Muslims in the U.S. are a sorely misunderstood group–diverse in myriad ways and yet quickly stereotyped, especially since Sept. 11. But a brand new study of Muslims in California’s Bay Area sheds light on one pocket of American Muslims, and shows that the community is extremely diverse and defies easy generalizations.
So what do you need to know? According to The Bay Area Muslim Study: Establishing Community and Identity, the first-ever benchmark study of the community:
Muslims in the Bay Area have diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds. The Bay Area Muslim community is large, with nearly 250,000 members. More than a third of Muslims in the Bay Area–which includes San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, San Mateo and Marin Counties–are of South Asian descent, 23 percent are Arab, 17 percent are Afghani, 9 percent are African-American, 7 percent are Asian-American, six percent are white, and 2 percent are Iranian. (But, it’s important to note that ethnicity is not automatically synonymous with religious affiliation; not all South Asians, Arabs and Middle Easterners are Muslim.) And 34 percent of Muslims were born in the U.S.
Bay Area Muslims occupy both very high and very low economic tiers. While some Muslims in the Bay Area do very well economically–nearly half of all South Asian Muslims make more than $100,000 annually–in the aggregate, Bay Area Muslims’ median household income is 11 percent lower than the average Bay Area household income. And more than a third of Muslims in the Bay Area have a combined household income of less than $40,000 a year.