The American Mosque 2011

SS MosqueReport LThe American Mosque 2011: Basic Characteristics of the American Mosque, Attitudes of Mosque Leaders


Number of U.S. Mosques Increased 74% since 2000; Islamic houses of worship ethnically-diverse, encourage civic engagement | 01.03.2012


(WASHINGTON, D.C. - February 29, 2012) -- A comprehensive study of mosques and the attitudes of mosque leaders in the United States released today indicates that the number of American mosques increased 74 percent since 2000 and that Islamic houses of worship are ethnically-diverse institutions led by officials who advocate positive civic engagement.

A coalition of major American Muslim and academic organizations, including Hartford Seminary, released the report, titled "The American Mosque 2011: Basic Characteristics of the American Mosque, Attitudes of Mosque Leaders," at a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

The report is the first part of the larger U.S. Mosque Survey 2011. To conduct the survey, researchers counted all mosques in America and then conducted telephone interviews with mosque leaders. More than 2,000 mosques were counted and more than 500 leaders were interviewed.

Among the speakers at the news conference were Ihsan Bagby, Associate Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Kentucky and researcher for the report, and David Roozen, Director of the Hartford Institute for Religion Research, Hartford Seminary, and Professor of Religion and Society.

"Against a backdrop of an overall decline in religious participation in the past decade, the Muslim growth of more than 30 percent is especially dramatic," Roozen said.

The report's major findings include:


  • The number of mosques and mosque participants continue to show significant growth, from 1,209 mosques in 2000 to 2,106 in 2011. New York and California have the largest number of mosques, 257 and 246 mosques respectively. Connecticut has 36 mosques.
  • The American mosque is a remarkably young institution; more than three-fourths (76%) of all existing mosques were established since 1980.
  • The number of mosques in urban areas is decreasing, while the number of mosques in suburban areas is increasing. In 2011, 28 percent of mosques were located in suburbs, up from 16 percent in 2000.
  • The number of mosques with large attendance has increased. In 2000 there were only 12% of mosques with attendance over 500 and in 2011 there were 18% with attendance over 500 people. More than 2% of American mosques can be classified as megachurches or megamosques which are defined as a congregation with attendance of 2000 or more people.
  • Mosques remain an extremely diverse religious institution. Only a tiny minority of mosques (3 percent) have just one ethnic group that attends that mosque. South Asians, Arab-Americans and African-Americans remain the dominant ethnic groups, but significant numbers of Somalis, West Africans and Iraqis now worship at mosques nationwide.
  • The conversion rate per mosque has remained steady over the past two decades. In 2011, the average number of converts per mosque was 15.3. In 2000 the average was 16.3 converts per mosque.
  • Shia mosques are also expanding in number. Some 44 percent of all Shia mosques were established in the 1990s.
  • The majority of mosque leaders (56 percent) adopt a flexible approach to interpretation of Qur'an and Sunnah that takes into account the overall purposes of Islamic law and modern circumstances.
  • Mosque leaders overwhelmingly endorse Muslim involvement in American society. More than 98 percent of mosque leaders agree that Muslims should be involved in American institutions and 91 percent agree that Muslims should be involved in politics.
  • The vast majority of mosque leaders do not feel that American society is hostile to Islam.
  • The vast majority (87 percent) of mosque leaders disagree that "radicalism" is increasing among Muslim youth. Many mosque leaders say the real challenge for them is not radicalism and extremism among the youth, but how to attract and keep them close to the mosque.


Sponsors of the U.S. Mosque Survey 2011 include: The Hartford Institute for Religion Research (Hartford Seminary), the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Islamic Society of North America, the Islamic Circle of North America, and the International Institute of Islamic Thought.

The U.S. Mosque Survey 2011 is part of a larger study of American congregations called Faith Communities Today (FACT), which is a project of the Cooperative Congregational Studies Partnership, a collaborative, multifaith coalition of American faith communities affiliated with Hartford Seminary's Hartford Institute for Religion Research.

To view the full report, go to:

Anti-Sharia Legislation Campaign

SS AntiSharia LThis year, we witnessed a troubling new phenomenon when a small group of extremist Islamophobes tried to get anti-Islam laws passed in more than 20 states.

The process began with State Question 755 (SQ755), a state ballot measure in Oklahoma in the November 2010 election that would have amended that state's constitution to forbid judges from considering Islamic principles (Sharia) or international law when making a ruling. After an aggressive fear-mongering campaign that included political ads depicting gruesome videos of beheadings as “sharia,” Oklahoma voters passed SQ755 with an overwhelming vote of 70 percent.

As a civil rights advocacy organization, CAIR recognized that SQ755 could seriously impact the daily lives of Oklahoma Muslims and business people of all faiths if it was enacted. While the ballot measure’s supporters scared people by calling it the “Save Our State” bill and claiming that Muslims would “take over” and enact frightening laws and customs, we know the reality of Islam and Sharia – that brutality and inhumanity have no place in our faith, and that Sharia encompasses the principles of Islam and is based on justice and compassion.

If SQ755 and the more than 20 similar bills that followed it were passed and enforced, many aspects of Muslims’ daily lives – such as participating in mosque activities or having an Islamic marriage contract or will – could have become illegal.

Because of the serious civil liberties implications of these anti-Islam bills, CAIR knew decisive legal action had to be taken to set a precedent from the beginning. We watched the political debate over SQ755 and prepared to respond.

The day after the ballot measure was passed in the Oklahoma election, the executive director of CAIR’s Oklahoma chapter, with assistance from CAIR’s national office, filed a lawsuit in federal court to address the dangerous and unconstitutional elements of the bill. A federal judge agreed with the lawsuit’s arguments and put a temporary hold on SQ755 until the issue could be heard in court.

In the spring of 2011, the same group of extremist Islamophobes pushed to have anti-Islam bills introduced in the state legislatures of 23 states. To date, CAIR is the only Muslim organization to challenge these discriminatory efforts in court and has been at the forefront of coordinating advocacy challenges to this movement in many states. 



Action: Challenge ‘Anti-Sharia’ Bills Using CAIR’s New Toolkit

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 3/1/2012) – CAIR is calling on American Muslims and other people of conscience to use the information offered in its new community toolkit designed to assist those seeking to preserve America's ideal of religious pluralism in the face of unconstitutional “anti-Sharia” bills that have been introduced in more than 20 states nationwide.

CAIR Community Toolkit: Securing Religious Liberty
BACKGROUNDER: 33 Anti-Sharia Bills in 20 States

CAIR’s "Securing Religious Liberty" toolkit includes lessons learned from opposing anti-Muslim legislative efforts in Oklahoma, Tennessee and Michigan, an explanation of the legal impact of the discriminatory bills and a discussion of what Sharia is and what it is not.

“I urge community leaders and activists to read this important toolkit thoroughly, to distribute it widely and to discuss its contents with civil liberties coalition partners,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad. “Americans of all faiths must be vigilant in defense of the Constitution and the freedoms it grants.

The toolkit’s introduction states in part:

"The American Muslim community's challenge is to prevent agenda-driven anti-Islam legislation from undermining America's ideals of free religious expression and to minimize government intrusion into personal religious affairs…In preventing this erosion of American ideals, Muslims are in fact living the two core goals of Sharia: to be a benefit to humanity and to prevent harm to humanity."

The toolkit includes checklists of steps to take before and after anti-Sharia legislation is introduced in a state legislature and on scheduling productive meetings with elected officials. It also includes appendixes offering background on David Yerushalmi, the anti-Islam extremist who authored the template for the anti-Sharia bills, as well as sample news releases and action alerts on the issue.

Yerushalmi is head of the anti-Islam hate group Society of Americans for National Existence (SANE), which once offered a policy proposal that would make "adherence to Islam" punishable by 20 years in prison, called for the immediate deportation of all non-citizen Muslims and urged Congress to declare war on the "Muslim Nation," which SANE defined as "all Muslims." The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) named Yerushalmi a member of the "anti-Muslim inner circle."

SEE: A SANE Act to Deal with the Islamic Threat to America's National Existence (SADITANE)
SPLC: The Anti-Muslim Inner Circle

Links to Background Information on David Yerushalmi:

David Yerushalmi: A Driving Force Behind Anti-Sharia Efforts in the U.S.
Meet the White Supremacist Leading the GOP's Anti-Sharia Crusade
The Man Behind the Anti-Shariah Movement (NY Times)
Anti-Islam Activist Yerushalmi Measures Imams' Beards
Profile of Anti-Sharia Extremist David Yerushalmi

No-fly list cases

SS GuletMohamed LCase study: Gulet Mohamed

Over the past two years, CAIR has handled a number of cases of American Muslim citizens being denied re-entry to their own country.

In the first days of 2011, the family of a young Muslim man from Virginia called CAIR because they were worried that their brother and son, 19-year-old Gulet Mohamed, was detained in Kuwait and being questioned there by the FBI.

On January 6, CAIR held a press conference with members of Gulet’s family to bring public scrutiny to the case and to appeal for his return.

American officials confirmed that Gulet had been placed on a no-fly list and therefore could not return to the United States. Gulet said he was tortured while in detention and faced coercion to answer questions by FBI agents who ignored his repeated requests for legal representation.

On January 18, CAIR filed a lawsuit against the Department of Justice and the FBI seeking a court order that would allow Gulet to return to the United States.

The lawsuit stated in part: “The United States is depriving Mr. Mohamed of perhaps the most basic prerogative of American citizenship: the right to be in the United States. This is patently unconstitutional, and it is up to this Court to bring Gulet Mohamed -- an American citizen -- back to his country.”

A few days later, Gulet was allowed to return home.

CAIR: Va. Muslim on No-Fly List Returning to U.S.
Gulet Mohamed scheduled to arrive at IAD Friday morning

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 1/20/11) –- On Friday, January 21, attorneys with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) will meet a Virginia Muslim teenager at Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) when he arrives on a flight from Kuwait.

Gulet Mohamed of Alexandria, Va., is scheduled to travel on United Airlines flight 981, due to arrive at 6:47 a.m. on Friday.

SEE: Va. Teen Detained in Kuwait on His Way Back to US

Mohamed, who was previously prevented from boarding a flight to the United States, has alleged that he was tortured while in detention in Kuwait and has faced unconstitutional coercion to answer questions by FBI agents who ignored his repeated requests for legal representation.

“We welcome the apparent resolution of this one no-fly list case, but our government must address the broader issue of American citizens being denied the constitutional right to return to the United States,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad.

Earlier this week, CAIR filed a lawsuit against the government alleging violation of Mohamed’s Fourteenth Amendment right to reside in the United States and to re-enter the country from abroad.

SEE: CAIR Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief
Lawyers Press for Return of 'No-Fly' US Teen Stranded in Kuwait
Video: CAIR Fighting to Have Gulet Mohamed Come Home
Video: Virginia Muslim Teen Stuck Overseas (CAIR)


Warrantless GPS Tracking

SS YaserAfifi LIn the beginning of 2011, Yasir Afifi, a 20-year-old Muslim student from Santa Clara, California took his car in for an oil change. While changing the oil, the mechanic found an unusual device attached beneath the car and showed it to Yasir.

Because they couldn’t identify the device, one of Yasir’s friends posted pictures of it online asking if anyone knew what it was. Not long afterward, FBI agents showed up at Yasir’s door saying the object was a GPS tracking device, that it belonged to the bureau, and that they wanted it back.

Yasir turned to CAIR’s San Francisco Bay Area chapter (CAIR-SFBA) to protect his rights. After communicating with the FBI agents, CAIR-SFBA’s executive director and attorney, Zahra Billoo, learned that the GPS device had been planted by the FBI without a warrant.

On March 2, 2011, CAIR filed a lawsuit on Yasir Afifi’s behalf in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia stating that the FBI violated Afifi’s First, Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights when the bureau failed to obtain a warrant to place the GPS tracking device on his car to monitor his daily activities.

The lawsuit, which names Attorney General Eric Holder, FBI Director Robert Mueller and “unknown FBI agents” as defendants, seeks an order preventing another tracking device from being attached to his vehicle without a search warrant. The requested order would also bar the FBI from using tracking devices without first obtaining a search warrant. 

In September 2011, CAIR submitted an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief to the U.S. Supreme Court when it was hearing another case of authorities using GPS devices to track a person without a warrant. (An amicus brief is submitted by someone who is not part of a case being heard but who has relevant experience or arguments to add). We believe this was the first time a Muslim organization submitted a brief to the U.S. Supreme Court.

CAIR’s brief argues that “warrantless prolonged GPS surveillance disproportionately harms American Muslims and curtails their First Amendment rights” and that “law enforcement has conducted indiscriminate surveillance of innocent American Muslims for the last decade.”

We anticipate a ruling by the Supreme Court between April and July 2012. How the court rules on this case will set a precedent for all future cases of warrantless tracking and monitoring.

CAIR Applauds Supreme Court Ruling on GPS Monitoring
Court says warrantless monitoring violates Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 1/23/12) –- The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s leading Muslim civil liberties organization, today applauded a unanimous ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court stating that warrantless GPS monitoring of suspects violates the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure.

SEE: Warrants Needed for GPS Monitoring, Supreme Court Rules
To read the entire decision, visit:

CAIR said the decision, published this morning, held that the installation of a GPS tracking device on a vehicle by law enforcement authorities constitutes a search as defined by the Fourth Amendment and therefore required a warrant. The decision resolves a conflict among lower courts about whether or not law enforcement agencies should be required to obtain a warrant.

In October of last year, CAIR filed an amicus (friend of the court) brief in the case (United States v. Jones) seeking the court’s support for the requirement that a warrant be obtained before placing a GPS tracking device on any individual’s vehicle.

To read the entire CAIR brief, visit:

"We welcome this decision because it clearly shows that the nation's highest court has recognized that the warrantless use of GPS devices is a violation of Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure," said CAIR Legal Counsel Nadhira Al-Khalili, the attorney of record on CAIR’s amicus brief.

She said CAIR’s interest in the case stems from a lawsuit it is litigating on behalf of Yasir Afifi, a Santa Clara, Calif., resident who discovered a GPS tracking device placed on his vehicle in October 2010. FBI agents went to Afifi's home two days after the GPS device was discovered to retrieve it and interrogate him.

In March 2011, CAIR filed suit on behalf of Afifi against Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director Robert Mueller. In September 2011, that case was stayed pending the Supreme Court's decision.

"This important ruling will serve to protect all Americans from further unchecked assaults on their constitutional rights," said Zahra Billoo, executive director of CAIR’s San Francisco Bay Area chapter and Afifi’s attorney.

SEE: Caught Spying on Student ­ FBI Demands GPS Tracker Back

CAIR received reports from several American Muslims who have discovered GPS tracking devices on their vehicles. In each of these cases, there has not been a warrant.

Kulsoom Abdullah: Changing Policy

SS KulsoomAbdallah LIn June 2011, a Muslim weightlifter from Georgia asked CAIR to help when she was prohibited from competing at the national level while wearing hijab and modest clothing.

CAIR contacted the United States Olympic Committee and the International Weightlifting Federation, asking them to change their policies to allow athletes who so wished to compete while covering their hair, arms and legs.

We offered draft language to these rule-making bodies, and after CAIR’s intervention, the International Weightlifting Federation modified its policy on competitor apparel to allow modest attire.

As a result Kulsoom Abdullah, the athlete who contacted CAIR, was allowed to compete in the USA Weightlifting Senior Nationals in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Her case drew the attention of athletic officials worldwide. Kulsoom now has an opportunity to try out for the Olympics.

CAIR Applauds Weightlifting Rule Change to Allow Islamic Attire
Change comes following intervention by Muslim civil rights group

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 6/29/11) -- The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today applauded a decision by the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) to modify its policy on competitor apparel to allow modest Islamic attire.

The IWF policy change, which now allows a full-body unitard under the compulsory weightlifting attire, came following intervention by CAIR in the case of a Muslim weightlifter in Georgia who wishes to compete while covering her hair, arms and legs.

CAIR: Muslim American Weightlifter Presses On in Fight to Compete

CAIR offered the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) draft language for a policy change on Islamic attire for consideration by the IWF during its ongoing meeting in Malaysia.

The USOC agreed to ask the IWF's technical committee to review a policy preventing the Muslim athlete, 35-year-old Kulsoom Abdullah (, from competing in the USA Weightlifting Senior Nationals to be held this July in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

CAIR Offers USOC Language for New Weightlifting Hijab Policy
CAIR: U.S. Olympic Committee Asks for Review of Hijab Policy

Abdullah also submitted a video presentation on the issue for consideration by the IWF.

Video: Suggestions & Guidelines for Modified Competition Uniform

In a statement released today in Malaysia announcing the change, IWF President Dr. Tamas Ajan said:

"Weightlifting is an Olympic Sport open for all athletes to participate without discrimination on the basis of race, colour, religion, sex, age, or national origin in accordance with the principles of the Olympic Charter and values. This rule modification has been considered in the spirit of fairness, equality and inclusion."

SEE: International Weightlifting Federation Creates More Inclusive Sport Environment

"We welcome this important decision in support of greater inclusion in athletic competition and urge the representatives of other international bodies to take similar steps," said CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper. "We thank the United States Olympic Committee for helping to empower Muslim women athletes and for taking a stand in support of the American tradition of religious diversity."

Hooper noted that a 15-year-old Canadian Muslim soccer referee was recently told she could not perform her job while wearing hijab. Earlier this month, an Iranian women's soccer team was barred from an Olympic qualifying match in Jordan because of the athletes' modest attire.

CAIR-CAN: 'Beautiful Game' Should be Open to Muslim Women

Islamophobia Report: Islamophobia and its Impact in the United States: Same Hate, New Target

SS IslamophobiaReport LOn Thursday, June 23, 2011 the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the University of California, Berkeley's Center for Race and Gender (CRG) held a news conference on Capitol Hill to release " its first annual Islamophobia report, titled Islamophobia and its Impact in the United States: Same Hate, New Target.  The first-of-its-kind annual report outlines the disturbing growth of Islamophobia in the United States during 2009-2010. The report includes detailed evaluations of the controversies over mosque building and expansion across the U.S. as well as the use of anti-Muslim themes in the 2010 election.

The groundbreaking report also lists the "worst" Islamophobes and the "best" of those pushing back against growing anti-Muslim sentiment in American society. It offers a vision of an America free of Islamophobia and specific actions Muslim individuals and institutions can take to achieve that vision.

CAIR delivered copies of the report to all members of the U.S. Congress.

In April, CAIR joined the University of California, Berkeley Center for Race and Gender; the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO); Zaytuna College, and other groups to hold a conference in California on Islamophobia.

Click here to view the report.


Rep. Peter King's Anti-Muslim Hearings

When Republicans became the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives at the beginning of 2011, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) became the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee and announced that he would hold a series of hearings to investigate what he called the "radicalization" of the American Muslim community.

Congressman King has a long history of making inflammatory and inaccurate comments about Islam and the American Muslim community, including saying "there are too many mosques in America" and "85 percent" of American Muslim community leaders are "[the]enemy living amongst us."

When Representative King announced his plan to hold these hearings, CAIR joined more than 250 organizations who questioned his statements and allegations. Hundreds of leaders from across the nation, including more than 80 interfaith representatives from King's home of Long Island, N.Y., similarly expressed concerns.

SS KingHearings LEven before the first hearing, CAIR was at the forefront of exposing King's record of anti-Muslim statements and false allegations against our community. We published an online toolkit designed to help community leaders respond to the hearings and organized a major news conference with other Muslim and civil rights organizations to express our concerns about Rep. King's apparent anti-Muslim bias and the unbalanced list of witnesses he planned to call. That press conference was broadcast nationwide by C-SPAN and was so heavily attended that some reporters were heard saying that CAIR's press conference had more cameras than the announcement of the NBA draft picks.

CAIR's government affairs department prepared and submitted written testimony to the first King hearing debunking a number of King's falsehoods regarding Muslims. Because of the pro-active efforts of CAIR and others, Rep. King was forced to drop some of the anti-Muslim extremists he planned to call as witnesses.

While the first of Rep. King's hearings on the supposed "radicalization" of American Muslims generated a great deal of buzz, the combined efforts CAIR and other rights organizations put the issue of radicalization in its proper context and showed a true picture of the American Muslim community. King's second, third and fourth hearings were mostly ignored by the media.

American Muslims: A Journalist’s Guide to Understanding Islam and Muslims:

SS JournalistsGuide LAmerican Muslims: A Journalist’s Guide to Understanding Islam and Muslims:

A CAIR Initiative to Promote an Accurate Image of Islam in the Media

According to a report by Media Tenor, a research firm that monitors and analyzes media coverage, “Islam is not only the religion that is the most frequently mentioned in television news in the United States, but also a significant share of the coverage is negative.”  The report goes on to state that the tone of the media coverage of Islam was negative 40 percent of the time, while statements about Christianity were negative 20 percent of the time.  Media Tenor also found that “two-thirds of the television coverage about Islam associates Muslims with extremism.”

In response to this report and to the general increase in Islamophobia, CAIR designed an initiative to help enhance understanding of Islam and Muslims in the news media.   CAIR distributed more than 35,000 copies of its original publication, American Muslims: A Journalist’s Guide to Understanding Islam and Muslims.

The guides were sent to media professionals, journalism departments of universities, and libraries nationwide.  The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, including comments such as:

  • “It is high quality in terms of production value and offers some useful facts on Islam.”
  • “Very clearly written – A great aid for journalists.”
  • “It’s simple, brief explanations make it a good resource for journalists.”
  • “The guide shows Muslims and Islam in a positive light, for a change.” 

Since many recent news stories about Islam and Muslims originate on Capitol Hill, we also distributed the guide to the press secretary or communications director for each member of the 112th United States Congress: 100 senators and the 440 members of the House of Representatives.

Recipient Categories and Percentages