An overwhelming 78 per cent of the American Muslims reject terrorists and terrorism, but a quarter of the youth believes that suicide bombing in defence of Islam can be justified sometimes, according to a major study.
The nationwide poll of 1,050 Muslim adults by the Pew Research Centre shows that American Muslims are far less likely than Muslims in other parts of the world to accept suicide bombing as a justifiable tactic.
However, there is somewhat more acceptance of extremism in some segments of the community than others. According to the poll released on Tuesday, fewer native-born African American Muslims than others completely condemn Al -Qaeda.
There is a small minority that have either supported or tacitly justify some sort of extremism, including suicide bombings, said Farid Senzai, project adviser and director of research at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, at a news conference with the Pew Research Centre.
The first-ever, nationwide, random sample survey of Muslim Americans found that 40 per cent of the respondents believe that groups of Arabs carried out the attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001, while 28 per cent do not believe this, and about a third (32 per cent) say they do not know or decline to answer the question.
In the US, younger Muslims are more likely than older Muslims to say they do not believe that groups of Arabs carried out the 9/11 attacks. Indeed, among Muslims under the age of 30, 38 per cent reject the fact that groups of Arabs were responsible for 9/11. By comparison, among Muslims 55 and older, just 16 per cent say that Arabs were not responsible for the attacks.
The Centre said they conducted more than 55,000 interviews in the US, some in English, Arabic, Farsi and Urdu, to get a national sample of 1,050 Muslims.
The US survey found American Muslims to be largely happy with their lives, and moderate with respect to many of the issues that have divided Muslims and Westerners around the world.
The survey - entitled Muslim Americans, Middle Class and Mostly Mainstream - estimates the number of adult Muslims in the US at 1.5 million, and says 65 per cent are immigrants. Among native-born Muslims, about half are African American - many of whom are converts.
A large majority of Muslim Americans believe that hard work pays off in this society. Fully 71 per cent agree that most people who want to get ahead in the US can make it if they are willing to work hard. In fact, the survey finds that Muslims living in America are generally better off financially compared to Muslims in Europe.
The US survey shows that although many Muslims are relative newcomers to the US, they assimilate into American society quickly. On balance, they believe that Muslims coming to the US should try and adopt American customs, rather than trying to remain distinct from the larger society.
However, a majority of 53 per cent Muslim Americans said it has become more difficult to be a Muslim in the US since the September 11 terrorist attacks. Most also believe that the government "singles out" Muslims for increased surveillance and monitoring.
Relatively few Muslim Americans believe the US-led war on terror is a sincere effort to reduce terrorism. Seventy-five per cent of them say that the US made a wrong decision in using military force against Iraq.