One of the largest-ever studies of Muslims in the United States found the majority to be happy with their lives in America, largely assimilated and mostly moderate in their views on several key issues.

The survey by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, one of the most exhaustive ever done of the country’s Muslims, revealed a community that in many ways blends comfortably into society.

Its largely mainstream members expressed nearly as much happiness with their lives and communities as the general public does; showed a broad willingness to adopt American customs, and had income and education levels similar to others in the U.S.

The report, released Tuesday, called “Muslim Americans: Middle Class and Mostly Mainstream,” also found that although more than two-thirds of Muslims in America are foreign-born, they are “highly assimilated into American society.”

Mohamed El Filali, outreach director for the Islamic Center of Passaic County in Paterson, said he hadn’t yet read the full report, but was interested not only in its findings but how the polling questions had been phrased. He said terms like “assimilation” often have different interpretations.

“One has to be careful of the terminology, like ‘assimilated,'” El Filali said. “We don’t have an issue between being Muslim and American — there is a great deal of harmony in the two; but have we given up our Muslim faith here? No, we have not.”

El Filali said the study’s estimate that there are roughly 2 million Muslims in the U.S. seemed like a low figure. He estimated the figure to be four to five times higher.

The study, conducted via telephone with 1,050 Muslim adults nationwide from January through April, including some interviews in Arabic, Urdu and Farsi, found a majority said life had become more difficult for Muslims in the U.S. post-Sept. 11.

Seventy-one percent of those surveyed said they believed the secret to getting ahead in America was working hard — a finding that El Filali said has long been a teaching of Islam.


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