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. Peter Q Wolfe

    No, I don't think this polll went far enough in my opinion. I want a comparison of native muslims with foreign muslims about african americans to show aa people that foreign africans are more optimistic in general whether christian, muslim, etc than their counterparts. I would also like to see what they are more optimistic about jst economics or what? I read the article but the real answers haven't been revealed yet though. Why are catholics more otpimistic than protestants? Makes no sense as catholics are decreasing and protestant evangelicals are increasing and catholic corruption would apppear to damper their moods more. Finally, I am a catholic church attender but the deducation of logic doesn't make sense.

    August 2, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
  2. timestickin

    And then their was the rope..

    August 2, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
  3. U'Waana M'Deek

    Yes the moose slime future is so bright they gotta wear shades. And Chadors, and burkas & viels, oh heck, let em wear anything they want. I'd rather see them coming at me so I can cross the street & not be blown up.

    Semper Lie!

    August 2, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
  4. Revenge of the Mildly Angry Kittens rom Beyond Hell ! ! !

    What brilliant polling. Most Americans rate their optimism at a 7, but the range for specific groups is 7.4 to 8.4? Nice math skills.

    Remember during the Bush years when some idiotic polls showed Republicans to be happier than Democrats, and Republicans went on and on about their various superior traits that made them inherently happier? Anyone believe conservatives are naturally happier now?

    August 2, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
  5. Rainer Braendlein

    Once upon a time an Arab met Muhammad and asked him about heaven (paradise or garden):

    What do I have to do, in order to get into heaven?

    Muhammad's answer:

    It is very simple: Slay Jews and Christians.


    Sura 9: Verse 111:

    Lo! Allah hath bought from the believers their lives and their wealth because the Garden will be theirs: they shall fight in the way of Allah and shall slay and be slain. It is a promise which is binding on Him in the Torah and the gospel and the Qur’an. Who fulfilleth His covenant better than Allah? Rejoice then in your bargain that ye have made, for that is the supreme triumph.
    ( سورة التوبة , At-Taubah, Chapter #9, Verse #111)

    August 2, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      Sura 9: Verse 29:

      Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture as believe not in allah nor the Last Day, and forbid not that which allah hath forbidden by His messenger, and follow not the Religion of Truth, until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low.
      ( سورة التوبة , At-Taubah, Chapter #9, Verse #29)

      (Note: "Have been given the Scripture" are Jews and Christians, garden = heaven, "believe not in Allah and the Last Day" are Jews and Christians, messenger = Muhammad, "Religion of Truth" = Islam, tribute is an imposed tax)

      August 2, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
  6. timestickin

    Well let those animals stay in their beautiful countrie and think that..

    August 2, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • Mary

      Timstickin, you are allowed to spell to misspell "countrie" once and only once. After that, I have to correct you only because its annoying.

      August 2, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
  7. Richard

    There are more than 1.2 billion Muslims on this planet and it is easy to say 99% are peaceful. Think about it this way, they have be demonized by media and illeterate masses for reasons that might be justifiable just like justifying the Norwegian killer recently killing and bombing in Norway makes all Christians or Norwegians terrorists. Even though he mostly killed his own people in the name of his own stupid ideology.
    You have to remember Muslims themsleves have been a target of nasty terrorism and unjust dictatorship. They are even trying to fight and change that in Middle East but the leaders are holding them back thus sending them back into dark ages.
    In our country it took our beloved leaders to act like spoiled children to pass a measly debt ceiling hike! Don't spew hatred without some solid facts to back it up with.

    August 2, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
  8. timestickin

    self-absorbed animals. That still stone people in the street to death........Really!!!!!!!! animals...

    August 2, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • Nodack

      They think just as highly of you.

      August 2, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
  9. Johnny Blammo, Emperor of Winnemucca Nevada ! ! !

    The reason they are, as a group, happy is that they are largely first or second generation immigrants, which are traditionally a hopeful demographic. It has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with being in a land of more opportunity and less restrictions than where they came from. All immigrants do that.

    Why are Protestants least optimistic? Because they are deep into their phony persecution complex seige mentality, believing in totally fabricated "crises" like the "attack on Christmas" and the rise to equality by those evil gays, and worst of all, the country actually allows other religions and viewpoints equal standing with theirs (how monsterous!).

    August 2, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
  10. Sam

    This is a slanted poll by an biased polling organization and it's probably pure BS. CNN is yet again wasting space with non-news and a pro-Muslim bias.

    August 2, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • WDinDallas


      August 2, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
  11. THE-Tally-Whacker!

    They are optimistic because they are ready to spread sharia law in the US thanks to obama.

    August 2, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
  12. timestickin

    You cannot come here thinking this is your countrie an live like you have lived.. we have rules. and #1 is respect! wich none of you have.. And if you dont like to be bullied around because you are breaking our law? go back to your beautiful countrie

    August 2, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • J.W

      Who are you talking to? How do you know they dont have respect?

      August 2, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • ejaz

      I want to meet your english teacher, what a lousy job he/she has done.

      August 2, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • Richard

      Coming from a person who can't even spell. What a way to spew hatred...yopu prove my point that hatred is spewed by ignorant people like you who can't even spell.
      Good job and now get off welfare and go back to school.

      August 2, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
    • Richard

      Coming from a person who can't even spell. What a way to spew hatred...you prove my point that hatred is spewed by ignorant people like you who can't even spell.
      Good job and now get off welfare and go back to school.

      August 2, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
  13. Langfred

    I don't know if this has already been mentioned, but someone should really FIX the mis-spelling of Mormon (spelled Morman in the article). Sloppy writing or editing should be unacceptable at a professional news organization like CNN.

    For the record, I am not Mormon, just anal-retentive. 🙂

    August 2, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
  14. John

    Wow! Look who is funding this research. Remember to read your Koran and understand the writings and logic. Understand the ultimate goal of Global Domination. Understand the term 'Taqiyya which is an Arabic word that refers to the practice of concealing from your enemy what is truly in your heart....

    August 2, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • inthespirit

      We are "tolerating" ourselves into oblivion. I simply hope that God will continue to bless this nation and not let us stay in the ignorant condition we are in.

      August 2, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • Big Bob

      The worst Taqiyya is when you mention the word, most muslims say they've never heard of it.

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

    Love your neighbour!

    Of course many Muslims just come to us, in order to earn more money. We cannot assume all of them to serve the Umma.
    Let us treat them as lovable fellow citizens!

    However, the Islam (the doctrine) is an evil religion and must be abolished. No Koran, no Islamists, no cry!

    August 2, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
    • Frankly Speaking..

      Hahaha..thank you for the laugh

      August 2, 2011 at 12:48 pm |

    CNN: There is already so much divide and hatred. Please do not post these articles that is presented as information but further damages the image about a group. Muslims and people in general do not seek coverage of continuous hate and fear mongering.
    Also, a poll of 400 people do not represent "69% of Americans think" ... Let's be positive and teach to coexist.

    August 2, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
    • Big Bob

      But something, anything needs to be said. If there is no conversation, we won't be able to get over our fears, or...defend ourselves.

      August 2, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
  17. Sagebrush Shorty

    I would feel optimistic too if I was a Muslim. After all I would be a member of a group who are given special treatment by our politcally correct, Muslim friendly administration.

    August 2, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • donniedarko

      Are you talking about your buddies from all the Bush administrations, because you know their good friends are big oil Saudi MUSLIMS. Or did you forget? Moron.

      August 2, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
  18. Abby Normal

    Ha cha cha cha

    August 2, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
  19. mamoon

    Bible - New Testament
    According to the Book of Matthew
    -Jesus recommends that to avoid sin we cut off our hands and pluck out our eyes. This advice is given immediately after he says that anyone who looks with lust at any women commits adultery.

    -Jesus says that most people will go to hell.

    -Families will be torn apart because of Jesus (this is one of the few "prophecies" in the Bible that has actually come true). "Brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death."

    -Jesus says that he has come to destroy families by making family members hate each other. He has "come not to send peace, but a sword."

    -Jesus is criticized by the Pharisees for not washing his hands before eating. He defends himself by attacking them for not killing disobedient children according to the commandment: "He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death."

    -Jesus advises his followers to mutilate themselves by cutting off their hands and plucking out their eyes. He says it's better to be "maimed" than to suffer "everlasting fire."

    -God will come when people least expect him and then he'll "cut them asunder." And "there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

    -Jesus tells us what he has planned for those that he dislikes. They will be cast into an "everlasting fire."

    August 2, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • Fact-telling

      American atheists say they are too stupid to understand anything with context in the Bible.

      August 2, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • J.W

      Most of what you said was taking out of context. Also much of it was Jesus speaking metaphorically. Jesus did not mean literally cut off your hand and pluck out your eyes, but that they should do what they can to avoid sin. Jesus did not say most people will go to hell either.

      August 2, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Actually, many American atheists know more about comparative religions, and are more well-read in religious literature than "the faithful".

      August 2, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • mamoon

      Fact-telling and J.W: What context? These are verses, not scientific analysis. And how do you know that Jesus was speaking metaphorically? How do you know what he meant? We can then say that Mohammad was speaking metaphorically. If you say Jesus didn't mean to say what he said, you have to say the same thing about Mohammad, otherwise you are religious bigots.

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

      There is no verse where Jesus said he would send most people to hell. Jesus used metaphor throughout his teachings. When Jesus said that people shouldnt concentrate on the speck in someones eye when they have a plank in theirs, that didnt mean that some people actually had a plank in their eye. It was a metaphor.

      August 3, 2011 at 10:22 am |
  20. Kathy

    this too shall pass. when we were in vietnam, the asians were concidered the enemy. same thing with the cold war, the Russians were the bad guys. Its the cycle of life and hopefully we can evolve and all move forward, we do share the planet, this is our home, not just one group, we have to learn to coexist and see things the way they are and not what the media (aka coroporations) try to ram down our throats.

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

      II've been saying that for years. I wonder who the next group Americans recklessly discriminate against will be. I'm thinking China.

      August 2, 2011 at 1:06 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.