Dean then states, “Generally speaking, as I have said many times, I will take the word of practicing muslims about their faith over the word of members of competing faiths–including atheists–over what the religion ‘really means.'”
That strikes me as an odd policy. Most people who are “members” of anything–whether a religion, an organization, a democracy, or whatever–have an incredibly shallow understanding of it. I’d much prefer to read the opinions of people who are experts by virtue of their knowledge (a class to which Dr. Hassaballa may indeed belong) rather than their simple being.
“Members” have some excellent insights into what life as a part of a religion (etc.) is like that non-member experts may lack, to be sure. A military sociologist who has never served in combat may not fully understand the nature of war, for example. On the other hand, he or a military historian almost certainly knows the bigger picture better than the average soldier.