Ingrid Mattson, head of the Islamic Society of North America, is someone we’ve dubbed a “new voice for Islam.” A new book, meanwhile, is the result of six years of interviews with thousands of Muslims worldwide. There are great interviews on Altmuslim and ReligionWriter, respectively, with the two authors of this new book called Who Speaks For Islam: What A Billion Muslims Really Think. Some important ideas, especially as we are in an election cycle, though we have become used to hearing and tuning out these weighty analyses. I’m not sure we know what to do with them; one hopes our politicians do, though.
Says co-author of the book, Dalia Mogahed:
There are essentially three prisms or filters through which everything the U.S. does or says is viewed by Muslims worldwide. The first filter is the perception of cultural disrespect, that the United States does not respect Islam and Muslims. That I could talk about for a long time. The second filter is the perception of political and economic domination. It’s the perception that the U.S. believes, “Democracy is great, but not for Muslims,” and props up dictators so that the wealth of the nation can be exploited. The third filter is that of acute conflicts — Palestine, of course, and now Iraq and Afghanistan.
These three filters are not independent of each other. They overlap, and one reinforces the other and is in turn reinforced by the other. The filters of cultural disrespect and acute conflicts, for example, overlapped in Abu Ghraib. So changing that won’t be easy; it will require both diplomacy and engaging people on policy.