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. WVLady63

    No wonder they are "optimistic." THEY GET PREFERENTIAL TREATMENT, NO ONE CAN SAY ANYTHING AGAINST THEM AND OUR GOVERNMENT GIVES THEM MONEY AND NO INTEREST LOANS TO START THEIR BUSINESSESS!!! I tried to start a business once and was immediately turned down even though I had great credit and was a taxpayer. These people come into our country and take advantage of us because the politically correct are tolerant of them. They come into this country with NO CREDIT, NO JOBS AND NO VISIBLE MEANS OF SUPPORT BUT THEY CAN GET LOANS TO BUY HOUSES, CARS AND BUSINESSESS, BUT I CAN'T!!! And these people wonder why those of us who are NOT politically correct don't want them here???????? Wake up American, it is only going to get worse!!!!

    August 2, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • Laughing

      Sounds to me you're just blaming other people for your own failings. Maybe your idea just sucked, did you ever think of that?

      August 2, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • Brandon

      That just about sums it up.
      Talk about anyone outside of Islam, thats OK, talk about Allah, JIHAD!!!!

      August 2, 2011 at 11:03 am |
    • Muneef

      Well your countries invaded their countries and sucked up their wealth so guess it doesn't matter really if they get back a small margin of that from you to start a life.

      August 2, 2011 at 11:03 am |
    • *SIGH*

      No one can say anything against them? You just did, and at the same time tried to play the victim card! I'd like to know what fantasy world you live in where no one can say anything about muslim americans. In fact, just in this thread alone people have tried to plant propaganda. Seriously people, trying to mislead is bad enough, but outright lying is horrid. To quote Rod Flanders, every time you lie baby jesus bleeds. Are you helping drive in the nails?

      August 2, 2011 at 11:14 am |
    • SS

      Where do you get your 'facts' from? What your saying is rubish. Its harder for everyone to qualify a loan these days due to tight credit environment. Any interest free loans, for example, for financing a car, is available to all creditworthy consumers. If you don't qualify, the problem is obviously with YOU. As far as leaving the country, wallk into any high tech company or go to a high school graduation and you'll see what immigrants including Muslim Americans have done for this country. Immigrants BUILT this country and without them it would turn into a banana republic and you'd be picking the bananas.

      August 2, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • Haas

      I am a muslim, I have a Ph.D (Engineer). I am almost sure I work (produce) more than you do and pay more tax than you do for this great country.

      August 2, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • Imran

      Just look at the way Amit Atlanta and the WVlady63 is typing. Half caps, half lower case. They are the same just posting as different names. What's wrong Amit? You realized your hindu name wasn't getting you the attention so you switched to a WVlady63 handle. LOL.

      August 2, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • Amit-Atlanta-USA

      Well done Imran! You need to join the CIA (or is it ISI !) with your investigative brain! Unfortunately, you are wrong!

      August 2, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
  2. RichP

    Most muslims are loyal to the US until there is a conflict with their religion, religion will trump govt every time.

    August 2, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • Haime52

      As loyalty to God should! To betray your conscience and place your country before God is a form of idolatry! We are admonished to "serve God rather than man". That does not mean taking up arms, only that obedience to God is supposed to take first place in our hearts. Even if it means death, just as the Christians died in Roman times. This, I believe, as a Christian!

      August 2, 2011 at 11:09 am |
    • Laughing


      So having faith in the American flag is idoltry but worshipping a guy on a cross in no way consti.tues the same thing right? Solid, just wanted to make sure we're on the same page

      August 2, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • abuzayd

      most of the anitmuslim fascists probably never met a real muslim in their lives, they just rely on talk radio and fox news to feed their fears. most of the muslims that migrated here came here primarily for economic opportunity and political stability because their home countries were being ruled by tyrannical puppets leftover from the colonial era. the waves of immigration fed the need by the west to support their aging population and keep their economies bustling, once the US closed the tap on immigration, you see that the economy is in the dumps, it's just going to get worse with the baby boomers heading into retirement at full speed.

      August 2, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • Haime52

      @ Laughing – Perhaps I misunderstood your reply. Are you saying that country should take presidence over God? Loyalty to country is the primary consideration, before your God? does the phrase, "God and country" have no meaning? It is never stated the other way around.
      Having faith in a flag is not idolatry, putting it before God is. Worshipping "a guy on a cross" is not idolatry when He is God. No one is trying to force belief on to you, here, so wherein did I offend you? Or do you just like trying to be offended?

      August 6, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • Haime52

      BTW Laughing – You assumed you had the page #. Doing that only shows your ignorance of who or what I am. Never try to pigeonhole people, it only shows either prejudice or ignorance.

      August 6, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
  3. Laughing

    The fascinating thing about this is not the article so much as the hatred spewed towards muslims (note the article is for muslim americans) and I'd be willing to bet money most of the lies and prejudiced remarks are coming from the very people who bemoan the attacks and persecution that christians are feeling in America right now. Simply fascinating.

    August 2, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • abuzayd

      anonymity brings out the hate that's deep in the bigotted and rascist heart. What else can we expect from the successors of a people who destroyed the native american popluation, then enslaved africans for centuries, carried out mass lynchings after they dared ask for their God given freedoms and rights.
      This country was built on the graves of the natives, on the blood and sweat of africans and immigrants. It is more their country then the intolerant fascists who come on these boards and blast anyone who aren't like them.

      August 2, 2011 at 11:52 am |
  4. Silly..But Saved!

    WHY TAKE SUCH A STUPID POLL??? I'M SICK OF POLLS!! I try to be nice to everyone! I'm a fair person in that I treat everyone with respect, however, I have to admit at times that I when I see an American Muslim or an American "educated" Muslim who (even as a student here in the U.S.) put down America or march against the very nation that ALLOWED him or her to come her to be educated.. I get angry and begin to doubt all Muslims; I'm sorry, but after what happened on September 11th.. AMERICANS ARE NERVOUS AND CAUTIOUS OF THEM.. It's just the way it is.. and no article on CNN or peace group is going to change that... THAT EVENT FOREVER CHANGED US...

    August 2, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • J.W

      So basically what you are saying is that you are prejudice. You are basing your feelings of an entire group of people over what a few have said or done.

      August 2, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • To JW

      Basically. A dog bites you and you develop an irrational fear of dogs. Who is at fault? Is the human at fault for how their brain comprehends the events? Obviously to some one else not all dogs are out to bite that one human. Are we to condemn someone for a basic defense mechanism. We can only help get them used to dogs again.

      August 2, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
    • SS

      Hmmm. Should we blame you for the Norway's killers actions because he was a Christian. According to his manifesto, he was part of network throughout the world opposed to multi-culturalism. Should we blame all Jews for the Gaza concentration camp and killing innocent people? Should we blame all Mexicans for the drug wars and killings? We we blame all African Americans because it thrives in urban ghettos? Should we blame all Americans for Abu Ghraib???

      Isn't this the definition of prejudice and therefore, are you not prejudice?

      Some honest reflection is called for your here.

      August 2, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
  5. total non sense

    The Mortal ENEMY of menkind easly invaded the USA and had no problem doing it. Of Course their happy! Enemy basea (mosquees) are popup everywhere.... this i the way Islam use to INVADE it;s enemy. look at europe.

    August 2, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • Ryanzzzz

      Oh, "mortal enemy," hahaha. At first, I read it as "moral enemy," and I was thinking, why is this guy talking about Christianity?

      August 2, 2011 at 10:54 am |
  6. Amit-Atlanta-USA

    The single most important point missed here is EVERYONE of these assertions by Muslims incl. loyalty to the US, confidence in FBI, perceived discriminations etc. are ALMOST ALWAYS accompanied by an "IF" or "BUT" to allow for wriggle room to explain away Muslim discontentment with America & the west. Even well know people like CNN’s own Mr. FAREED ZAKARIA takes recourse to such excuses to explain away (leaving political correctness aside – actually Justifying!) nearly universal ISLAMIC HATRED for all things American!

    Nothing ever can change that fact until & unless Muslims learn to identify themselves more with their ADAPTED homelands where they came on their own free will rather than associate themselves with the broader concept of Muslim Ummah which binds all the world Muslims together incl. those of Al-Qaeda, the Taliban who are sworn enemies of America & the west!


    August 2, 2011 at 10:49 am |
  7. Junaid

    Tried it... didn't work... and i"m still extremely optimistic and rational...
    I must say though that your logic doesn't make sense, you claim certain but have no proof...
    "Mohammed's fast, hunger driven hallucinations"
    what proof do you have of that? looks like your the irrational person
    I think maybe i should create a program for you- cure for ignorance and arrogance

    August 2, 2011 at 10:48 am |
    • Reality

      It is called the Infamous Angelic Con:

      Joe Smith had his Moroni.

      Jehovah Witnesses have their Jesus /Michael the archangel, the first angelic being created by God;

      Mohammed had his Gabriel (this "tin-kerbell" got around).

      Jesus and his family had Michael, Gabriel, and Satan, the latter being a modern day dem-on of the de-mented.

      The Abraham-Moses myths had their Angel of Death and other "no-namers" to do their dirty work or other assorted duties.

      Contemporary biblical and religious scholars have relegated these "pretty wingie thingies" to the myth pile. We should do the same to include deleting all references to them in our religious operating manuals. Doing this will eliminate the prophet/profit/prophecy status of these founders and put them where they belong as simple humans just like the rest of us.

      August 2, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
  8. J.W

    Maybe they are optimistic because they see that Muslims and Christians are not so different, and that we can live together in peace.

    August 2, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • Big Bob

      That's exactly what they want you to think. Taqiyya!

      August 2, 2011 at 11:03 am |
    • sassypants

      Not! I agree with Big Bob.

      August 2, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
  9. Prle

    Amazing how one can see someones intelligence from few words they write. Second, it is funny how those who apparently know neither history nor theology comment on historical events and religious interpretation.

    August 2, 2011 at 10:46 am |
  10. Fact-telling

    Muslim Americans are optimistic because they don't care the fate of infidels in the countries of their origins. America's discrimination is almost non-existent comparing to all other nations.

    August 2, 2011 at 10:45 am |
    • Dan

      That is a laughable assertion, your name is fairly ironic in the context of your claim.

      August 2, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • Amit-Atlanta-USA

      Well said: As a Hindu, and a recent immigrant to this greatest of nations I don't feel discriminated, why should my Muslim friends feel so? Has that got something more to do with Muslim adaptabiliy?

      August 2, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • SS

      'America's discrimination is almost non-existent comparing to all other nations.'

      Hmmm, you need to get our more. Travel to Europe, Asia, S. America and expand your horizons.

      August 2, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • SS

      'America's discrimination is almost non-existent comparing to all other nations.'

      Hmmm, you need to get out more. Travel to Europe, Asia, S. America and expand your horizons.

      August 2, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
  11. George

    They will cut off your great grand children's ears and noses, hands and feet, gauge out their eyes and stone them to death, all legal.

    August 2, 2011 at 10:44 am |
    • Prle

      Why don't you cut your fingers off so you can't use keyboard anymore, you know a lot about history, law, and theology.

      August 2, 2011 at 10:49 am |
    • trendo

      Your ignorance is overwhelming.

      August 2, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • Nymrod

      George: That has to be the most stupid comment I've read all week... someone actually gave birth to you? My condolences to your family.

      August 2, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
  12. Fact-telling

    I'm happy to know the religious persecution on Christians is mainly on CNN blog, not on general American soil.

    August 2, 2011 at 10:43 am |
  13. JD

    Isn't American Muslim and oxymoron?

    August 2, 2011 at 10:42 am |
    • sonny chapman

      So is Conservative Christian. But I'll let you take it up w/the Creator of All at a later date.

      August 2, 2011 at 10:46 am |
    • AyBee

      No, American=Where you come from or country you identify with. Muslim=Religion you identify with.

      August 2, 2011 at 10:51 am |
  14. George

    CNN won't let me comment about that body of law the Muslims have that starts with an S. You know what I mean.

    August 2, 2011 at 10:42 am |
    • George

      I just wanted a poll to ask if the American Muslims would like to see it here.

      August 2, 2011 at 10:43 am |
    • sassypants

      You mean S haria law that is not compatible with American values at all?

      August 2, 2011 at 10:46 am |
    • womcat

      It's a simple word filter, stupid. Get over yourself already.

      August 2, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • Cyrus

      Yes a so-called "body of law" that most Muslims don't abide by, because most of them have English and French legal systems in their countries? The so-called "body of law" that was created by the fanatical mollahs during the Ottoman Empire so that they can they could rule the non-Turks? The same "body of law" that does not have any validity in the courts in countries like India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Jordan, and I can name a few more?

      Yes, I am sure CNN is part of a global, marxist, socialist, Muslim conspiracy to muzzle good Christians like you.

      August 2, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • Mary

      My comment didn't make the cut either! I guess we are only supposed to post shiny happy comments.

      August 2, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
    • Atlas

      Yeah, my comment on sharia got blocked too. But I was able to use it in a reply. Apparently those don't get checked.

      August 2, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
  15. George

    My previous comments have been banned. So much for freedom of expression and of the press.

    August 2, 2011 at 10:40 am |
    • womcat

      It's a simple word filter, stupid. Get over yourself.

      August 2, 2011 at 10:50 am |
  16. sassypants

    You stay with yours and I'll stay with mine.

    August 2, 2011 at 10:34 am |
  17. Conrad Shull

    "92% ... had no sympathy for al Qaeda". That's 280,000 who do. Ouch.

    August 2, 2011 at 10:34 am |
    • John Utah

      Thats 1.547 billion who didnt, nice.

      August 2, 2011 at 10:39 am |
    • gmsus7

      Conrad Shull: No. You are misreading the article or purposely misquoting it by cutting up the sentence. The figure you cite simply states that 8% of American Muslims believe that some other American Muslims have some sympathy for Al Qaeda. Shouldn't have to be explained how reasonable and even encouraging that figure actually is.

      John Utah, the article is about US Muslims. There are fewer than 1.5 billion Muslims in the US, by about 1.5 billion.

      August 2, 2011 at 11:06 pm |
  18. God

    Why not apply this to all religions, they are all bunk.

    I should know.

    August 2, 2011 at 10:33 am |
    • womcat

      see see -evidence of god. He posted.

      -the only evidence ever, unfortunately.

      August 2, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • Haime52

      You should know? How? Do you know EVERYTHING? You have solved ALL the questions of the universe? The tongue in cheeck know it all, who claims self existence.

      August 2, 2011 at 10:55 am |
  19. John Utah

    The reason we are the most optimistic is because of our firm believe in our religion, our firm believe in God, our firm believe that this world and its trials and tribulations are a test and are temporary. We know that the happiness in this world is temporary, if you see the lives of the rich and famous most of their lives are pretty miserable. We have a firmness in our religion that no other religion can match, as I type I am fasting and I cannot drink a sip of water for another ten hours!!! True peace comes with Islam, everybody else is battling inner demons that they know deep inside.

    August 2, 2011 at 10:32 am |
    • Bob

      Everybody else is battling in some way in their lives, because that's what normal people do. That's the way god intended people to live, so they can learn from their trials and grow as people. People who practice islam have already given their soul over to a negative, some might say evil force. They've stunted their own humanity because they know, deep down inside, that they can't handle life like normal people can.

      August 2, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • sassypants

      I agree with Bob.

      August 2, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • Richard S Kaiser

      @ John Utah

      You John wrote, "our firm believe in our religion, our firm believe in God, our firm believe that this world and its trials and tribulations are a test and are temporary."

      Your "firm" as in Company-based? Or are you trying to say "Our Firm Belief"? Would sound much better My Way!

      Of GOD The Creation, By Gods, The Creators of Life, As gods are we Men of Mankind

      August 2, 2011 at 11:21 am |
  20. J.W

    I would marry a Muslim girl.

    August 2, 2011 at 10:22 am |
    • LOL

      Sure, but you will have to convert to Islam to do that.

      August 2, 2011 at 10:31 am |
    • J.W

      If I lived in the Middle East her family could probably force me to do that, but in America I think I could find a way to get away with it. LOL

      August 2, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • Reagan80

      Careful. The little Muslim girl's daddy may not like that.

      August 2, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • womcat

      Just one? Just get yourself killed and you can have 72 of them.

      The optimisim comes from bribery, in this case, yet the bets never get called cause there ain't no afterlife.

      August 2, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • J.W

      Well I am not Muslim so I would not get the 72 virgins. And hopefully her family would be living in the Mid East still so I didnt have to deal with them

      August 2, 2011 at 11:03 am |
    • Syed

      Convert to Islam and she might think about it

      August 2, 2011 at 11:04 am |
    • Cyrus

      Conversion is not required to marry a Muslim, nor are Muslims required to convert anyone. So, yeah...good luck with that.

      August 2, 2011 at 11:14 am |
    • Big Bob

      Then you would have to revert. Thems the rules!

      August 2, 2011 at 11:21 am |
    • J.W

      Hopefully there is a Muslim woman on this blog I can talk to

      August 2, 2011 at 11:55 am |
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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.