For those who haven’t seen it, the Pew Research Center has just published the results of an extensive survey of American Muslims. This is a fascinating piece of research and worth your time to explore a bit.

Some key highlights include Pew’s assessment that around 2.35 million Muslims live in the US, of which about 1.4 million are adults. They include a chart with the results of other surveys and theirs seems to be on the high side, with at least one survey claiming one third this number. The only survey refuting this estimate was sponsored by…CAIR. Of course. It is the survey that claimed 6-7 million after counting 2 million mosque-going Muslims and extrapolating (without evidence) that therefore 3 times the number would sound about right.

The Muslim American population is a bit skewed to the young. What is interesting about this is that young Muslims under 30 tend to be more devout, more identified with their Muslim identity than their elders, more likely to support suicide bombings (31% of young Muslims either accepted or partially accepted their use), and generally more assertive about their Islamic links than their elders.

Muslim Americans tend to be about average in terms of income level when compared to non-Muslim Americans; their ideals tend to lean towards the Democrats, except when it comes to certain lifestyle issues such as homosexuality; and tend to be just about as devout and mosque-going as Christian Americans and believe in the divine origins of the Koran at about the same rate as Christian Americans believe in the Bible’s divine origins.

On the other hand, almost half consider themselves Muslims first, before considering themselves American. 6 out of 10 young Muslims believe this. 4 out of ten believe that Arabs committed the 9/11 attacks while 28% reject that premise entirely and 32% (!!!) refused to answer the question. 12% accept the use of suicide bombings in some form to “defend Islam,” while 9% refused to answer that question. As I note above, 31% of young Muslims accept this proposition. 3 out of 10 Muslims over 30 years of age believe that Islam and modern life are in conflict while 4 out 10 young Muslims believe this; which translates to a full 26% who think that Muslims shouldn’t even try to find this balance.

About 65% of Muslims are foreign born and of the 35% who are native Americans, more than half are African American for a total of about 20% of the Muslim American population. The survey breaks down many questions by origin of the Muslim and this is also informative, in particular because many native-born Muslims are converts to Islam. By the way, about a quarter of American Muslims are converts and most of them come from Protestant denominations.

The survey was light on questions of foreign policy although it asked about Afghanistan and Iraq. The large majority of Muslim Americans are opposed to those wars, don’t believe the “war on terror” is fought for authentic reasons, and don’t support this Administration in general. On the question of Israel and the Palestinians, 61% believe that Israel can exist while the “rights and needs of the Palestinians are taken care of.”

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