but they don't use it.

"Many Muslims have a basic respect for Islam and a positive attitude towards religion, but they leave going to the mosque to others," she says.

Lone Kühle estimates that fewer than 10% of Danish Muslims go to a mosque every Friday for Friday prayers, and that only a third regularly go to a mosque.

"In the Ramadan month some might fast a day or two and participate in the feasts at the conclusion. But people don't have any orthodox Muslim practice," she says.

Jørgen S. Nielsen also points out that most of the Danish Muslims see religion like the average "Danish Church Dane". But that doesn't mean that they don't fast on Ramadan. They might fast a few days, or on the first week.

Some of the non-practicing Muslims also drink alcohol. There is no data for how many there are in Denmark, but in England there are large neighborhoods with Muslims residents with big alcohol problems, says Jørgen S. Nielsen, who was an Islam researcher in Birmingham.

Even if only a few Danish Muslims regularly go to the mosque, this doesn't mean that they, for example, eat pork.

"It is a cultural practice. Many simply can't tolerate pork, since they aren't acquainted with it," says Jørgen S. Nielsen.

Source: Berlingske Tidende (Danish)

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