Muslims in America have a much more positive outlook on life than their counterparts in most predominantly Muslim countries and some other Western societies, according to a poll released Monday.
The Gallup Organization study found Muslim-Americans to be racially and ideologically diverse, extremely religious, and younger and more highly educated than the typical American.
Gallup asked respondents to evaluate their life situation by placing themselves on a ladder where the bottom step, zero, equals the worst possible life and 10 the best possible life. Gallup defined as “thriving” those who said they’re currently on at least step seven of that ladder and expect to be on step eight or higher about five years from now.
Muslim-Americans (41 percent) were slightly less likely than Americans overall (46 percent) to be thriving. Yet the proportion of Muslims thriving in the United States was among the highest of Western societies surveyed, Gallup found. For example, only 8 percent of Muslims in the United Kingdom and 23 percent in France were thriving.
Gallup Organization interviews with a random sample of 946 Muslim Americans in 2008 shed light on the demographics of this rarely studied group:
RACE: Muslims are the nation’s most racially diverse religious group. At least a third of Muslim-Americans are black — mostly converts or children of converts to Islam. “The significant proportion of native-born converts to Islam is a characteristic unique to the United States,” Gallup said. More than a quarter call themselves white, while nearly one in five identified as Asian and about as many classified themselves as “other.”
RELIGIOSITY: Muslim-Americans are more religious than other Americans, but less likely than those in predominantly Muslim countries to say religion plays an important part in their lives — 80 percent of Muslim-Americans compared to virtually all in Egypt, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Morocco, for example.
IDEOLOGY: Muslim-Americans are the U.S. religious group most evenly spread out along the political spectrum — 29% liberal, 38% moderate, 25% conservative.