In the wake of the terrorist attacks on 9/11, U.S. public officials seemed to have no idea whether or not many Muslims supported the bombings. This troubled Gallup Chairman and CEO Jim Clifton, who felt that “no one in Washington had any idea what 1.3 billion Muslims were thinking, and yet we were working on intricate strategies that were going to change the world for all time.” Clifton commissioned his company to undertake the enormous job.
The result is Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think, based on six years of research and more than 50,000 interviews representing 1.3 billion Muslims who reside in more than 35 nations that are predominantly Muslim or have sizable Muslim populations. Representing more than 90% of the world’s Muslim community, it makes this poll the largest, most comprehensive study of its kind.
What the data reveal and the authors illuminate may be somewhat surprising to some:
– Muslims and Americans are equally likely to reject attacks on civilians as morally unjustifiable.
– Large majorities of Muslims would guarantee free speech if it were up to them to write a new constitution AND they say religious leaders should have no direct role in drafting that constitution.
– Muslims around the world say that what they LEAST admire about the West is its perceived moral decay and breakdown of traditional values — the same answers that Americans themselves give when asked this question.
– When asked about their dreams for the future, Muslims say they want better jobs and security, not conflict and violence.
– Muslims say the most important thing Westerners can do to improve relations with their societies is to change their negative views toward Muslims and respect Islam.
The research suggests that conflict between Muslims and the West is NOT inevitable and, in fact, is more about policy than principles. “However,” caution Esposito and Mogahed, “until and unless decision makers listen directly to the people and gain an accurate understanding of this conflict, extremists on all sides will continue to gain ground.”
Charlie Rose interviews the authors of this book, John Esposito and Dalia Mogahed.
John L. Esposito, Ph.D., is a leading expert on the Muslim world. He is University Professor and a professor of religion and international affairs and of Islamic studies at Georgetown University and the founding director of Georgetown’s Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding in the Walsh School of Foreign Service.
Dalia Mogahed is a senior analyst and executive director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies. She leads the analysis of Gallup’s unprecedented study of more than 1 billion Muslims worldwide.
Hope you find this interview interesting: