Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Who speaks for Islam?

CONTACT- Jordan Elgrably 610.657.5511
Nile El-Wardani 310.254.5530


New Gallup Book & Public Forum with co-author Dalia Mogahed & "24" producer Howard Gordon Challenges Western Assumptions & Stereotypes of the Muslim World

PRESS PREVIEW - Monday April 28th @ 10:30 am-noon
4773 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles 90027. Tel. 323.669.8081.

PUBLIC FORUM - Tuesday April 29TH @ 7:30 pm
MARK TAPER AUDITORIUM, LA Central Library, Downtown
5th and Flower Streets, Los Angeles 90071

"In these fraught days of heightened tension and increasing hostility, few books could be more timely." —Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize winner

[LOS ANGELES, APRIL 9, 2008] Who really speaks for Islam? Based on the largest and most in-depth study of its kind, Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think presents the remarkable findings of the Gallup Organization's six-year poll of the Muslim world-the first ever data-based analysis of the points of view of more than 90% of the global Muslim community, spanning nearly 40 countries and representing 1.3 Billion Muslims.

On Tuesday, April 29, 7:30 pm, co-author DALIA MOGAHED will discuss "Who Speaks for Islam?" with "24" executive producer HOWARD GORDON and special guests in a public forum moderated by KPFK's NILE EL-WARDANI. Gordon is an American screenwriter and producer who graduated from Princeton; his writing/producing credits include "The X Files," and "24."

A press conference on Monday, April 28, 10:30 a.m.-noon, will take place at the Los Angeles Press Club, 4773 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles 90027. Tel. 323.669.8081.

Who Speaks for Islam?

In the largest study of its kind, Gallup's findings challenge popular notions, mainstream media pundits and the inevitability of a global conflict as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue. Despite widespread media coverage of global terrorism from America and Europe to the Middle East and Asia, little is known about what majorities of the world's Muslims really think and feel. What do Muslims say about violence and terrorist attacks? What do they say about democracy, women, and relations with the West? What are their values, goals, and religious beliefs?

Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think by John L. Esposito and Dalia Mogahed (Gallup Press; hardcover) sheds new light into the "increasing hostility" that Archbishop Tutu characterizes.

Tuesday, April 29, 7:30 pm, Mark Taper Auditorium, Los Angeles Central Public Library, 5th and Flower Streets, Los Angeles 90071. Free to the public, donations welcome. RSVPs required: 310. 657.5511. Visit

This program is presented by the Levantine Cultural Center. It is sponsored by OneNation, a philanthropic collaborative with the vision of fostering a national conversation about the common values we share as Americans, regardless of how we choose to express our spirituality. One Nation sponsors projects—such as this public forum—that challenge stereotypes and misperceptions of Muslims and Islam by shining a spotlight on our shared values, beliefs and responsibilities. This program is cosponsored by the Los Angeles Public Library, Social Sciences Department; Media Group, the Muslim-West Facts Initiative; the Muslim Public Affairs Council, Muslims for Progressive Values, and USC's Center for Religion and Civic Culture which promotes research related to the involvement of religion and religious institutions in civic culture, emphasizing the study of religion, cultural pluralism, community organizing, community development and public policy.


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 this enormous research project.

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, this poll is the largest, most comprehensive study of its kind.

What the data reveals 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? What a Billion Muslims Really Think 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.

About the Authors
John L. Esposito, Ph.D., is a leading expert on the Muslim world. He is University Professor and a professor of religion and international affairs and of Islamic studies at Georgetown University and the founding director of Georgetown's Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding in the Walsh School of Foreign Service. He is also the past president of the Middle East Studies Association of North America and of the American Council for the Study of Islamic Societies and a consultant to governments and multinational corporations. Esposito is editor in chief of The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World and Oxford Islamic Studies Online. His more than 35 books include What Everyone Needs to Know About Islam and Unholy War: Terror in the Name of Islam. He currently resides in Washington, D.C., with his wife, Jeanette P. Esposito, Ph.D.

Dalia Mogahed is a senior analyst and executive director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies. She leads the analysis of Gallup's unprecedented study of more than 1 billion Muslims worldwide. Mogahed 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 travels the globe engaging audiences on what Muslims around the world really think. Her analysis has appeared in a number of leading publications, including The Economist, the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Foreign Policy magazine, Harvard International Review, Middle East Policy, and many other academic and popular journals. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband, Mohamed, and two sons, Tariq and Jibreel.

Counterintuitive Discoveries in
Who Speaks for Islam? Who Speaks for the West?

• Muslims around the world do not see the West as monolithic. They criticize or celebrate countries based on their politics, not based on their culture or religion.
• Dream Jobs
When asked to describe their dreams for the future, Muslims don't mention fighting in a jihad, but rather getting a better job.
• Radical Rejection
Muslims and Americans are equally likely to reject attacks on civilians as morally unjustified.
• Religious Moderates
Those who condone acts of terrorism are a minority and are no more likely to be religious than the rest of the population.
• Admiration of the West
What Muslims around the world say they most admire about the West is its technology and its democracy - the same two top responses given by Americans when asked the same question.
• Critique of the West
What Muslims around the world say they least admire about the West is its perceived moral decay and breakdown of traditional values - the same responses given by Americans when posed the same question.
• Gender Justice
Muslim women want equal rights and religion in their societies.
• Respect
Muslims around the world say that the one thing the West can do to improve relations with their societies is to moderate their views toward Muslims and respect Islam.
• Clerics and Constitutions
The majority of those surveyed want religious leaders to have no direct role in crafting a constitution yet favor religious law as a source of legislation.

Adapted from Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think by John L. Esposito and Dalia Mogahed; Copyright © 2007 Gallup, Inc. All rights reserved.

Advance Praise for Who Speaks for Islam?

"Who Speaks for Islam? quantifies the mutual misunderstanding between the West and the Muslim World, allowing us all to take the first necessary step in bridging the dangerously widening divide." —Howard Gordon, Executive Producer of the Academy Award winning series "24"

"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

Reservations strongly suggested as seating is limited. Call 310.657.5511 or online at

Media contacts: Jordan Elgrably, 310.402.8866 or Nile El-Wardani, 310.254.5430.

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quraan burning

Planned Muslim Response to Qur'an Burning by Pastor Jones on September 11 in Mulberry, Florida

August 19, 2013| Dallas, Texas

Mike Ghouse
Text/Talk: (214) 325-1916

Mirza A Beg
(205) 454-8797


We as Muslims plan to respond to pastor Terry Jones' planned burning of 3000 copies of Quran on September 11, 2013 in positive terms.

Our response - we will reclaim the standard of behavior practiced by the Prophet concerning “scurrilous and hostile criticism of the Qur’an” (Muhammad Asad Translation Note 31, verse 41:34). It was "To overcome evil with good is good, and to resist evil by evil is evil." It is also strongly enjoined in the Qur’an in the same verse 41:34, “Good and evil deeds are not equal. Repel evil with what is better; then you will see that one who was once your enemy has become your dearest friend.”

God willing Muslims will follow the divine guidance and pray for the restoration of Goodwill, and on that day many Muslim organizations will go on a “blood drive” to save lives and serve humanity with kindness.

We invite fellow Americans of all faiths, races, and ethnicities to join us to rededicate the pledge, “One nation under God”, and to build a cohesive America where no American has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of fellow Americans. This event is a substitute for our 10th Annual Unity Day Celebration ( held in Dallas, but now it will be at Mulberry, Florida.

Unwittingly Pastor Jones has done us a favor by invigorating us by his decision to burn nearly 3000 copies Quran on September 11, 2013. Obviously he is not satisfied by the notoriety he garnered by burning one Qur'an last year.

As Muslims and citizens we honor the free speech guaranteed in our constitution. We have no intentions to criticize, condemn or oppose Pastor Terry Jones' freedom of expression. Instead, we will be donating blood and praying for goodness to permeate in our society.

We plan to follow Jesus Christ (pbuh), a revered prophet in Islam as well as Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) – that of mitigating the conflicts and nurturing good will for the common good of the society.

We hope, this event and the message will remind Muslims elsewhere in the world as well, that violence is not the way. Muslims, who react violently to senseless provocation, should realize that, violence causes more violence, and besmirches the name of the religion that we hold so dear. We believe that Prophet Muhammad was a mercy to the mankind, and we ought to practice what we believe and preach. We must not insult Islam by the negative reactions of a few.

We can only hope it will bring about a change in the attitude of the followers of Pastor Jones, and in the behavior of those Muslims who reacted violently the last time Pastor sought notoriety – We hope this small step towards a bridge to peaceful coexistence would propel us towards building a cohesive society.

Like most Americans a majority of Muslims quietly go about their own business, but it is time to speak up and take positive action instead of negative reaction. May this message of peace and goodwill reverberate and reach many shores.

Lastly, we appreciate the Citizens of Mulberry, Florida, Honorable Mayor George Hatch, City Commissioners, police and Fire Chiefs for handing this situation very well. This will add a ‘feather of peace’ in the City’s reputation. We hope Mulberry will be a catalyst in showing the way in handling conflict with dignity and peace.

We thank the Media for giving value to the work towards peace rather than conflict.


Thank you.


The people in Dallas are making an effort to understand and clean their own hearts first, when we are free from bias, it would be easy to share that with others. Islam teaches us in so many ways to "respect the otherness of others" and it is time we find simple practical ways of doing it.