Foreign Policy Blogs

Describing the Size of Islam in America

The article, Figures on Faith, discusses new efforts to gather information about the actual number of Muslims living in the United States. For many years, there has been a debate about the size of the Muslim communities in America. Past surveys put the numbers quite low, worrying Muslims that they may not have a substantial presence in the American political process. The Council on American Islamic Relations says the number of Muslims in the U.S. is between 6 and 8 million people (or 2-3% of the total population). The Pew Research Center – based on phone surveys – says the number is more like 2.3 million (0.6%). The Christian Science Monitor in an article back in 2002 discussed “America's Elusive Minority,” and pointed out that the population estimates range from 1.2 to 10 million. A New York Times Article from 2005 discusses trends in immigration and reminds readers that although the U.S. Census Bureau and the DHS does not track religion, “both provide statistics on immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries.” Accordingly, “in 2005, more people from Muslim countries became legal permanent U.S. residents – nearly 96,000 – than in any year in the previous two decades.” The exciting part of this new initiative (partly led by the Islamic Society of North America) is that it will not be a sample phone survey. Rather, as reported by the lead researcher of the study, they are going to “try and identify the total universe of mosques and not do a sample survey but a complete survey of every mosque.” The surveyors will also gather information and data about mosque governance, voter drives at mosques, and the level of participation of women. Hopefully, this census will make statistical sense of all the packed and overflowing mosques throughout the country.

 

Author

Karin Esposito

Karin Esposito is blogging on religion and politics from her base in Central Asia. Currently, she is the Project Manager for the Tajikistan Dialogue Project in Dushanbe. The Project is run through the Geneva Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies with the support of PDIV of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. The aim of the project is to establish practical mechanisms for co-existence and peaceful conflict resolution between Islamic and secular representatives in Tajikistan. After receiving a Juris Doctorate from Boston University School of Law in 2007, she worked in Tajikistan for the Bureau of Human Rights and later as a Visting Professor of Politics and Law at the Kazakhstan Institute of Management, Economics, and Strategic Research (KIMEP). Ms. Esposito also holds a Master's in Contemporary Iranian Politics (2007) from the School of International Relations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Iran and a Master's in International Relations (2003) from the Geneva Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (GIIDS) in Switzerland.

Areas of Focus:
Islam; Christianity; Secularism;

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