Mosques as American Institutions: Mosque Attendance, Religiosity and Integration into the Political System among American Muslims
September 27, 2011
Author: Karam Dana, Former Research Fellow, The Dubai Initiative
Belfer Center Programs or Projects: Dubai Initiative
Abstract: 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, in any sense play a different role than that of churches or synagogues in political participation? Some 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. This viewpoint has likewise been popularized in American and European media and by some government officials who have labeled Muslims as enemies of freedom and democracy. Through the examination of the Muslim American Public Opinion Survey (MAPOS), which has a large sample size of American Muslim respondents (N = 1410), we argue that the mosque emerges as an important indicator for Muslim social and political integration into American society. We demonstrate that not only are those Muslims who attend the mosque regularly more likely to identify as American Muslims rather than by national origin, they are also more likely to believe mosques encourage Muslims to integrate into U.S. society. Our analysis further exemplifies that mosque attendance and involvement, beyond creating a common identity among American Muslims, leads to more political participation in the U.S. In contrast to prevailing wisdom, we also find that more religiously devout Muslims are significantly more likely to support political participation. Based on our findings, we conclude that there is nothing inconsistent with the mosque and American democracy, and in fact, religiosity fosters support for American democratic values.
- Mosques as American Institutions (263K PDF)
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