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retread| Theory #006: Why Conversion? 15 April 2006

Posted by EDITOR in GUESTS, Psychology, Spirituality.

Retreads are quality posts from yesterweeks that are given a second run on Saturdays. This piece was originally posted by ALBUS on 11 January 2006.

What draws Americans to becoming Muslim? There are many paths to Islam, of which one or more of the following hold in individual cases (noted in parentheses). Of course, multiple reasons apply in many a convert’s case. See also Theory #007.

1. Catholics confused by the theology of the Trinity, and non-Muslims more generally, find beauty in the simultaneous simplicity and logical coherence of Islamic `aqida [credal belief]

2. folks seeking a personal relationship with God without the excesses and complications of rituals and organized administrations are impressed by Islam’s clear theology, direct prayer ritual, and simple mosques

3. liberal hippies “searching for answers” gravitate toward Eastern religions and eventually stumble upon Islam (Hamza Yusuf)

4. African-Americans attracted to the non-discriminatory Islamic ideal (Malcolm X)

5. intermarriage, both non-Muslim men who want to marry Muslim women and non-Muslim women who get interested in Muslim men and then convert; that said, if they openly convert and “act like Muslims,” we generally ought not question their sincerity

6. troubled youths or gang members appreciate the structure and focus of an Islamic lifestyle (Suhaib Webb)

7. women find Islamic social norms liberating from what they perceive as the sexist and materialist pressures of contemporary popular culture

8. Western travelers in Muslim countries are impressed by the nur [light] in the faces of simple yet happy Muslims and their adab/karama [etiquette/generosity] (Muhammad Asad)

9. correspondingly, people who befriend practicing Western Muslims are impressed by their moral compass and unique outlook on existence

10. moralistic people like the stark and rigid social views propagated by some Muslims

11. in a similar though distinct vein, people are attracted to a religion in which the religion is an active part of one’s life, and all the time, like constant remembrance of God; these people find Islam practical, focusing on action to a great extent

12. academically deep thinkers, such as philosophy and theology students, find appealing the intellectual coherence and elegant simplicity of Islam (Nuh Keller)

13. Muslims tend to have tight communities, and those with broken homes or otherwise stunted social lives find solace in the umma’s embrace

14. Muslims in prison offer fellow Muslim prisoners protection from being gang-raped, beaten up, and picked on by guards and other inmates

15. Sufism and spirituality attract people who feel an emptiness of purpose in contemporary materialist life. As one Sufi put it, “The baraka of taking a tariqa and connecting oneself with the awliya of Allah going back to the Prophet (salla Allahu `alayhi wa sallam) is unbelievable. It’s the wind behind the sail of someone travelling to Allah.”

16. peer pressure in predominantly Muslim neighborhoods (more of a European Muslim ghetto thing, not in the US)

17. a form of liberation theology with a violent upshot; Antoine Sfeir argues that disaffected and often troubled young people see the current wave of Islamic terrorism as “a kind of combat against the rich, powerful, by the poor men of the planet”



1. Tiel Aisha Ansari - 17 April 2006

Let’s see… 4, 7, 9 and 11 in my case, but 11 most of all.

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