What you don’t know about U.S. Muslims


Source: Daily News

BY ,

Mohamed is a senior researcher and Masci is a senior editor and senior researcher at Pew Research Center.

The recent attacks in Paris and Brussels have caused hand-wringing among analysts who posit that Europe’s Muslims, alienated from society and pessimistic about their prospects, are especially susceptible to radicalization.

While it is hard to know if this is entirely true — in part, because there has been no large-scale polling of the continent’s Muslim population — our survey of U.S. Muslims shows that most do not feel alienated or pessimistic.

Indeed, results from the 2011 Pew Research Center poll tell us that Muslims in the United States are well integrated into American society, satisfied with their lives and optimistic about their futures.

In fact, Pew polls consistently have found that, by some measures, Muslim Americans are actually more satisfied with their lives than is the general U.S. public. For instance, a larger share of Muslim Americans believe in what many consider the central tenet of the American Dream: You can get ahead if you work hard.

While roughly three quarters of U.S. Muslims feel this way, only six in 10 Americans overall say this.

In other cases, U.S. Muslims say they are as satisfied as other Americans. Roughly eight out of 10 American Muslims, for instance, rate their community as an excellent or good place to live, mirroring the level of community satisfaction seen among the U.S. population overall (82%).

Unlike Muslims in Europe, American Muslims are no more likely to be unemployed than the general population. One reason for this might be that they have a high level of commitment to education. A whopping one in four Muslim adults said they were enrolled in college or university courses — double the rate of the general public.

Given all these facts, it is not surprising that our research shows that American Muslim immigrants are assimilating quickly. Fully seven in 10 Muslims born outside the country say they are now U.S. citizens. This is significantly higher than the four in 10 immigrants from Latin America (44%) who tell us they have become citizens.

Of course, it’s important to remember that not all Muslims are immigrants. According to the 2011 survey, at least one-third of U.S. Muslim adults were born in the U.S. For them, of course, American citizenship is a birthright.

Muslims may be a well-integrated minority, but the American public remains concerned about Islam and Muslims. Americans view Muslims more negatively than any other religious group (along with atheists, if we consider them a religious group). Roughly half of all Americans think at least some U.S. Muslims are “anti-American.” And a similar share (46%) believes that Islam is more likely than other religions to encourage violence.

At the same time, most Americans (68%) believe that the bigger problem with violence in the name of religion is that violent people use religion to justify their acts. Only a minority believe that religious teachings themselves prompt violent acts.

All of these views likely are influenced, at least to some degree, by the fact that many non-Muslim Americans (47%) say they don’t know a Muslim personally. Those that do tend to have more positive views of Islam and Muslims.

For all the talk in recent years about the impact of Muslim immigration to the United States, Pew Research Center estimates that there are about 3.3 million Muslims of all ages currently living in the U.S. — about 1% of the nation’s total population.

Continued immigration and higher birth rates make it likely the American Muslim population will grow faster than the U.S. population as a whole. Still, by 2050, Pew Research Center estimates there will only be about 8.1 million Muslims — roughly 2.1% of the nation’s total population — in the United States.

How they will feel about their lives in 35 years is anyone’s guess. But today’s American Muslims are generally satisfied with theirs.

Mohamed is a senior researcher and Masci is a senior editor and senior researcher at Pew Research Center.

Read more

Leave a Reply