Tags: muslims | islam | jihad

Book on Muslim Views Raises Questions

Tuesday, 28 Jul 2009 12:16 PM

By Tawfik Hamid

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After reading the book, “Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think”, by John L. Esposito and Dalia Mogahed, I feel there is a need to ask the authors a few questions about their interpretations for the results of the Gallup Poll survey of the Muslim World.

Question 1: Why do you neglect the role of important factors in Islamic culture that can seriously affect the analysis of the research? These factors include al-Taqiyya (lying to support the cause of Islam), suppressive political environments in many parts of the Muslim world that may affect the ability of people to freely criticize their societies, and cultural pride that may make respondents answer questions in a way that defends cultural honor regardless of whether the information given is true.

Ignoring the above three factors can result in biased answers and significantly affect data analysis.

Question 2: When evaluating the support of Muslims for women’s rights (page 62), why do you ask about issues such as the right to drive cars and vote, yet neglect to ask about more serious issues related to Shariah law such as beating women and stoning them until death for adultery?

Is there a reason for this avoidance of such fundamental questions? A true academic, if really interested in revealing the scientific truth, must not ignore the vital issues at stake.

Question 3: You conclude that a majority of Muslims are “moderates” (page 69-70) simply because the results of the study indicate they do not support terrorism. Does this mean you consider those Muslims who believe in killing apostates, hanging gays until death, calling Jews “pigs” and “monkeys,” and promoting that women be stoned until death for having extramarital relations be viewed as “moderates?” Clarification is needed on this point.

Question 4: In the book, when you mention the topic of jihad (page 21), why do you quote the Hadith phrase, “We return from the lesser Jihad [warfare] to the greater Jihad [struggle against ego, selfishness, greed, and evil]” without mentioning to the readers that it is a weak, non-binding Hadith, according to Islamic theology (see Minhaj al-Muslim by Abu Bakr Jabir al-Jaza’iry, Volume 2, Page 167)? Does the non-mention of this important piece of information aim at changing the public perception for jihad?

An honest scientist and academic must not ignore facts or hide information that can impact critical areas of his or her research.

Furthermore, public perception of jihad will only change when Muslim theologians change the nature of its usage in mainstream Islamic books. As long as jihad is defined in a violent manner within mainstream Islamic books, attempts to change the perception of jihad by hiding information will simply fail.

Question 5: You mention that the Islamic source of prayer rituals is the Quran (page 53). Do you not realize that these rituals are not described in the Quran and that the concept of the five prayers in Islam comes from non-Quranic sources? I assume that a professor and an “expert on Islam” who is doing global research on Muslim culture must know this basic fact.

Dr. Tawfik Hamid's writings in this blog represent only his thoughts and not the views of the institute where he works.

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