Islamic Studies

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 poll.

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.”

Courtesy The New York Times Here

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  • Alhamdulellah its great to see that Islam is “the only religious community without a majority race” in the graph.
    Jazakallah Khairan!


  • The fact that 28% of Muslims self-identify as “white” is an interesting commentary on the racial dynamics of our community. Gender parity is probably the most impressive statistic.

  • Salamu alaykum,

    I do not know who they asked in Germany, but generally Muslims Germany are surely not in a good situation: unemployment among Muslims is above average, average income is below average, level of education is below average. Hijab is forbidden for most civil servant jobs, societal acceptance is poor etc etc.

    However, I should not complain – other people live in harder situations –
    nevertheless, compared to other countries, being a Muslim in Germany is very tough!

    wa salam
    Ibrahim, Germany


    While I must say Masha’llah to Laurie Goodstein for her interesting and informative work, she interviewed me in 2007 while I was in prison (where I took Shahadah), and I can’t help but take this coincidental opportunity to remind the reader not to miss seeing the BIG PICTURE.

    If you look at what her article points out about Gallup’s research, you will notice that the common denominator is the glaring lack of unity among America’s Muslim population. I thought we were all supposed to be one Ummah, one community of Believers, all on the same page. The poll would suggest otherwise.

    May Allah (subhana wa t’ala) forgive me for my ignorance as I have only been on the path for 2 1/2 years and am still struggling to learn my Deen. I am simply trying to say that the reader should not ignore the part about “social alienation.” Ms. Goodstein’s point about “Lower percentages of Muslims register to vote or volunteer their time…” and the quote from Br. Ahmed Younis about “integration” would have you believe that it’s all about Muslims being part of the American mainstream–as opposed to coming together as one. Again, please forgive me if I’m wrong, but aren’t we supposed to avoid, as best we can, acting like the Disbelievers?

    Jazakallah to Br. Suhaib for keeping us informed. If you happen to read this, please know that I continue to reach out to you (and anyone else you can put me in contact with) for guidance. My intention in writing this comment was simply to point out that new reverts like myself want to know where we fit in to the community of Believers and what we are supposed to be doing to serve and please Allah (subhana wa t’ala).

  • May Allah reward All our brothers in Germany for all their efforts. May allah replace their struggle with great deeds.
    Germany is blessed to have our muslims brothers and sisters

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