Muslim and American? How Religiosity and Mosques Foster Incorporation into American Politics
Series: Dubai Initiative Seminar
Open to the Public - Ash Center, 124 Mt. Auburn Street, Suite 200-North
February 10, 2011
|Speaker:||Karam Dana, Dubai Initiative Fellow|
Related Project: Dubai Initiative
Previous scholars have argued that Islam as a religion and a culture is incompatible with liberal, democratic American values. Not only is Islam inconsistent with the West, but it poses a direct conflict according to some scholars. This viewpoint has been popularized in American and European media and by government officials who declare fundamentalist Muslims as enemies of freedom and democracy. However, there is no evidence that the grounds of conflict are based on religious ideology. Are the most devout Muslims really opposed to political incorporation in the U.S., or are other traditional non-religious factors such as socioeconomic status and acculturation more important in understanding political alienation?
To date, nearly every study of Islam and Western values has been qualitative, anecdotal, or philosophical in nature, leaving most questions unanswered, at least empirically. Using a unique national survey of Muslim Americans, we find that more religiously devout Muslims are significantly more likely to support political participation in America – in contrast to prevailing wisdom. We conclude that there is nothing inconsistent with Islam and American democracy, and in fact, religiosity fosters support for American democratic values. Religious institutions and places of worship have played a pivotal role in American politics. What about the role of the mosque? Does the mosque, as an institution, play any different of a role than that of churches in political participation? Through examining the Muslim American Public Opinion Survey (MAPOS), which has a large sample size (N=1410), the role of the mosque emerges as an important indictor for Muslim political participation.
At this event, the principal investigators of the Muslim American Public Opinion Survey (MAPOS) will show that those Muslims who attend the mosque regularly not only are more likely to participate in American politics, but also that mosques create a common identity between American Muslims where differences between Muslims are muted, and political participation in American politics becomes its focus.
The Dubai Initiative
Kennedy School of Gov't
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Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs