happy Muslims, smiling Muslims, hijabis
Source: Wikimedia

A new German study revealed people of Islamic faith experience oneness - "the idea that everything in the world is connected and interdependent" - more than people of other faiths. Even though the study was aimed at identifying the link between oneness and "greater life satisfaction" without specifically focusing on religions, the results showed Muslims to top other people of faith. 

"The feeling of being at one with a divine principle, life, the world, other people or even activities has been discussed in various religious traditions but also in a wide variety of scientific research from different disciplines," Laura Marie Edinger-Schons, PhD, of the University of Mannheim and author of the study, said, according to Science Daily.

"The results of this study reveal a significant positive effect of oneness beliefs on life satisfaction, even controlling for religious beliefs," she added. 

Numerous researches were conducted in hopes of associating life satisfaction and religious beliefs. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), Edinger-Schons' hypothesis was that oneness beliefs might explain peoples' satisfaction with life even better than religion.

The study, published in the journal Psychology of Spirituality and Religion, compiled two pools of people. The first one consisted of 7,137 German individuals who completed a survey that asked them on their personal beliefs regarding the concept of "oneness" - "such as empathy, social connectedness and nature." 

The second part was much broader, gathering 67,562 people of different religious backgrounds along with atheists residing in Germany. 

"Of the total, 48,111 respondents revealed their religious affiliation including 15,799 who said they were Protestant; 13,648 atheist and 12,422 Catholic. A further 2,548 said they belonged to other non-Christian groups; while 2,114 marked themselves 'other' Christian; 1,076 Muslim; 296 Buddhist; 120 Hindu and 88 Jewish," according to Newsweek

The final result, which gathered in total close to 75,000 participants, showed that women tend to believe in oneness more than men, and that Muslims "had the highest mean value of oneness beliefs."

According to Edinger-Schons, "people with higher oneness scores reported significantly greater life satisfaction."

She also found that people with higher life satisfaction gain additional benefits such as "increased academic performance in younger people and better health in old age."

"I recognized that in various philosophical and religious texts, a central idea is the idea of oneness," said Edinger-Schons. 

"In my free time, I enjoy surfing, Capoeira, meditation and yoga, and all of these have been said to lead to experiences that can be described as being at one with life or nature or just experiencing a state of flow through being immersed in the activity. I was wondering whether the larger belief in oneness is something that is independent of religious beliefs and how it affects satisfaction with life," she explained. 

The author of the study revealed she wasn't surprised about atheists having the lowest levels of oneness beliefs. "What surprised me was that oneness beliefs were actually very different across various religious affiliations, with Muslims having the highest levels," she said. "Also, when oneness beliefs were taken into account, many of the positive effects of religious affiliation on life satisfaction disappeared."