BEYOND THE HEADLINES:
7 THINGS YOU DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT AMERICAN MUSLIMS
BY NF STUDIO
Despite the fact that the Muslims in the US now number at least 3.45 million, most Americans still know very little about them. Worse, perceptions of Muslims have been heavily distorted and politicized in recent years, and at least 48% of Muslim Americans have reported experiencing discrimination in some form.
Because discrimination is often rooted in misinformation and misperception, education and fact-checking are key in eliminating it—as are compassion, kindness, and having a "neighborly faith." The next time you hear someone perpetuating a myth or stereotype about Muslim Americans, you can help them and your Muslim neighbors by sharing helpful facts that many people may not know.
7 Things to Know About American Muslims
When you think about Muslims in America, what imagery and ideas come to your mind first? Here are some facts about Muslims in America that defy common misconceptions.
1. The vast majority of Muslims are proud to be Americans. Despite the common accusation that Muslims are anti-American and unwilling to assimilate, 92% of American Muslims report being proud to call themselves Americans. Most are satisfied and optimistic about both their experiences in the US and the nation’s outlook in general, and most view themselves as being well-integrated into American culture.
2. Muslim Americans oppose violence more than any other religious group. A robust majority of Muslims find the idea of military attacks on civilians to be categorically indefensible. In comparison, between 43-64% of other groups (including Protestants, Catholics, Jews, Mormons, and atheists) believed that such attacks could be justifiable under certain conditions.
"DESPITE ISLAMOPHOBIC PERCEPTIONS OF MUSLIMS IN THE US AS ANTI-AMERICAN AND UNWILLING TO ASSIMILATE, 92% REPORT BEING PROUD TO CALL THEMSELVES AMERICANS"
3. Muslims in the US are ethnically, culturally, religiously, and politically diverse. Contrary to popular stereotypes, as of 2007, most Muslim Americans (about 88%) did not identify as Arabs; at least a quarter were African American. Even among the two main sects—Sunni and Shiite—individuals observe, practice, and honor their religion in widely varying ways. As of 2014, 62% leaned Democrat, 17% leaned Republican, and 21% had no political leaning.
4. Muslim views align with those of both liberal and conservative Americans. Muslim sociopolitical perspectives don’t fall neatly on one side or the other of the now-polarized liberal vs. conservative lines in the US. Instead, the views of many Muslims are concerned with the nature of a particular issue under debate rather than with supporting a political camp or “side” as a whole. This means that they may agree with conservatives on some issues but progressives on others.
5. Muslim women are often highly educated, highly compensated leaders. As of 2009, most Muslim American women were more educated than both the average American and Muslim European woman, and 92% of US Muslims don’t oppose Muslim women working outside the home. Compared with Muslim American men, these women report less of a wage gap than other American women in any religious group. Muslim American women also champion equity through their scholarship, civic engagement, and activism.
"MUSLIMS ARE AMONG THE MOST TOLERANT OF ALL RELIGIOUS GROUPS IN AMERICA"
6. Muslims are among the most tolerant of all religious groups in America. As of 2011, 92% of Muslim Americans expressed tolerance or positive views of other faiths while remaining personally loyal to Islam. The majority accept the idea of marriage between Muslims and non-Muslims, and an even greater number report close friendships with non-Muslims.
Muslims are the group likeliest to experience religious discrimination in public spaces. Although Jews (58%) and Muslims (60%) experience similar levels of religious discrimination overall, more Muslims do so in institutional settings like airports, workplaces, and healthcare facilities. Americans who identify as Republicans as well as those without a college degree exhibit Islamophobia at a higher rate than others, although race and religiosity do not appear to be determining factors.
Fight Misconceptions and Make New Muslim Friends With Neighborly Faith
Neighborly Faith is a student-led organization committed to bringing Christians and Muslims together and creating real friendships with neighbors of all faiths. We share the expertise of Evangelical scholars and practitioners to train a generation of leaders to love and lead like Jesus in a diverse world.
Our Boundless Program connects Christian students with influential Muslims in their field in online and in-person learning and networking opportunities. NF Media trains evangelicals to lead and love across faiths. What Went Wrong? tackles the big questions about polarization, and offers real solutions. Our Fellows Program is a competitive fellowship that will equip a cohort of Evangelical college students to lead initiatives that seek justice for and build friendships with people of other faiths in their communities.
If you’re interested in leading with a neighborly faith, contact us today!