The purpose of the study was to identify characteristics and practices in the Muslim-American community that are preventing radicalization. The goal was to learn how Muslim-American communities have been dealing with the threat of radicalization and acts of violence to themselves as well as the broader American community posed by extremist ideologies.
The study analyzed religious texts (written, audio, and video) produced by the four communities, engaged in ethnographic field research at religious and civic organizations in these communities, and conducted in-depth interviews with 30 community leaders and members in each community. The study also compiled arrest data and reviewed other sources; however, the main data collection effort was the interviews that were conducted in the research sites.
The field research sites were selected because they are home to mid-sized communities of Muslim-Americans that had experienced isolated instances of radicalization. They are located in four distinct regions of the United States, and they each have distinctive histories and patterns of ethnic diversity. Research sites were Buffalo, New York; Houston, Texas; Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina; and Seattle, Washington. The study deliberately avoided studying the largest Muslim-American communities, such as in Detroit or New York, because these locations have been the subject of considerable study, and because they have more Islamic organizations than our project would be able to contact during the grant period.
Muslim-American community leaders and community members from Buffalo, Houston, Raleigh-Durham, and Seattle were interviewed in the study. For each of the four research sites, the project compiled a list of all Muslim-American
organizations in the metropolitan area, based on websites, directories, and personal contacts. The project reviewed as many print and electronic publications associated with these organizations as could be obtained. During the fieldwork portion of the project, the project contacted as many of these organizations as possible and requested interviews with organizational leaders and
members, as well as with other individuals in the local Muslim-American community.
No one who was interested in being interviewed was turned down. In addition, the project sought to have interviewees within each Muslim-American community who varied along the following dimensions: gender, with special efforts to interview women; age, with special efforts to interview older and younger adults; ethnicity and nationality, with special attention to interview African-Americans, Arabs, and South Asians; immigration status, with special attention to interview the children of immigrants; organization type, with special attention to interview members of both religious and nonreligious organizations.
The Muslim-American population in Buffalo, New York; Houston, Texas; Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina; and Seattle, Washington between 2008 and 2009.
Questions that were asked focused on demographics, identifying what were the main issues for the community, for America, and for countering radicalization. For a complete description of the questions asked, refer to the Data Collection Instrument that is available for download on the study home page.