A broad coalition of U.S. Muslim Brotherhood groups has announced that they will be conducting a nationwide census to collect data about U.S. mosques. According to a press release:
A coalition of Islamic and research groups today announced the launch of a nationwide census project, the first comprehensive survey of its kind, intended to collect accurate data about America’s mosques. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) will conduct the study over the summer and fall, publishing the findings in a report to be released in early 2009.The census is co-sponsored by a coalition of organizations including CAIR, ISNA, the Muslim American Society (MAS) Freedom Foundation, the Imam Mahdi Association of Marjaeya (IMAM), the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), the Muslim Alliance in North America (MANA), the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), the Hartford Institute of Religion Research (Hartford Seminary), and the Religious Congregations and Membership Study 2010 (a project of the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies). The goal of the census is to contact every mosque and Islamic center in the United States to compile accurate information about the Muslim community in America, specifically relating to size, infrastructure development, the participation of women and youth, and depth of involvement in American society.
All of the above Islamic groups are known to be part of or closely associated with the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood.
The director of the study presented one explanation for the motivation behind the census:
“As the American Muslim community continues to grow and flourish, it is imperative for scholars to provide an in-depth understanding of the American mosque and its Muslim adherents. The vibrant diversity of our community is an asset to our nation, and understanding the American mosque is essential to understanding U.S. Muslims,” said CAIR Board Member Dr. Ihsan Bagby, an associate professor at the University of Kentucky who is directing the study.
Another possible motivation is suggested in this statement by the head of ISNA:
Dr. Syed Sayeed, National Director of ISNA, said: “Muslims in America are making an important contribution in enriching the mainstream of America. A recent study published by Harvard University press has shown that the Pakistani American Muslims alone annually donate around a billion dollars worth of cash, goods and services. Our African American Muslims made us proud by providing leadership in the political field and we were able to have our first two Muslim congressmen from that background. It is critical for us to get a clear count of this richly diverse community, a study of our mosques and institutions serving the Muslim community and educating both Muslim and the mainstream community about Muslims and Islam.”
The U.S. Brotherhood has long desired to increase its numbers by somnehow integrating the African-American and Pakistani Muslim communities into its ranks. This census may be yet another effort in that direction.