Akbar Ahmed: Yes Michelle because again as an anthropologist I wanted to look at all of society, you know society is a mosaic, a mosque is a very important part of Muslim the community. It’s where people come to worship, it’s where people very often people just come to be after Friday prayers and talk or some of the major issues of the community and so on, but it is just one institution there is the family which is critical, there’s work and we spent months and months with Muslim families, we follow Muslims to their homes, we spend time in their factories, in their offices and so on and all these data put together allows you to create a picture of a community and that’s what we did. Again it’s far from perfect, it’s far from adequate I would say these studies need to really begin in earnest this is just one shot, the opening shot if you like, itself was a major study in the sense that just to conduct the study meant I was travelling for one year in the field. We went to 75 cities, we went to a 100 mosques now that is a lot of travelling, a lot of logistics. My team luckily for me it was a young American researchers. They had a lot of energy but we were going round the clock it was just non-stop and I know at times they put up with a lot of sacrifice, they put up with a lot of nonsense in travelling the boys three of them were in one room the girls were in one room and one night two nights it’s fine but after weeks and weeks of this you become really, you reach the point of because every city you arrived in early in the morning we had to just hit the road none stop. Next morning again nonstop so it was like that mythical character in one of our theological fables, where the other person works all night and creates a wall and when he wakes up the wall has stumbled down and he’s got to start constructing it again in the morning. So that’s exactly how we felt, it was just non-stop going on and on but the data was so rich and the responses. Were so enthusiastic and again I found the Muslim community very open, very hospitable with all their problems and their uncertainties. And even some of the neurosis that we could visibly see even then they opened themselves opened their hearts and allowed us to take this snap shot of their community.

Michelle: The questionnaire that you’ve created was really interesting so I don’t know if I just picked a few questions and you told me something that was I thought very helpful as a reporter that a questions you’d like to ask is about role models when, you try like ask people specific questions to get that talking as opposed to some general. So I thought that was I wanted to just see if some of these questions triggered anything if you remember, one of them was that question where you would as people to name contemporary role models, another was you asked people if they believe there was gender equality in Islam and then you also asked people to describe what they thought the war on terror meant. So I wanted to just or if there is other question in there that you thought were interesting that was just memorable the type of stories that you tell people when you relate stuff about your trips?

Akbar Ahmed: Well Michelle all of this is of cause in the book but the role model question is important because I discovered long ago when I was doing field work among the tribal people for Pakistan for my PhD I’m going back many decades, that in order, I mean this is a challenge for all of us for you as a journalist, how do you very quickly establish a rapport with an individual who doesn’t really know you. So that that individual trust you enough to open up, to really share what they are thinking about the world or about some particular subject. And I found that if you wanted top get to know someone very quickly and genuinely know some one, if you asked them about their role models it tells you a lot about the individual and very quickly it begins to tell where that individual stands in the world. So if I asked you who are your role models and you said Hitler and Mau and Polport I know the kind of person you are and I’m sure you wouldn’t say that, but you know you would give your self away. So when a lot of Muslim said to us their role model was Thomas Jefferson, it immediately told us a lot about that community. A lot of Muslim not a lot of Muslims almost all Muslims both in America and this Michelle I want you to listen to very carefully, almost all Muslims in America and in the Muslim world where we conducted a similar questionnaire would say their number one role model was the holy profit of Islam. Now if that is the case if to a billion and a half the holy profit of Islam rightly wrongly whatever, non- Muslims consider this individual so revered and so loved that he’s their role model, that you’re going to try to imitate him whether you are a woman or man, whether you’re a Turk and Pakistani or a Bangladeshi or an Indonesian or American, it doesn’t make sense for America which wants to win hearts and minds to have other Americans abuse him and humiliate him and ridicule him. Because to a lot of people in the Muslim in the world that will give the impression that Americans don’t like us. That’s how the world sees each other.

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