Ten years after the 9/11 attacks, an extensive new survey of
Muslims finds them as optimistic as other Americans, even as large minorities
of Christian Americans question Muslims’ loyalty to the United
The survey, released Aug. 2 by the Gallup organization’s center in the Middle
East, presented a community less than fully assured of its place in the United
States, but generally confident in President Obama and the American economy.
American Muslims’ perceptions of their own well-being increased more in the
past three years than those of any other religious group, according to the
report, which also surveyed Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Mormons, atheists and
agnostics. Muslims’ expectations for their own happiness in five years
similarly topped all other faiths’.
Mohamed Younis, of the Abu Dhabi Gallup
Center, which is affiliated with
the United Arab Emirates’
constitutional monarchy, said the report showed optimistic American Muslims
share certain traits.
“Muslims who tend to be thriving seem to be more fully engaged in their
religious life, but also strongly identify with the United
States as a place to live,” Younis said. “They
show a picture of someone with less cognitive dissonance about being 100
percent Muslim and about being 100 percent American.”
The optimism of American Muslims is particularly noteworthy, said the report’s
authors, considering that much press about them focuses on terrorism and
controversy, including the proposed mosque near Ground Zero in New
York and congressional hearings on the “radicalization”
of their faith community.
Though majorities across all groups surveyed said that Muslims are loyal to
their country, large minorities of many religious groups doubted it.
Ninety-three percent of Muslims believe Muslims are loyal to their country,
compared to 56 percent of Protestants, 56 percent of Mormons, 59 percent of
Catholics and 80 percent of Jews.
In other instances Jewish Americans showed a trust of Muslims less apparent
among other groups, and held opinions that most closely correlated with
Muslims,’ a phenomenon the report’s authors called “The Children of Abraham.”
They invited Rabbi David Saperstein, of the Religious Action Center of Reformed
Judaism, to the survey’s rollout to help explain the affinity of views.
“Jews view themselves as the quintessential victims of religious persecution in
the history of the world over the last 3,000 years and therefore often identify
with those who are subject to persecution and discrimination,” Saperstein said.
More Jews (66 percent) than Muslims (60 percent) said that Muslims are
discriminated against in the United States,
according to the report.
Among other findings of the report, a compilation of Gallup
surveys of Americans’ life satisfaction and polls of Muslim Americans in particular:
- On average, Muslims rate their expected life satisfaction in five years at
8.4 on a 10-point scale — higher than any other religious group.
- A small fraction of Muslims believe there is a national Muslim organization
that represents them, with about 12 percent naming the Council on
American-Islamic Relations, which was named more frequently than any other
- Sixty-nine percent of Muslims said they “extremely strongly” or “very
strongly” identify with the U.S., as compared to 91 percent of Protestants, 81
percent of Catholics and 86 percent of Jews.
- Eight of 10 Muslims expressed support for President Obama, more than any
other religious group. More than any other group surveyed, they are confident
that economic conditions are improving.
- Muslims (57 percent) are more confident in the honesty of American
elections than Protestants (44 percent), Catholics (46 percent) or any other
- Muslim Americans (70 percent) have less confidence in the military than
Protestants (95 percent), Catholics (94 percent) or any other religious group.
- Muslims Americans (83 percent) are more likely to see the Iraq war as a
mistake than Jews (74 percent), Protestants (45 percent) or any other religious
- Muslim Americans (65 percent) are less likely to be registered to vote than
Protestants (91 percent), Jews (91 percent) or any other religious group, a
statistic the survey’s authors say correlates with the relative youth of the
The report was hailed by Muslim leaders and the White House as a tool for those
who want to dispel myths about Muslim Americans and plot a course for their
increased participation in American political life.
“It confirms for us that as we reach out to Muslims, the
community will reach back,” said D. Paul Montiero, associate director of the
White House Office of Public Engagement, and part of a panel invited to comment
on the report at its Washington unveiling.
Imam Mohamed Magid, president of the Islamic Society of North America, said the
survey shows how far Muslims have to go to until they are fully accepted
members of society, and that 9/11 was a setback for those who follow Islam in
“But the process has started,” he said. “And I think it will bear fruit.”