Exploring the Giving Practices in American Mosques: Why Do Muslims Give So Little to Their Mosques?

  • Ihsan Bagby University of Kentucky

Abstract

This paper explores the giving practices of Muslims in American mosques, based on two studies: the previously published “The American Mosque 2011” study which consisted of 524 interviews of mosque leaders; and the second study is the previously unpublished 2013 study of three mosques and the 2016 follow-up interviews with donors from the three mosques.  The results show that mosque attendees give much less than their counterparts in churches.  Giving rates were generated in three different way: dividing a congregation’s income by the number of people who attend the main congregational service; using self-reports of money donated to a congregation; and determining a giving rate by calculating the amount donated as a percentage of the donor’s income.  Using the first method of looking at the budget and number of attendees, mosque attendees give a median figure of $405 per year and the median figure of giving in the FACT 2000 study of all religious congregations is $1429.  Using the second method of looking to self-reports of giving, the highest giving rate of the three mosques is $671 and the lowest giving rate in Hoge’s study of giving (Money Matters) is the Catholics who reported giving $1032 per year.  Using the third method, Christians give an average of 2.3% of their income to churches, while mosque attendees give 0.7% of their income.  While the income level of mosque attendees is associated with higher levels of giving, higher rates of mosque attendance is not associated with higher rates of giving, which means that Muslims who are motivated to attend the mosque are not motivated to give.  Interviews with donors in the three mosques seem to indicate that the one of the underlying factors for the low rate of giving is that they do not have a clear theology for giving to the mosque, and a culture of giving to mosques does not exist among immigrant Muslims.

Author Biography

Ihsan Bagby, University of Kentucky
Associate Professor of Islamic Studies

References

Bagby, I. (2012a). The American mosque 2011 report 1 from the US mosque study 2011: Basic characteristics of the American mosque. Washington, DC: Council on American-Islamic Relations.

Bagby, I. (2012b). The American mosque 2011 report 2 from the US mosque study 2011: Activities, administration and vitality. Plainfield, IN: Islamic Society of North America.

Bagby, I. (2013). National needs assessment of mosques associated with ISNA & NAIT. Plainfield, IN: Islamic Society of North America.

Basheer, M. (2016). A new estimate of the U.S. Muslim population. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center. Retrieved from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/01/06/a-new-estimate-of-the-u-s-muslim-population

FACT (Faith Communities Today). (2010). 2010 national survey of congregations. Retrieved from http://faithcommunitiestoday.org/sites/default/files/2010FrequenciesV1.pdf

Hoffmann, J. P., Lott, B. R., & Jeppsen, C. (2010). Religious giving and the boundedness of rationality. Sociology of Religion, 71(3), 323–348.

Hoge, D. R., Zech, C., McNamara, P., & Donahue, M. J. (1996). Money matters: Personal giving in American churches. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Cox Press.

Lindner, Edith W. (Ed.) (2012). Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches. Edited by Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.

Pew Research Center. (2011). Muslim Americans: No signs of growth in alienation or support for extremism. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center.

Ronsvalle, J. & Ronsvalle, S. (2013). The state of church giving through 2011. Champaign, IL: Empty Tomb, Inc.

Smith, C., Emerson, M. O., & Patricia Snell. (2008). Passing the plate: Why American Christians don’t give away more money. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Wind, J.P. & Lewis, J.W. (1994). Introduction. In J.P. Wind & J.W. Lewis (Eds.), American Congregations Vol. 1. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.

Published
2017-11-01
Section
Articles