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: I think there are many problems. If we look at what Muslims themselves are saying are their greatest problems, they really cite political and economic corruption very, very clearly. They are very critical of their own societies.
It’s really a myth to think that Muslims aren’t engaging in self-criticism. That’s simply not true.
And at the same time, admire what they perceive to be a great deal more justice that exists in the political system in the west. So the disconnect isn’t that democracy isn’t admired, but rather that Muslims believe that the democratic principles the west often preaches, they’re not practicing when it comes to their part of the world.
When Islam is used to further someone’s own political or social power, then that core message of serving only God and being true to a message of selflessness is therefore forgotten. So I think that in claiming superiority over other human beings, and in claiming a monopoly on the truth, that core message is lost and distorted.
Recorded on: July 3, 2007.