23 May 2007

Survey of American Muslims released

The Pew Research Center has released a large-scale survey of American Muslims, which gauges their opinion on subjects like the the American lifestyle, Islamist extremism, September 11, discrimination, US foreign policy (including the Iraq War), religious observance, homosexuality, President George Bush, and US domestic politics.

The survey also attempted to find out the number of Muslims in the United States, as well as the national, racial, sectarian, age and gender composition of the community. Finally, the respondents were asked about their incomes, education levels, employment, and, importantly, their interpretations and opinions concerning religious matters, such as the Qur'an, and the way mosques operate.

The survey sample consisted of 1,050 Muslims, and participants were paid $50 for taking part. The survey was conducted over landline telephones.

You can view the Pew Research Center's complete report in a PDF file.

Here, though, is a sample of the results:

The survey found that Muslims make up only 0.6% of the US population, which means that there are 1.4 million Muslims over the age of 18 in the United States. This is substantially lower than the currently widely accepted estimate of 6 million Muslims, but the latter number includes children. If we multiply 0.6% by the total US population, i.e. 301.7 million, we get 1.8 million Muslims. However, because American Muslims are a younger population on average than the overall American population, that number is likely to be higher.

65% of American Muslims are foreign-born, while the other 35% are native-born. Only 14% of American Muslims are people who were born into Muslim families in the US. 21% of American Muslims are converts.

It seems that American Muslims are optimists. 71% said that it is possible to "get ahead with hard work", while only 64% of the general public agreed with the statement. Also, interestingly enough, 38% of American Muslims are satisfied with the current state of the United States, while only 32% of the general public are.

43% of American Muslims think that "Muslims coming to the U.S. today should adopt American customs". 62% believe that "life is better for women here than in Muslim countries".

51% of American Muslims are "very concerned about Islamic extremism in the world these days".

53% of American Muslims believe that it is more difficult to be a Muslim in the US since September 11. 54% think that the government singles Muslims out for surveillance. Only 25%, however, report being victims of discrimination "as a Muslim in the U.S."

75% of American Muslims (as opposed to 47% of Americans in general) think that starting the war in Iraq was a wrong decision. 48% of American Muslims (as opposed to 29% of Americans in general) are against the war in Afghanistan.

83% of American Muslims said that suicide bombing could rarely or never be justified. 68% have a somewhat or very unfavourable view of Al-Qaeda. However, only 40% believe that Arabs carried out the September 11 attacks on the United States.

The discussion of this fascinating survey will continue on Notes on Religion in the coming days, God willing.

This is the second (of four) posts in a Notes on Religion series on the Pew Research Center's survey of American Muslims, released in May 2007. Here are links to the other three:

[First post] [Second Post] [Third Post] [Fourth Post]

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