Muslim Americans Exemplify Diversity, Potential

by Mohamed Younis

D.C. — In the first-ever nationally representative study of a randomly
selected sample of Muslim Americans, Gallup reveals that Muslim
Americans are the most racially diverse religious group surveyed in the
United States, with African Americans making up the largest contingent
within the population, at 35%.


This finding is one of many in Gallup’s report, Muslim Americans: A National Portrait,
which compares the opinions of Muslim Americans with those of the
general U.S. population, revealing important differences in terms of
gender equality, civic engagement, life evaluation, religiosity, and

Gender Equality

The report also reveals that Muslim American women are one of the
most highly educated female religious groups in the United States,
second only to Jewish American women. In addition, as a group, Muslim
Americans have the highest degree of economic gender parity at the high
and low ends of the income spectrum.


Muslim American women are equally as likely as men to say they
attend mosque at least once a week, which stands in sharp contrast to
the trend seen in some predominantly Muslim countries where men are
more likely than women to report attending a religious service in the
last week.

Civic Engagement Among Young Muslim Americans

The report also examines the views of Muslim American youths (aged
18 to 29) and how their levels of civic engagement compare with those
of young Americans of other religious backgrounds. For example, the
report finds that only 51% of young Muslim Americans are registered to
vote, which is one of the lowest percentages among young Americans


When asked about their political views, 39% of young Muslim
Americans describe their views as moderate, 28% say they are either
liberal or very liberal, while 20% consider themselves politically
conservative or very conservative.

Life Evaluation

Gallup asked Americans across religious groups to evaluate their
lives as well as their expectations of where they think they will be in
five years using a ladder scale with steps numbered from 0 to 10, where
“0” indicates the worst possible life and “10” indicates the best
possible life. Americans classified as “thriving” say that they presently stand on step 7 or higher of the ladder and expect to stand on step 8 or higher about five years from now. The 41% of Muslim Americans considered to be “thriving” is the lowest percentage among religious groups studied.


However, when comparing percentage of “thriving” Muslim Americans
with Muslims in other Western societies as well as those in
predominantly Muslim countries, Muslim Americans are among the groups
with the largest percentage of respondents who say they are thriving.
(Of the predominantly Muslim countries surveyed, only Saudi Arabia’s
population has a similarly high proportion of thriving individuals.)


Concerning faith and religiosity, about 41% of Muslim Americans and
Protestant Americans say they attend their place of worship at least
once a week, while 37% of Catholic Americans say the same. When asked
whether religion is an important part of their daily lives, 80% of
Muslim Americans answer in the affirmative. Of the religious groups
studied, only Mormons (85%) are more likely than Muslims to say
religion plays an important role in their lives.


More About the Report

Muslim Americans: A National Portrait reports key findings
and in-depth analysis geared at informing the discourse about Muslim
Americans. The Gallup Center for Muslim Studies conducted the study as
part of its Muslim West Facts project to explore Muslim Americans’
attitudes on issues ranging from emotional well-being, political views,
the economy, and the importance of faith in the lives of Muslims living
in America. This groundbreaking report sheds light on the Muslim thread
of the American tapestry: a community that is frequently discussed, but
often misunderstood. It captures the nuances of a Muslim American
population that, although facing its equal share of challenges, remains
a largely untapped resource of American talent.

Click here for the full report.

Survey Methods

Results are based on daily cell phone and landline phone interviews
with more than 300,000 adults, aged 18 and older, in the United States
in 2008. Of the total sample, 946 respondents self-identified
themselves as Muslims. For results based on the total sample, one can
say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is
±0.2 percentage points. For results based on the sample of 946 Muslim
Americans, the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 adjusted for
design effect. In addition to sampling error, question wording and
practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or
bias into the findings of public opinion polls.