Muslims in Canada are becoming more observant — they attend mosque more frequently and more women are now wearing face veils and headscarves than a decade ago. They’re also big-time Liberal voters and optimistic about the new government.
These are some of the interesting results from the Environics Institute’s updated study on Muslims in Canada released Wednesday. The phone survey conducted between November and January asked 600 Muslim adults across the country their views on a variety of religious and social questions, updating a similar study done in 2006. Muslim leaders and scholars participated in the development of the survey.
“Religious observance among Muslims has strengthened over the past decade,” the report notes. “An increasing number are attending mosques for prayers on a regular basis (at least once a week) and (among women) are wearing the hijab.”
This religious devotion is strongest among the younger cohorts. Those aged 18 to 34 are the most observant. “Compared with older Muslims,” the report explains, “they identify primarily as Muslim rather than as Canadian, and express a slightly weaker sense of belonging to the country.”
While only 5% of immigrants say their attachment to Islam weakened since arriving, 41% say it’s strengthened.
They’re also less tolerant of liberal values, as the study explains: “Muslims are more likely than other Canadians to value patriarchy (‘the father must be the master in the home’) and to reject homosexuality.”
But the numbers also show that over 4 in 5 Muslims feel very proud to be Canadian. That’s slightly more than the three quarters of the non-Muslim population, surveyed for comparison purposes, who feel that way.
So Muslims identify by their religion first, but are also more proudly Canadian. What’s the explanation for this apparent contradiction?
It could be because they feel the government embraces them and will go to bat for them. They feel at home in Canada. After all, a whopping 90% say they’re optimistic about the new federal government. For those who disclosed how they voted, 65% voted Liberal with the NDP showing a poor second place at 10%. Only 2% voted Conservative.
It’s a stretch to say this survey shows Muslims are in fact becoming more Canadian. It paints more of a complicated picture. But based on the increases in the Muslim population and their religious observance, Canada’s certainly becoming more Muslim.
“Muslims are one of the most religiously observant groups in Canada, and their religious identity and practices appear to be strengthening rather than weakening as their lives evolve in Canada.” – The Environics Institute
MUSLIM POPULATION IN CANADA (from Environics report)
1991 – 253,265
2001 – 579,600
2011 – 1,054,945
WOMEN WHO WEAR A HIJAB, CHADOR OR NIQAB IN PUBLIC
2006 – 42%
2016 – 53%