A major study of U.S. mosques released today finds Muslim houses of worship are growing in number, becoming slightly more suburban and their leaders less wary of cultural hostility.
The U.S. Mosque Survey 2011 was funded and overseen by many of the continent’s largest and best-known Muslim organizations, including the Islamic Society of North America and the Islamic Circle of North America, as well as secular groups that research American religion. It includes interviews with leaders of hundreds of mosques.
It compares data from earlier studies on U.S. mosques from 2000 and 1994. Some key points:
• There are 2,106 mosques in the United States, compared with 1,209 in 2000 – a 74 percent rise. There were 962 mosques in 1994, according to research quoted in the study.
• Mosques are relatively new institutions here; 76 percent of all mosques were established since 1980.
• The vast majority of mosques are in urban areas, but the percentage of such mosques is going down. Sixteen percent of mosques in 2000 were in suburbs while 28 percent of them are today.
• More than half of mosque leaders say they take a more modernist view toward interpreting Islamic scriptures, taking into account contemporary circumstances. Thirty-one percent say they look to the opinions from the past, but a multitude of those opinions. Eleven percent say they prefer “to follow the traditional way of doing things like it was done back in the old country,” the report summarized.
• The percent of mosque leaders who feel American society is hostile to Islam dropped from 54 percent in 2000 – before the Sept. 11 attacks and everything that followed – to 25 percent in 2011.