Here's the reality of Muslims in America -- and how it smashes stereotypes:
- It's difficult to come by hard numbers because the U.S. Census doesn't collect religious data. But the fear of Muslims taking over and imposing Sharia law is unfounded. By some estimates, Muslims make up less than 1% of the U.S. adult population.
- U.S. Muslims have the second-highest level of education among major religious groups in the country; Jews have the highest. And a greater proportion of them have college degrees than the general U.S. population.
- While in many parts of the Muslim world, women are confined to second-class status, that's not the case among American Muslims. Virtually all of them, 90%, agree that women should be able to work outside the home. American Muslim women hold more college or postgraduate degrees than Muslim men. And they are more likely to work in professional fields than women from most other U.S. religious groups.
- Scholars estimate about a quarter to a third of the Africans brought to the United States as slaves were Muslims. Most were then forced to convert to Christianity.
- American Muslims live in cities big and small all across the United States. The first mosque built in America was in, of all places, Ross, North Dakota, back in 1929.
- Much has been made about fundamentalist Muslims and their strict interpretation of the Quran. But most American Muslims are different. A Pew religious landscape survey found that 57% of American Muslims say there is more than one way to interpret Islam's teachings. A similar number say many different religions can lead to eternal life.
- From September 11, 2001, until the end of 2014, 109 Muslim-Americans plotted against targets in the United States. And terrorism by Muslim-Americans killed 50 in the same time period. Contrast that with the deaths from other mass shootings just last year: 136 -- more than twice as many as all the deaths from 13 years of Muslim-American terrorism.
- After every terrorist attack at home and abroad, the refrain rises, "Where is the Muslim condemnation?" American Muslims have spoken out -- and done much more. A Duke University study found more terrorism suspects and perpetrators were brought to the attention of law enforcement by members of the Muslim-American community than were discovered through U.S. government investigations. And a Pew survey found that roughly half of U.S. Muslims say their religious leaders aren't speaking out enough against Islamic extremism.