Galloping Forward With Gallup Findings

by: Mehrunisa Qayyum

On August 2nd, Abu Dhabi Gallup released Muslim Americans: Faith, Freedom, and the Future, which is its follow up report to Muslim Americans: A National Portrait. Gallup launched this report in Washington, DC because their research examined U.S. Muslims’ political, social and spiritual engagement 10 years after September 11, 2001. Although economic engagement is absent from the long title, the findings begin with contextualizing the Muslim American experience within the global recession and the notion of ‘thriving’—a multi-dimensional indicator that stems from socio-economic livelihood. Muslim Americans are more optimistic about the future as their “youth bonus” has caught up to other groups’ regarding Gallup’s ‘thriving’ measure: a mix of life evaluations and perceptions of the economy. How will the U.S. optimize the 93 percent of Muslim Americans, who believe that other Americana that share their faith are loyal to the U.S., as a resource to advance political and economic engagement with the Middle East & North Africa region?

Furthermore, the findings reveal that the Muslim American experience has progressed socially and spiritually more so than politically. For example, more than 80 percent of Muslim Americans say that religion plays an important part of their life. Imam Mohamed Majid, President of the Islamic Society of North America, participated in the launch’s panel by highlighting how to address the social and civic engagement challenges within the Muslim American community. Meanwhile, Muslim Americans are less likely to be registered to vote when compared to other faith-based group cohorts. A list of highlights may be found below and prompt more questions about the extent to which the most recent set of diaspora communities within Muslim American are truly “galloping forward”. I wonder if Gallup’s findings for the MENA region would produce a similar story. How will Muslim Americans relatively low political engagement translate economically at home, as well as abroad, via philanthropic institutions and civic engagement.

Gallup August 2011 Highlights
I. Background
A. Sample Size=868,264 adults of which 3,883 self-identified as Muslim American
B. Religious Tolerance Index=5 statements of agreement
1. “not objecting to someone moving in next door”
2. “In the past year, I have learned something from someone of another religious faith”
3. Tolerant and Integrated
4. Acknowledges that Muslim Americans are most racially diverse religious community in the US

II. Analysis
A. Muslim American perception of the economy has improved more that that of other groups
B. Tend to register as Democrat, are optimistic about the political climate in the U.S.
C. Nearly 8 out of 19 Muslim Americans approve of Obama’s job performance
D. Average age of Muslim Americans is 36—significantly younger than people of other religion

III. Political Engagement
A. Muslim Americans have most confidence of any major US religious group in the honesty of elections
B. Less confident than any American religious cohort in FBI, military and US institutions closely associated w/”war on terror”
1. Iraq War=mistake; most prevalent among Muslim Americans (83%)
2. 65% MA believe unpopularity is result of what US has done, only 35% say negative image stems from misinformation

C. Least likely member of any major religious group to be registered to vote (65%, compare to 91% of Protestant, highest and Jewish)
D. Muslim Americans are also the least likely major religious group in the US to say there is ever a justification for individuals or small groups to attack civilians; conversely; in every other major religious group except Mormons the proportion of people who say such attacks are sometimes justified is at least twice that

Mehrunisa Qayyum is an International Development Consultant with a focus on political economy in the MENA region. Contact:

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