The Diversity of Muslims in the United States: Views as Americans

Posted on April 18, 2011


United States Institute of Peace


  • There are approximately 6 to 7.5 million Muslims in the United States who identify themselves as Americans. The community consists of a combination of immigrants and second- and third-generation Arab, Latino, Asian, European, African, and African-American Muslims.
  • The growth of the American Muslim community has fostered the development of a variety of religious, civic, political, cultural, economic, social, ethnic, feminist, artistic, and professional organizations.
  • The diversity of American Muslim organizations provides a vast number of voices addressing such issues as terrorism, democracy, peacemaking, and human rights.
  • American Muslims do not see contradictions between Islam and such ideals as democracy, pluralism, or political activism; rather, in recent years several national groups have made it their primary mission to reconcile all three with Islamic values.
  • Some leaders see the blending of Islamic values with the American experience as a solid bridge to mutual understanding between the United States and the Muslim world.
  • American Muslim advocacy organizations often collaborate with the White House and law enforcement authorities to devise strategies on public policy, civil rights, the war against terrorism, and other related issues.
  • Many organizations emphasize the importance of self-scrutiny and education in relation to the larger Islamic heritage.
  • Interfaith dialogue has taken the forefront on the agendas of many American Muslim organizations, demonstrating a belief that building trust, peace, and reconciliation will ultimately lead to harmonious interfaith relations in the United States.
  • American Muslim scholars advocate greater involvement by Muslims in the political, social, economic, and cultural spheres of American society.
  • American Muslim scholars believe Muslims have an enormous responsibility and talent for resolving conflict and being agents for peace.

Conclusion: Multipronged Conflict Prevention

The American Muslim community is diverse in every conceivable way. There are numerous national and regional organizations dedicated to important civic, religious, cultural, educational, political, and social issues. On the subject of terrorism and conflict resolution, clearly all American Muslim groups have denounced it emphatically, while some have gone beyond words by becoming involved with foreign policy, lobbying efforts, and mobilizing grassroots campaigns in the community.

The Fiqh Council of North American fatwa is an example of American Muslims taking proactive positions on global terrorism, while practicing zero tolerance of violence and religious extremism. Their positions have examined conflict and peacemaking in Islam and have advocated the explicit need for American Muslims to cooperate with law enforce- ment.

National American Muslim organizations like MPAC, CAIR, ISNA, and AMA have focused on violence and religious extremism as critical issues with local and international strategies. MPAC’s “National Grassroots Campaign to Fight Terrorism” and CAIR’s “Not in the Name of Islam” efforts are examples of American Muslims’ innovative programs to raise awareness on issues of radical ideologies. The coordination of their efforts with those of law enforcement agencies demonstrates mutual recognition of the roles each group plays in conflict prevention. [Read more]

Please click here to download this very informative USIP report in PDF format.