Study Shows Mainstream Views of American Muslims

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The nation's Muslims have political views, income and levels of education that reflect those of mainstream America. However, there is evidence that the vast majority of Americans either know very little about Islam or are deeply suspicious of the religion according to a survey published in December 2007 by the University of California, Irvine and directed by sociology professor and Carnegie Scholar Jen'nan Ghazal Read. Read the press release.

The telephone poll found that 66 percent of Americans said they know "very little or nothing" about Islam, and 34 percent said they have an "unfavorable opinion" of the religion.

The survey found that American Muslims are well-educated and affluent, religiously active, politically engaged and socially conservative. They hold very similar views to other Americans on social issues, family life and domestic policies, but are more critical than most Americans of the country’s policy toward the Middle East.

Sixty percent of American Muslims pray each day while 70 percent of U.S. Christians pray daily, according to the survey. It also indicated that more Christians (54 percent) than Muslims (43 percent) believe that religion should influence politics.

Read said “American Muslims, many of whom are immigrants, are not any different from earlier immigrant groups who came to America - they are motivated by the same desire to integrate and achieve a better way of life.” 

Read’s work was funded in part through the Carnegie Scholars program, which supports scholars whose work helps inform national and international dialogs around Carnegie Corporation of New York’s priority issues. For the past four years, Scholars have contributed to public awareness of the values and forces that shape Islam as a religion and social movement.