Muslims in the United States have achieved a high level of economic integration, but they generally do not feel prosperous and lag behind other groups when it comes to political participation. Those are several conclusions derived from an extensive poll of Muslim Americans, the results of which were released in Washington on Monday.
In post-September 2001 America, perhaps no minority group has aroused more curiosity - and been subjected to more suspicion - than Muslims, who account for less than two percent of the country's population.
A report released by the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, or GCMS, describes Muslims as America's most diverse religious community, the only one in which no single racial group constitutes a majority of practitioners.
But if American Muslims do not always fit into neat categories, they meet or exceed the national average in several economic and educational indicators.
Of nearly 1,000 Muslim respondents polled by the Gallup Center last year, 70 percent reported having a job, compared to 64 percent of the U.S. general population. Nearly one-fourth of Muslim Americans said they are self-employed, compared to 17 percent of all Americans. Among non-working Americans, a higher percentage of Muslims than any other religious group said they were students. The poll also showed that Muslims were second only to Jewish Americans when it comes to higher educational achievement.
GCMS analyst, Ahmed Younis:
"Muslim Americans reflect America," said Ahmed Younis. "In their successes, they reflect the successes of the American project. In their challenges, they reflect the disparities in the American experience. And attempting to remedy or bring this [American] dream to the population as a whole will necessarily require addressing certain components of the Muslim-American community."
Curiously, however, the poll shows Muslim Americans least as likely to say they are "thriving" and the most likely group to say they are "struggling."
GCMS Director, Dalia Mogahed:
"Muslim Americans are among the most concerned, and they were all throughout 2008, about the state of the economy," said Dalia Mogahed. "They are as worried as everyone else, if not more worried, about where we are going economically."
Mogahed notes that Muslim Americans are a young population, with more than a third of the poll's respondents between the ages of 18 and 29. She says the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States shaped and defined that group's formative years.
"They went from being invisible to the most interesting minority in America, in somewhat of a negative way, in the midst of a country trying to defend itself, trying to secure itself against terrorism - two wars involving Muslim-majority countries [Afghanistan and Iraq]," she said.
According to the poll, nearly two-thirds of American Muslims are registered to vote, but that they are the least likely religious community to exercise that right. But Gallup Center analysts say they expect Muslim political participation to grow over time, mirroring other groups in America's history.
More information about the poll can be found at www.gallupmuslimstudies.com.