Dalia Mogahed and the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding released the findings from the 2017 American Muslim Poll. The annual poll surveyed 1,140 people — 800 Muslims and 340 Jews — about the election (yikes), domestic violence (about the same across the board), religious discrimination (definitely not the same across the board) and the state of the country in general (actually, we’re doing pretty okay!).
Just like last year — surprise! — it turns out Muslims actually don’t want want to take over the country and implement Sharia law at every bus stop. In fact, the study found that Muslims are actually the most satisfied faith group when it comes to the general way things are going in the country today, beating out Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, and Non-Affiliated respondents, as well as the general public — the latter by a margin of 41% to 27%.
The most impressive part of the poll, however, were its stereotype-shattering revelations about women (which, to be fair, Muslim women ourselves have known for a while now, but it’s nice to finally have the data to back up our instincts). For example, the study finds that 73% of Muslim women have post-high school education or higher compared to 57% of men, making women more likely to achieve higher education.
Muslim women are also shockingly not an isolated or insular group — rather than segregating ourselves from the rest of the country in an effort to create a sharia stronghold, we’re getting better at actively involving ourselves in causes that involve injustices facing our fellow Americans. Specifically, 3 in 4 Muslim women support the Black Lives Matter movement (and you best believe we at Muslim Girl are going to be working on getting that 4th as well).
Further, Muslim women are among the most resilient groups in the country — 47% of Muslim women versus 31% of Muslim men have been living in fear of their personal safety from white supremacist groups, but we’re not just meekly taking the bigotry we face. Rather, post-election, 29% of Muslim women increased their giving to faith-based community organizations and 16% signed up for self-defense classes, compared to 19% and 7% of Muslim men respectively.
We’re also slowly moving away from harmful stereotypes regarding mental health — 9% of Muslim men suffered stress and anxiety enough post-election to the point where they believed they needed professional mental health services, compared to a whopping 19% of Muslim women. While these numbers are horrifying — because who actively wants to be that anxious? None of us — it’s promising that we as a community are becoming more open to the idea of asking for help with mental health when we need it, although there’s still a long way to go.
Finally, although a lot of these statistics are hopeful, we can also see this poll as an opportunity for self-improvement on certain key issues such as voting. Unfortunately, the poll found that Muslims are the least likely community to vote — although we are as likely to donate to domestic as international relief organizations — with younger Muslims being the least likely group to vote among Muslims in general at 48% of those age 18-29, compared to 64% of Muslims age 30-49, and 76% of Muslims age 50+. Especially looking at the other statistics about resilience, it’s a good lesson to take as we move forward towards the 2018 elections — after all, our votes are our most tangible voices when it comes to long-term government accountability.