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. Muneef

    Islam had it's share of False Prophets During Muhammad's saws time, so God only knows how many were there after his death and result of those at present times...!?
    -01) Al-Aswad al-Ansi.
    Aswad Ansi (Arabic : الاسود العنس), better known as Abhala son of Kaab, was a prophet who claimed prophethood in Yemen towards the end of the prophet Muhammad's lifetime, around 630 AD. He claimed to receive divine inspiration in the form of words and is recorded to have recited them to his people.
    He was known to be a soothsayer and a sorcerer who had a passion for consumption of alcohol. He had an ability to dazzle a crowd with tricks, according to traditional accounts he had a donkey whom he had trained to kneel before him, he would tell the donkey, in front of a large crowd "Kneel before your lord" and it would kneel, and then he would say to it "Bow before your lord" and it would bow. He eventually managed to convince the people of Yemen that he was a prophet.

    -2) Musaylama The Liar
    “ "From Muhammad, the Messenger of God, to Musaylimah, the arch-liar. Peace be upon him who follows (God's) guidance. Now then, surely the earth belongs to God, who bequeaths it to whom He will amongst his servants. The ultimate issue is to the God-fearing."[4] ”

    -3) Tulayha
    Tulayha ibn Khuwaylid ibn Nawfal al-Asadi[1] belonged to the Bani Assad tribe. He was a wealthy chief and a great warrior.[1] In 625 he was defeated in the Expedition of Qatan (against the Muslims). He also took part in the Battle of the Trench in 627.
    In 630 he submitted to Muhammad. However, he rebelled against Muhammad in 631 when he claimed to be a prophet and the recipient of divine revelation.[1] Thus, Tulayha became the third person to claim prophethood among the Arabs against Muhammad.[2] Many tribes acknowledged him as a prophet, which made him sufficiently strong and powerful to lead a confederacy of numerous tribes against the Muslims.[1].

    August 4, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
    • Muneef

      False Prophets reveal them selves time after time all through generations..today they are called politicians....

      August 4, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
  2. dsmith

    When you travel to a muslim country you will be threatened with your life, beaten or arrested if the women you are travelling with do not cover their heads (in shame). It is because you are a "guest" in their country and need to be respectful of local customs. But they scream bloody murder when they live in a western country and dont want to observe our local customs. Truely a religion or people that are lacking in so many ways

    August 4, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
    • Haime52

      You have for instences?

      August 6, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
    • Peace

      Where is your proof? I've travelled to several Muslim countries and this couldn't be farther from the truth. You are, like many others, an ignorant person who feels that proof or logic is no necessary to make accusations of any kind. Not surprised by your post at all actually.

      August 11, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
  3. dsmith

    This article is wrong on all counts. The reason muslims are so optimistic is that every day they are 1 step closer to sharia law in this country and europe. The western worlds atheistic seperation of church and state campaigns of the last 60 yrs have eroded the west's judeo-christian values and has given moslems in the west a protected/preferred minority status.

    August 4, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • jspiers

      Good thinking, now you can get a bomb and a gun and join your hero Anders Behring Breivik... long live arrogant white racists!!!

      August 5, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • Haime52

      "The western worlds atheistic seperation of church and state campaigns of the last 60 yrs"? Atheistic? Really?
      So which religious denomination do you want running the show, here in America? What denomination's belief system do wish enforced, by law? Only your's? Should everyone have to speak in tongues? Or only be spinkled for baptism? Force eveyone to observe only Sunday, under penalty of...... what exactly? Union of church and state has NEVER had pretty results! Someone always ends up second class, third class, or imprisoned and tortured, for heresy!

      August 6, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
    • Allocer

      It seems that the tin foil hat dulls the mind a bit dsmith... take it off.

      August 11, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
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About this blog

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.