Extremists and terrorism have too often monopolized the media's coverage and thus the apparent message coming out of the Muslim world.
But what does the vast majority of mainstream Muslims really believe, think and feel? What are their hopes, fears and resentments? Why is it that a robust anti-Americanism seems to pervade the Muslim world? Is it the sign of a clash of cultures -- do they hate who we are? Or is it what we do?
Rather than listening to extremists or simply relying on the opinions of individual pundits, why not give voice to the silenced majority? We asked Muslims around the world what they really think and discovered that when we let the data lead the discourse, it becomes clear: If the problem is radical Islam, the solution is moderate Islam.
Our new study, "Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think," reflects the views of 1.3 billion Muslims. The book is based on six years of research and more than 50,000 interviews conducted in more than 35 predominantly Muslim nations or nations with sizable Muslim populations. Representing more than 90 percent of the world's Muslim communities, this poll is the largest, most comprehensive study of its kind.
The results defy conventional wisdom and the inevitability of a global conflict -- even as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue. (MORE)
John L. Esposito and Dalia Mogahed co-authored "Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think," which will be published next month. Mr. Esposito is a Georgetown University professor of religion and international affairs and director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding. Ms. Mogahed is a Gallup senior analyst and executive director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies.