As I was reading the newspaper during my lunch break few days ago, the World News section mentioned: World has greater number of Muslims than Catholics: “For the first time in history, we’re no longer at the top. The Muslims have surpassed us,” said Msgr. Formenti.

“Hm.” I thought.

And that’s it, no more no less. Although I was born and raised as a Moslem, I didn’t go ‘hooray’ after reading that news. Actually I thought, “Yeah, so what?”

Couple of days later, my iGoogle showed a news feed about the same subject. It was from Catholic.org and it appeared that Msgr. Vittorio Formenti, who heads the Vatican’s statistics office, thinks that the shift was because Muslims’ family have more children and are outpacing the average growth rate. He heh. I can’t help but sensing a little sarcasm there.

I personally do not have any vendetta on Catholic versus Muslim thing. My concern is, does the world know anything about Muslims? U.S. News & World Report March 24-31, 2008 edition has an article about ‘Inside the Minds of Muslims’. Dalia Mogahed, the executive director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, did a survey and wrote a book, Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think along with Georgetown University Prof. John Esposito. The book is based on a Gallup Poll, the largest of its kind, which surveyed some 50,000 Muslims in more than 35 countries.

Based on the interview, it seems that we [Americans] are no closer to understanding Muslims. Because Gallup did a survey in 2002, asking what Americans knew about the beliefs and opinions of Muslims around the world. Fifty-four percent said they knew nothing or not much. Same questions were asked in 2007, after two wars and more media coverage on Muslims, and this time 57 percent said they knew nothing or not much. When asked what they admired about the Muslim world, the most frequent response was “nothing”.

I’m curious about what do they think about us [Americans]. Mogahed answered that Muslims admire the West’s technology the most, followed by freedom of speech, the rule of law, and the transparency of government. They resented our democracy, perceived moral laxity and libertinism. Only a very small percentage of people in places like Iran and Saudi Arabia, said they admired nothing about the West.

The way I look at it, while answering ‘we admire nothing about the Muslim world’ is one’s choice and right, it does show ignorance. Do we not like it because: a) we know something but against it, or b) we don’t know shit anything at all…

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