Book Review: Who Speaks for Islam? | Pakistan Today

Book Review: Who Speaks for Islam?

What a Billion Muslims Really Think


It had never been done before, and hardly a few believed that it really can be done. But Gallup has proved that it has already done it. It has literally polled the entire billion Muslims that exist on the face of the planet, by taking representative samples from almost every Muslim country. Who Speaks for Islam? Is a compendium of Muslim responses to the political, social and cultural affairs of the world. It has enabled the world to know for the first time what the Muslims really think about issues like women’s rights, democracy and extremism. In turn, this book has not only dispelled the many common myths that non-Muslims had previously carried about the Muslims, but has jolted many Muslims themselves who thought low of their fellow Muslims in other countries. The Muslims are also culturally, ethnically and politically diverse and so one Muslim cannot claim to speak in the name of all other Muslims.

Gallup, in its ground-breaking survey of the entire Muslim world, has brought us with some startling revelations. You know that female voting is illegal in Saudi Arabia, but did you know that 58% of Saudi men still endorse women to vote? And did you know that the greatest things that Muslims admire about the West are political freedom, liberty and freedom of speech? Also, many believe today that radicalism is fuelled by poverty but in fact many of the radicals are one of the most financially well-off. They engage in radical activities for political gains rather. Moreover, the majority of Muslim does not feel oppressed by the Sharia, but rather feel empowered by it. And while the US government keeps on iterating that it wants to establish democracies in the Muslim world, the majority of Muslims do not consider that the US is serious about encouraging democratic systems in their respective countries. And while Muslim women admire certain aspects of the West, they still do not want to adopt Western values unfiltered. Also, the reason why many Muslim women are suspicious of the West’s struggle for women’s rights is because feminism was historically used to justify colonialism in which the Western culture was deemed superior to the supposedly oppressive policies of Islamic law against women.

This book also debunks the famous Huntington thesis surrounding the ‘Clash of Civilisations’ by revealing that Muslims don’t hate the American people inherently but their anti-Americanism is largely fuelled US foreign policy in the Muslim world, especially in Palestine. Incidents like the Danish Cartoon Controversy and the production of the film Innocence of Muslims only serve to reinforce the Muslims that the West is bent upon degrading Islam. If you are interested in world affairs and want to figure out a way to end the biggest conflict in history, don’t miss out on this book.

Book Cover

Who Speaks For Islam?

What a Billion Muslims Really Think

Written by: Dalia Mogahed and Dalia Mogahed

Pages: 230; Price: $13.50 (Hardcover)

Publisher: Gallup Press (February 25, 2008)

Mehreen Omer

The writer is a digital media scientist, a movie buff and a cultural critic. She tweets @mehreen_omer.