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Dalia Mogahed

Dalia at the Muslim American Society's National Convention in May 2009. The MAS was founded by members of the Muslim Brotherhood[1] which in its own words is dedicated to "a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ’sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands"[2]

Dalia Mogahed (born 1974) is Senior Analyst and Executive Director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies.



Dalia was born in Cairo, Egypt. She and her family immigrated to the United States when she was 5 years old.[3]

She is Senior Analyst and Executive Director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, a nonpartisan research center dedicated to providing data-driven analysis on the views of Muslim populations around the world.

In 2007, together with John L. Esposito, Ph.D., she coauthored the book Who Speaks for Islam?: What a Billion Muslims Really Think. Her analysis has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Foreign Policy magazine, the Harvard International Review, the Middle East Policy journal, and many other academic and popular journals.[4]

In April 2009, she was appointed to American President Obama's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Her job is to advise the president on the perceptions and problems facing Muslims in America.[5] According to an article from Al Arabiya News, Mogahed will brief Obama on what Muslims want from the U.S. in a bid to create channels of communication and correct the erroneous image of Muslim Americans.[6]

In a May 2009 interview with Altmuslimah, she said, "There’s evidence that the media over-represents violence in all communities, but more specifically in regards to the Muslim community."[7]

Notable Issues

CAIR and Siraj Wahhaj

According to World Net Daily, Mogahed was a scheduled keynote speaker at the 15th annual CAIR banquet to be held on October 24, 2009 along with the controversial Imam Siraj Wahhaj who in 1995 was named as an "unindicted persons who may be alleged as co-conspirators" in the attempt to blow up New York City monuments.[8] Days after the release of the book Muslim Mafia, her name was replaced on the list of speakers with civil rights activist Jesse Jackson; however, Mogahed's assistant said he had not been informed of any change.[9]

Other sources, however, state that originally she had been scheduled alongside Jesse Jackson, and it was Imam Siraj Wahhaj who replaced Mogahed.[10][11]

Islamic Terrorism

Mogahed gave an exclusive interview with IslamOnline correspondent Muhammad Qasim on April 28, 2009. According to Arab Media & Society, the body behind IslamOnline (IOL) is the Al-Balagh Cultural Society in Qatar, which was established in 1997 on the initiative of Qatari IT specialist Maryam Hasan al-Hajari and Dr. Hamid al-Ansari, a scholar at the Sharia Faculty of the University of Qatar. In its early stages the project was supported by the University of Qatar, especially by Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the 1926-born, Azhar-educated Egyptian scholar and theorist of the Islamic Awakening movement who still chairs the Al-Balagh Society as of winter 2008[12] and has defended the legitimate use of suicide bombings against enemy combatants.[13]

When asked,"What kind of advise[sic] would you be giving Obama to improve relations with US Muslims and the Muslim world?" Dalia answered:

I would advise him to listen first and foremost. Many have claimed that terrorists have 'hijacked Islam'. I disagree. I think Islam is safe and thriving in the lives of Muslims around the world. What the terrorists have been allowed to take over are Muslim grievances. Muslim concerns over injustice have been largely dismissed by the previous administration leaving a vacuum exploited by extremists. This is a dangerous reality for all of us. Instead, the US must hear mainstream Muslim concerns even if America does not agree with their perceptions. These issues can no longer be ignored or left and the extremists to monopolize.[14]


In October 2009, she appeared on Islam Channel's Muslimah Dilemma, a London-based TV discussion program hosted by Ibtihal Bsis, a member of the extremist Hizb ut-Tahrir party. Nazreen Nawaz, the group's national women's officer, appeared alongside Mogahed. Hizb ut Tahrir is also known as the Islamic Liberation party, and it calls for a global Islamic regime (the "caliphate") under Shari'ah law, and the destruction of the West.[15] Islam Channel's CEO Mohamed Ali Harrath has been the subject of the Interpol red notice since 1992 because of his alleged activities in Tunisia, where he co-founded the Tunisian Islamic Front (FIT).[16]

When the two members of Hizb ut-Tahrir demanded that Shari'ah should be "the source of legislation" and that women should not be "permitted to hold a position of leadership in the government," Mogahed failed to challenge their views and instead defended shari'ah as being misunderstood:

I think the reason so many women support Sharia is because they have a very different understanding of sharia than the common perception in Western media. The majority of women around the world associate gender justice, or justice for women, with sharia compliance. The portrayal of Sharia has been oversimplified in many cases.[17]

In her first media interview following her appearance on Muslimah Dilemma, Mogahed explained that had she known the program's host or other guest were affiliated with Hitz ut-Tahir, she never would have gone on the show. She also explained that she reports, and not endorses, the views of Muslims around the world according to scientific survey research:

When I said that the majority of Muslim women want sharia law as a source of legislation, that's because that's what the data show. When I say that sharia is misunderstood and oversimplified by Muslims and non-Muslims alike, the reason is that according to our research, the majority of Americans say they know little or nothing about Islam.

When I say that Muslim women around the world associate sharia with gender justice, that says nothing about my point of view. I'm stating a fact. It's not to trivialize the very real abuses around the world in the name of sharia. It points to the possibility of many women disagreeing with that interpretation of sharia.[18]

In regards to her statements she made on the show, she said she had no regrets. She claimed that she is being falsely portrayed as endorsing shari'ah for women and that this has been "a case of shooting the messenger."[18]

The Spittoon blog venue posted a letter it claims was written by Mogahed to The Sunday Telegraph who originally published the article "Barack Obama adviser says Sharia Law is misunderstood." Since the letter was never published in the newspaper and the blogger's source remains anonymous, there is no way of verifying the authenticity of this letter:

Dear Sirs;

I am writing in response to the 8 October article “Barack Obama adviser says Sharia Law is misunderstood” by Mr. Gilligan and Mr. Spillius.

I was on the Muslimah Dilemma program as a pollster, not a pundit. I did not take issue with the objectionable remarks of the host or the guest because as a Gallup analyst my job is to explain the opinions of others, in this case Muslims around the world, and not to present my personal opinions. I do not in any way endorse Hizb ul Tahrir. My participation in the program does not serve as endorsement of any group or cause.

My staff and I did not find out the affiliation of the host or other guest until she was introduced on air during the program, and would not have agreed to the interview had we known ahead of time. I suspect the host knew this and therefore deliberately mislead us to score propaganda points for an ideological movement. Unfortunately the Telegraph’s publicity and misrepresentation of my appearance may have delivered to the group exactly this victory.



Director and Senior Analyst

Center for Muslim Studies


901 F Street, NW.

Washington, DC. 20004




Human rights activist and executive director of Former Muslims United (FMU), Nonie Darwish, has also reported that on October 20, 2009, her organization had sent a Freedom Pledge letter to Mogahed. The signees pledge to "honor the freedom of former Muslims to choose a personal belief other than Islam". Nine months on, and there had been no reply from Mogahed.

“Dalia Mogahed, a prominent American Muslim appointed by President Obama to the White House Advisory Council on Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, does not honor freedom to choose one’s beliefs as guaranteed under our First Amendment. That is the only conclusion we can draw from the overwhelming ‘silence’ and non-response to a Freedom Pledge letter sent on October 20, 2009 to Ms. Mogahed by our organization”, according to author and human rights activist Nonie Darwish.
. . .

FMU is a human and civil rights organization whose mission is to protect and defend those who have chosen to leave Islam and face threats to their lives and property under Fatwas or rulings from Muslim clerics and legal authorities both here in the United States and abroad.

Darwish said, “The objective of the letter sent by FMU was to request that Mogahed sign a pledge to honor the freedom of former Muslims to choose a personal belief other than Islam. Ms. Mogahed over the past nine months failed to sign the FMU Freedom pledge. We are dismayed. We call upon Ms. Mogahed, who considers herself a law abiding citizen of this country to reconsider her position and sign the Freedom Pledge”.

In the fall of 2009, FMU mailed copies of the Freedom Pledge asking Ms. Mogahed and other Muslim leaders to repudiate the Shariah law consensus permitting execution of apostates from Islam, to more than 111 Muslim American leaders of 50 organizations. Only two pledges were returned – one from Dr. M. Zhudi Jasser of the AFID and the other from Dr. Ali Ayami, executive director of the washington, DC-based Center for Human Rights and Democracy in Saudi Arabia. To date, FMU has sent over 163 Freedom Pledge Letters to Muslim leaders across America.[20]

Muslim Brotherhood

Dalia Mogahed is a leadership group member[21] of the U.S.-Muslim Engagement Project, which called for engagement with the Muslim Brotherhood.[22] The Muslim Brotherhood is dedicated, in its own words, to “a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ’sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.”[2]

Mogahed was a scheduled speaker at the Islamic Circle of North America and Muslim American Society's National Convention in May 2009.[23][24] The Muslim American Society (MAS) also has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. According to an article in the Chicago Tribune:

In recent years, the U.S. Brotherhood operated under the name Muslim American Society, according to documents and interviews. One of the nation's major Islamic groups, it was incorporated in Illinois in 1993 after a contentious debate among Brotherhood members.[25]

According to Joseph Abram's January 8, 2009 Fox News article titled "Group That Funded Rep. Ellison's Pilgrimage to Mecca Called a Front for Extremism":

"[MAS] is the de facto arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in the U.S.," said Steven Emerson, director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism. "The agenda of the MAS is to ... impose Islamic law in the U.S., to undermine U.S. counterterrorism policy."

The MAS was founded by members of the Muslim Brotherhood, an international Islamist movement created in Egypt in 1928. Radical members of the Brotherhood founded the terror group Hamas and were among the first members of Al Qaeda.

The Muslim American Society's former secretary general has acknowledged that the group was founded by the Brotherhood, and in 2004 he estimated that about half of MAS members were in the Muslim Brotherhood.

"Ikhwan [Brotherhood] members founded MAS, but MAS went way beyond that point of conception," Shaker Elsayed told the Chicago Tribune, explaining that the group had expanded to include a wider viewpoint.[1]

Beirut Arab news agency al Nashra reported in November 2011 that Dalia Mogahed had succeeded in canceling a meeting between the Maronite Patriarch of Lebanon and US President Barack Obama. Writing in al Nashra, the reporter said:

an unnamed US source told the news agency, that those who sought canceling a visit of (the spiritual head of the Maronite Church) Patriarch Beshara Rahi to the White House are Dalia Mujahid (Mogahed), the highest adviser on Arab and Islamic Affairs in the State Department, who is from Egyptian origins. And heeding a request by the higher leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, who consider that US Administration must support the Islamist Sunni current facing the Iranian current in the region.[26][27]


Stephen Schwartz

Stephen Schwartz, a prominent American convert to Islam and ardent critic of Muslim fundamentalism is critical of Dalia Mogahed's views:

[Muslims'] attitudes toward Islamic law are divided, in her terms, only between supposedly wanting Shariah to be the sole source of governance and seeing it as one source of legislation among various canons. But for her, even this distinction is less important than proclaiming the satisfaction of Muslim women with Shariah...

[Mogahed shares the] outlook of Islamists in Egypt, Turkey, Pakistan and other countries threatened by fundamentalist tyranny, in which religious governance is posed as the sole alternative to secular dictatorship...

While Muslims around the world are increasingly turning toward civil society, Dalia Mogahed offers the retrograde fantasy of Shariah as liberating, even as comparable with the principles of the Declaration of Independence...

[Sharia] is most often employed to oppress women, not to free them from the blandishments of the sinful West. The Mogahed approach discounts the widespread, moderate Muslim view that Shariah, like other canons of religious law, should apply only to standards for diet, forms of prayer, and other strictly individual or personal options...

Such an individual is inappropriate as an adviser to the president and can do great harm by providing an American seal of approval to extreme Shariah ideology.[9]

Dr. Elham Mane'a

Dr. Elham Mane'a, a reformist Yemeni journalist, reported anxiety over Mogahed's appointment to Obama's Advisory Council because she has likely been influenced by a religious ideology more conservative than the one prevailing in Arab countries, and also because of the enthusiasm shown by Saudi-funded media outlets and the message of congratulations[28] from a particular Muslim-American organization known for its affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood.[29]

After giving some time to observe Mogahed's orientation and views, he discovered that her perception of Islam is an extremist one.[30] Regarding the book she co-authored with John Esposito, he said:

I looked for the book that made Mogahed famous - an English-language book titled Who Speaks for Islam? (New York, 2007). The book presents a field study by [Dalia Mogahed] and her colleague John Esposito, conducted in the framework of the Gallup Organization, which claimed to reflect the opinions of more than one billion Muslims from numerous countries...

I do not know what you think, sisters, but I work in the field of scientific research, and I do not think it possible for a survey to reflect the opinions of more than one billion people. Whoever makes such a claim is not only exaggerating, but is disregarding the very [principles] of research.

I searched the book for [a definition of] the term 'Shari'a'... I found that [the authors] defend the Shari'a by explaining that there is confusion between this concept and the concept of Islamic law. The Shari'a, they say, is 'a [moral] compass reflecting principles valid in any era, which cannot be changed,' while Islamic law, [or] jurisprudence, is 'a map that must conform to this compass.'

Considering this distinction between Shari'a and Islamic law, I was surprised to find that the section on women's rights included no discussion of the personal status laws in Arab [countries]. According to the Arab Human Development Report for 2005, [these laws] must be amended in order to improve the [status] of Arab women, who are currently in a state of backwardness. These laws are based on Koranic texts, so, according to [Mogahed's] own approach, they are part of the Shar'ia. [However, these laws] perpetuate the discrimination against women within the family.[30]

Hillel Fradkin

Hillel Fradkin, senior fellow of the Hudson Institute where he directs its Center on Islam, Democracy and the Future of the Muslim World, wrote a devastating review of Mogahed's book. The following is an excerpt from his article:

So who does speak for Islam? Apparently, Esposito and Mogahed do. For the book does not actually present the poll. It provides a very small and partial account of the responses to some questions, but fails to include even one table or chart of data. It does not even provide a clear list of the questions that were asked. The appendix, where one might expect to find questionnaires, charts, and tables, provides only a short narrative discussion of Gallup’s sampling techniques and general mode of operation.

To a certain degree, the authors admit the bias of their presentation: “The study revealed far more than what we could possibly cover in one book, so we chose the most significant, and at times, surprising conclusions to share with you. Here are just some of those counterintuitive discoveries.” But this admission is ridiculously inadequate. After all, this is a book, not an article. In the end, the authors betray their own standard that “data should lead the discourse,” because there is no data. A reader without deep pockets cannot easily remedy this deficiency: the Gallup Organization charges $28,500 to access the data.

If not data, then what fills the pages of this book? In effect, we are given an opinion piece by Esposito and Mogahed—one not unlike the op-eds they decry, only much longer. Like op-eds, it is buttressed by anecdotal evidence, much of which is not even drawn from the survey. Indeed, given the partiality of the material they do draw from the survey, it too must be counted as anecdotal, notwithstanding the percentage signs which are scattered here and there. Moreover, the conclusions that Esposito and Mogahed draw, as well as their policy prescriptions, are indistinguishable from Esposito’s opinions, as expressed and disseminated in his books and articles long before Gallup polled its first Muslim. As in, almost every Esposito product, the book even includes a chapter devoted to a description of the religion of Islam.

But to accept this book as an extended op-ed is not quite adequate. After all, Esposito claimed to apply a higher standard—that of “a man [who] should look for what is, and not what he thinks should be.” Seen in this light, the book is a confidence game or fraud, of which Esposito should be ashamed. So too should the Gallup Organization, its publisher.[31]

Robert Satloff

The Weekly Standard's Robert Satloff noted that Mogahed publicly admitted knowing certain people weren't Muslim "moderates" but they still termed them so in their book, thus decreasing the number of "political radicals".

In that article, she and Esposito wrote: "Respondents who said 9/11 was justified (4 or 5 on the same scale) are classified as radical." In the book they wrote two years later, they redefined "radical" to comprise a much smaller group--only the Fives. But in her luncheon remarks, Mogahed admitted that many of the "moderates" she and Esposito celebrated really aren't so moderate after all.

MOGAHED: I can't off the top of my head [recall the data], but we are going to be putting some of those findings in our [updated] book and our website.

To clarify a couple of things about the book--the book is not a hard-covered polling report. The book is a book about the modern Muslim world that used its polling to inform its analysis. So that's important: It's meant for a general audience, and it's not meant to be a polling report. One very important reason why is because Gallup is selling subscriptions to its data. We are a for-profit company; we are not Pew. We are Gallup. So this isn't about .  .  . it was not meant for the data to be free since we paid $20 million to collect [the data] .  .  . that we paid all on our own. So just to clarify that  .  .  .  

So, how did we come up with the word "politically radicalized" that we unfortunately used in the book? Here's why: because people who were Fives, people who said 9/11 was justified, looked distinctly different from the Fours  .  .  .  At first, before we had enough data to do sort of a cluster analysis, we lumped the Fours and Fives together because that was our best judgment.

QUESTIONER: And what percent was that?

MOGAHED: I seriously don't remember but I think it was in the range of 7 to 8 percent [actually, 6.5 percent].

QUESTIONER: So it's seven Fours and seven Fives?

MOGAHED: Yes, we lumped these two and did our analysis. When we had enough data to really see when things broke away, here's what we found: Fives looked very different from the Fours, and Ones through Fours looked similar. [Mogahed then explained that, on another question, concerning suicide bombing, respondents who said 9/11 was only partially justified clustered with those who said it wasn't justified at all.] And so the Fives looked very different; they broke, they clustered away, and Ones through Fours clustered together. And that is how we decided to break them apart and decided how we were to define "politically radicalized" for our research.

Yes, we can say that a Four is not that moderate .  .  . I don't know. .  .  .You are writing a book, you are trying to come up with terminology people can understand. .  .  . You know, maybe it wasn't the most technically accurate way of doing this, but this is how we made our cluster-based analysis.

So, there it is--the smoking gun. Mogahed publicly admitted they knew certain people weren't moderates but they still termed them so. She and Esposito cooked the books and dumbed down the text. Apparently, by the authors' own test, there are not 91 million radicals in Muslim societies but almost twice that number. They must have shrieked in horror to find their original estimate on the high side of assessments made by scholars, such as Daniel Pipes, whom Esposito routinely denounces as Islamophobes. To paraphrase Mogahed, maybe it wasn't the most technically accurate way of doing this, but their neat solution seems to have been to redefine 78 million people off the rolls of radicals.

The cover-up is even worse. The full data from the 9/11 question show that, in addition to the 13.5 percent, there is another 23.1 percent of respondents--300 million Muslims--who told pollsters the attacks were in some way justified. Esposito and Mogahed don't utter a word about the vast sea of intolerance in which the radicals operate.

And then there is the more fundamental fraud of using the 9/11 question as the measure of "who is a radical." Amazing as it sounds, according to Esposito and Mogahed, the proper term for a Muslim who hates America, wants to impose Sharia law, supports suicide bombing, and opposes equal rights for women but does not "completely" justify 9/11 is . . . "moderate."[32]

See Also

  • Public Figures - A hub page that leads to other articles related to Muslim public figures

External Links


  1. 1.0 1.1 Joseph Abrams - Group That Funded Rep. Ellison's Pilgrimage to Mecca Called a Front for Extremism - Fox News, January 8, 2009
  2. 2.0 2.1 Mohamed Akram - An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Brotherhood in North America - The Investigative Project on Terrorism, May 19, 1991
  3. Christine Huda Dodge - Dalia Mogahed -, accessed September 5, 2011
  4. Gallup: Dalia Mogahed
  5. Noha El-Hennaway - Muslim woman's appointment as Obama adviser draws cautious optimism - The Los Angeles Times, April 22, 2009
  6. Egyptian-born US Muslim to advise White House - Al Arabiya News, April 21, 2009
  7. Abbas Jaffer - "We're all working for a more well-informed citizenry" - Altmuslimah, May 8, 2009
  8. Daniel Pipes - CAIR: 'Moderate' friends of terror - New York Post, April 22, 2002
  9. 9.0 9.1 Art Moore - Meet White House adviser who supports Islamic law - World Net Daily, October 21, 2009
  10. Siraj Wahaj, Jesse Jackson To Speak At CAIR Banquet - The Iconoclast - New English Review, October 22, 2009
  11. Exclusive: CAIR 15th Annual Banquet Replaces Obama Faith Advisor with Controversial Imam - The Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report - Family Security Matters, October 23, 2009
  12. Bettina Gräf - Independent, interactive, popular - Arab Media & Society, Issue 4, Winter 2008
  13. Abdelhadi, Magdi. "Controversial preacher with 'star status'", BBC News, July 7, 2004. 
  14. Muhammad Qasim - Obama's Muslim Advisor (Exclusive) -, April 28, 2009
  15. Stephen Schwartz - What do Muslims Want? A White House adviser defends sharia. - Weekly Standard, October 20, 2009
  16. Richard Kerbaj & Dominic Kennedy - Terrorism adviser to Met is on wanted list - Times Online, December 14, 2008
  17. Andrew Gilligan & Alex Spillius - Barack Obama adviser says Sharia Law is misunderstood - The Telegraph, October 8, 2009
  18. 18.0 18.1 Dan Gilgoff - Exclusive: White House Faith Adviser Defends Sharia Remarks - God & Country, U.S. News and World Report, October 22, 2009
  19. Al-Qanaas Al-Masri - Spittoon Exclusive: Dalia Mogahed’s letter to the Sunday Telegraph - The Spittoon, October 13, 2009
  20. Jerry Gordon, "President Obama appointee Dalia Mogahed “overwhelmingly” silent on FMU Freedom Pledge", The Iconoclast, July 20, 2010 (archived), 
  21. Leadership Group on U.S.-Muslim Engagement - U.S.-Muslim Engagement Initiative, accessed September 5, 2011
  22. Changing Course - A New Direction for US Relations with the Muslim World - US Muslim Engagement Project, accessed September 5, 2011
  23. Tia Ann Chapman - The Islamic Circle of North America and Muslim American Society's National Convention, Image 1 caption - Hartford Courant, May 23, 2009
  24. 34th ICNA-MAS Convention, Speakers 2009
  25. Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah, Sam Roe and Laurie Cohen - A rare look at secretive Brotherhood in America - Chicago Tribune, September 19, 2004
  26. النشرة": داليا مجاهد نجحت في الغاء لقاء الراعي وأوباما بطلب من قيادة "الاخوان - Al Nashra, October 22, 2011
  27. El Cid - Report: Obama’s Muslim Advisers Block Middle Eastern Christians’ Access to the White House - Big Peace, October 25, 2011
  28. CAIR - CAIR Congratulates Dalia Mogahed on Appointment to President’s Advisory Council - Facebook, April 14, 2009
  29. Steven Emerson - Part 1: CAIR Exposed - IPT News, March 24, 2008
  30. 30.0 30.1 Yemeni Liberal Criticizes Appointment of Dalia Mogahed as Obama's Advisor on Islam - MEMRI, Special Dispatch No. 2518, September 4, 2009
  31. Hillel Fradkin - Who does speak for Islam? – Middle East Strategy at Harvard, April 10, 2008
  32. Robert Satloff - Just Like Us! Really? - The Weekly Standard, May 12, 2008, Vol. 13, No. 33