Poll Finds U.S. Muslims Thriving, but Not Content

Poll Finds U.S. Muslims Thriving, but Not Content

A Gallup poll of Muslims in the United
States has found that they are far more likely than people in Muslim
countries to see themselves as thriving.

In fact, the only countries where Muslims are more likely to see
themselves as thriving are Saudi Arabia and Germany, according to the

And yet, within the United States, Muslims are the least content
religious group, when compared with Jews, Mormons, Protestants and
Roman Catholics.

Gallup researchers say that is because the largest segment of
American Muslims are African-Americans (35 percent, including
first-generation immigrants), and they generally report lower levels of
income, education, employment and well-being than other Americans.

But American Muslims are not one homogeneous group, the study makes
clear. Asian-American Muslims (from countries like India and Pakistan)
have more income and education and are more likely to be thriving than
other American Muslims. In fact, their quality of life indicators are
higher than for most other Americans, except for American Jews.

“We discovered how diverse Muslim Americans are,” said Dalia
Mogahed, executive director and senior analyst of the Gallup Center for
Muslim Studies, which financed the poll. “Ethnically, politically and
economically, they are in every way a cross-section of the nation. They
are the only religious community without a majority race.”

The Gallup study is significant because it is the first to examine a
randomly selected sample of American Muslims. Gallup interviewed more
than 300,000 people by telephone in 2008 while conducting broader
polls, and focused on 946 who identified themselves as Muslims. (The
margin of sampling error is plus or minus four percentage points.)

Previous studies of American Muslims located respondents based on
surnames, mosque attendance or geographic clusters, which polling
experts say can skew the results.

Gallup asked an extensive battery of questions, producing a picture
of American Muslims through the prisms of race, gender, class, age and
education. The international comparisons were possible because of
earlier Gallup studies of Muslims overseas.

American Muslim women, contrary to stereotype, are more likely than
American Muslim men to have college and post-graduate degrees. They are
more highly educated than women in every other religious group except
Jews. American Muslim women also report incomes more nearly equal to
men, compared with women and men of other faiths.

Muslim women in the United States attend mosque as frequently as
Muslim men — a contrast with many Muslim countries where the mosques
are primarily for men. American Muslims are generally very religious,
saying that religion is an important part of their daily lives (80
percent), more than any other group except Mormons (85 percent). The
figure for Americans in general is 65 percent.

By political ideology, Muslims were spread across the spectrum from
liberal to conservative, with about 4 in 10 saying they were moderates.
By party identification, Muslims resembled Jews more than any other
religious group, with small minorities registered as Republicans,
roughly half Democrats and about a third independents.

There are clear signs of social alienation, however. Lower
percentages of Muslims register to vote or volunteer their time than
adherents of other faiths. They are less likely to be satisfied with
the area where they live. These indicators are “worrying,” said Ahmed
Younis, a senior analyst at the Muslim studies center.

“There is still a sense among American Muslims of being excluded
from the mainstream,” Mr. Younis said, “and among young people that’s
more acute.”

But the perception is far worse among Muslims in England and France, the study found.

Mr. Younis said the finding “reinforces the proposition that the
integration process for American Muslims is, on the whole, a much more
successful endeavor than it is for European Muslims.”