Gallup study finds Muslim Americans embrace US civic institutions and religious pluralism

Click here to read the whole report: A recent study published by the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies and the Abu Dhabi Gallup Center (ADGC) found, among other things, that Muslim Americans condemn violence more strongly than any other major faith groups in the US. The study, entitled, “Muslim Americans: Faith, Freedom, and the Future—Examining U.S. Muslims’ Political, Social and Spiritual Engagement 10 Years After September 11” compares the perspectives of Muslims, Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Mormons and Atheists/Agnostics on a variety of issues.

The ADGC found that 89% of Muslim Americans say there is never a justification for attacking civilians, while 79% of Mormon Americans, 75% of Jewish Americans, and 71% of Protestant and Catholic Americans shared this sentiment. Muslims were also found to be the most tolerant of other faiths.

In regards to political engagement, the study showed Muslim Americans, more than any other religious group, have faith in the honesty of U.S. elections, but they distrust the FBI and the U.S. military. Muslim Americans were also shown to doubt the legitimacy of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan—a majority of the American population also feels that the Iraq war was a mistake.

When asked if Israel and Palestine could co-exist, Muslims and Jews stand shoulder to shoulder in agreement, with 81% of Muslims and 78% of Jews believing in co-existence.

The study also showed that 92% of Muslims are certain that Muslim Americans do not sympathize with al-Qaeda. A majority of people of all faiths see Muslim Americans as loyal to the U.S. Ninety-three percent of Muslims, 56% of Protestants and Mormons, 59% of Catholics, and 80% of Jews see Muslims as faithful to the country.

Most non-Muslim Americans are split on whether to use “profiling” to identify terrorists; the majority of Muslims (81%) reject this practice. 60% of Muslims claim to face prejudice, and 48% percent said they experienced racial/religious discrimination in the past year.

Most Americans believe Muslims do not do enough to condemn terrorist attacks. On the contrary, 72% of Muslims insist they do speak out against terrorism but are frustrated that their voices go unheard. Gallup believes this is due to Muslims having not yet found the right medium to make themselves heard.

Gallup research found a relationship between religiosity and well-being among Muslims. In fact, the study shows that frequently attending mosques is associated with better emotional health and a high level of civic engagement. More than 80% of Muslims acknowledge that Islam is a vital part of their life. Muslims who attend weekly services report being highly politically active. The ADGC pointed out, “This raises the possibility of community leaders using mosques as a mobilizing platform to push Muslim Americans toward greater civic engagement.” Regular attendees were more likely to report no stress the day before the survey, than those who do not regularly participant in religious services. Gallup explains, “It also takes away from the theory that mosque attendance stokes Muslims’ anger and radicalizes them.”

American Muslims are less likely than Protestants and Mormons to state they strongly identify with their religious group in the U.S. and the world. U.S. Muslims who have a strong identification with the broader Muslim world, sometimes known as the “Ummah,” are more likely to succeed as communities. Furthermore, the ADGC asserted, “In no major U.S. religious group is there a conflict between loyalty to the U.S. and identifying with others around the world who share the same religion.”

On another hopeful note, 60% of Muslims are thriving more than they did in 2008 with a majority stating that their standard of living is also getting better; but, 39% also admitted to having financial difficulties. The majority of Muslim Americans are also satisfied with the communities they live in and are optimistic about the economy.

Overall, this study shows that American Muslims are loyal citizens whose beliefs symbolize tolerance, integration, and a sense of belonging.