How Many Muslims Are There in the U.S.?

I should have noted in my post below that the 5-to-7-million American Muslims estimate was one of the higher-end estimates. Estimating the Muslim Population in the United States by Tom W. Smith of the National Opinion Research Center (2001) reports that

The best, adjusted, survey-based estimates put the adult Muslim population in 2000 at 0.67 percent or 1,401,000, and the total Muslim population at 1,886,000. Even if high-side estimates based on local surveys, figures from mosques, and ancestry and immigration statistics are given more weight than the survey-based numbers, it is hard to accept estimates that Muslims are greater than 1 percent of the population (2,090,000 adults or 2,814,000 total).

I haven't examined the matter closely myself, so I don't have a truly informed opinion. But to my knowledge, Smith is quite well-regarded in the field, and is the director of the very well-regarded General Social Survey. So at the very least the 5 to 7 million American Muslims figure should be viewed with some skepticism, recognizing that the number might be 2 to 3 million instead.

UPDATE: Thanks to commenter wm13, here's a 2007 Pew Research Report estimating the number at about 2.35 million. Pew, like the GSS, is a well-regarded survey organization, which to my knowledge has no axe to grind on this issue.

That Tom Smith article is a little old. The most credible recent study of which I am aware is here. (It comes out in about the same place.)

The bottom line is, the earth is more than 6000 years old, and there are not 5 million (or even 3 million) Muslims in the United States.
6.4.2009 1:30pm
The wikipedia link from the previous post was changed this morning and now has the US as #52. It looks like it gets bumped around a lot.
6.4.2009 1:35pm
RPT (mail):
What's the hidden significance of the new "" ad on the right side of the VC page? There must be some subliminal conspiracy here.
6.4.2009 1:43pm
R Thompson:
Maybe the Muslim count comes from the new Census Director.
6.4.2009 1:44pm
areader (mail):
Are members of Nation of Islam included in those numbers? That might be part of the discrepancies. (Apologies if that's covered in the links; didn't have time to look at them thoroughly.)
6.4.2009 2:42pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):

Are members of Nation of Islam included in those numbers?

Maybe they used the same methodology as they used to get their attendance totals for the "Million Man March."
6.4.2009 3:28pm
I suspect a substantial number of those people are Nation of Islam followers, who many Sunni and Shiite Muslims do not treat as being "authentically" Islamic.
6.4.2009 5:50pm
The Nation of Islam is a tiny organization with perhaps 25,000 adherents. It doesn't even register in nationwide surveys.
6.4.2009 5:55pm
LarryA (mail) (www):
it is hard to accept estimates that Muslims are greater than 1 percent of the population (2,090,000 adults or 2,814,000 total
That doesn't count the 4,000,000 ATF/FBI/TSA/CIA agents following them around and pretending to be muslim.
6.4.2009 6:12pm
rosetta's stones:

"That doesn't count the 4,000,000 ATF/FBI/TSA/CIA agents following them around and pretending to be muslim."

I want that job, man. Nothin' better than a plate full of fatoush, with garlic chicken, washed down with some carrot juice, and maybe some balaclava to finish up... mmmmmmm.
6.4.2009 7:09pm
kurt9 (mail):
The figures I have heard is that there are about 2 million Muslims who are immigrants from the middle-east and other places and something like 2 million African-Americans who identify with the Nation of Islam. It should also be noted that "mainstream" Muslims (Arabs, Persians, Malay) do not consider the Nation of Islam to be a legitimate form of Islam. Instead, they consider it to be a cult (mainly because of its elevation of Elisha Mohammad as a "prophet".

What I have always found entertaining about the Nation is that it was Muslim Arab traders who initially captured and sold Africans into slavery in large numbers.
6.5.2009 1:30am
Angela Johnston (mail):
Perhaps Obama's Chicago roots are part of the confusion / impression. Chicago has a significant and vibrant Muslim community, especially on the south side.

Islam in America

Islam in Chicago The estimated population of Muslims in Cook and the collar counties is 350,000, almost 5% of the total population of the region.

(Neither source is unbiased, and the comment was still pretty silly, but Chicago is also the place that claims more Poles than Poland, which also isn't true.)
6.5.2009 6:48pm

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