Illinois Muslims

Needs, Assets, and Opportunities

JULY 28, 2022 | BY DALIA MOGAHED, DR. JOSEPH HOERETH, OJUS KHANOLKAR, AND UMAIR TARBHAI

A smiling couple cooks a meal together in a bright kitchen
A smiling couple cooks a meal together in a bright kitchen

Results: Family

The survey included questions about the needs and assets of the family and the household unit. Questions pertaining to family touched on topics such as marriage and divorce, care for extended family, access to jobs, and household expenses.

ASSET: Muslim Marriage

A smiling couple cooks a meal together in a bright kitchen
A smiling couple cooks a meal together in a bright kitchen

DOWNLOADS

Results: Family

The survey included questions about the needs and assets of the family and the household unit. Questions pertaining to family touched on topics such as marriage and divorce, care for extended family, access to jobs, and household expenses.

ASSET: Muslim Marriage

In terms of family makeup, 63% of the Muslim sample responded that they were married at the time of the survey while 39% of the Illinois general public sample reported the same. Though simply being married is no guarantee for a thriving and healthy family, marriage is still a foundation for healthy family units which extensive research suggests are linked to better outcomes for children.

A bar graph showing marital status of the Illinois Muslim sample and Illinois general public
A bar graph showing marital status of the Illinois Muslim sample and Illinois general public

Report Partners

This research was convened by the IL Muslim Civic Coalition and partners and conducted by the Institute for Policy and Civic Engagement at the University of Illinois Chicago (IPCE) and the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU).

ASSET: Strong Inter-generational Support

Compared to the Illinois general population sample, a greater percentage of the Illinois Muslim Sample care for their elderly relatives (29% vs. 21%, respectively), suggesting the elderly in the Muslim community are more likely to have family engagement and companionship, which research suggests contributes to better mental and physical health outcomes.

NEED: More Support for Divorced Families

Despite only eleven percent of Muslim respondents saying they have ever been divorced, 91% of Muslim respondents agreed that their faith community should be more supportive of divorced families. This can include divorced and separated families as well as those going through divorce. This presents an important opportunity for community organizations, Muslim-run counseling and support organizations, as well as houses of faith, to advocate for more resources devoted to support programs for divorcees. By contrast, 74% of Illinois general public respondents said they believe their house of worship needs to do more to accommodate divorcees.

A bar graph showing level of agreement with the statement: “My faith community should be more supportive of divorced people” among the Illinois Muslim sample and Illinois general public
A bar graph showing level of agreement with the statement: “My faith community should be more supportive of divorced people” among the Illinois Muslim sample and Illinois general public

Reasons for Divorce Common Across Communities

Of those in the Illinois general public sample and the Muslim sample who responded that they have ever been divorced, the reasons given are very similar across both samples. The most common reason for divorce was cited as infidelity, listed by 30% of Muslim respondents and 27% of Illinois general public respondents. The next most commonly cited reason within the Muslim sample was incompatible goals, stated by 16% of our Muslim respondents, compared with 8% of the Illinois general public sample. For the Illinois general public, an equally important reason for divorce were conflicts over money and finances, which 10% of the Illinois general public sample cited. In comparison, 6% of the Muslim population cited financial conflicts as a reason for divorce.

NEED: Greater Education and Support for Domestic Violence Survivors

Muslim respondents face similar rates of domestic violence as the Illinois general public respondents. Among Muslim respondents, 17% stated they know someone in their faith community who has been a victim of domestic violence, on par with the 14% of Illinois general public respondents who stated the same. Conversely, Muslim respondents were less likely to report these transgressions to either law enforcement or a community leader. Among those who knew a victim of domestic violence, 35% of Muslim respondents stated that the individual reported the transgression to a member of law enforcement while 58% of Illinois general public sample responded the same. Similarly, 31% of Muslims in the Illinois sample who knew someone in their faith community that was a victim of domestic violence stated that the individual reported the violence to a community leader while 53% of the Illinois general public responded the same.

This differs from ISPU’s American Muslim Poll 2017 findings on American Muslims in which it was found that 54% of Muslims who knew someone in their community who was a victim of domestic violence reported the transgression to law enforcement and 51% reported the transgression to a faith leader.

A bar graph showing the proportion of the Illinois Muslim sample and Illinois general public who know someone who reported domestic violence cases to law enforcement and/or faith community leaders
A bar graph showing the proportion of the Illinois Muslim sample and Illinois general public who know someone who reported domestic violence cases to law enforcement and/or faith community leaders

NEED: Sandwich Generation Common

Among the Illinois Muslim sample, as stated earlier, 29% reported that they are currently caring for an older family member (either a grandparent or a parent), compared with 21% of the Illinois general public respondents. Of those who stated they are caring for an elderly member of their family, 91% reported that they help out with hands-on work, including 8% providing help with errands and housework, 34% with transportation, 32% with health-related tasks (such as monitoring blood pressure or blood sugar), and 17% acting as a main social outlet. A greater proportion of the Illinois general public sample reported supporting their parents financially (37% of the Illinois general public vs. 9% of Illinois Muslims). This suggests that many Muslims in Illinois are taxed with caring for parents and children at the same time in ways that make demands on their time, not just their finances, pointing to a need in the community for elderly care support. Further research is recommended to understand the impact of this added mental and emotional labor on Muslim mental health.

A bar graph showing the proportion of the Illinois Muslim sample and Illinois general public who help a parent or grandparent with various tasks
A bar graph showing the proportion of the Illinois Muslim sample and Illinois general public who help a parent or grandparent with various tasks

NEED: Improved Access and Awareness of Job Placement Opportunities and Social Services

When comparing the financial health of the Muslim community sample to the Illinois general public, we found that the Muslim sample respondents struggled with job loss on par with the those in the Illinois general public (30% in both samples). This is an area where social service organizations of all kinds can concentrate resources. In addition, 22% of Muslim respondents have been laid off, as have 21% of Illinois general public respondents. Unsurprisingly, significant shares of the Muslim and general public sample report worrying about paying the bills—33% of Muslim respondents and 46% of our Illinois general public respondents—pointing to a need in Illinois across communities.

A bar graph showing the proportion of the Illinois Muslim sample and Illinois general public that are worried about being able to pay their bills
A bar graph showing the proportion of the Illinois Muslim sample and Illinois general public that are worried about being able to pay their bills

Further, 28% of our Muslim respondents stated they have accessed social welfare programs like SNAP/TANFF, compared with 35% of the Illinois general public respondents. Respondents in the Illinois Muslim sample were less likely to struggle with food insecurity in the past year. That being said, it is still important to note that 14% of Muslim respondents in our sample have struggled with food insecurity, which can be addressed by increasing knowledge about accessing social services. By comparison, 38% of the Illinois general public sample stated they faced food insecurity. The Muslim sample is more likely to be married and less likely to be separated or divorced and, therefore, part of a family unit, which may explain why the economic impact of job loss is less severe. Since our sample likely skews wealthy, the actual share of the Muslim population that is food insecure is likely higher, especially considering that nationally representative figures show that a third of Muslims in the US are low income, the largest share of any faith or non-faith community. Any amount of food insecurity is a need in any community and may be partially addressed by educating those in need about available social services.

A bar graph showing the percentage of the Illinois Muslim sample and Illinois general public who have accessed social welfare programs
A bar graph showing the percentage of the Illinois Muslim sample and Illinois general public who have accessed social welfare programs
Five Muslim youth sit outside and talk against a wall
Five Muslim youth sit outside and talk against a wall

Results: Community

Topics covered by assets and needs in this section pertained to questions about the Muslim community in Illinois. This included questions about giving to Muslim organizations; mosque attendance; support for health and social services; inclusivity in mosque decision-making; and discrimination within and toward the Muslim community.

ASSET: Illinois Muslims Give Generously

Another asset found within the sample of Muslim respondents is a willingness to contribute to their community. Around four out of five Muslims have donated to an organization associated with their faith community in the last 12 months. This is compared with just half of the Illinois general public sample.

A bar graph showing the proportion of the Illinois Muslim sample and Illinois general public that donate to community organizations
A bar graph showing the proportion of the Illinois Muslim sample and Illinois general public that donate to community organizations

While roughly a third of both the Muslim sample and the Illinois general public sample contributed between $100 and $500 annually, the Muslim sample was more likely to give at the higher end of the spectrum. Roughly a quarter of the Muslim sample contributed between $1,000 and $5,000 annually compared to 16% of the Illinois general public sample.

A bar graph showing the distribution of household income among the Illinois Muslim sample and Illinois general public
A bar graph showing the distribution of household income among the Illinois Muslim sample and Illinois general public

ASSET: Frequent Mosque Attendance Is an Asset for Community Mobilization and Mental Health

Around 72% of the Muslim sample attended their mosque at least once a month prior to the pandemic. This has important ramifications for community building. Higher mosque attendance is linked with increased volunteering and higher civic engagement for the group.⁸ In addition, more frequent mosque attendance is linked to better mental health outcomes, such as lower sadness and anger.⁹ By way of comparison, around 47% of the Illinois general public sample attends a house of worship once a month.

A bar graph showing frequency of attendance at house of prayer among the Illinois Muslim sample and Illinois general public
A bar graph showing frequency of attendance at house of prayer among the Illinois Muslim sample and Illinois general public

ASSET: Muslim Community Reports Less Drug Use but Favors More Support for Addiction Care

Muslims report consuming significantly less alcohol than the Illinois general public. Of the Muslim sample, 95% stated they do not consume any alcohol as opposed to 48% of the Illinois general public sample. One-third of the Muslim sample indicated they know an individual within their faith community who has struggled with addiction, compared to 41% of individuals in the Illinois general public sample.

A bar graph showing alcohol consumption among the Illinois Muslim sample and Illinois general public
A bar graph showing alcohol consumption among the Illinois Muslim sample and Illinois general public

However, 75% of the Muslim respondents stated their faith community needs to do more work to support individuals with addictions. This is an important asset within the Muslim community as it shows a deep level of empathy for their fellow community members and presents an opportunity for organizations and leaders in this field to gain momentum. In contrast, 53% of the general public indicated their faith community should do more to support individuals struggling with addiction.

A bar graph showing opinions about the level of support the faith community should provide to those struggling with addiction among Illinois Muslim sample and Illinois general public
A bar graph showing opinions about the level of support the faith community should provide to those struggling with addiction among Illinois Muslim sample and Illinois general public

NEED: Greater Investment in Nontraditional Nonprofits

We found that while 80% of Muslims do donate to nonprofit organizations, just 3% donate to family and youth organizations or research organizations associated with their faith community while 9% give to “civic” or civil rights organizations. A lack of funding to these organizations may leave the community with less capacity to inform and advocate for their needs with policymakers. This points to a need within the Illinois Muslim community to invest in all such organizations.

Of those who donated to a faith-based community organization, 30% of Muslim respondents stated they had given to an overseas organization while around 28% of respondents said they had given to their house of worship. This compares to 15% of the general public who donated to an overseas relief organization and 41% who donated to their house of prayer. 

While Muslim respondents were more likely than the general public in Illinois to support overseas relief, they were equally likely to support domestic relief organization (20% and 17%, respectively).

A bar graph showing recipients of community giving among the Illinois Muslim sample and Illinois general public
A bar graph showing recipients of community giving among the Illinois Muslim sample and Illinois general public

These results depart slightly from trends in the nation as a whole where Muslims were found to be as likely as other faith communities in the US to donate to overseas relief.

NEED: More Responsive Muslim Sacred Spaces

Among respondents who attended their house of prayer at least once a month, Muslim respondents were twice as likely as the Illinois general public to state that their opinion doesn’t matter in their house of prayer (28% of the Muslims sample vs. 14% of the Illinois general public sample). That being said, 72% of Muslim respondents said that their opinion does count in their house of prayer as did 86% of the Illinois general public respondents. This presents a need for mosque leadership to better engage those who attend their institution and find ways to better listen and address their needs.

A bar graph showing level of agreement with the statement “In my house of prayer, my opinions seem to count” among the Illinois Muslim sample and Illinois general public
A bar graph showing level of agreement with the statement “In my house of prayer, my opinions seem to count” among the Illinois Muslim sample and Illinois general public

There is little difference within the Muslim sample along gender lines with 26% of men and 30% of women stating their opinion doesn’t matter in their house of prayer. When examined more closely and looking specifically at the role of women in decision-making within the mosque, 25% of Muslim respondents stated they don’t believe that women are included in decision-making in their house of faith. This number is significantly higher than the Illinois general public sample, where 10% of respondents stated they don’t believe women are included in decision-making in their house of faith. Within the Muslim sample that responded to the question, 22% of men stated they believed women were not included in decision-making while 34% of women stated they believed they weren’t included in decision-making.

A bar graph showing the level of agreement with the statement “In my house of prayer, my opinions seem to count” among the Illinois Muslim sample and Illinois general public
A bar graph showing the level of agreement with the statement “In my house of prayer, my opinions seem to count” among the Illinois Muslim sample and Illinois general public

When examined along lines of race, 37% of Black Muslim respondents and 30% of both Arab Muslim respondents and Asian Muslim respondents agreed that their opinion does not count in their house of prayer while only 10% percent of white Muslims said the same. When looking across age demographics, almost 34% of Muslim respondents stated they believed young people were not included in decision-making in their house of prayer; this consisted of 37% of young adults aged 18-29, 30% of individuals aged 30-49, and 27% of individuals aged 50+. By contrast, 20% of the Illinois general public sample believed that young people are not included in decision-making in their house of prayer.

A bar graph showing the level of agreement with the statement “In my house of prayer, young adults are included in decision making” among the Illinois Muslim sample and Illinois general public
A bar graph showing the level of agreement with the statement “In my house of prayer, young adults are included in decision making” among the Illinois Muslim sample and Illinois general public

NEED: Gender Discrimination

The proportion of Muslim respondents in our sample that face gender discrimination outside their faith community is similar to the proportion of respondents that face gender discrimination inside their faith community. Among the Illinois Muslim sample, 28% stated they experience gender discrimination within their faith community and 34% of Muslim respondents stated they experience discrimination outside their faith community.

A bar graph showing frequency of gender discrimination occurring from within and outside of faith community among the Illinois Muslim sample.
A bar graph showing frequency of gender discrimination occurring from within and outside of faith community among the Illinois Muslim sample.

Not surprisingly, this issue affects Muslim women much more than it affects Muslim men. While 14% of Muslim men in our sample reported experiencing gender discrimination within their faith community, 47% of Muslim women in our sample reported experiencing discrimination within their faith community. When compared to gender discrimination faced outside the faith community, 23% of Muslim men in our sample said they face discrimination, as opposed to 49% of the Muslim women in our sample who said they face gender discrimination. So, in our sample, Muslim women were roughly as likely to report gender discrimination from outside their faith community as inside.

A bar graph showing the frequency of gender discrimination by someone inside faith community among women in the Illinois Muslim sample and women in the Illinois general public
A bar graph showing the frequency of gender discrimination by someone inside faith community among women in the Illinois Muslim sample and women in the Illinois general public

In comparison, 25% of women in the Illinois general public sample reported facing gender discrimination from within their faith community while 31% reported facing gender discrimination from outside their faith community.

A bar graph showing frequency of gender discrimination by someone outside faith community among women in the Illinois Muslim sample and women in Illinois general public
A bar graph showing frequency of gender discrimination by someone outside faith community among women in the Illinois Muslim sample and women in Illinois general public

NEED: Anti-Black Racial Discrimination Inside and Outside Muslim Community

Muslim respondents also reported facing more racial discrimination outside their faith community than inside. While 28% of Muslim respondents stated they experienced racial discrimination within their faith group, 51% of Muslim respondents stated they experienced racial discrimination outside their faith group. Within the faith community, Black Muslims face the most discrimination (51%), followed by Arab Muslims (28%), Asian Muslims (30%), and white Muslims (10%).

A bar graph showing frequency of experiencing racial discrimination by someone inside faith community by race among Illinois Muslim sample
A bar graph showing frequency of experiencing racial discrimination by someone inside faith community by race among Illinois Muslim sample

Outside the faith community, Black Muslims still face high levels of racial discrimination (59%), on par with Arab Muslims (59%) and Asian Muslims (58%). About one in five white Muslims (19%) report facing racial discrimination outside their faith community. This presents a clear need to address intra-Muslim racism, particularly anti-Black racism, as well as racism in wider society.

A bar graph showing frequency of experiencing racial discrimination by someone outside faith community by race among Illinois Muslim sample
A bar graph showing frequency of experiencing racial discrimination by someone outside faith community by race among Illinois Muslim sample
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap