Paul L. Williams
Uncle Sam’s Hajj
June 25, 2009
of opportunity for all people has not come true for
everyone in America, but its promise exists for all
who come to our shores. And that includes nearly 7
million American Muslims in our country today who,
by the way, enjoy incomes and educational levels
that are higher than the American average.”
– Pres. Barack Hussein Obama, The University of
Cairo, June, 2009
Is President Obama correct in his claim that America is now one of the
world’s leading Islamic countries with a population of 7 million
Ibrahim Hooper, president of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR),
believes this figure is correct. He bases this conclusion on data
extrapolated from his agency’s study of mosque attendance. This data, he
says, supports the President’s contention that Islam has eclipsed
Judaism to become America’s second largest religion.
Mr. Hooper maintains he has been an eyewitness to the changing religious
landscape. "When I came to the DC community ten years ago,” the CAIR
director says, "the mosque that I attend in Sterling, Virginia held only
one Friday prayer service for a handful of people.” Now, he adds, the
mosque has built a large new facility, conducts multiple Friday
services, and operates several satellite locations.
However, Mr. Hooper adds, "no one really knows the exact figure.”
The Problem with Projections
Why this lack of pertinent demographic data?
One reason, according to Dr. James Dretke, executive director of the
Zwemer Institute, "...is the fact that Muslims do not join mosques as
Christians join churches, so it is impossible to count them from
Another reason resides with the U.S. Census Bureau.
For the past 50 years the United States government (unlike some
countries) has not included questions about religious affiliation in its
In accordance with the new census forms, Americans are required, by law,
to state their race; their means of getting to work; their income; their
mortgage or rent payments; and their mental and physical condition. They
are even compelled to inform Uncle Sam if their homes have a flush
toilet and a refrigerator. But they are not asked their religious
affiliation, since such an inquiry would violate their civil rights.
And so, the number of Muslims who now reside in the country remains a
matter of debate.
Is Obama’s Figure Inflated?
Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum, says that the claim
that Muslims in the U.S. now number 7 million is grossly inflated.
"Study after study,” Mr. Pipes contends, "has found that demographic
figure about three times too high.”
But the studies which Mr. Pipes uses to support his argument were
conducted almost a decade ago. His first reference is to The American
Religious Identification Survey which was carried out by the Graduate
Center of the City University of New York in 2001. It polled more than
50,000 people and estimated the total American Muslim population to be
1.8 million. The second study, sponsored by the American Jewish
Committee, placed the Muslim population at 1,886,000 in 2000.
These early studies, which prop up the contentions of Mr. Pipes, were
The 2000 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches estimated there were
3,900,000 Muslims in the U.S. at that time, while a Zogby International
Survey, released in August 2000, placed the number of American Muslims
at 8 million.
What is the right number?
Recent Independent Surveys
Several recent studies show that Muslims may number considerably more
than 7 million in the U.S. Surveys conducted by The American Society of
Psychiatrists and Cornell University estimate the number of U.S. Muslims
somewhere between 8 to 10 million.
These findings have been called into question by the Pew Research Center
which holds that Islamic population of America is 2.35 million.
But there is a serious problem with this estimate.
Pew researchers admit that the study does not take into account
immigrant and poor black Muslims. What’s more, the Pew telephone survey
was conducted strictly with landlines and failed to take into account
the fact that nearly 50% of Americans and age 18-35 and nearly 100% of
the illegal immigrants use cell phones exclusively.
Many people in the know, including municipal police officers, accept the
higher estimates. Detective David Casey of the New York Police
Department, for example, states that there are more than a million
Muslims within the five boroughs of New York.
The Muslim Presence
If CAIR is correct in its projections based on mosque attendance, then
America’s present Islamic population may well exceed 12 million.
In 1990, America housed less than 600 mosques. By 2000, that number had
climbed to 1,400. This figure failed to reflect the Muslim houses of
worship that had sprouted up in low-rent storefronts, abandoned
warehouses, Middle Eastern social clubs, private residences, college
campuses, and second story business space.
What’s the exact number of Muslims in America?
No one knows.
New Religious Phenomenon
But no one can doubt the widespread presence of Islam throughout America
– a phenomenon that has taken place in a relatively short span of time.
In 1976, Leo Rosten’s published his sixth edition of Religions of
America. It represented an exhaustive compilation of statistical
information concerning every major and minor body of believers in the
country. Entire chapters were devoted to such Protestant denominations
as the Disciples of Christ, the 7th Day Adventists, the Unitarian
Universalists, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the various manifestations
of Presbyterianism, Lutheranism, and Methodism.
The study provided abundant data concerning the three forms of Judaism
(Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform) and a lengthy discussion about the
liturgical and doctrinal differences between Greek Orthodoxy and Roman
Catholicism. It even contained facts and figures concerning the five
percent of Americans who claimed to be Agnostic.
But Rosten’s exhaustive work contained no mention of Islam, not even as
a footnote. This was not an oversight. The Muslims in America were
statistically insignificant, numbering less than 10,000.
As little as a decade ago, Americans could walk through crowded airports
without encountering a woman in a burqa or a student in a
shalwat kameez. Words such as jihad, imam, Sunni, and Shiite were
not in common usage. Many major cities contained no Islamic bookstores
or clothing shops featuring designer Muslim headdresses. And vendors
selling halal hotdogs were non-existent on the street corners of
Now Muslims have managed to infiltrate all aspects of American life,
including the prison system, the military, the highest recesses of
academia and college administration, and every branch government.
And, no less than their counterparts in Europe, American Muslims are
making demands that are being met. Muslim special agents in the FBI
insist upon separate toilets from "infidel agents”; Muslim teachers in
public schools, while denigrating Christianity, promote Islam by having
their students recite prayers and verses from the Quran on prayer rugs;
and Muslim women call for the expulsion of all men, including male
lifeguards, from public pools and parks at certain hours of the day so
that they could swim and stroll without fear of any violation to their
sense of modesty.
Other developments have been infinitely more disturbing, including the
perpetuation of Islamic attacks on American soil – the killings by the
Beltway snipers; the "honor killings” in Scottsdale and Louisville; the
attack on the Jewish Federation Center in Seattle; the shooting rampage
at a mall in Salt Lake City; and the murder this month of an American
soldier at an Army recruiting station in Little Rock, Arkansas. The fact
that such crimes were accompanied with cries of "Allahu Akhbar” gained
scant mention in the press.
Clinton Recognizes Islam’s Sudden Ascent
In recognition that Islam has become the country’s second largest
religion, former President Bill Clinton recently told an Arab-American
audience of 1,000 people last Saturday that the U.S. is no longer just a
black-white country, nor a country that is dominated by Christians and a
powerful Jewish minority, given the growing numbers of Muslims.
Mr. Clinton said that by 2050 America will no longer have a majority of
people with European heritage, adding that "this is a very positive
One Last Note
currently 5.128 million Jews in America – a substantially lower amount
than the President’s estimate of Muslims.