As we have learned, together, particularly over the past couple of years, facts matter. Context and perspective matter; and, the American tradition of strong investigative journalism – and independent thought – matters. In that regard, the Institute for Social and Policy Understanding (ISPU) has developed an important study called, Muslims for American Progress (MAP), which focuses on, this phase, the accomplishments and success of Michiganders, who just happen to be Muslim.
Today, issues surrounding Muslim Americans are central in our political discourse, policy debates, and popular culture. Yet most Americans say they do not know a Muslim and, according to media content analysis, more than 80% of media coverage of Islam and Muslims in the United States is negative. This opens the door for a narrow media image to distort public perceptions of this diverse community.
To fill the widespread gaps in knowledge about Muslim American citizens, including their positive impact on the country, the MAP Project quantifies the contributions of Muslim Americans in the state of Michigan. Michigan’s Muslim community serves as a case study for the rest of the nation, and the findings from this project are in many ways indicative of Muslim contributions across the United States.
To ISPU’s knowledge, this is the first analysis of its kind that explores the dynamic ways in which Muslims contribute to wider American society. According to PEW, there are 3.3 million Muslims in the U.S. as of 2015, making up 1% of the U.S. population. As of 2015, there are approximately 273,734 Muslims in Michigan, making up 2.75% of the state’s population.
Who are American Muslims? Muslims are America’s youngest faith group: 80% of Muslims surveyed are between 18 and 49 years old, compared to 33% of Jews, 49% of Catholics, 44% of Protestants, and 58% of the non-affiliated. Muslims are the most ethnically diverse faith community: Muslims are the only faith community surveyed with no majority race, with 25% Black, 24% White, 18% Asian, 18% Arab, 7% mixed race, and 5% Hispanic.
Each study participant, in their own way, has done much to enhance the quality of life of those surrounding them in and throughout the state – whether or not their neighbors are Muslim. Through this study, millions of American people have seen – that Muslims, like everyone else, identify a need or a problem and tackle it. Not because of politics, nor perhaps, even because of their religion. They do so because of their humanity. The study will reveal dozens of contributors to eight American spheres of life:
– Civics and Democracy
– Business and Economic Development
– Philanthropy and Non-Profits
– Arts and Entertainment
ISPU has also released a photo narrative series on MAP participants. Here are several profiles that we here, at the Michigan Chronicle, found particularly interesting.