January 6, 2016

A new estimate of the U.S. Muslim population

Total American Muslim population share projected to growPew Research Center estimates that there were about 3.3 million Muslims of all ages living in the United States in 2015. This means that Muslims made up about 1% of the total U.S. population (about 322 million people in 2015), and we estimate that that share will double by 2050.

Our new estimate of Muslims and other faiths is based on a demographic projection that models growth in the American Muslim population since our 2011 estimate and includes both adults and children. The projection uses data on age, fertility, mortality, migration and religious switching drawn from multiple sources, including the 2011 survey of Muslim Americans.

According to our current estimate, there are fewer Muslims of all ages in the U.S. than there are Jews by religion (5.7 million) but more than there are Hindus (2.1 million) and many more than there are Sikhs.

In some cities Muslims comprise significantly more than 1% of the community. And even at the state level Muslims are not evenly distributed: Certain states, such as New Jersey, have two or three times as many Muslim adults per capita as the national average.

Recent political debates in the U.S. over Muslim immigration and related issues have prompted many to ask how many Muslims actually live in the United States. But coming up with an answer is not easy, in part because the U.S. Census Bureau does not ask questions about religion, meaning that there is no official government count of the U.S. Muslim population.

Since our first estimate of the size of the Muslim American population in 2007, we have seen a steady growth in both the number of Muslims in the U.S. and the percentage of the U.S. population that is Muslim.

In addition, our projections suggest the U.S. Muslim population will grow faster than the Hindu population and much faster than the Jewish population in the coming decades. Indeed, even before 2040, Muslims are projected to become the second-largest religious group in the U.S., after Christians. By 2050, the American Muslim population is projected to reach 8.1 million people, or 2.1% of the total population.

Just over half of the projected growth of the American Muslim population from 2010 to 2015 is due to immigration. Over the last 20 years, there has been an increase in the number of Muslim immigrants coming to the U.S. The number of Muslim immigrants currently represents about 10% of all legal immigrants arriving in the U.S., and a significantly smaller percentage of unauthorized immigrants.

The other main cause of Islam’s recent growth is natural increase. American Muslims tend to have more children than Americans of other religious faiths. Muslims also tend to be younger than the general public, so a larger share of Muslims will soon be at the point in their lives when people begin having children.

There has been little net change in the size of the American Muslim population in recent years due to conversion. About one-in-five American Muslim adults were raised in a different faith or none at all. At the same time, a similar number of people who were raised Muslim no longer identify with the faith. About as many Americans become Muslim as leave Islam.

Topics: Muslim Americans, Muslims and Islam, Population Projections, Religion and Society, Religious Affiliation

  1. Photo of Besheer Mohamed

    is a senior researcher focusing on religion at Pew Research Center.

15 Comments

  1. Kaleb V Oconnor2 months ago

    Islam is a creation of the Roman Catholic church and is utter wickedness and devil worship. They are liars, murderers, devoid of God, and full of rage/hate. Pure incarnation of the DEVIL HIMSELF.

  2. Barbara Terrebonne6 months ago

    As a person of Muslim study’s, I recommend that mother’s teach your muslim sons some restraints in sexual behavior toward women! The atrocities that are being done to the women in European nations are because there isn’t a strern disaplained hand rearing them up. In Western societys, Mother’s teach their sons to have restraint on their actions and comments! If nothing, I’m affraid the criminal Courts will be overflowing with law suits and rape cases! It’s a mess, unless us Mother’s take charge and get this right! God bless us all……

    1. Rina B.5 months ago

      I think your comment is very ignorant! Everyone knows how the media likes to lie and over exaggerate! There are scummy Men in all backgrounds I had a white Boyfriend who was not a Muslim and he use to hit me! I live in an area full of Muslims and the men are nice and decent.

      1. Walker Slam4 months ago

        Your comment reveals a bit who you are. Asking you to make an effort is the best way to insult you.

        1. Anonymous3 months ago

          You are the one who is narrow-minded and have limited knowledge. she just said area where she lives with Muslim as her neighbors doesn’t mean she is Muslim. Maybe you need some travel once in while.

    2. Anonymous3 months ago

      It’s the responsibility of BOTH parents to teach their sons how to appropriately and acceptably treat females – of all ages.

    3. Anonymous2 months ago

      Why are you putting the responsibility on the Mother? Seems to me that’s a father son conversation as to how to treat women. Mothers can reinforce the lesson but they don’t think like men do when it comes to to treating women in a respectful manner. Or you may suggest they attend a Christian, Catholic, or Jewish church to learn what God says about how we treat each other – with love, kindness and respect. That includes women, men and children and even those we don’t care much for.

    4. Chiquita Williams2 months ago

      Bismillah…what are you talking about? Western men, especially white Christian men, are some of the most aggressive, rude violators of women ever known to mankind. This is true historically and in contemporary times. They harm and attack all women but particularly women of color and are allowed to get away with it too often. I’m not suggesting that there isn’t a gender problem among so-called Muslim men. There is. But that is because they don’t follow the Qur’an and example of Muhammad (pbuh). They follow their tribalistic cultures. Islamic scripture protects and elevates women. On the other hand, the Bible essentially gives women no rights and even says rape victims have to marry their perpetrators. European and American men have a strong sexual assault culture but they GET AWAY WITH IT when they are WHITE. That is the result of white male hegemony in the Western world. You can try to deny it but the historical and contemporary records speak for themselves.

  3. DEAN T.7 months ago

    Until more people become enlightened to the fallacy of religion, there will be very little progress made towards peace, the environment and democracy.

    1. Al Talena6 months ago

      Yeah. If we only had people who are atheists or non-believers in w. style religion as leaders. We need more peace lovers like stalin, hitler, mao so we can make strident progress towards peace, the environment and democracy.

      1. Andrew Krause6 months ago

        Because the doctrine of atheism commands its believers to commit genocide. Oh wait, there is no such doctrine. There is no set of beliefs held by an atheist; hence the term “atheist”, so why imply that the actions of some bad people were brought about in the name of atheism. See your flawed logic? Also Hitler wasn’t an atheist.

        1. A Jay6 months ago

          He’s not saying Atheism caused these things. He’s simply pointing out the fact that many of the greatest atrocities were committed by individuals that did not have a particular religious affiliation – therefore dismissing the notion that atheists are not capable of disturbing world peace.

        2. Anonymous4 months ago

          Hitler was an athiest. prezi.com/mtetyqwinmm6/religious…

          1. Anonymous3 months ago

            Where does that say he was an atheist? Not Christian does not equal atheist.

          2. Anonymous3 months ago

            Hitler was an atheist. He chose atheistic generals, he accepted the doctrines of Darwin, he worshiped the philosophy of atheist Nietzsche (the “God is dead” guy), and he persecuted the two main religions in Germany–Judaism and Christianity. All these actions and beliefs show that Hitler himself was in effect an atheist.