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Based on the largest study of its kind this book is the first to present the fascinating findings of the Gallup Poll of the Muslim WorldThe horrific events of 911 dramatically intensified what many saw as an ongoing conflict between the US and parts of the Muslim world Extremism has grown exponentially as Muslims and non Muslims alike continue to be victims of global terrorism Terrorist attacks have occurred from Morocco to Indonesia and from Madrid to London as US led wars rage in Ira and Afghanistan As of this writing war and terrorism have already claimed than 300000 lives since 911; the vast majority have been civilians As we face savage actions in a world that seems ever dangerous and out of control we are confronted daily by analysis from terrorism experts and pundits who see the religion of Islam as responsible for global terrorism At the same time terrorist groups like al aeda beam messages throughout the world that demonize the West as the enemy of Islam responsible for all the ills of the Muslim world Amid the rhetoric of hate and growing violence both anti Americanism in the Muslim world and Islamophobia — discrimination against or hostility toward Islam or Muslims — have increased precipitously In the aftermath of 911 President George W Bush emphasized that America was waging war against global terrorism not against Islam However the continued acts of a terrorist minority coupled with statements by preachers of hate Muslim and Christian as well as anti Muslim talk show hosts and political commentators have inflamed our emotions and distorted our views The religion of Islam and the mainstream Muslim majority have been conflated with the beliefs and actions of an extremist minority The result was reflected in a USA TodayGallup poll which found substantial minorities of Americans admitting to negative feelings or prejudice against Muslims and favoring heightened security measures with Muslims to help prevent terrorism Nearly one uarter of Americans 22% say they would not want a Muslim as a neighbor; fewer than half believe US Muslims are loyal to the United States; and 44% say Muslims are too extreme in their religious beliefs Are the growing violence and negative perceptions on all sides only a prelude to an inevitable all out war between the West and 13 billion Muslims? The vital missing piece among the many voices weighing in on this uestion is the actual views of Muslim publics With all that is at stake for US and Muslim societies indeed for the future of the world the time has come to democratize the debate Who Speaks for Islam? Listening to the Voices of a Billion Muslims is about this silenced majority It is the product of a mammoth Gallup research study over the last six years Gallup conducted tens of thousands of face to face interviews with residents of than 35 predominantly Muslim nations Gallup’s sample represents urban and rural young and old educated and illiterate women and men In total we surveyed a sample representing over 90% of the world’s 13 billion Muslims including Muslims in the West making this the largest most comprehensive study of contemporary Muslims ever The concept of this book is simple After collecting vast amounts of data representing the views of the world’s Muslims we asked the uestions everyone wants answers to What is at the root of anti Americanism in the Muslim world? Who are the extremists? Is democracy a desired construct among Muslims and if so what might it look like? What do Muslim women really want? With uestions in hand we let the empirical evidence — the voices of a billion Muslims not individual “experts” or “extremists” dictate the answer

10 thoughts on “Who Speaks For Islam?

  1. says:

    A straightforward presentation of the results and the implications of the results from a worldwide Gallup poll of the world's Muslims I found this book a much needed counterbalance to the prevailing Islamaphobia in so much of the public discourse of the USA Among the points that this books makes are jihad doesn't mean holy war; radical militant Muslims are better educated richer and less religious than moderate Muslims; sharia is not inherently anti democratic or discriminatory; Muslim men and women around the world favor democracy and women's rights and consider that these goals can best be met through a fuller understanding of Islam rather than by moving towards secularism In the end this book presents a picture of terrorism as politically rather than religiously motivated and of the abuses of Islamic law as being miscarriages of justice rather than products of an intrinsically barbaric justice system I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning about the perspective of actual Muslims around the world However this book is based on a poll and you know what they say about lies damn lies and statistics So the facts in the book may or may not be considered objectively true depending on how much you credit polls I consider it at least as accurate as anecdote assumption and the Washington Post which is to say as good as it gets

  2. says:

    Who Speaks for Islam? is a gem; just plain simple You should read itThe world sees Islam through the most visible actions of the most extreme people but this is not who we are Muslims are so diverse and when looked at scientifically we are so peaceful friendly and very normalNumbers are so beautiful because they tell you the plain truth with no embellishment This book uses statistics generated by Gallup's World Poll A global poll by a very renowned polling institute to identify what we the normal everyday Muslims think about different things How we look towards the west towards ourselves towards terrorism and toward issues It does it very beautifully in an easy to read well researched fashion Do not expect to see boring unreadable scientific lingo here It's based on scientific data but it's totally written in a properly analyzed interesting styleIt starts out by giving a brief introduction about who Muslims are What do we believe in and do and what is not really part of Islam It also addresses the misconception of Jihad as Holy War; all of that while citing polling dataIt then addresses very interesting subjects including what makes a person a radical whether Muslims favor a democracy or a theocracy what do women Muslims want really and how Muslims look upon the west and what are their hopes in this regardIt also in a very interesting way demonstrates that the West and the Islamic world are not real monoliths and that a lot of diversity exists inside each and towards each For instance the way Muslims view the actions of a certain western country may defer than the way they view another's and the way Muslims perceive a leader of a nation may not exactly match the way they perceive the nation itselfOther interesting revelations are the comparisons between the views of Americans and those of Muslims In many religion based issues it is noteworthy that the results of Americans fall in the same statistical margins in which Muslim's fall And yet Muslims are said to be radical In fact sometimes the views of Americans are far radical You'll find that 46% of Americans do not believe that acts against civilians are never justified making the majority actually accept acts against civilians in some cases; a rate you will not see in Muslim countriesThere is a lot to say about this book but I guess the best advice to give is Go read it if you want to learn about the way real Muslims think or you are a Muslim who deals often with westerners who may want to learn about the way real Muslims think

  3. says:

    I was SO impressed with this book It is based on the results of a mammoth Gallup Poll research study between 2001 and 2007 which surveyed a sample representing 90% of the world's 13 billion Muslims The survey conducted through tens of thousands of hour long face to face interviewscovered such uestions as what Muslims like andor dislike about the West how they feel about terrorism and attacks on civilians their views on women's rights religion government and legislation The responses and the analysis of the survey make for fascinating readingSince 911 and the attacks on the Twin Towers there has been so much focus on WesternMuslim conflict with the emphasis in the press on extremist views It's valuable to read what the majority of Muslims feel about the above mentioned topics To me it was above all reassuring in that the people surveyed admired the West for its technology and its democratic principles freedom of speech human rights rule of law Moreover the vast majority opposed terrorism and attacks on civiliansIt was also interesting to read that the authors of the survey their credentials are impressive felt that spread of terrorism against the West is not caused by Islam but by by the perception in the Muslim world that the West especially the USA is trying to dominatate their countries They feel that the USA is not really interested in Muslim self determination but in bolstering authoritarian regimes in the the Middle East and in promoting its own brand of democracy The section on women's issues was riviting It was interseting to read that Muslim women while they admire much about the West do not yearn to be like their Western counterparts They favour gender parity but on their terms and within their own cultural context They do not see the veil as a symbol of inferior status On the contrary they view Western women's immodest clothing as a sign of their degraded status Interesting perspective They also feel the Western advocacy of women's issues is an attempt to justify colonialsim and domination I could go on and on; there was so much of interest in the book I would recommend it to anyone who is intersted in reading about the Muslim world and also to those who have concerns about terrorism and the spread of Islam

  4. says:

    This is definitely worth reading I learned so much and have a greater respect for Muslims as a whole and will no longer buy into the prejudices and stereotypes This book does not try to deny that terrorism exists but it puts it perspective relative to mainstream Muslims and relative to the Islamic teachings which do not teach murder and terrorism For example the majority of Muslims do not live in Ira Afganistan but whenever we think of Muslims those are the countries we think of so we assume all Muslims are like them Only 7% of all Muslims believe terrorism is the answer and these studies found that it is for political reasons and that the majority of terrorists are NOT actively religious they drink do not say prayers 5 times a day etc Mainstream Muslims hate the terrorists just as much as the rest of the world and suffer because of them Much much contained in this book especially talks about political and economic disputes Very good and definitely a good read

  5. says:

    Results of an exhaustive survey of Muslims throughout the world 16 billion people call themselves Muslim According to this study Muslims are practicing a religion that does not support terrorism If you want your prejudices eroded read this book

  6. says:

    There are so many books being passed around among my fellow evangelicals these days the basic theme of which is Islam is a terrible hateful religion full of terrorists This book is refreshing for its careful research and balanceFor example did you know that 80% of Iranians 81% of people from Bangladesh and 86% of Pakistanis say that it is never justifiable to intentionally target innocent civilians in order to achieve political or military ends?Only 46% of Americans say never; 24% of Americans say attacks on civilians are sometimes or often justified and 6% say they are completely justified Moreover most Muslims do not hate our way of life or our freedom They admire freedom of the press freedom of speech and our technological advances What they dislike are our deteriorating family life and casual attitudes towards sexFigures are based on the largest Gallup demographic poll ever launched between 2001 and 2007 Their sample represents the views of over 90% of Muslims in the worldI find this book eye opening and challenging to my preconceived prejudices

  7. says:

    I plan to re read this book as soon as possible and then write a proper review Until then I will say this book is AMAZING Instead of merely anectodal experiences from my time in the Middle East I now am armed with facts and intelligent analysis about the beautiful religion of Islam so often misunderstood and even feared I wish I had enough money to purchase this book as a gift for all our family and friends As Americans we have an important duty to overcome our ignorance and learn about the billion Muslims in the world Read it

  8. says:

    Meh Great in theory but I wanted this to be a lot better And a lot less 3rd grade

  9. says:

    False information even in uotes makes it hard to trust the Islamic experts writing this book When you begin by defining Islam as a strong commitment to God pg7 instead of by its literal translation submission and surrender you already lose my trust Indeed if you want to engage in a discussion of what that term means in religious terms peachy but be upfront about the naked truth because otherwise you are cooking the data as it is easy to see that interpretations of that phrase can vary With that initial red flag I read Esposito professor of Islamic Affairs at Georgetown and Mogahed's work super closely checking figures and oh yes assumptions Googling the Gallup poll that they draw on for attitudes toward Muslims I am struck by the small sample of that poll 808 people This is something which Mogahed a Director of Islamic Polls at Gallup should have taken with a grain of salt should have been upfront about Other bikini polls are usually around 2000 respondent A surprising assertion in chapter 2 that cried for clarification was the comparison between Muslims and Americans' desire for religion to influence law The book says that 46 percent of Americans think the Bible should be a source of legislation This is put there to show that Christian Americans are just as 'nutty' as Muslims I think Now if you follow that footnote 41 to the Gallup indicated you are not led to a discussion of religion in America only to the original poll on attitudes towards Muslims Fortunately for me I can Google those exact words and see that a later 2007 poll does does have those numbers and words A footnote mistake surely I think its fair for the book to bring up religion as a source of law for a culture Most societies base their law at least partly on religion a fact that we forget This is a meaningful discussion that the book completely misses and I would have loved to see developed However the book does not closely look at the one statistically significant difference in that other poll It says 46 percent of Americans think the Bible should be a source of law but not the only source compared with 23 percent of Muslims who think Sharia should not be the only source That's a bit of a difference statistically but if you are unintentionally cooking the facts probably not one to bring up or have people look at And again I empathize with their problem You can't prove anything from two different polls that compare one country to several and that compare such differently compiled religious texts the bible reflects an oral tradition that stopped being compiled around the first century whereas Sharia depending who you ask reflects an evolving study of law upto the present I think this book is written from a perspective which does not let deep thinking or unruly facts get in the way but hey at least it starts from something we can ascertain the truth of facts Now I do get this undercurrent of political partisanship when the only president discussed is W Bush and his support of less democratically minded rulers in the Islamic world but the author could be excused because he was focused on writing about a precise moment in the AmericanIslamic interaction They are just not thinking how others will read it Same for the discussion of the neocon Francis Fukuyama's comments that Democracy has its roots in countries with a secularized Christianity It is fair to note that he is an avowed neocon but it would also be a good thing to look at his specialty the study of democracy and note that even Gallup concludes that all the countries interviewed want democracy except 10 pg 58 So no despite the helpful bullet points at the end of chapter 3 no they didn't prove at all that Islamic countries want democracy I did appreciate the nugget that the majority of people holding a radical view of Islam were interviewed in Asian countries and not in the Arab Street Food for thought And I appreciated the passages from the Koran where Muhammed calls for toleration of non muslims but respectfully decline to take their word that most Muslims believe that this must translate to peace Early Muslim texts are historical we are told by muslim experts even if they describe battles we are told Fine but you can't have it both ways A better way of ascertaining how Muslims ideally interpret those texts is through works of religious exegesis just as it is with other religions Again the authors are not analyzing deeply In looking at the chapter on women I tend to agree with Muslims if not exactly these authors that the radical position is the American feminist one Muslim women are perfectly free in western worlds to veil or not only bound by family ties as thong wearing westerns Their desire for modesty is not a sign of oppression even I would say in those countries that enforce it by law We rarely hear stories of moderation in law I'm sure I join Muslim women in rolling my eyes at near naked American women carping about exploitation It was interesting to read about the stir made by Pope Benedict's comments calling for Muslims to embrace peace but I was surprised no mention was made of those Muslims who defended the Pope's words like scholar Ahmad Vincenzo We totally agree with Benedict that it is not possible to advance dialogue between religions that plays down the specific doctrines and rituals of individual faiths Well maybe I'm not surprised The Coexistence chapter had me cracking up Obviously Muslims are annoyed by the idiotic coexist car bumper stickers as I am They really reflect a simplistic position that religion alone is the cause of war which flies in the face of a lot of history and a lot of better informed books by atheist evangelists For the record here I tend to agree with the authors of his book and the atheist historians that religion in general is not the cause of war I just don't think they prove it about Islam at all in this book And I reserve judgement on other less tangible things like culture for sure I still don't know what the nugget source of that terrorism is other than evil but I haven't given up finding out

  10. says:

    Read 72008; review edited and reposted 122013This book has its virtues It provides a helpful overview of Muslim denominations and the history of westernIslamic relations It reminds the western reader that Islam is not a monolith and dispels the myth that inside every Muslim is an American dying to get out It cautions westerners that if they hope to improve the lives of Muslims reform should be promoted within an Islamic framework since Muslims may resist changes that seem to imply Western cultural superiority And it reminds liberals who are concerned about how Americans appear to Muslims that the number one thing Muslims dislike about us is our sexual liberalism Now onto my difficulties with the bookThe message Esposito and Mogahed ultimately communicate is this stop being such and Islamaphobic bigot Stop suggesting that fanaticism is a bigger problem in modern Islam than it is in modern Judaism or Christianity It’s not To prove their point they use a set of Gallup Poll data that is not available to the public for examination That's okay They'll be happy to interpret it for you Yet for a book on polls Who Speaks for Islam? contains a surprisingly limited number of raw statistics The most freuently used word in the book is the vague many Sometimes the authors will make a statement and then support it not by reference to the Gallup poll but by reference to a single anecdote When the data is contradictory they don't notice or comment What we really need to comprehend the authors tell us is that Muslim reactions are the result of a Western lack of respect for Islam and Muslim actions have to be understood in context When for instance the Pope makes a negative statement about Islam and a number of Muslims in several different countries react by beating Christians and setting their churches on fire those beatings and burnings are the fault of the Pope's insensitivity and not any reflection whatsoever on the state of the Islamic religion today When a cartoonist ridicules the Prophet and a number of Muslims react by setting cars on fire and damaging property and calling for deaths we have to understand that the vandalism and destruction is the fault of western rudeness and not any reflection whatsoever on the state of the Isalmic religion today Esposito and Mogahed offer the reader’s this reassurance only 100 million of the world’s Muslims are “radicalized” Only 100 million think the 911 attacks were “completely” justified The rest are moderate The book speaks of this silenced moderate majority but if the moderates are silenced they aren't speaking for Islam are they? However it’s somewhat unclear how the authors are defining “moderate” They never give a concrete descriptive definition Nevertheless it's clear from piecing together the scattered information that a moderate can potentially include any of the following a Muslim who wants to see the imposition of sharia law; a Muslim who believes women should not have eual legal rights as men; a Muslim who believes suicide bombings of civilians is justified or a Muslim who believes the 911 attacks were partially justified When the term “moderate” is applied to a Christian or Jew it typically means something uite different How many Muslims fit a moderate definition of moderate? That would have been an interesting uestion for the authors to answer but they don’tThe authors make some surprising claims about Christians such as this remarkable accusation The vast majority of terrorist attacks on US soil have been perpetrated by Christian terrorist groups in the past 15 years I had hoped they would name these Christian terrorist “groups who had committed “the vast majority” of “terrorist attacks” because I wasn’t familiar with them but they don’t In fact the only name they mention at all is and individual Timothy McVeigh whom they classify as a Christian terrorist despite the fact that he never committed his acts in the name of Christ never claimed to be motivated by religion and described himself as an agnostic telling his friends Science is my religion How does one explain the occasional problem of honor killings genital mutilations filmmaker stabbings suicide bombings or airplanes flying into office buildings? I'm not sure but from reading this book I think it has something to do with the fact that Americans are all a bunch of arrogant smug small minded meddlers and if we would just stop criticizing Islam and instead start miraculously fixing the economic infrastructures of all Muslim countries without at the same time interfering in the internal affairs of Islamic states we wouldn't have to worry about such things