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Report: U.S. Mosques Ethnically-Diverse, Encourage Civic Engagement

Report: U.S. Mosques Ethnically-Diverse, Encourage Civic Engagement

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Comprehensive study shows number of U.S. mosques increased 74% since 2000

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 2/29/12) -- A comprehensive study of mosques and the attitudes of mosque leaders in the United States released today indicates that the number of American mosques increased 74 percent since 2000 and that Islamic houses of worship are ethnically-diverse institutions led by officials who advocate positive civic engagement.

A coalition of major American Muslim and academic organizations released the report, titled "The American Mosque 2011: Basic Characteristics of the American Mosque, Attitudes of Mosque Leaders," at a news conference this morning at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

JESSICA RINALDI/REUTERS - Zienib Noori, 20, of Albany, NY listens to a speaker at the "Today, I Am A Muslim, Too"  rally in New York City March 6, 2011. The rally was held in response to the upcoming Congressional hearings led by Peter King (R-LI) to protest the targeting of American Muslims and Arabs.

SEE: Number of Mosques Nearly Doubles in Decade (AP)

The report is the first part of the larger U.S. Mosque Survey 2011 to be published. To conduct the survey, researchers counted all mosques in America and then conducted telephone interviews with a sample of mosque leaders. (The study has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent.)

The report's major findings include:

  • The number of mosques and mosque participants continues to show significant growth, from 1,209 mosques in 2000 to 2,106 in 2011. New York and California have the largest number of mosques. Seventy-six percent of mosques were established since 1980.
  • Mosque leaders overwhelmingly endorse Muslim involvement in American society. More than 98 percent of mosque leaders agree that Muslims should be involved in American institutions and 91 percent agree that Muslims should be involved in politics.
  • The vast majority of mosque leaders do not feel that American society is hostile to Islam.
  • The majority of mosque leaders (56 percent) adopt a flexible approach to interpretation of Quran and Sunnah (the normative practice of Islam's Prophet Muhammad) that takes into account the overall purposes of Islamic law and modern circumstances.
  • The vast majority (87 percent) of mosque leaders disagree that "radicalism" is increasing among Muslim youth. Many mosque leaders say the real challenge for them is not radicalism and extremism among the youth, but how to attract and keep them close to the mosque.
  • Mosques remain an extremely diverse religious institution. Only a tiny minority of mosques (3 percent) have just one ethnic group that attends that mosque. South Asians, Arab-Americans and African-Americans remain the dominant ethnic groups, but significant numbers of Somalis, West Africans and Iraqis now worship at mosques nationwide.
  • The number of mosques in urban areas is decreasing, while the number of mosques in suburban areas is increasing. In 2011, 28 percent of mosques were located in suburbs, up from 16 percent in 2000.
  • The conversion rate per mosque has remained steady over the past two decades. In 2011, the average number of converts per mosque was 15.3. In 2000 the average was 16.3 converts per mosque.
  • Shia mosques are also expanding in number. Some 44 percent of all Shia mosques were established in the 1990s.

Speakers at the today's news conference included:

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  • Ihsan Bagby, Associate Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Kentucky (Prof. Bagby is the report's author.)
  • David Roozen, Director of the Hartford Institute for Religion Research, Hartford Seminary
  • Nihad Awad, National Executive Director of the Council on America-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
  • Zahid Bukhari, President of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA)
  • Safaa Zarzour, Secretary General of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA)

Sponsors of the U.S. Mosque Survey 2011 include: The Hartford Institute for Religion Research (Hartford Seminary), the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies (ASARB), the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Islamic Society of North American (ISNA), the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), and the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT).

The U.S. Mosque Survey 2011 is part of a larger study of American congregations called Faith Communities Today (FACT), which is a project of Cooperative Congregational Studies Partnership, a multi-faith coalition of denominations and faith groups.

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