Who are you?
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 was born in Cairo, Egypt.
I think that where I was born has helped me to straddle two cultures. I am both western as well as Middle Eastern. I understand the points of view of two cultures. And more importantly they co-exist in perfect harmony within me, which has really inspired me to be a bridge between these two cultures in today’s world.
Question: What was your primary influence as a child?
Dalia Mogahed: I think several things. I would say my parents first and foremost were huge influences for me. They taught me my core values, my ethics, my sense of responsibility, my sense of a need to help bring about social justice and never compromising ethics for expediency. That’s really the gift my parents gave me.
Aside from that, I would say my peer group and then books. I think there are some specific books that really helped shape who I am, one of them actually being the autobiography of Malcolm X which I read as a teenager. And what that taught me was that a person can really evolve and grow from something very narrow to something very universal. And that growth is possible only through introspection.
Question: What did you think you would be doing professionally when you grew up?
Dalia Mogahed: I thought that I would be working in hard sciences. My undergraduate degree is in Chemical Engineering, and I thought that that was what I would be doing for the rest of my life. And I always believed that I could apply science for the benefit of humanity. So that was always my goal.
As my career evolved, I took that scientific rigor and brought it to the social sciences. And I think it’s been a real asset to what I’m doing now.
Recorded on: July 3, 2007.
A blend of the Western and the Middle Eastern.
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