In The Name Of God The Most Merciful, Most Compassionate

Changing my religion


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Source: The Economist

MUSLIM converts have an image problem. A handful, like Richard Dart, a Dorset native jailed last month, have been implicated in terrorism. Samantha Lewthwaite, who was married to Germaine Lindsay, one of the 7/7 bombers and himself a convert, is wanted by Kenyan police in connection with an alleged bomb plot.

Even without the taint of extremism, women are sometimes pitied for joining a religion accused of oppressing them. Despite these concerns, converts, for the most part peaceable, propel Islam’s transition from an immigrant religion to a home-grown one.

Calculating convert numbers is tricky. The census in England and Wales only asks about people’s current religion. Mosques do not record conversions centrally, and some new believers keep their conversions quiet. But using census data on race and religion, and questionnaires issued to mosques, Kevin Brice, a researcher at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, reckons around 5,200 Britons turn to Islam every year, bringing the total number of converts to about 100,000.

Proselytising has little do with it. A handful of Muslim groups hand out tracts in the street. But most are more concerned with issuing press releases condemning extremism than wooing converts, says Leon Moosavi, an expert on Islamic conversions at Liverpool University.

Those who embrace Islam tend to do so after years of contact with Muslims. Reasons vary. Some, mostly women (who make up around two-thirds of new believers), want to marry a Muslim. Others are fed up with the bawdiness of British society. Many speak of seeking a sense of community. Batool al-Toma, an Irish-Catholic convert who runs the New Muslim Project in Leeds, was attracted, she says, by the spirituality of Islam and the warmth of relationships she saw among Muslims.

For men, prisons have proven a fertile ground for conversions. Just over 11,000 prisoners are Muslims, about 13% of the total. Last year an inquiry by the home affairs select committee named prisons as a breeding ground for radicals. But a study by the prisons inspectorate in 2010 produced a more positive conclusion. Converts, a third of those interviewed, said the discipline and structure of Islam helped them to cope with prison life. Others cited the support they received from their Muslim “brothers”. Some were initially attracted by the prospect of a cushier spell in jail—more time outside their cells, for example, and better food at Ramadan, but then completed their conversion.

Upon release though, some prisoners are shunned by their fellow Muslims, says Tracey Davanna, who studies Muslim prisoners at Birmingham University. Ex-cons are not the only ones who find integration tough. Many mosques are ethnic clubs, says Mr Moosavi, and can be unwelcoming to converts. Few mosques offer substantial support to new converts. Organisations such as the New Muslim Project have sprung up to fill the gap. It provides certificates of conversion that new believers can leave with their wills in case appalled relatives refuse an Islamic burial. Two mosques in Britain are now run by converts. The Ihsan mosque in Norwich encountered antagonism from some Muslims, says Uthman Ibrahim-Morrison, who has been a member of the community since the mid-1990s. Some questioned whether new believers should be in charge of a mosque, he says. But it has flourished. At Friday prayers they struggle to squeeze everyone in.

Despite successes like this, fears persist that this home-grown Islam will produce more Mr Darts and Ms Lewthwaites, intent on havoc rather than faith. New-foundzeal may leave converts vulnerable to radical strains of Islam. Isolation from their old life and lack of integration with moderate believers can only make that risk worse.

IftikharAhmad 5pts

The beauty of Islam is that it is a religion which appeals to common sense. There is no blind belief or dogmatism in Islam. The fundamentals of Islam are simple, straightforward and easy to understand.

If Islam is so bad, then why is it the WORLD’S FASTEST GROWING RELIGION! It is also one of the youngest religions. However no matter how hard everyone tries to give Islam a bad name, it will be twice as more populated. So let’s get straight to the point yeah?, Basically Islam is the most hated religion I don’t know why hmm maybe because it is also the most fastest growing religion and 2nd largest but no one will be able to stop this religion from growing.

Islam is the fastest growing faith in Britain. Hundreds and thousands of Brits are reverting to Islam. By the middle of this century, over half of Brits would be Muslims.

“I have always held the religion of Muhammad in high estimation because of
its wonderful vitality. It is the only religion which appears to me to
possess that assimilating capacity to the changing phase of existence which
can make itself appeal to every age. I have studied him – the wonderful man
and in my opinion for from being an anti-Christ, he must be called the
saviour of Humanity. I believe that if a man like him were to assume the
dictatorship of the modern world, he would succeed in solving its problems
in a way that would bring it the much
needed peace and happiness: I have prophesied about the faith of Muhammad
that it would be acceptable to the Europe of tomorrow as it is beginning to
be acceptable to the Europe of today.” [G.B. Shaw, THE GENUINE ISLAM,

No. 81936.]


Heather Redmond
Heather Redmond 5pts

@Layla, the point is apostasy is not the subject of the original post and most likely an attempt of causing a disturbance by attempting to point out an "inflammatory mark" on Islam. So, as can be expected, supposed trouble makers should be banned. No matter how strongly they feel about their "truth." Don't like it? Start your own group so you can guarantee you won't be banned for sharing your opinions (unless of course people report your group for inflammatory nature and it is shut down by Facebook). Remember you have a right to express your opinion - BUT everyone else equally has a right to ignore, ridicule, and rule out your opinion. You don't have more rights to state your opinion than our rights to removing them. Have fun! 5pts

The punishment for leaving Islam is always being confused with the punishment for treason. If an Islamic state existed, and a person apostates and starts to openly undermine the Islamic state (treason), then yes just as in the USA today, treason is punishable by death.

Heather Redmond
Heather Redmond 5pts

If you understood the basis for these rules you wouldn't be hiding behind it's apparent inflammatory nature, use whatever your reasons to stay away from Islam, I know that deep down you cannot help it because it is Allah (SWT) who decides who will be guided and who will be blind to guidance. You deserve pity more than anger.

aussie 5pts

FMohammedQureshi you make a very valid point. I'm not a convert, I was born a muslim. I have seen how new converts are sometimes treated. Some people think that just because they were born muslims, they have a better claim on the religion than those that converted or reverted. This is sad , but true. As the article states, some mosques are not only places to worship, but also ethnic controlled. I go out of my way when I see a convert to get to know them, because in my eyes, I had it easy. My whole family is muslim, but it takes alot of guts & wilpower to go against ones family & brakeaway to a different religion. As Allah says in the Quran, if he wishes something to be done, then he wills it " Kon Fa Yakoon"

Heather Redmond
Heather Redmond 5pts

And exactly why is the subject of apostasy so important when this is about issues new Muslims face? You're more worried about ensuring they quit Islam than ensure they have a positive support system? Good job, that is EXACTLY what new Muslims worry about ("gosh it's so hard not having enough positive support in my new faith, I'll just quit!"). Yeah right e.e So happy to live where I can convert to and practice Islam without such toxic people. Alhamdullilah.

Layla Kei
Layla Kei 5pts

Mahdi, what Harvey says is correct. For whatever reason *some* Muslims find the punishment for apostasy embarrassing. Undeniably, the traditional position of Muslim scholars and jurists has been that apostasy [riddah] is punishable by death. Jurisprudence is derived not only from the Qur'an (hence your "20 instances of apostasy mentioned in the Qur'an" is just a red herring - you can hold that position, true, but it means you have to reject the most reliable volumes of hadith).

Mahdi Moro Smaali
Mahdi Moro Smaali 5pts

@Harvey yee: It is time for you stop watching FOX "News". In Islam, Apostasy is not punishable in this worldly life, but only in the Hereafter, i.e; the Final Day of Judgement when we all meet our maker! There is no reference to the death penalty in any of the 20 instances of apostasy mentioned in the Qur'an!

FMohammedQureshi 5pts

All muslims are brothers / sisters in faith and slam rejects all kinds of discremination so a convert / revert is a muslim only. There is nothing like new or old muslim. once you become a muslim. you are a muslim. It is as simple as that. May Allah guide us all to his true path. Aameen.

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