Islam in the United States – Fact Sheet


• It is the third largest religion in the United States after Christianity and Judaism.

• Muslims are one of the most racially diverse religious groups in the United States originating from more than 80 countries.

• There are various estimates of the Muslims living in the United States because the census does not ask any question about the religious affiliation. The range of these estimates is from 3 million to 6 million, about 1% to 2% of the total U.S. population.

• Native-born American Muslims are mainly African Americans who make up about a quarter of the total Muslim population.

• An estimated 10 to 30 percent of the slaves brought to colonial America from Africa arrived as Muslims.

• Over 5,000 Muslims serve in the U.S. Armed Forces.

• Since 1988, eight countries have had Muslim women as their heads of state, including Turkey, Indonesia, Senegal, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Bangladesh (two different women), Pakistan and Mauritius. Many Muslim countries—including Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia—have a higher percentage of women in national elected office than does the United States.

• In 1776, John Adams published “Thoughts on Government,” in which he mentions the Islamic prophet Muhammad as a “sober inquirer after truth” alongside Confucius, Zoroaster, Socrates, and other thinkers.

• In 1797, President John Adams signed the Treaty of Tripoli, declaring the United States had no “character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen.”

• In his autobiography, published in 1791, Benjamin Franklin stated that he “did not disapprove” of a meeting place in Pennsylvania that was designed to accommodate preachers of all religions. Franklin wrote that “even if the Mufti of Constantinople were to send a missionary to preach Mohammedanism to us, he would find a pulpit at his service.”

• While President, Thomas Jefferson participated in an iftar with the Ambassador of Tunisia in 1809.

• Thomas Jefferson defended religious freedom in America including those of Muslims. Jefferson explicitly mentioned Muslims when writing about the movement for religious freedom in Virginia.

• Among South Asians in the country, the large Pakistani American community stands out as particularly well educated and prosperous, with education and income levels exceeding those of U.S.-born whites. Many are professionals, especially in medicine (they account for 2.7-5% of America’s physicians), scientists, engineers, and financial analysts, and there are also a large number of entrepreneurs.

• The number of mosques in the United States in 2011 was 2,106. The six states with the greatest number of mosques were: New York 257, California 246, Texas 166, Florida 118, Illinois 109, and New Jersey 109.

• Muslims in the United States have increasingly made their own culture; there are various Muslim comedy groups, rap groups, Scout troops and magazines, and Muslims have been vocal in other forms of media as well.

• America’s Islamic Heritage Museum in Washington, DC opened on April 30, 2011, dedicated to the history of Islamic culture in the U.S.

• After the September 11 attacks, America saw an increase in the number of hate crimes committed against people who were perceived to be Muslim, particularly those of Middle Eastern and South Asian descent. A publication in Journal of Applied Social Psychology found evidence that the number of anti-Muslim attacks in America in 2001 increased from 354 to 1,501 following 9/11. Arab American Institute reported an increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes ranging from discrimination and destruction of private property to violent threats and assaults, some of which resulted in deaths.

• Fifty-one percent of American Muslims express worries that women wearing hijab will be treated poorly, 44% of American Muslim women who always wear hijab express a similar concern

• In a 2007 survey, 53% of American Muslims reported that it was more difficult to be a Muslim after the 9/11 attacks. Asked to name the most important problem facing them, the options named by more than ten percent of American Muslims were discrimination (19%), being viewed as a terrorist (15%), public’s ignorance about Islam (13%), and stereotyping (12%).

• 2014 Pew poll found that Muslims were the most disliked religious group in the United States with an average 40% cold rating.

• Fifty-four percent of Muslims in America believe that the U.S. government’s anti-terrorism activities single out Muslims.

• Seventy-six percent of surveyed Muslim Americans stated that they are very or somewhat concerned about the rise of Islamic extremism around the world, while 61% express a similar concern about the possibility of Islamic extremism in the United States.

• Overall, from restaurants to supermarkets, halal meat sales are projected at $20 billion in 2016, up by one-third since 2010, according to the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America, which certifies halal food and promotes education on the topic.


Source: U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO)