Muslim-Christian Center to host Nov. 5 talk on ‘What a Billion Muslims Really Think’

The head of a Gallup center that has conducted the world’s largest opinion survey of Muslims will discuss "Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think" in a 7 p.m. lecture Wednesday, Nov. 5, in 3M Auditorium of Owens Science Hall on the St. Paul campus of the University of St. Thomas.

Dalia Mogahed

The title of the lecture also is the name of a book co-authored by the speaker, Dalia Mogahed, a senior analyst and executive director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies.

The talk, free and open to the public, is sponsored by the Muslim-Christian Dialogue Center, which is part of St. Thomas’ College of Arts and Sciences. The lecture is co-sponsored by the Twin Cities-based Islamic Resource Group, a nonprofit educational organization that provides speakers on Islamic-related topics.

Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think was published in March and is based on more than 50,000 interviews conducted between 2001 and 2007 with residents of more than 35 nations that are predominantly Muslim or have sizable Muslim populations.

According to Gallup, it "posed questions that are on the minds of millions: Is Islam to blame for terrorism? Why is there so much anti-Americanism in the Muslim world? Who are the extremists? Where are the moderates? What do Muslim women really want?"

Gallup says Who Speaks for Islam? "brings data-driven evidence — the voices of a billion Muslims, not those of individual ‘experts’ or ‘extremists’ — to one of the most heated and consequential debates of our time."

Some findings from the Gallup research are:

  • "Muslims and Americans are equally likely to reject attacks on civilians as morally unjustified."
  • "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."
  • "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."

Mogahed also directs the Muslim-West Facts Initiative, which in collaboration with The Coexist Foundation disseminates the findings of the Gallup World Poll to opinion leaders in the Muslim world and the West.

Mogahed, who serves on the Crisis in the Middle East Task Force of the Brookings Institution, has an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering and an M.B.A., with an emphasis in strategy, from the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business at the University of Pittsburgh.

Her writings and analysis have appeared in the Economist, Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, Harvard International Review and other academic and popular publications.

For more information contact the Muslim-Christian Dialogue Center at (651) 962-5650 or mcdc@stthomas.edu.