Who are the Muslims and What is Islam?

Muslims are people who practice the religion of Islam. They believe in "One, Unique, and Incomparable God" [1] which is "Allah" in Arabic. About 18% of the world's Muslims live in primarily Arabic-speaking areas [2] .











They believe in a series in prophets, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus, though they believe the Prophet Muhammad reaffirmed God's final message. The religion says that God revealed his words to Muhammad through the Angel Gabriel, which Muhammad then recited to his followers.
The Quran
The Quran
Similarly to how Christians follow the words of the Bible, Muslims follow the Quran. The Quran is said to be the exact words God passed on to Muhammad through Gabriel, which scribes then wrote down and cross-checked with Muhammad. Not a word of the Quran's 114 chapters have changed. [3]

The religion is based on individual accountability for one's actions and is centered on covenants known as the Five Pillars of Islam:
  1. Declaration of Faith: One must say "There is no deity but God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God" to become a Muslim.
  2. Prayer: Muslims are required to perform five prayers daily. Unlike Christianity, the religion has no priesthood and an individual chosen by a congregation often serves as a prayer-leader.
  3. Zakat: The belief that all things belong to Allah and that charitable giving purifies wealth.
  4. Fasting: Muslims fast from eating, drinking, smoking, and sex during daylight time for the Islamic lunar month of Ramadan each year.
  5. Pilgrimage: Muslims who are able are required to make a pilgrimage to the birthplace of Muhammad, the city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

How many Muslims are there in the world?

According to a Pew Research demographic study conducted in 2009, there were 1.57 million Muslims in the world, comprising 23% of the estimated 6.8 billion people in the world, making it the world's second-most followed religion behind Christianity. [4]

The following pie chart from adherents.com shows Islam compared to other religions of the world in terms of followers. The estimate for Islam (21 percent) is slightly lower than that of the Pew demographic study, but it should be noted this graph was dated four years before that study:

rel_pie.jpg

Asia contains 60% of the global Muslim population. Another 20% reside in the Middle East and North Africa, but the religion is much more concentrated in the region. Muslims make up more than 95% of the national populations of the more than 20 countries in that area.

The map below represents which countries contain the world's largest Muslim populations. With more than 2 million Muslims, Indonesia has the most.

Screen_shot_2011-11-10_at_4.14.20_PM.png

In the United States

Approximately 2.45 million Muslims live in the United States of America, as of 2009, comprising 0.2% of the world's Muslim population and 0.8% of America's population, according to Pew Research [5] . Still, there is much debate regarding the actual number of Muslims living in the United States, and some sources estimate a much higher number than 2.45 million. There is no official number because Public Law 94-521 prohibits the U.S. Census Bureau from asking respondents of their religion on a mandatory basis [6] .

The American Religious Identification Survey utilized telephone calls and produced the following estimates:

Screen_shot_2011-11-10_at_4.40.35_PM.png

Muslims are dispersed fairly evenly in the United States in terms of geography, as illustrated by the map below. The highest regional concentration is in the South, where an estimated 32 percent of Muslims resided as of December 2008 [7] .

Muslim-American regional distribution, from America.gov
Muslim-American regional distribution, from America.gov

The majority of Muslim Americans have taken residence in major metropolitan areas, primarily in Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, and New York City [8] . Islamicity.com includes a United States Mosque Locator, and the following states have some of the highest numbers of mosques [9] :
  • New York & New Jersey (States were listed together because of close proximity): 407
  • California: 356
  • Illinois: 178
  • Texas: 152
  • Michigan: 109

Many in the United States assume that most Arab Americans are Muslims, but that is not necessarily the case. In fact, an estimated two-thirds of Arab Americans are actually Christians [10] . A 2009 Gallup poll found that Muslims are actually the most racially diverse religious group in the United States [11] . African-Americans comprise 35 percent of the Muslim American population, or the largest segment. Meanwhile, Whites make up 28 percent of Muslim Americans, and Asians account for 18 percent of the group.

external image u0oggb4m4kqzprl6gljkpq.gif

Muslim Americans are generally equally as affluent, if not more affluent than the average American. 24 percent of Muslim Americans have degrees — including 29 percent of immigrant Muslims — compared to 25 percent of the general United States population [12] .

Muslim women are particularly well educated. They trail only Jewish American women in terms of the United States' highest-educated female groups by religion [13] .

These high levels of education have translated to high levels of earning. Forty-one percent of Muslim Americans reported household income levels of $50,000 or more, compared to 44 percent of the entire country [14] .


Muslim Life Post 9/11










As the United States suffered a horrific occurrence, the people of the Muslim religion were also in trouble for their future within the United States. September 11, 2001 was a day that most Americans will never forget because many lives were lost, and the shock of it was very disturbing to all. To recap the events of that day, there was a series of coordinated suicide attacks where a group of Al-Qaeda members hijacked commercial airplanes in the U.S. and flew them into the twin towers. Due to the fact that these terrorist attacks were from a militant Arab group, this has negatively impacted most of the Muslims living in America.

Police Discrimination
The people of the Muslim religion are now very often stereotyped because they are associated with these attacks and aren’t seen as “true” Americans
Almost all of these men have never even left the United States, but were still considered dangerous because they were not U.S. citizens. This assumption can really create a culture where American Muslims feel as though they aren't considered Americans in the eyes of other Americans.
Another program aimed at perpetuating the inequality toward Muslims is the Special Registration Program. This program implemented a requirement that certain non-immigrant aliens must go through a process that includes having to register with authorities, submit to questioning by authorities, give their fingerprints and be photographed, and even continue with routine reporting. Although the government claimed that this process didn't target a certain group, the focus on this program is on Muslim-majority countries. The most disturbing policy is the wire tapping and undercover activities done by the FBI field office that targeted a number of Mosques in the field area .

In 2000, Muslims were found to be one of the least common religious groups according to hate crime reports. This number skyrocketed 481% after the September 11 attacks.[15] About a quarter of cases that are reported to the CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) were police discrimination cases. There have been several incidents where police have discriminated against and violated the rights of Muslims. Some of these violations include: raiding Muslim homes, asking inappropriate questions regarding their religion, and even taking away belongings - such as books with non-english writing[16] . It is very common for Muslims to feel that they have lost the respect of other around them while wearing a hijab (head scarf). Racial profiling is not only done by police officers, but is also done by citizens. In a recent Gallup Poll, "53 percent of Americans have unfavorable views on Islam ... and 43 percent admit to feeling 'at least a little prejudice' toward Muslims"[17] .









Key Findings from Pew Muslim American Survey in 2007:

When asked, "Do you think that the government's anti-terrorism policies single out Muslims in the U.S. for increased surveillance and monitoring? 63.3% of respondents said that they do think the government singles out Muslims for increased surveillance and monitoring, while 36.7% said no.

%
1) Yes, think government singles out Muslims for increased surveillance and monitoring
63.3
2) No, don't think so
36.7
TOTAL
100.0

When asked, "What do you think is the most important problems facing Muslims living in the United States today? Responses were varied:
  • No problem 19.8%
  • Discrimination/racism/Prejudice 18.9%
  • Ignorance/Misconceptions of Islam 12.4%
  • Stereotyping/Generalizing about all Muslims 11%
  • Viewed as terrorists 9.9%
  • Other 5.7%
  • Not treated fairly/Harassment 5.2%
  • Religious/Cultural problems 4.9%
  • Negative media portrayals 3.4%
  • War/U.S foreign policy 2.5%
  • Radical Islam/Fundamentalists/Extremists 1.9%
  • Hatred/Fear/Distrust of Muslims 1.8%
  • Jobs/Financial Problems
  • Lack of representation/community involvement 1%


Anti-Sharia Bill

The Anti-Sharia has been proposed in about 20 states so far, and is seriously detrimental to American-Muslim relations. The law proposes that allegiance to Islam would be a felony. There are other similar bills that would make it illegal to follow certain islamic moral codes[18] . If any of these bills were implemented, it would completely contradict the reasons why many immigrants come to America in the first place - the rights of free speech and freedom of religion. Stereotyping has become a more and more prevalent problem for Muslim Americans, because the government and people in power seem to look down upon Muslims, it is becoming more widely accepted in society. According to government sources, government discretion is not based on simply being a Muslim, but rather measures the extent to which a person could be connected to Al Qaeda activity.

PENTTBOM

The government has started a program called PENTTBOM, which identified individuals involved in the attacks, and led to the detention of about 1,200 people nationwide. PENTTBOM stands for Pentagon/Twin Towers Bombing Investigation. The reasoning for detaining certain individuals was possible connection with anyone involved in the terrorist attacks or anyone who may know any information about them. Individuals that were found to be undocumented immigrants were also detained by the government.[19]


Discrimination in the Workplace

One study conducted after 9/11 found that 44 percent of people in the U.S. agreed that Muslims and Arabs should have restrictions and be required to register a place of residence[20] . This is clear racial profiling. Not only do the people of the United States believe that these restrictions be placed on Muslims for their safety, they also have began to critique Muslim morals, character, and judgment. An additional poll was taken found that 74 percent of American people characterized Islamic countries as oppressive to women; 50 percent perceived Muslims as violent, dangerous and fanatical; 27 percent agreed that Muslim and Christian values are similar, and 47 percent indicated that the "Islamic religion is more likely than others to encourage violence among its believers."[21] Clearly, this is evidence that the American people view Arabs and Muslims as enemies and see them as un-American. This skewed viewpoint leads to workplace discrimination. Jobs and corporations are, for the most part, are run by American citizens.

http://www.smh.com.au/ffximage/2007/05/22/wilcox_muslim_narrowweb__300x314,2.jpg
http://www.smh.com.au/ffximage/2007/05/22/wilcox_muslim_narrowweb__300x314,2.jpg
The number of filed complaints towards muslims in the workplace has also risen quite a bit and continued to rise through 2010. In one example, a company in the meatpacking market is now being sued because they claimed that supervisors were throwing blood and bones and meat at them and cursed them for being Muslim. Another clothing company is being sued for not hiring a young female because she was wearing a headscarf[22] . In many of the complaints Muslims are yelled at to go back to there own country or to go back to Iraq, which in many cases these Muslims were born in the United States but just practice a different religion. One very interesting study found that when sent out ficticious resumes to employment firms in California the highest callback rate was to the name Heidi Mckenzie and the lowest to the name Abdul-Aziz Mansour.


Advertising Post 9/11

Many advertisements have been made in response to hate crimes and discrimination to American Muslims after September 11. Two advertisements that really stood out had two different quotes or sayings they are based around "I am American" and "I am an American Muslim". In one of the "I am American" advertisements it features a group of people of all different ethnicities and ages and they all one by one state that they are American. This advertisements goal is to encourage Americans to remember that their culture is made of diversity and that everyone must accept one and tolerate everyone's differences(Alsultany). Now the " I am an American Muslim" directly relates to the attacks because it singles out the Muslim community. Now many of these advertisements try to appeal to those who have anyone close to them who may have served America either in war, in the community and even Native American speaking of ancestors and African Americans speaking of slavery(Alsultany). This relays the message to the viewers that American Muslims are not immigrants or foreigners but have served the country and been here for just as long as everyone else. This shows American Muslims as being patriotic in hope that American Muslims will again be accepted by the communities within America.











Muslim Children in America after 9/11


Before September 11, 2011, the Muslim population in the United States was a quiet community, living, for the most part, at peace with their neighbors. Since that terrible day, the lives of Muslims, but more importantly, the lives of their children, have changed forever.

As bullying becomes more of an issue on the news in America, Muslim children are finding themselves as targets for bullies of all ages, even when both victim and bully are both too young to remember 9/11.

http://www.mpac.org/assets/images/2011/08/bullying(1).jpg
http://www.mpac.org/assets/images/2011/08/bullying(1).jpg

"The dimension that makes the bullying of Muslim students particularly disturbing centers around the open prejudices and fears of adults, giving the green light to non-Muslim children that it's okay - even patriotic - to discriminate."[23]

"The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) reports the number of bullying incidents against Muslim students has spiked in the wake of a perfect economic and political storm: severe economic distress and anti-immigrant sentiments, continued wards in Iraq and Afghanistan, the conflation of Islam with terrorism, even the misidentification of President Obama's own religion. Add to the mix the tragic memory of 9/11 and a proposed Islamic center near Manhattan's Ground Zero, and you get children, many just babies on September 11, 2011, indicting their classmates as the enemy."[24]









According to a report released in September of this year by the institute for Social Policy and Understanding titled, Global Battleground or School Playground: The Bullying of America's Muslim Children, bullying against Muslim children is on the rise, mostly due to misconceptions about the Muslim faith. Girls wearing the hajib, the traditional head scarf, are especially easy targets.

"[T]he psychological well-being of Muslim children and adolescents is potentially at risk. The girls, for example, reported tremendous internal conflict: they do not react to being called "terrorists," for doing so would only validate the taunt, yet they feel that his non reaction means that they are somehow letting their community down. According to them, this internal conflict is leading them to shift the attribution of the blame internally. These situations are potential predictors of depression and both boys and girls remark that chronic taunting and discrimination are leading them to distance themselves from other children at school."

Parents on Bullying

"I would probably just say 'keep your nose clean and don't get involved in it.' I'm not going to tell my fifth-grader to change the world and wrap his arms around a Muslim child and get beat up with him," says Calvin Smith[25] (whose name has been changed for protection). Calvin states he is not a racist. "I would defend any child, but no more so than any other child. But we have African American Museums, Native American Museums, all these different museums and places that pigeon hole races and group. We have race museums. Why don't we just have one museum with everyone involved? But on the flip side, if a child has to leave class to pray, he or she is going to get picked on."

"We are at war because of all of this," Calvin continues. "Children who have family members in the war are probably going to be taught to hate Muslims because that is the enemy. There is going to be prejudice. I try to bring my child up to be tolerant and see the big racial picture, but I don't want him getting hurt because of another child, whether he is Muslim or not. It is hard because if a black child is being bullied, someone will yell racist. If a Muslim child is being bullied, people yell racist. But if a white kid gets beat up, he is just being bullied. How do you explain that different to a child?"

http://nidurseasonsdotnet.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/islam2.jpg
http://nidurseasonsdotnet.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/islam2.jpg

Susan Dunlap, a fifth and sixth grade educator in Camarillo, California, uses a unique approach when it comes to bullying.
"I treat this as an opportunity to educate my students.[26] This is a situation about religion and culture. I speak to the children about social tolerance and we discuss every culture and religion I can think of besides the Muslim religion so that no child feels singled out. We talk about diversity and how that makes us individuals and not outcasts," said Dunlap. "We make a (paper) tree in the classroom and i have the children write out something that is unique and different that they like about themselves, though no names are ever involved. they then post the items on the tree and everyone talks about how important differences are. The first time I did this, I had no more bullying in my classroom. there was teasing, which I dealt with as it happened, but there were no more reports of bullying in my classroom. I think bullying for Muslim children hurts them worse than bullying another child. 9/11 adds fear and sometimes shame for muslim children, especially the younger students who are only now becoming aware of who they are an the significance americans hold toward the Muslims and the World Trade Center. The bullying only adds to that sense of guilt and fear."

"Where does the bullying come from when bullies are not old enough to have lived through September 11?" Dunlap continued. "Kids are the barometers of the household. They will pick up on any negativity in the household, especially prejudice, and will act on that in school. If teachers are prepared to act and act quickly, the situation can be handled without too much stress on a Muslim child, or any child for that matter. a pre-emptive strike, if you will, against bullying by addressing it at the beginning of the school year will help children understand that it will not be tolerated."

http://images.sodahead.com/polls/001493494/727489475_islamic_child_xlarge.jpeg
http://images.sodahead.com/polls/001493494/727489475_islamic_child_xlarge.jpeg

Solutions

There are many groups and organizations, such as The Islamic Networks Group, who are working to create educational materials and develop programs to assist teachers and school officials to deal with bullying. Recommendations from the report from the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding including some of the following:
  • Muslim American youth could create video testimonials which would not only allow them to express their personal issues with bullying, but it will also give them the opportunity to educate non-Muslim youth about the Muslim faith
  • Anti-bullying programs currently used in schools need to incorporate the specifics of the Muslim faith and community into the curriculum
  • Community leaders and religious leaders need to create an "interfaith dialogue" in order to educate not only student, but parents as well
  • Anti-bullying laws within State's legislature are very important and should be reviewed by educators and school officials
  • School officials and teachers must be trained to intervene in a bullying situation and to handle the affair in a serious manner


Common Misconceptions of Muslims



1. Muslims are violent/terrorists- The media portrays Muslims as violent people, but the ones that are violent are going against the common Muslim. Most Muslims follow their Islamic religion which literally means "submission to god", which is derived from a root word meaning "peace".

2. Islam oppresses women- Many of the countries that have laws against gender equality don't even follow Islamic law. According to Islamic law, a young women cannot be forced to marry anyone they don't want to. They are also free to own land and keep their earnings.

3. Muslims worship a different God- The Muslims worship the same God as Christians, the only difference is the Muslims call him "Allah". They believe in the commandments and the messengers discussed in the bible. The only difference with Islam is that they don't believe Jesus is God's son or that God has human-like features.[27]

4. Islam is intolerant of all other faiths- The Quaran says, "God forbids you not, with regards to those who fight you not for [your] faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them; for God love those who are just. 60:8). Islamic tradition speaks out for human equality, and they do not have racism.

5. All Muslims are Arabs- The reality is that only 18% of all Muslims live in the Arab world. Most live east of Pakistan.

6. Muhammad was the founder of Islam and the Muslims worship him-They believe Muhammad was the last and final prophet to speak the word of God, and that he was sent for all of mankind. Muhammad is said to have had a revelation from God and was told to speak the word of God. They honor him but they do not worship him.[28]

These are only a few of the countless misconceptions American people have about Muslim people. It is important to dispel these misconceptions if we want to make any strides to eliminate the inequality that Muslim Americans face in the United States. Another common misconception is that Muslim people are religious zealots who constantly wear hijabs, in reality, a wide variety of Americans are Muslims.








Motivation and "justifications" for Discrimination


Media:
Powerful images and emotional stories sell, that's the bottom line. Media almost always benefits from tragedy. 9/11 is something that Americans feel strongly about and are eager to hear about, so publications that cover it are likely to do well. Time, Newsweek, and New York Magazine, among countless other publications, published 10th anniversary 9/11 commemorative issues that sold incredibly well.
Time 9/11 Anniversary Edition
Time 9/11 Anniversary Edition
Newsweek 9/11 Anniversary Edition
Newsweek 9/11 Anniversary Edition
New York Magazine 9/11 Anniversary Edition
New York Magazine 9/11 Anniversary Edition

Sensational articles attacking Muslims and placing blame for the attacks entice readers. Journalists covering the terrorist attack sacrificed objectivity in favor of producing a more scandalous story [29] . Post 9/11, there were several articles that turned out to be entirely false, written simply for shock value. Some sensational headlines include: "Alleged Hijackers May Have Trained At U.S. Bases" (Time September 14, 2001), "The 9/11 Secret in the CIA's Back Pocket" (Los Angeles Times October 19, 2004), "Why the 9/11 Conspiracies Won't Go Away" (Time September 3, 2006), and "Mystery of Terror 'Inside Dealers'" (The Independent September 14, 2001).

Nihad Awad, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), argues that the popular television show 24 desensitizes American people to violence against innocent Muslims and vilanizes Muslim people. This desensitization to violence against minority groups leads to a culture of acceptance. by villanizing the Muslim population, popular culture is perpetuating the false stereotype that all Muslim people are terrorists. The CAIR also cites movies, The Siege, Executive Decision, and True Lies, as having discriminatory portrayals of Muslims.










Fear:
Fear and misplaced anger after the September 11 attacks are the basis for the majority of discrimination against Muslims in the United States. Islamophobia refers to unfounded fear of and hostility towards Islam. This fear and hostility leads to discrimination, exclusion, stereotpying, the presumption of guilt by association, and hate crimes (Gottschalk, Greenberg Islamophobia: Making Muslims the Enemy). Americans wanted someone to blame and retaliate against after 9/11, and rather than focus on the small group of terrorists exrretmists responsible for the tragedy, the nations made a gross generalization that all Muslim people are terrorists. By using Muslim people as scapegoats, a stigma was created.

Politics:
By making Muslim people out to be vicious and dangerous, conservatives are able to promote their political agenda. The war on terror is used as justification for the proposed restrictions on immigration and increased funding for defense, among other things. By continuing to instill fear of Muslim people in American citizens, politicians are able to advance their political agendas. Dan Finelli is notirious for this behavior:









Patriotism:
Patriotism is also used as a justification for the unjust treatment of Muslim Americans. At a fundraising even for hunger and homelessness in Orange County, CA, protesters change "USA, USA, USA" and "Go back home, go back home," to Muslim families as they enter the building.










These motivations or "justifications" for inequality clearly illustrate the Functionalist Theory of social inequality. The discrimination of the Muslim population in America serves a function in our society; it serves to maintain the status quo of power that was established immediately after September 11th. The Functionalist Theory states that a stratification system is required for a society to run smoothly. [30] According to Gerhard Lenski[31] , there are specific roles in society that must be filled in order for a community to function. The functional theory of society explains how the inequality and discrimination against Muslims helps assign power roles in our society. Whether the function be perpetuating the established political power structure, selling newspapers, magazines, television shows and movies, or simply providing a scapegoat for Americans who are filled with misplaced fear and rage - discrimination against Muslim American serves a function in our society.

Solutions


All of this fear and rage stems from ignorance. There are people that actually believe every Muslim person hates America and is plotting to destroy the United States, and it's simply because they are uninformed. If we want to combat the unjust treatment Muslim Americans, education is the place to start.

Elephant Journal, 8/25/10
Elephant Journal, 8/25/10

The Council on American-Islamic Relation has several programs dedicated to educating Americans about Muslims[32] .
  • "Beyond Stereotypes: Enhancing Understanding Islam in the Media" is a booklet created by the CAIR with the goal of educating journalists and media professionals about Islam and Muslims to ensure an accurate and balanced portrayal of Islam in the media. This guide offers readers background information about Islam and Muslims, best practices for reporting on the Muslim community and a list of accurate terminology to use when covering issues relating to Islam.
  • CAIR offers diversity and sensitivity training to corporations and government agencies at the local, state and national levels. CAIR's diversity training is designed to help these entities reflect cultural competency in their attitudes, policies, and services. "Cultural competency" refers to a set of congruent behaviors, attitudes, and policies that enables professionals to work effectively in cross-cultural situations. Being conscious of the dynamics inherent when cultures interact can allow corporations and government agencies to adapt delivery of service to reflect an understanding of diversity. This can also help increase professional competency, reduce conflicts and increase employee job satisfaction.

The Manhattan Children's Museum recently received funding to create a "Muslim Worlds" Exhibit. "Muslim Worlds" will have hands-on-exhibits, performances, and other events geared toward getting children involved with the thousands of years of cultural heritage that has come from the Muslim world. Programs like this help to educate American youth about the realities of Muslim life and are a big step towards eliminating social inequality.

In addition to education, more legislation is needed to remedy the institutional discrimination that Muslims face. The End Racial Profiling Act would require the following:
  • Federal law enforcement agencies must maintain policies and procedures to eliminating racial profiling and eliminate any pre-existing practices of racial profiling.
  • States and local governments applying for federal law enforcement assistance grants must certify that they maintain similar policies and practices to eliminate racial profiling. They must also establish procedures and programs for addressing complaints of racial profiling.
  • The Attorney General must collect data on hit rates for stops and searches by law enforcement agents. he or she must also create grants to develop and implement best practice devices and systems to eliminate racial profiling.

Simply raising awareness of the problem is another step towards a solution. Muslims, even American citizens that were born in the United States, are treated with unadulterated hate because of the way in which the stereotype that every Muslim person is a terrorist has been cultivated since 9/11. These stereotypes have made it socially acceptable to blatantly discriminate a person, simply for looking Muslim. By raising awareness of this clear inequality we can begin to mitigate the problem.














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  31. ^ Lenski, Gerhard Emmanuel. "Power and Privilege: A Theory of Social Stratification." University of North Carolina Press, 1984.
  32. ^ Council on American-Islamic Relations website
    http://www.cair.com/