The Political Incorporation of Muslims in America: The Role of Religiosity in Islam
38 Pages Posted: 23 Oct 2009
Date Written: October 22, 2008
Previous scholars have argued that Islam as a religion and a culture is incompatible with liberal, democratic American values. Not only is Islam inconsistent with the West, but it poses a direct conflict according to some scholars. This viewpoint has been popularized in American and European media and by government officials who declare fundamentalist Muslims as enemies of freedom and democracy. However, there is no evidence that the grounds of conflict are based on religious ideology. Are the most devout Muslims really opposed to political incorporation in the U.S., or are other traditional non-religious factors such as socioeconomic status and acculturation more important in understanding political alienation? To date, nearly every study of Islam and Western values has been qualitative, anecdotal or philosophical in nature, leaving most questions unanswered, at least empirically. Using a unique national survey of Muslim Americans, we find that more religiously devout Muslims are significantly more likely to support political participation in America - in contrast to prevailing wisdom. We conclude that there is nothing inconsistent with Islam and American democracy, and in fact, religiosity fosters support for American democratic values.
Keywords: Muslim American, Democracy, Religion and Politics, Participation, Race and Ethnicity, Public Opinion
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