Dalia Mogahed

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Dalia Mogahed

Dalia Mogahed (born 1974) is an American scholar of Egyptian origin. She is the Director of Research at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) in Washington, D.C. She is also President and CEO of Mogahed Consulting, a Washington, D.C.-based executive coaching and consulting firm specializing in Muslim societies and the Middle East. Mogahed is former Executive Director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies,[1] a non-partisan research center that provided data and analysis to reflect the views of Muslims all over the world. She was selected as an advisor by U.S. President Barack Obama on the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

Early life and education[edit]

Dalia was born in Cairo, Egypt, and immigrated to the United States at the age of four. She received her undergraduate degree in chemical engineering with a minor in Arabic from the University of Wisconsin. Upon graduation, Mogahed joined Procter & Gamble as a marketing products researcher.[2] She subsequently received her MBA from the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business at the University of Pittsburgh.

Career and influence[edit]

Dalia Mogahed is the Director of Research at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU), a Washington DC and Dearborn, MI based Muslim advocacy organization. Prior to ISPU, Dalia Mogahed chaired the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies from 2006 to 2012,[1] which conducted research and statistics on Muslims throughout the world. She was selected as an advisor by U.S. President Barack Obama on the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

Mogahed was invited to testify before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations about U.S. engagement with Muslim communities, and was a significant contributor to the Homeland Security Advisory Council's Countering Violent Extremism Working Group. She worked with Madeleine Albright and Dennis Ross on the U.S.-Muslim Engagement Project to produce policy recommendations—many of which were adopted by the administration of President Barack Obama.[3]

Dalia Mogahed is a board member and a leader in several organizations, including the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on the Arab World. She is also a nonresident senior public policy scholar at Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut.[3][4] Mogahed is a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader.

Prior to joining Gallup, Mogahed was the founder and director of a cross-cultural consulting practice in the United States, which offered workshops, training programs, and one-to-one coaching on diversity and cultural understanding. Mogahed's clients included school districts, colleges and universities, law enforcement agencies, and community service organizations, as well as local and national media outlets.[2]

Recognition and publications[edit]

Arabian Business magazine recognized Mogahed in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 as one of the most influential Arab women,[5][6][7][8] and The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre included Mogahed in its 2009 and 2010 lists of the 500 most influential Muslims. Ashoka: Innovators for the Public named Mogahed the Arab World's Social Innovator of the Year in 2010, and the University of Wisconsin Alumni Association recognized her with its prestigious "Forward Under 40" award for outstanding contributions by a graduate of the University of Wisconsin.

She and John Esposito co-authored the book Who Speaks For Islam?: What a Billion Muslims Really Think,[9] based on 6 years of research and more than 50,000 interviews representing Muslims in more than 35 predominantly Muslim countries. Accounting for more than 90% of the world's Muslim community, this poll is the largest, most comprehensive study of its kind.[9] Mogahed later appeared as a commentator in the award-winning, PBS-broadcast documentary Inside Islam: What a Billion Muslims Really Think (2010), which was based on her and Esposito's book and produced by Unity Productions Foundation.

Mogahed's 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.[3] She was a participant in the second edition of Dubai Debates, on the topic "After the Arab Awakening: Opportunities and Challenges for a New Arab World".[10]


In 2009, during a phone interview with a London-based TV show hosted by Ibtihal Bsis Ismail, a member of Hizb ut Tahrir, Mogahed responded to a question about the support for sharia among women in the Muslim world which she observed in her research by arguing that "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." In response, Wendy Wright, the president of Concerned Women for America, said that Mogahed should not "downplay the serious nature of sharia law"[11] and a blog post by The Investigative Project on Terrorism, a group founded by Steven Emerson, described her appearance as "a tutorial on how not to make America's case to the Muslim world".[12] Mogahed later stated that she would not have agreed to the interview had she known about the program's affiliation and that she believed Ismail had misled her team "to score propaganda points for an ideological movement".[13]


Mogahed has rejected, as unjustified, calls for Muslims to condemn terrorism, arguing that there have been many such condemnations and that the demand unfairly implies that Muslims would support atrocities committed by other Muslims on account of their faith. Mogahed compares this with public attitudes to terrorist attacks committed by white Christians, which constitute the majority of terrorist attacks in the US according to the FBI, noting that in these cases "we don't suspect other people who share their faith and ethnicity of condoning them".[14][15][16]


  1. ^ a b Gallup Center for Muslim Studies
  2. ^ a b About.com: Dalia Mogahed
  3. ^ a b c Gallup Profile
  4. ^ Women In International Security
  5. ^ Power 100 2010
  6. ^ Most Powerful Women 2011
  7. ^ Most Powerful 2012
  8. ^ Most Powerful Arab Women 2013
  9. ^ a b Amazon Review: Who Speaks For Islam?: What a Billion Muslims Really Think
  10. ^ Dubai Debates 2 speakers
  11. ^ Washington, By Andrew Gilligan and Alex Spillius in. "Barack Obama adviser says Sharia Law is misunderstood". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-11-07.
  12. ^ News, IPT. "Dalia Mogahed, Hizb ut-Tahrir Representative Tout Sharia for Women". The Investigative Project on Terrorism. Retrieved 2016-11-07.
  13. ^ Jacqueline L. Salmon (October 24, 2009). "Muslim White House volunteer 'misled' about talk show stint". Washington Post.
  14. ^ A very simple explanation of why it's wrong to demand that Muslims condemn terrorism, Vox, Max Fisher, 21 Nov 2015
  15. ^ Why it's wrong to demand that Muslims condemn Isis, The Guardian, Roy Greenslade, 24 Nov 2015
  16. ^ Don’t ask Muslims to condemn terror: Our outrage at atrocities ought to be a given, New York Daily News, Dalia Mogahed, 24 May 2017

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