Naaz Modan

What Race Are the Majority of American Muslims? The Answer May Surprise You!

The Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU), an independent nonpartisan thinktank and research organization focusing on American Muslims and Muslims worldwide, recently released a report indicating that the racial breakdown of the American Muslim community presents enormous diversity that is often unexplored in public discourse.
In honor of the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development on May 21st, ISPU shared the following graphic and message on Facebook, garnering tremendous social media engagement and commentary from Muslim Americans intrigued by the data and curious about its methodology.


As our community processes the findings in this report, some Muslims have pointed out the complicated classifications of racial identities, noting that some communities may not identify with the options for race. ISPU shared that their organization used the same options that are presented in the US Census. Last year, Pew Research Center reported that officials from the Census Bureau were re-evaluating the options that will be presented on the 2020 survey to capture more nuanced data.

“The goal of defining the interests and policy priorities of American Muslims might seem impossible. As a vibrant microcosm of society, Muslims are the only major American faith community with no majority race. We at ISPU see this diversity as something to be celebrated. The vibrancy of the American Muslim canvas reflects that of America as a whole. Understanding the challenges faced by one provides lessons and opportunities for us all.”

Muslim Americans are not a monolith. As the national discourse on Muslim identities and experiences increasingly transforms within the Muslim community and outside of it, this data may challenge our community to think critically about how the landscape of Muslim leadership and representation may privilege and represent some racial identities and communities over others, thereby erasing and further marginalizing Black, Native/Indigenous, and Latino Muslims.

“America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem.”  — Malcolm X 

For more information on the methodology of ISPU’s 2016 American Muslim Poll report, visit their website here.
Written by Noor Hasan