Who Speaks For Islam?

John Burgess of Crossroads Arabia blog gives a heads up on a new book by John Esposito and Dalia Mogahed, titled "Who Speaks For Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think." The book promo text reads,

In a post-9/11 world, many Americans conflate the mainstream Muslim majority with the beliefs and actions of an extremist minority. But what do the world’s Muslims think about the West, or about democracy, or about extremism itself? Who Speaks for Islam? spotlights this silenced majority. The book is the product of a mammoth six-year study in which the Gallup Organization conducted tens of thousands of hour-long, face-to-face interviews with residents of more than 35 predominantly Muslim nations — urban and rural, young and old, men and women, educated and illiterate. It asks the questions everyone is curious about: Why is the Muslim world so anti-American? Who are the extremists? Is democracy something Muslims really want? What do Muslim women want? The answers to these and other pertinent, provocative questions are provided not by experts, extremists, or talking heads, but by empirical evidence — the voices of a billion Muslims.

I can appreciate the enormity of the task - which is probably why this book is coming out now instead of three years ago when it might have been immensely more useful in blunting the rising jafi tide. It's worth noting that the Pew Global Voices polling probably has covered a lot of this ground before, so it will be interesting to see how Esposito and Mogahed's results compare, especially if they are more comprehensive. They give a preview of their work in this op-ed:

Our new study, "Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think," reflects the views of 1.3 billion Muslims. The book is based on six years of research and more than 50,000 interviews conducted in more than 35 predominantly Muslim nations or nations with sizable Muslim populations. Representing more than 90 percent of the world's Muslim communities, this poll is the largest, most comprehensive study of its kind. The results defy conventional wisdom and the inevitability of a global conflict -- even as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue.

The study produced some surprises. It showed that Muslims and Americans are equally likely to reject attacks on civilians as morally unjustifiable. Those who do choose violence and extremism are driven by politics, not poverty or piety. In fact, of the 7 percent of respondents who did believe that 9/11 was justified, none of them hated our freedom; they want our freedom. But they believe that America -- and the western world in general -- operate with a double standard and stand in the way of Muslims determining their own future.

I will probably pre-order the book as well. Should be a handy reference for bloggers in the Brass Crescent.

1 comment:

Zack said...

This seems like an interesting book.