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Who Speaks For Islam?: What a Billion Muslims Really Think Hardcover – February 25, 2008
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From the Publisher
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 surprise you:
* 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."
Who Speaks for Islam? is an important book that challenges conventional wisdom and sheds greater light on what motivates Muslims worldwide. It is a must-read for anyone committed to creating peace and security in our lifetime.
From the Back Cover
--Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize winner
"As our world spirals out of control with greater violence and misunderstanding between the West and the Muslim world, Who Speaks for Islam? cuts through the conflicting rhetoric of politicians and pundits and presents the often-silenced voice of Muslims everywhere. I cannot imagine a more important or more badly needed intervention."
--Deepak Chopra, author of Peace is the Way
"The data presented in this book are not only arresting, but indispensable. Who Speaks for Islam? should be required reading for policy makers, journalists, broadcasters, teachers, students, and scholars."
--Karen Armstrong, author of A History of God
"At once incisive and provocative, this book is brimming with valuable insights into what Muslims think about religion, democracy, women's rights, extremism, and Muslims' relations with the West. This is a must-read for pundits and policy makers, specialists and non-specialists, American or Muslim."
--Vali Nasr, author of The Shia Revival: How Conflicts Within Islam Will Shape the Future
"Who Speaks for Islam? teaches us about one of the most important issues of our time. The book contains many surprises about how Westerners and Muslims view one another."
--Jessica Stern, author of Terror in the Name of God and Academic Director of the Program on Terrorism and the Law at Harvard Law School
"This is an important book. Years after 9/11, politics and quick judgments continue to stand in the way of a clear-eyed view of the Muslim world. Not so for Esposito and Mogahed. They provide powerful evidence and compelling logic that shows Muslims around the world have many of the same hopes and dreams, and face many of the same issues and concerns, as other people do."
--Robert Pape, author of Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism and Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago
"Who Speaks for Islam? could not be more timely. It provides essential insights into the thinking and attitudes of a large part of the global Muslim population on critical issues such as democracy, theocracy, extremism, jihad, women's rights, and the prospects of cooperation or conflict between the West and the Muslim world."
--Ambassador Edward P. Djerejian, former assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs; founding director, James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University
Top Customer Reviews
Based upon Gallup's World Poll, the book presents statistically-valid data illustrating opinions and perspectives from Muslims globally, bearing in mind that about 75% of Muslims are either Asian or African. Where a comparison is needed or insightful Western European and US American are the most-common comparisons. These comparisons present some of the most-stunning insights into misconceptions and lack of understanding on all sides.
The book addresses most key aspects as present in the typical media-based dialogue about Islam, and dispels so many popular beliefs:
The religion and the people.
The distinction between democracy and theocracy.
What makes a person "radicalize?" (NOT religiosity)
What do Muslim women want? (culturally-appropriate rights and freedom)
What do Muslim people want and value?
Are we experiencing a clash of cultures? (no)
What would it take from Muslims and non-Muslims alike to coexist?
To Gallup's credit they did phenomenally broad and deep research, and then let the data tell the story. Page after page illustrates how peoples' opinions – Muslim and non-Muslim – are at odds with "conventional wisdom."
Some reviewers say that since the book is old (copyright 2007) that it is no longer valid or that the data is weak. Sadly, the book is completely relevant in 2016 and the need for its factual, groundbreaking messages perhaps even more compelling than in 2007.
We can only wish that the clarity of this book's data and messages could inform US and indeed global policy discussions and deliberations.
Very highly recommended.
If this review was useful please let me know by voting for it.
Its positives are that it is especially revealing about Muslims societies and people, capturing their perspectives on a wide range of issues including feminism, terrorism and development; and then secondly in contrasting these perspectives with those of Europeans and Americans. The results are really quite surprising. The third good thing about this text is that it is highly read-able. At only 170 small-ish reading pages of large-ish font size, it takes about a half day to go through.
Its negatives are few. The one that struck me was that the book is based on reems of Gallup data - none of which is presented, even in the appendices. The reader is presented with isolated snippets of data, and I would have liked to see a more comprehensive and robust presentation of data from which to draw my own interpretations. Somebody might also raise the point that this is not really an academic or 'intellectual' book - but in fairness, I don't think either author intended for it to be so.
Since at least 9/11, American pundits and people in the street (and a President) have made lots of claims about Islam. Everyone who reads the papers or watches television can recite them by heart: Muslims hate Americans because of our freedoms. Muslims despise democracy. Muslims are out to colonize Europe. The more devout a Muslim is, the more likely he or she is to become a terrorist. Muslims want theocratic governments. There's an inevitable and insoluble culture clash between the Muslim and non-Muslim worlds. And on and on it goes.
The extraordinary value of Who Speaks for Islam? is that the authors, John Esposito and Dalia Mogahed appeal to hard data from the Gallup World Poll (GWP) to examine these and other common U.S. opinions about Muslims. For six years, GWP interviewed tens of thousands of Muslims in over 35 nations, collecting a sample that represented 90% of the world's Muslim population (1.3 billion). The results--the hard data--are not just surprising. They're shocking. They suggest that almost every single thing that Americans think we know about Islam and Muslims are distortions. As such, Who Speaks for Islam? is a bracing reality check that, if read by enough of us, can change minds and policies.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Muslims are hateful anti Semites....they hate Christians just as much. This book will stun you with assertions as to the peace loving nature of muslims..... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Cotton Mather
This book proves the truth of the old adage that there are lies, damned lies, and statistics! This claim is that this book is based on extensive polling of Muslims from around the... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Craig Matteson
Amazing book that should be mandatory reading for all Americans who want a better understanding of Islam and are tired of orange haired friction figuresPublished 5 months ago by Amir Richard
Very insightful book into the misunderstandings the West has of Muslims, and Muslims of the west. The key takeaway is that Muslims value many ideals of the western world but they... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Zaid
This book is just a compilation of survey information, largely from Muslims who have no leadership authority. Published in the early 2000s, it is out of date now (2016)Published 6 months ago by Wizard of WID
This is the book where Esposito and his partner in academic crime intentionally falsify the extent of Muslim extremism.Published 6 months ago by M. Lewis
Total Muslim propaganda! The purpose of this book is to try and convince non-Muslims that Muslims are just like us, and that Islam is a religion that's no different than any other... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Nicholas Esparza
sometimes data/info is stated several times across chapters. it does gave what appears to be an even-handed explanation.Published 7 months ago by John Carr
Very thin, very short - not well documented - superficial. Basically it just says Muslims are just like us.Published 7 months ago by Amazon Customer