Number of U.S. Mosques Up 74% Since 2000

Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA Today, February 29, 2012

The number of Islamic places of worship in the United States soared 74% in the past decade.

While protests against new mosques in New York, Tennessee and California made headlines, the overall number of mosques quietly rose from 1,209 in 2000 to 2,106 in 2010.

And most of their leaders say American society is not hostile to Islam, according to a comprehensive census of U.S. mosques and survey of imams, mosque presidents and board members released Wednesday.

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They’re also very engaged: The study finds “98% of mosque leaders say Muslims should be involved in American institutions and 91% agree that Muslims should be involved in politics.”

The study—The American Mosque 2011—was sponsored by The Hartford Institute for Religion Research (Hartford Seminary), the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies, as well as the nation’s largest Islamic civic and religious groups, including the Islamic Society of North America and the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

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Major findings include:

• States with the most mosques are New York (257), California (246) and Texas (166).

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• Mosques are ethnically diverse. The major participants are South Asian, Arab and African American, with growing numbers of new immigrants including Somalis, West Africans and Iraqis.

•Most mosque leaders (87%) say “radicalism and extremism” are not increasing among Muslim youth, “in their own experience.” They say the greater challenge is “attracting and keeping them close to the mosque.”

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Although the study does not claim to say how many Muslims are in the USA, Bagby estimates there are 2.6 million “mosque participants”—people who have attended prayers for Eid (a major holy day) or Friday prayers or were considered participants by the mosque leader survey.

Bagby says he reached the number by taking mosque attendance reported by the leadership and multiplying the average number of attendees by the number of mosques.

Bagby’s report concludes, “If there are 2.6 million Muslims who pray the Eid prayer, then the total Muslim population should be closer to estimates (by Bagby) of up to 7 million.”

No other survey projects even 3 million Muslims in the USA.

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Bagby disputes other studies, saying they underestimate because they are based on random phone interviews and many Muslims, particularly immigrants, will not discuss their religion with a stranger on the phone.

However, the Pew research, which included phone interviews in four languages, also synthesized data from the Census Bureau and immigration authorities. {snip}

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