A slim majority of Americans (53%) know the Muslim name for God is Allah, and a similar number (52%) can correctly name the Koran as the Islamic sacred text. Overall, 41% of the public is able to answer both questions correctly, 23% can answer one but not the other and 36% of Americans are unfamiliar with either term. Men are generally more knowledgeable about Islam than women; 47% know the Muslim name for God and name the holy book correctly, compared with 35% of women. This knowledge is also higher among whites than among Hispanics, and Americans under age 65 are much more likely than seniors to know these facts about Islam. Still, as with knowing a Muslim personally, education makes the greatest difference: Almost two-thirds of college graduates (64%) answered both questions about Islam correctly, compared with less than half of those with some college (48%) and 24% of those who have not attended college. Knowledge of Islam is fairly equal across religious groups, though it is highest among the unaffiliated (44% answered both questions correctly) and lowest among Catholics (35% answered both correctly). More Americans can correctly identify both the Koran and Allah today (41%) than could do so in 2002 or 2003 (33% and 31% respectively), though there has been only a marginal increase in Americans’ knowledge about Islam since 2005, when 38% were familiar with both Allah and the Koran. Read More

Russell Heimlich  is a former web developer at Pew Research Center.