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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
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 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
"In these fraught days of heightened tension and increasing hostility, few books could be more timely."
--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
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If, like me, you want to understand how Muslims think, read this and read the Qur'an, and a spectrum of other sources.
The most vital message of this book is that military intervention in Muslim countries does not solve problems. It creates them. RIGHT !
The US intervened to displace Mossadegh in Iran in 1953, setting the stage for the horrible situation there now. The US tried to oust dictators, and destroyed nations. (Libya, Syria)
These interventions supply the prime justification for terrorism.
For this, alone, the book is worth reading.
This is a Muslim book. Do not expect objectivity. It is designed to make Islam look good. Contrary topics are omitted.
In the survey, questions where answers might make Islam look bad were not asked. (Or not used)
Islam, as presented here, is far from what an objective reader will find in the Qur'an. You can find what you want, pro or con, by cherry-picking and rationalization, but most important, look for oft-repeated major themes.
One them is Muslim superiority, which these authors ignore.
The Qur'an is written from a man to men. Rules for using women is one major theme.
Honor the prophet or be tortured in hell with no end, no relief. With about 400 warnings (my count) of torture, this must affect the thinking of at least significant numbers of Muslims, including terrorists. How could it not? Weaker promises of paradise cannot kill that effect.
Another theme: Believers are given access to view hell, to revel in seeing torture, and taunt the victims. I doubt that any other religion has anything like that. Not even Dante. How can that not dull a sense of compassion in believers?
One thing I admire about most Muslims is their eagerness to ignore and rationalize away unwanted major themes and build their lives on much better principles. Most Muslims I have met, or read about, are moral compassionate people. They want to be.
Above all these in relevance to peace in the world, ignored by these authors, is the Qur'anic hatred of Jews. Most Muslims do not ignore this, but keep it in thought and action. The survey could have asked about that, and about widespread admiration for Hitler in several Muslim countries. The war against Israel decimated Egypt's economy under Nasser, and is a major drain throughout the Mideast. The best thing Muslim countries could do for themselves is to bring that enmity to an end. They don't need it. Israelites could not be happier to end the need to devote much of their economy to defense. I believe they would then help rebuild a peaceful Palestinian state. The would be to everyone's advantage, worldwide. Qur'anic hate stands in the way.
Another book to read about how Muslims think: THE HOUSE I LEFT BEHIND by Daniel Shayesteh. This committed Muslim helped put Khomeini in power, ran for Parliament, and found himself betrayed and had to escape Iran. He pictures remnants of ancient Persian culture to be more attractive than Islam. The Ayatollahs priorities put Islam and the destruction of Israel first, and Iranians last.
The book has a clear message: There is no clash of sivilizations, it is all misconceptions, and mostly it is people in the west who do not understand Islam. Selective results from the poll are used to support this claim. The poll is a minor part of the arument though. Typically, Esposito argues for several (kindle-) pages, and then in the end present a few number to furhter support his argument.
As a presentation of the results from the poll, I'd give the book only two stars. But the author does a decent job in making his argument, so as a book arguing that the clash of sivilization is grossly exaggerated it would be a four or five star. Hence it got three.
Most recent customer reviews
If I hadn't lost my faith in polling after this last election (Trump), then this book would have pushed it over the edge.Read more