A book entitled: “How Do They Look at Us? … Islam and Muslims in the World Opinion Polls,” has been recently published by Al-Bayan Center for Research and Studies. The book, which is written by Dr. Samir Rudwan Abu Rumman, Executive Director of the Gulf Opinions Center for Polls in Kuwait, and visiting scholar in University of Delaware/USA, deals with hundreds of questions and analysis of Western opinion polls relating to Islam and Muslims.
The book comprises of more than 400 pages. It is divided into seven parts. The First Part tackled the most important projects for opinion polls that dealt with the subject of Islam and Muslims, and used the opinion polls, directly or indirectly. The second part shed light on public surveys about populace knowledge of Islam and the degree of communication with them. Part III examined how people in the West look at Islam and Muslims, how they evaluate Muslims and their personal attributes and how they look at the components of Islam. Part IV evaluated the public opinion on the compatibility and incompatibility between Islam and Western values, and the nature of the relationship and the conflict between the Islamic and Western sides.
Part V assessed the pubic opinion on how far violence is linked with Islam in comparison with other religions. Part VI dealt with people’s opinions on political Islam, Islamic groups and their access to power and the relationship with Arab revolutions. Part VII – the last – studied ways of using opinion polls to serve Islam and Muslim issues, through four stages of the process of opinion polls: monitoring , implementation , results and publishing. Finally, the study concludes with a summary and general recommendations.
This book comes at an important phase in the relationship between Islam and the West. It is an important addition to the Arabic library being based on the tool of opinion polls, which is an added value to the relay of the public opinion in a scientific and statistic way. This is actually the approach that the author adopted to come out with a general complete outline of the Western world view of Islam in order to yield the benefits of these results to stakeholders, researchers and people interested in serving the issues of Islam and Muslims.
The fact that the author attempted in various parts of the book, especially the last one, to give some recommendations to various stakeholders and those who deal with the data and the results of the polls give the book a practical characteristic rather than a theoretical attribute. The author has benefited from his field experience in this domain especially as he is linked with various pollsters in the Western world who have already consulted the Muslim public opinion to understand how Muslims think about the West. The book entitled: ” Feeling Betrayed…the Roots of Muslim Anger at America”, which says in its introduction “since that time; as a result of those practical experiences, and after a series of meetings and lectures that I gave on this issue, my idea on the importance of reverting to the professional opinion polls to understand the phenomena and attitudes that reflect public opinion was further reinforced because it constitutes an honest way to relay the public opinion regardless of the challenges and the problems that encounter them.”
The author has referred to various opinion polls conducted by different pollsters using different tools, samples, questions and time frames, which helps in adjusting the statistical analysis and limits its depth. Thus, it is closer to a description with a general analysis of direct results. Consequently, it gives a coherent picture of public opinion towards Islam and Muslims, while focusing – in many cases – on the opinion of the majority. Hence this makes it more readable for readers without discouraging them because of numbers and schedules.