Dalia Mogahed is a Senior Analyst and Executive Director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, a nonpartisan research center dedicated to providing data-driven analysis on the views of Muslim populations around the world. With John L. Esposito, Ph.D., she is coauthor of the book Who Speaks for Islam?: What a Billion Muslims Really Think. Her analysis has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Foreign Policy magazine, the Harvard International Review, the Middle East Policy journal, and many other academic and popular journals. She travels the globe engaging diverse groups on what Muslims around the world really think.
Mogahed leads the analysis of Gallup's unprecedented survey representing the opinions of more than 1 billion Muslims worldwide, including Muslims in the West. She also directs the Muslim-West Facts Initiative, through which Gallup, in collaboration with the Coexist Foundation, is disseminating the findings of the Gallup World Poll to key opinion leaders in the Muslim World and the West. She is a member of Women in International Security, serves on the leadership group of the Project on U.S. Engagement with the Global Muslim Community, and is a member of the Crisis in the Middle East Task Force of the Brookings Institution.
Dalia Mogahed: The historical figure that I find most inspiring is, as a Muslim, the prophet Mohammad. Peace be upon him.
I think that the reason for that is because he brought to the world a message that could resonate with the young and the old at the same time, the rich and the poor at the same time, women and men at the same time. He brought a message that was so resilient and so flexible that it could thrive in societies as different as China and Nigeria.
And I think that one of the biggest challenges today is to rediscover that vitality and not allow Islam to become ossified as a rigid force.
In very basic terms, he brought a message that said that nothing was worthy of worship except God. And what that means; the implications of that simple message was that all humans were therefore equal. If no one could be worshipped except God, then no one was superior to anyone else.
In fact, exclusively he said that all human beings are as equal as teeth on a comb. So the way I understand that, it was a message of human liberation – a liberation from slavery from one human to another, and instead for all humans to serve God alone.
Recorded on: July 3, 2007.