America Free but Immoral

Muslims: America free but immoral

By UWE SIEMON-NETTO, UPI religion correspondent

WASHINGTON, April 28 (UPI) -- There are seven million Muslims in the United States, according to a new report published by the Council on American-Islamic relations.

The report compiled by the Hartford Institute for Religious Research shows that U.S. Muslims are theological conservatives with a mixed view of American life.

On the positive side, 99 percent agree either "strongly" (82%) or "somewhat" that "America is a technologically advanced society that we can learn from. Moreover, 35 percent feel strongly that America is an example for freedom and democracy, and 42 percent concur "somewhat" with this statement.

However, two thirds are either strongly (28%) or somewhat (39%) of the opinion that America is an immoral, corrupt society. This view was most forcefully expressed by African-American Muslims, who account for 30 percent of the followers of Islam.

Of this group, 39 percent agreed "strongly" with the claim that "America" is immoral. By contrast, only 23 percent of the southern Indian immigrants or their descendants share this feeling as adamantly, according to the Hartford report.

On the other hand, only 15 percent of the American Muslims agreed strongly with the statement that American society was hostile to their faith. Another 42 percent, however, told researchers that this was "somewhat" true.

Compared with Europe, the Muslim population in America is still relatively small. Germany whose population of 82 million is less than one third as large as that of the U.S. has 3.2 million Muslim residents. France, population 60 million, has four million Muslims, who are by now the second-largest religious group in that country.

In the Netherlands, chiefly in Rotterdam, scores of churches have been converted because their former Christian members had deserted them.

"In many European countries church attendance is so low that the day does not seem far off when weekly worshipers of the Islamic faith will outnumber regular churchgoers," IDEA, a Protestant wire-service, predicted years ago.

In the United States, 46 percent of Christians attend services at least once a week, compared with one-tenth of church members in many Western European countries. Nevertheless, it is still considerably less than the 76 percent of Muslim men who go to mosque for Friday prayers in America.

Like Christians, American Muslims are by no means a homogenous group. There are 40 different Islamic denominations of which the Islamic Society of North America is the largest. Of the 1,209 U.S. mosques, 27 percent adhere to this organization, the Hartford Study shows.

The average membership of an American mosque numbers 1,625. This is 25 percent more than in 1994 when the Hartford Institute conducted its last survey of American mosques. This brings the number of U.S. Muslims associated with a house of worship to two million, out of a total of seven million.

Of those who participate in the life of an American Mosque, 75 percent are male, 81 percent have a high school diploma and 48 percent a college degree.

Almost 30 percent of American Muslims are converts from other religions. In Europe, by contrast, the number of conversions to Islam is insignificant, according to a recent IDEA report.

Theologically, American mosques are very strict. When asked, "How important are the following sources of authority in the worship and teachings of your mosque," 95 percent of the respondents described the Koran as "absolutely foundational," and 90 percent said the same about the Sunnah (teachings) Of Mohammed.

Similarly, 96 percent reported that their mosques emphasized in their teaching abstinence from alcohol and from sex outside marriage.


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