Survey finds most American Muslims believe “society should accept homosexuality”

American Muslims seem to be changing their minds about gays with a new survey showing that a majority of them now believe “society should accept homosexuality,” an increase of 25 percent in 10 years.

A survey by the Pew Research Center of 1,001 American Muslims found that they have become much more accepting of homosexuality in recent years.

In the first Pew Research Center survey of Muslims in 2007, far more Muslims said homosexuality should be discouraged by society (61%) than said it should be accepted (27%). By 2011, Muslims were roughly evenly split on this question.

Today, Muslims who say homosexuality should be accepted by society clearly outnumber those who say it should be discouraged (52% vs. 33%), despite the fact that the practise of homosexuality is considered a major sin by all reputable Islamic scholars.

Muslims represent a relatively small but rapidly growing portion of the U.S. religious landscape. Pew Research Center estimates that there are 3.35 million Muslims of all ages living in the U.S. – up from about 2.75 million in 2011 and 2.35 million in 2007.

Muslim Americans are largely an immigrant population: Roughly six-in-ten U.S. Muslims ages 18 and over (58%) were born outside the U.S., with origins spread throughout the world. The most common region of origin for Muslim immigrants is South Asia, where one-in-five U.S. Muslims were born, including 9% who were born in Pakistan.

An additional 13% of U.S. Muslims were born elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region (including Iran), 14% in the Middle East or North Africa, and 5% in sub-Saharan Africa.

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The diversity of Muslims in the U.S. extends to religious beliefs and practices as well. While nearly all Muslims say they are proud to be Muslim, they are not of one mind about what is essential to being Muslim, and their levels of religious practice vary widely.

Most U.S. Muslims (64%) say there is more than one true way to interpret Islam. They also are more likely to say traditional understandings of Islam need to be reinterpreted in light of modern contexts (52%) than to say traditional understandings are all that is needed (38%).

Nearly two-thirds of Muslim Americans say they are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the U.S. today. And about three-quarters say Donald Trump is unfriendly toward Muslims in America.

In addition, half of Muslim Americans say it has become harder to be Muslim in the U.S. in recent years. And 48% say they have experienced at least one incident of discrimination in the past 12 months.

But alongside these reports of discrimination, a similar – and growing – share (49%) of Muslim Americans say someone has expressed support for them because of their religion in the past year. And 55% think Americans in general are friendly toward U.S. Muslims, compared with just 14% who say they are unfriendly.

Despite the concerns and perceived challenges they face, 89% of Muslims say they are both proud to be American and proud to be Muslim. Fully eight-in-ten say they are satisfied with the way things are going in their lives. And a large majority of U.S. Muslims continue to profess faith in the American dream, with 70% saying that most people who want to get ahead can make it in America if they are willing to work hard.

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