Urban Fold

Muslim Count Controversial

A new census of Muslim congregations is reviving controversies over how many Muslims are in the U.S., how they are counted and why it matters.

"'Numbers are a major factor in being marginalized or being recognized by decision-makers in public policy,' says Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council for American-Islamic Relations, a civil rights and advocacy group and a sponsor of this second mosque census."

"The first census in 2000 counted 1,209 mosques. The tally became controversial when the census announced more than 6 million Muslims were in the USA. That figure was so high it would have vaulted Islam into one of the five largest religious denominations in the country.

But lead researcher Ihsan Bagby, now associate professor of Islamic studies at the University of Kentucky-Lexington, says the 6 million figure actually was a "ballpark estimate." Bagby says he "extrapolated" the total from the 1.8 million adults counted in attendance by imams and mosque leaders. He wrapped in estimated numbers of family members who didn't attend, people in prison and people who may go to the mosque only for major festivals. No other national survey has counted anything close to Bagby's numbers."

Full Story: Muslim census a difficult count

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