A recent editorial in Investors Business Daily, “The 8-Million Muslim Lie”, took issue with population figures regularly bandied about by radical Islamic activists since the November 2006 elections as a supposed demonstration of Muslims’ collective political power. Because of the number of elections decided around the country with slim majorities, including critical congressional and senatorial races, the Muslim activists advancing this statistic contend that because of this fictionalized mass of Muslims, the radical agendas of organizations like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Muslim American Society (MAS), and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) must have their demands for the Islamization of American society catered to by political parties, government officials and law enforcement authorities. At least that’s how their argument goes.
The IBD editorial completely deconstructs the methodology of the report used by these organizations to support their “8-Million Muslim” claims. The report in question, The Mosque in America: A National Portrait, was published in April 2001 by CAIR, and was authored by CAIR National Board member, Ishan Bagby, who has no professional training in demography. The study concluded:
Estimates of a total Muslim population of 6-7 million in America seem reasonable in light of the figure of 2 million Muslims who associate with a mosque. (p. 3)
In fact, more careful scientific studies have placed the population of Muslims in America much lower. A NY Sun op-ed by Dr. Daniel Pipes in October 2001 (“How Many U.S. Muslims?”) noted two different scientific university-conducted studies in recent years that place the population of Muslims at less than 3 million:
The American Religious Identification Survey 2001 carried out by the Graduate Center of the City University of New York polled more than 50,000 people and found the total American Muslim population to be 1.8 million.
Meanwhile, the University of Chicago's Tom Smith reviewed prior national surveys and (in a study sponsored by the American Jewish Committee) found that the best estimate puts the Muslim population in 2000 at 1,886,000. (With a nod toward figures supplied by Islamic organizations, he allowed that this number could be as high as 2,814,000 Muslims.)
Even though critics have decisively shown the fatal assumptions of CAIR’s wildly exaggerated population study, CAIR still promotes this 6-7 million number on their website. As an aside, the CAIR study only evaluated Sunni Muslims. The Shi’ite community, which the Sunnis consider heretic, was curiously not considered in their population “guesstimates” of Muslims in America.
But what if CAIR and the other Islamist organizations floating these fictional statistics were given the benefit of the doubt? While their population estimates bear no resemblance to reality, it is true that in certain congressional districts the Muslim vote, which trended heavily to Republicans in 2000 but dramatically shifted towards Democrats in 2004 and 2006, did play a role in some House and Senate races in districts with large Muslim population in the last election. That can certainly be conceded.
However, the question has to be asked: if there are in fact 8 million Muslims in America, just how many of them does CAIR actually represent? Of course, if you were to ask that question of Ibrahim Cooper, CAIR National spokesman, he would say all of them. But a close inspection of internal documents of the radical Islamic organizations that represent themselves as advocates of the exponentially increasing Muslim masses betrays a difficult truth – that they actually represent few American Muslims at all:
- An inspection of CAIR’s most recent publicly available IRS Form 990 (2004) shows for that year they received $119,029 in membership dues for that year (line 3). But at $25 per membership (the current rate is $35), that would mean that in 2004, CAIR only had 4,761 dues-paying members – less than 5,000 members out of 8 million Muslims in America. This would mean that CAIR only represents 1 out of every 1,680 Muslims. Even if a lower 6 million Muslim population figure were assumed, CAIR would still only be able to claim representation for 1 out of every 1,260 Muslims for that year.
- MAS is in even worse shape than CAIR when it comes to actual representation of the American Muslim community. In 2004, MAS received only $87,299 in membership dues, which represents a dramatic decrease in membership from 2003 ($366,613 in members dues received) and 2002 ($378,993 received). Membership has declined so rapidly for MAS that they have stopped offering memberships on their website altogether, though MAS has not publicly acknowledged, let alone explained, their stunning membership decline since 9/11.
- Data for ISNA is not available because they have claimed exemption as a church, which aren’t required to make their IRS Form 990s publicly available. This is unfortunate, as ISNA has previously claimed in press releases to represent an astounding 10 million Muslim Americans – a population statistic and membership claim that cannot be independently verified.
The implication of these findings threatens to shatter the myth that these radical Islamic organizations are actually representative of American Muslims. In the case of both CAIR and MAS, their actual and documented representation of Muslims is so miniscule that their claims to speak on behalf of Muslims in America put inordinate strain on their credibility. As for ISNA, the simple fact that they publicly claim to represent numbers far exceeding the number of American Muslims than even the most unscientific and evidently biased population study can identify immediately calls into question their veracity.
It seems those that are the quickest to use the “8-Million Muslim Lie” are actually the ones most damaged by it. As population figures for Muslims in America are continually inflated, the hard membership numbers for CAIR and MAS found in their own tax documents shows that they are representing progressively less of the Muslim community if the population figures they cite are to be believed. In a strange twist of fate, at the very moment that these organizations want to capitalize on the opportunity of the supposed growing political clout of Muslims in America, their own numbers show that they are becoming less representative of the community they claim to speak for. Unfortunately for CAIR, MAS and ISNA, there is no escaping that the real numbers don’t lie.
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