Estimate of Muslims
Living in America
Carol L. Stone
Islam is believed to be the fastest growing religion in the United States today, yet it is still unclear how many Muslims currently reside in America. Estimates of 1.2 million 1 to 3 million 2 have been reported. To date, no systematic, statistically valid survey of Muslims in America has been conducted. This is largely because of a lack of reliable information about Muslims in this country.
The study reported in this chapter was conducted to obtain a verifiable and rigorous estimate of the Muslim population in America today. The geographical concentrations of several ethnic groups within the United States were also examined, as well as trends in immigration to America.
The number of immigrant Muslims living in the United States in 1980 was estimated from three sets of data: (1) 1980 census statistics, categorized by country of ancestry; 3 (2) 1980 immigration statistics, categorized by country of origin; 4 and (3) estimates of the percentage of Muslim population in countries around the world. 5 The mathematical products of (3) and (1) plus (3) and (2) were evaluated from each country or ancestral region around the world. These products represented a 1980 estimate of the number of Muslims in the United States from a given country or region of ancestry, and the number of Muslims who immigrated to the United States in 1980 from that country, respectively. The sum of these two figures produced the 1980 estimated American population of immigrant Muslims from a given country.
The Bureau of Census has established a format by which countries of ancestry are grouped into a subset of continental regions 6 (Table 2.1). These groupings were used to estimate Muslim population within geographical regions by cumulating individual estimates from each country within the region. The bureau has also broken down census data by ancestry into geographical regions within the United States. 7 These statistics, together with the percentage