The Bay Area Muslim Study

The Bay Area Muslim Study:
Establishing Identity and Community

The San Francisco Bay Area has one of the largest Muslim populations in the United States: nearly 250,000 Muslims live in the six counties surrounding the city of San Francisco. It is home to a large number of immigrants who sought economic and educational opportunities, as well as refugees and their American-born children who fled strife, violence, and economic hardship. Many work in Silicon Valley, but survey results show the existence of clear regional socioeconomic disparities. This region is also attractive to immigrants because its diverse and inclusive atmosphere allows religious and cultural diversity to flourish. It also hosts a significant African American Muslim community and a growing number of converts.

Over the past thirty years, the Bay Area in general, and the Muslim population in particular, has experienced significant growth brought on by the region’s economic transformation and the emergence of an information technology industry that required a massive infusion of educated and skilled labor. This growth has resulted in the proliferation of mosques as well as community institutions.

This benchmark study, the first of its kind on the Bay Area’s Muslim community, serves many purposes including providing groundbreaking data on its demographics, sense of identity, economic well being, political and civic engagement, and the challenges that it faces. The resulting data is useful for academics and practitioners wishing to pursue further research, as well as for the community and its leaders, philanthropists and foundations, policymakers, and the general public. As a source of information, it will serve as an important tool for advocacy and media purposes, given that data about the community has often been misrepresented. Finally, the report will add to and complement the growing body of empirical data on local Muslim communities and the national portrait.

Funders of the study include the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, The San Francisco Foundation, Marin Community Foundation and Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP) who partnered with the One Nation Foundation to create the One Nation Bay Area project in 2010 and subsequently commissioned ISPU to produce the report.

ISPU Reports & Resources


Bar graph showing the racial/ethnic make-up of Muslims in the Bay Area: 30% South Asian, 23% Arab, 17% Afghan, 9% African-American, 7% Asian/Pacific Islander, 6% White, and 2% Iranian

Overall Racial/Ethnic and Residential Demographics

Bar graph comparing ethnicity and education among Bay Area Muslims

Educational Attainment Levels

Bar graph comparing county and household income of Bay Area Muslims

Levels of Income

Bar graph showing religious practice and identity of Muslims in the Bay Area: 68% reported attending a mosque at least once a week

Religious Practice and Identity

Meet the Research Team

Farid SenzaiFarid Senzai

Assistant Professor, Santa Clara University

Hatem Bazian

Hatem Bazian

Lecturer, UC Berkeley

Co-Founder, Zaytuna College

Amaney Jamal

Edwards S. Sanford Professor of Politics, Princeton University

Director, Mamdouha S. Bobst Center for Peace and Justice

Director, Workshop on Arab Political Development

Rashida Tlaib

Community Partnerships and Development Director, Sugar Law Center for Economic & Social Justice

First Muslim woman elected to the Michigan Legislature in 2008 and only the second Muslim state legislator in the country

Muqtedar Khan

Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and International Relations, University of Delaware

Rahfin Faruk

Harry S. Truman Scholar

Summa cum laude graduate from Southern Methodist University with degrees in economics, political science, public policy, and religious studies

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