Can people of different faiths co-exist?
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: This might sound funny, but I don’t think co-existence is the right goal. I think it’s too small a goal. And I think part of the problem is that our goals are sometimes too small.
Now with people of different faiths clashing, sometimes it seems like a very ambitious goal just to co-exist. But I believe if we can make our goal instead active cooperation between diverse groups of people where there is actually a benefit in cooperating for everyone involved, there is an incentive for . that people feel that they are being enriched by interacting, and learning from others who are different from them. Only then will we actually have peace.
When our goal is the absence of the negative, any small misunderstanding will turn into a crisis.
Case in point is like the cartoon controversy. That might look like a very small incident from the outside, but it exploded into a global crisis. And I believe it’s because there isn’t enough; not co-existence; but there isn’t enough active cooperation between groups.
And when we have that interdependence of actually benefiting by cooperating, not just co-existing, it becomes much more likely that we’ll forgive these small things when they happen, but that they won’t happen to begin with--because we will have an incentive to better understand each other.
But I believe we live--the cliché is “the global village”; but it’s really true. And in the global village, there really is no other choice. It’s either clash or active co-existence or active cooperation. And if we don’t go for that positive, active engagement with one another, I think clash is just the inevitable outcome.
Recorded on: July 3, 2007.
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