I was very surprised to see the extremely low percentages provided by readers, for in sharp contrast stands the area where I come from. Bhopal, India has long been a center of religious activity. It was where Siddiq Hasan Khan, one of the founders of the Ahle Hadith movement, settled down after marrying the Begum of Bhopal (an irony especially noted by his critics, as the Nawab actively propounded theories of “that-worldliness” and asceticism and was responsible for giving quite a pessimistic feel to Ahle Hadith dogmatics, and nonetheless married into royalty and riches). Allama Iqbal was also in town for some time, a guest of Nawab Hamidullah Khan. The place where he stayed now bears a giant unseemly figure of a “Shaheen”. The Nawabs built the Taj-ul-Masaajid, which was for many years the world’s largest mosque. A religious environment was rigorously promoted because of which Bhopal is the city with the largest number of mosques in India (the vast majority of them handsomely populated).
By the 1950s, soon after the Tablighi Jamaat was founded, Bhopal became a hotbed of TJ activity, and has been an important TJ center ever since. An annual “Ijtema” here attracts nearly half a million “TJs” from all over the world. Now the TJ dominates every sphere of Muslim life in Bhopal. TJs on “Gasht” can be seen stalking the streets in scores. They are warmly welcomed into houses for impromptu lectures. Even the government gets involved, as the final day of the annual Ijtema, the day of “Duaa”, is a big occasion and an official government holiday! It is a must for the state Chief Minister to attend the Duaa. The current CM, a notable RSS prodigy, sheds his Hindu extremism for a day and lands at the Ijtema every year!
(By the way, have to say this about TJs: they’re a major pain in the neck, no doubt, but they have done a fantastic job of keeping the Barelwi menace at bay in my area. Between the Barelwis and the TJs, the latter are most certainly the lesser evil, in my view).
With such a unique history, my city is very oriented towards “Namaaz” and Saum, so much so that many folks will only give you their daughter’s hand if your are a “Namaazi”. (Thankfully (!), I was a devoted Namaazi at the time of my marriage. Now the missus says that had she known that I would give up Namaaz one day, she would have had second thoughts on marrying me!)
Thus, here are the statistics from my unique city:
“Namaazis”: At least 70% of the young population
Around 75-80% of the older population
Saum: At least 80% of the healthy population. You are vilified no end if you don’t fast during Ramadan.
One swallow doth not a summer make, however. Bhopal, from this survey, seems the only place in this world where devotees far outweigh non-devotees.