A Gallup Study: Who Speaks for Islam?

Muslims in 35 nations surveyed in comprehensive study

Washington — What do the vast majority of mainstream Muslims really think? Rather than listening to extremists or simply relying on the opinions of individual pundits, why not give voice to the silenced majority? How is this voice different, or similar to, voices from America?

To answer these questions, the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies initiated a worldwide survey lead by Dalia Mogahed, a senior analyst with the Gallup Poll and executive director of the center. In 2008, the study was published as a book, Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think. On April 22, 2009, Mogahed presented a few of the results in a lecture titled “Who Speaks for Islam?” at the U.S. State Department.

The study took 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 percent of the world’s Muslim community, this poll is the largest, most comprehensive study of its kind.

The study revealed some surprising findings. It showed that 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.

Both citizens of Muslim-majority countries and Americans are equally likely to reject attacks on civilians as morally unjustifiable. Those who do choose violence and extremism are driven by politics, not poverty or piety. And when they were asked to describe their dreams for the future, Muslims don’t mention fighting in a jihad, but rather getting a better job.

According to the Gallup study, 93 percent of Muslims who condemn the terrorist acts of September 11, 2001, cite the Quran. This supports a major finding, that militant extremism is created not by Islamic principles but by political orientation. In nearly every suicide bombing attack from 1980 to 2004, the primary motive was to overthrow foreign occupation, not further religious views.

When asked what they admire most about the West, citizens of Muslim countries ranked technology first and liberty and democracy second. They expressed widespread admiration for the freedom of expression and assembly, rule of law, and government accountability they see in the West. Americans in the United States ranked liberty and democracy first and technology second.

The most important message seen in the results of this study are the similarities between the citizens of Muslim nations and citizens in the West. For example, in the first chapter, “Democracy and Theocracy,” 42 percent of Americans interviewed in a Gallup Poll suggested that “religious leaders should have a direct role in writing the constitution.” Fifty-five percent believe that religious leaders should “play no role at all.” The Iranian population has presented similar opinions.

Gallup polling found that, on some issues, Americans’ views are closer to those of citizens of Muslim nations than to Western Europeans. For example, a question measuring the purposefulness of life reveals a surprising pattern: 94 percent of Americans believe their lives have an important purpose. This compares with only 68 percent of French citizens and 69 percent in the Netherlands. On the other hand, 96 percent of Indonesians express this sentiment, as do 91 percent of Saudi Arabians.

The Gallup Center for Muslim Studies is a nonpartisan research center on the views of Muslim populations around the world.

With John L. Esposito of Georgetown University, Mogahed is coauthor of Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think. She was recently appointed by President Obama as a member of the White House Faith-Based Committee.


When was this poll posted? According to this [/FONT]posted on May 5, 2008 on Jihadwatch, Esposito and Mogahed cooked the data to increase the number of “moderate” Muslims.


Cooked the data? Is that what you say when people have statistics that disprove whatever it is you think is true?

This poll is based on a number of assumptions which are not correct or for which there is no evidence. Below are the either incorrect are baseless assumptions:

Islam is a unified religion.

An Ayatollah represents Islam.

Hadiths are universally accepted among different Muslim groups.

The Koran is interpreted in a consistent manner.

That a “voice of reason” either exists or would be listened to.

All of these are either wrong or unproven assertions.

On another note.

An interesting point about the article quoted is that is stated that 93 % of those who condemned the 9/11 attacks cited the Koran. What it is not telling you is that a poll last year found that in Muslim countries, only a small minority condemned the attacks.

The article is clear propaganda.

Well said.

The article was funded by the Department of State’s Bureau of International Information Programs. They invite readers to provide feedback:

"Mogahed publicly admitted they knew certain people weren’t moderates but they still termed them so. She and Esposito cooked the books and dumbed down the text. Apparently, by the authors’ own test, there are not 91 million radicals in Muslim societies but almost twice that number. They must have shrieked in horror to find their original estimate on the high side of assessments made by scholars, such as Daniel Pipes, whom Esposito routinely denounces as Islamophobes. To paraphrase Mogahed, maybe it wasn’t the most technically accurate way of doing this, but their neat solution seems to have been to redefine 78 million people off the rolls of radicals. The cover-up is even worse. The full data from the 9/11 question show that, in addition to the 13.5 percent, there is another 23.1 percent of respondents–300 million Muslims–who told pollsters the attacks were in some way justified. Esposito and Mogahed don’t utter a word about the vast sea of intolerance in which the radicals operate.
And then there is the more fundamental fraud of using the 9/11 question as the measure of “who is a radical.” Amazing as it sounds, according to Esposito and Mogahed, the proper term for a Muslim who hates America, wants to impose Sharia law, supports suicide bombing, and opposes equal rights for women but does not “completely” justify 9/11 is .  .  . "moderate."


There’s a debate online between Dalia Mogahed and Irshad Manji. You should check it out. Clearly Mogahed knows what she’s talking about, and I’m not much inclined to believe your anonymous source here, which isn’t providing any facts whatsoever.

Check the link I provided, do your own homework!


:smiley: i miss you so much!
will meet up soon, let you know the dates soon…


Vickie :slight_smile:

I didn’t see a link–had to scroll up.

And that link didn’t have anything, just what you quoted. No sources, no proofs, just the half-baked lies du jour of jihadwatch. So I had to go to their links also and what did I find? More half-baked lies.

Taking something out of context and twisting it to mean something completely different cannot be called “paraphrasing.” Dalia Mogahed has been completely misrepresented by your source.


The facts don’t lie, so when you still want to obscure the truth you have to start lying about the facts, right?

The poll is based on assumptions. It was never meant to be factually correct nor politically correct. Even as Muslims claim there is no hierarchical authority in Islam, they do seem to take into consideration the teachings of their holy texts and leaders (including the Ayatollah for the Shi’ites) and applying them in their everyday lives. The poll’s purpose is also meant to shed light on how Christians view Islam - if they understand Islam at all.

As for the article itself, i am not the author nor am i endorsing the claim. I post it as - according to the Gallup’s findings.

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