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Muslim Americans are most optimistic religious group, study says
Owla Awada manages a popular bakery in Dearborn, Michigan, one of the largest U.S. Muslim communities.
August 2nd, 2011
10:00 AM ET

Muslim Americans are most optimistic religious group, study says

By Alan Duke, CNN

(CNN) - Muslim Americans are more optimistic about their future than members of any other religious group in the United States, according to a Gallup report released Tuesday.

"They have generally optimistic and positive views about government, its agencies and the future of America, but they report a significant level of prejudice and discrimination," said Ahmed Younis, an analyst for the Abu Dhabi Gallup Center.

Nearly half of the Muslim Americans surveyed by Gallup said they have experienced racial or religious discrimination in the United States, according to the report, which was compiled by the Abu Dhabi Gallup Center from two years of polling.

"The American Muslim story is the American story in many ways," said Younis.

The report assessed the group's perceptions and attitudes and those of other religious groups toward Muslim Americans a decade after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

Polling of Americans of other religions supported the Muslim American perceptions of prejudice, Younis said.

"The opinion of Americans is still divided and the perception of loyalty of Muslim Americans is still questioned by a considerable portion of Americans," he said.

They express loyalty to the United States, but face distrust from a significant minority of other citizens, the report said.

The polling found that 69% identified strongly with the United States while 65% said the same about their faith.

"Muslim Americans are thoroughly American in their allegiance and identity and don't see a conflict between that and being thoroughly Muslim," Younis said.

Ninety-three percent of U.S. Muslims said they believe other Muslim Americans are loyal to the country, while significant minorities in other religious groups doubted that loyalty, the report said.

Thirty-seven percent of American Protestants and 35% of Catholics said they didn't agree that Muslims living in the United States were loyal to the country.

Nearly all Muslim Americans, 92%, said they believed that Muslims living in United States had no sympathy for al Qaeda, the terror group responsible or the 9/11 attacks.

They are, as a group, critical of counter-terrorism measures imposed since the terror attacks and a large percentage distrust the FBI, the report said.

There is evidence of "a big friction" between Muslim Americans and federal law enforcement, Younis said.

Just 60% of Muslim Americans said they have confidence in the FBI, compared to 75% or more of Americans of other major faiths, the report said.

While 81% believe it is not possible to profile a terrorist based on demographic traits, just 49% of other Americans agree.

"There's a significant percentage of Americans that believe racial profiling is an efficient way of conducting law enforcement activities," Younis said.

Attitudes about racial profiling are also reflected in what Muslim Americans say about prejudice they face. Sixty percent of U.S. Muslims say other Americans pre-judge them based on their ethnicity.

"At 48%, Muslim Americans are by far the most likely of major faith groups surveyed to say they have personally experienced racial or religious discrimination in the past year," the report said. "The next most likely are Mormon Americans, although less than one-third of U.S. Mormons say this."

Just 63% of Muslim Americans said they feel respected when they practice their religion in public. Eighty-one percent of all Protestants and Catholics and 85% of Mormon Americans said they felt respected.

"There is still a little bit of hostility in the public square as it relates to Muslim Americans and their place in society," Younis said.

Muslim Americans generally feel better off and more hopeful in 2011 than they were in 2008, when a similar Gallup report was produced. While 60% said they were thriving, about the same level as most major religious groups, they are the most optimistic about their lives in five years.

Americans overall rate their future a 7 on a scale of 1 to 10, but Muslim Americans rate theirs at 8.4, the report said.

Jewish Americans ranked as second most optimistic at 8.0, following by nonreligious, atheists and agnostic respondants at 7.9.

Mormans' optimism was rated at 7.8 and Catholics at 7.7, while American Protestants were the least optimistic about the future with 7.4, the report said.

One explanation for their optimism is that Muslim Americans were hurt more than other major religious groups by the recession and have experienced more improvement in the recovery, the report said.

The election in 2008 of President Obama, a Christian with Muslim roots, may be one factor in their optimism, the report said. They give Obama's performance an 80% approval rating, the highest of any religious group. President Bush's approval rating among Muslim Americans was just 7% near the end of 2008.

With the exception of Jewish Americans, all other religious groups rate Obama below 50%, the report said.

Muslim Americans represent the most racially diverse religious community in the United States, the Gallup report said.

"For instance, Asian Muslims are easily the most likely in America to be thriving," it said. "Black Muslims report more financial hardship than do white Muslims, and black Muslims are somewhat less likely than other Muslims in the U.S. to be satisfied with their standard of living."

One "intriguing finding" of the analysis is the indication that "frequent mosque attendance might lessen stress and anger," the report said.

"It also takes away from the theory that mosque attendance stokes Muslims' anger and radicalizes them," it said. "Rather, Muslim Americans are no different from other major U.S. religious communities who appear to draw peace of mind from their faith."

The Abu Dhabi Gallup Center is a partnership between the opinion research firm Gallup and the Crown Prince Court of Abu Dhabi.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 9/11 • Islam • Muslim • United States

soundoff (603 Responses)
  1. Mary

    I'm a brunette, but my blonde friend is much more optimistic. This is the stupidest poll I've ever heard of, besides the one that said that 75% of New Yorkers want Bloomberg in for a third term.

    August 2, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
  2. john

    Of course they will be optimistic about the future. Considering where they came from, yeah, I'd be optimistic too. Not a racist but just laying facts.

    August 2, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
  3. dinak

    Why wouldn't they be? They're protected by Obama, the DOJ, and the U.S. Press. The press did everything they could to not reveal that the murderer was an Islamic extremist, but less than one day to describe the kid's camp murderer as a right-wing Christian. Why wouldn't Muslims be happy?

    August 2, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • Laughing

      You do know that as the story was breaking everyone was saying it was a muslim terorrist in Norway right? Please, this bored is for intelligent and semi-intelligent (believers) comments, don't muddy it up with your idiotic ignorance

      August 2, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • dinak

      The part I wrote about the Fort Hood shooter was deleted accidentally. The info that he was a radical religious nut was left out of the media, but not so with the Christian murderer.

      August 2, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
  4. U'Waana M'Deek

    Moose slimes should be forced to wear their traditional gard while in the USA. That way we can rocognize them & give them the respect they want. Afterall, YOU are the infidels not them.

    August 2, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • Rick

      MooseSlimes? Wow...what an insightful comment. Traditional gard?

      August 2, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
  5. Hypatia

    CNN keeps reminding me of Neville Chamberlain.

    August 2, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
  6. Gita

    "thouroughly American", give me a break.

    August 2, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • Abdallah

      Tell my kids they aren't Americans, and you will hear their response.

      August 2, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
  7. Rainer Braendlein

    Concerning false kindness and history: Muhammad had once made a peace tready with Mekka (it was pagan, before Muhammad established the Islam). For a time it seemed that Muhammad would keep the peace tready. But he, of course, used the time to strengthened his army and finally conquered Mekka, breaking the peace tready.

    Muhammad was a liar. Let us consider that. Lie is a basic concept of Islam.

    August 2, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • GodOfAbraham

      U2 & urs

      August 2, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • Laughing

      Hitler made a non-agression pact with stalin in WWII, he ended up breaking that truce because he thought he was strong enough to win. Hitler was a liar, lets never ever trust Germans again.......

      Yeah, that basically sums up the ridiculousness of your statement

      August 2, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
  8. Fact-tellingShatInForestScentZeldalinaBeatBonnie

    It's me again. I'm back but I still smell as bad.

    August 2, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
  9. jt_flyer

    I have many Muslim friends with many benefits. Not the least of which being Persian rice!

    August 2, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
  10. Justin Observation

    They are happy and optimistic because most came from places where religious dogma was held sacred and human rights and freedom were ridiculed, to a place where human rights and freedom are held sacred, and religious dogma is ridiculed. Human rights and freedom beats the crap out of religious oppression.

    August 2, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
  11. Rainer Braendlein

    Of course, many members of the Umma just come to use in order to earn some money, which they could not earn in their home countries, divastated by the Islam.

    We are not allowed to assume every Muslim to be an agent of the Umma, although we can never be sure, regarding a single man (that is regretable).

    We must beware of the Islamic communities in our Christian countries, because they can (!) become dangerous, although they may behave kindly at the moment. False kindness can be part of a wicked strategy (look at history).

    No Muslim should become a member of army within a Western Country. That would be an absolute nonsense!

    August 2, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • GodOfAbraham

      were u involved in norway bombing?

      August 2, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
  12. Ted

    I wish people would take the time to read the koran and learn what Islam is .Read what it says about non-muslims.We are to be killed or made slaves.Anyone who says that Islam is religion of peace Knows that it is for muslims only or they have not read the koran.Islam is a religion of violence and intolerence. READ THE KORAN.

    August 2, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
    • J.W

      Why dont you cite verses that say that?

      August 2, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
    • Abdallah

      Can you give examples?
      What you are saying is far from true, and only ignorants say that because they never read the Quraan.
      Quraan orders Muslims not to kill anyone, Muslims and non Muslims. It says if you kill one human being as if you killed entire humanity.
      Even when Muslims were at war, they didn't cut a tree, burn a house, kill an elderly or a child, or a person who is not fighting them.
      Compare that to what is happening in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine, where you hear kids, women, and civilians dying everyday by Christians and Jews for no reason.

      August 2, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • Justin Observation

      Yeah, lots of silly human degrading junk and calling for the death of non-members and disobedient members... just like the bible. What's your point? That Muslims should follow that crap or that Christians should? I'm guessing that most Muslims, like most Christians, have no intention of stoning their children to death for disobeying them, even though their holy book says to.

      Most people don't follow the goofy stuff in the ancient books they profess to believe in, and that's a good thing. People actually have gotten wiser over time and no longer act like their primitive ancestors, well most people anyway.

      August 2, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • mp

      This is a correct observation. They have a belief that one day every one will be a muslim. Democracy is a tool to get there but there is really no such a thing as democracy. Read up on what is going on in Turkey. It is slowly becoming like Iran.
      Seculiarism is not important. Freedom of women is a relative term. Just today in Turkish news, they found 11 female children of age group 11 to 14 forcibly made "wives" of men at their 24 through 34.
      I know all of this because I used to be a former muslim and I can read all of their publishings.

      August 2, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • U'Waana M'Deek

      Wouldn't it be more approriate for the MooseSlimes to read the Koran?

      August 2, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • GodOfAbraham

      Come on! Quran is only 1 talks about God's willingness to grant heaven to anyone from any faith as long as they believe in one god (God of Abraham), and do certain good things in life those mentioned in 10 commendments.

      August 2, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • J.W

      Invite all to the way of your Lord
      with wisdom and beautiful preaching.
      And argue with them
      in ways that are best and most gracious...
      And if you punish,
      let your punishment be proportional
      to the wrong that has been done to you.
      But if you show patience, that is indeed the best course.
      Be patient, for your patience is from God.
      And do not grieve over them,
      or distress yourself because of their plots.
      For God is with those who restrain themselves,
      and those who do good.
      Qur'an 16:125-128

      August 2, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
    • Justin Observation

      Abdallah, true Christians and Jews kill women and children as do Muslims in war. Also I'm not sure if you've ever heard about Muslim suicide bombers, but they pretty much murder anyone who is nearby. Don't be such a hypocrite. Killing sucks no matter what country, club, or cult you're in. There is no justification other than self defense against an immediate threat. Not a perceived threat, not an imaginary one, not a holy one, or even a possible one, only an immediate one. And revenge killing, well that's just self perpetuating and never ending ignorance.

      August 2, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • Rick

      "They have a belief that one day every one will be a muslim"

      As opposed to the Christians "Every knee shall bow" quote?

      August 2, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • silver

      I totally agree Ted, and our Lord says to pray for those who are against us. Jesus said no one can go to the father except through him. This is a Christian nation w/ Christian values. We may seem like evil doers, but that's why Jesus the son of our living God died for us. So we can be saved, and go to be with him. Not for the Muslims to judge us, when they themselves will be judged for there evil doings. Those who have not sin let he cast the first stone. Ted, your doin well Jesus is coming and everyone will know the truth, pray for the Muslims hat they seek the truth.

      August 2, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • Jay

      A picture is equal to a thousand words. 9-11 is a living testimony to what Islamists can do regardless of what Koran says. Why is that most terrorists are muslims in recent times? I have no problems with Koran or muslims but Mullahs are for sure running amock and creating more and more terrorists in the name of God! Finally, the so called Muslim God's men have been and are killing thousands of innocent women and children in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan and not the US army alone.

      August 2, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
  13. Laughing

    Warning from ti.tle page: Don't be a fool! Close this book at once! It is nothing but foma!
    [ 118 ]

    Verse 1: All of the true things that I am about to tell you are shameless lies. [ 4 ]

    Verses 2-4 (?): In the beginning, God created the earth, and he looked upon it in His cosmic lonelin.ess.

    And God said, "Let Us make living creatures out of mud, so the mud can see what We have done." And God created every living creature that now moveth, and one was man. Mud as man alone could speak. God leaned close as mud as man sat up, looked around, and spoke. Man blinked. "What is the purpose of all this?" he asked politely.

    "Everything must have a purpose?" asked God.

    "Certainly," said man.

    "Then I leave it to you to think of one for all this," said God.

    And He went away. [ 118 ]

    – First Book of Bokonon

    August 2, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
  14. Brendan

    Wow. This study is really full of important information. I like the way that CNN certainly did not have this article just to say "Look, Muslims are nice! Pleaze believe us!"

    Nobody notices how they always interview Muslims who say, "Yeah we love America, but Americans are always discriminating against us but we just overlook that." They coincidentally NEVER interview one who dislikes, or even has anything critical to say about, America? Yeah right. They're just making it so much more obvious that this is a failed attempt to show how awesome and tolerant CNN is.

    August 2, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • Abdallah

      How could someone who was born, lives ,and eat from its good, say that they hate America?
      I'm not sure if Muslims are disappointing you, but I don't think you will ever hear it, not because they are lying, but because they love their country more than you.

      August 2, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
    • GodOfAbraham

      what r u saying...makes no sense. ru a poll expert?

      August 2, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • OhMyMy

      No they did interview Walid Shoebat (Google him) and by the way what you are looking for is very often on the fox news.

      August 2, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • GodPot

      "what r u saying...makes no sense. ru a poll expert?"

      he's just a troll expert... or maybe a pole expert...

      August 2, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • Phil

      I agree! Nice to see some people who exercise common sense and intelligence.

      August 2, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
  15. waylaid88

    American Muslims are no better or worse than American Christians. Live and let live.

    August 2, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
  16. Shells

    You folks are really sick in the head let the world be. there will always be problems and room for more..because people can't live in harmony and peace......and its god test to see if the world can get along but apparently we live among the ignorant. People escape their countries to find refuge here that's such an honor because we aren't returning them back to where religion is big but the practice of politics and power of money, and illegal business is even bigger..........here people will not forget their faith because the MUSLIMS moved in next door they will forget their Faith because YOU forgot to teach your generation and your children.... children's generation how to practice. Don't hate on Muslims because in a free country they are faithfully holding their faiths. No plots or plans to take over just ordinary people with ordinary ideas trying to fit in and living a life without guns and explosions.........................

    August 2, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
  17. Abdallah

    I wish some people take the time to learn about Islam, its history, how its started, and the real message, but by research and not through the media.
    I wish people realize that moderate Muslims were most harmed by extremists, so claimed Muslims, more than any other religion.

    Islam, the religion of peace, whether you like it or not, will always be a shining star lightening the road to humanity.

    August 2, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • Laughing

      You're only sort of right. I've taken a couple of courses on Islam and it is for sure heavily stereotyped and bashed in the media. They've twisted the religion to fit only the most extreme fundamentalists' idea of what islam is, however Islam is about as much of a religion of peace as christianity is. There are a fair amount of quotes that both Mohommed and Jesus give about being nice, love, ect.... ect...., but you are also willfully ignoring the inherent evil found in both the bible and koran that advocates prejudice and hate as well. Keep in mind, once you become a muslim, how easy is it to revert or become a different religion? Is that really peaceful when you face death for turning away?

      August 2, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
    • Duane W

      Abdallah- They never cut off heads, put a price out for assassination for speaking badly of your prophet, use roadside bombs to kill innocents, and use planes to kill civilians? What planet are you living on?

      August 2, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • Gita

      I am a woman and i wish ou would shut up. I wold never listen to a muslim, especially a man, nor would I ever trust one.

      August 2, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • Buzdum

      Muslims are out to conquer the world. America now has begun to realize this and now need to stop the migration into America just like what is happening in Europe.

      August 2, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • Abdallah

      Duane,

      The terrorist act of the christian in Norway, the killing of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan by Christian soldiers, doesn't make Christianity a bad religion. Unfortunately, one rotten apple spoils the whole barrel.

      Gita, you don't have to listen to me. It's a free country after all, I have my rights to say what I want, and you have the right to choose who to listen to.

      August 2, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
  18. Bobbi

    Well with the head gear we don't have to worry about hair in the food handling part of it. I do not buy from them, stay at the hotels, go to a doctor of foreign nationality, etc. I'm sick of America and given the time mexicans, muslims with destroy it.

    August 2, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
  19. P00P

    stick in da butt (_i_) <====8

    August 2, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
  20. Shane fm WV

    Is anyone of those migrant faithful to US, will they really inform authority if they know one of their fellow brother is planning something or help him instead. Do I feel safe travelling or living close to them? We all know answers of those. its good Muslim Americans are most optimistic religious group in US but because of them we are not.

    August 2, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
    • GodOfAbraham

      no. bcs of people/group like u, G Bush, Tea Party...and alike u r pessimistic....it is the economy

      August 2, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.