New research on UK converts to Islam

Bismillah

PRESS RELEASE: INCREASING NUMBER OF BRITONS CONVERTING TO ISLAM FACE HOSTILITY

17th December 2011

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE. PLEASE DISTRIBUTE.

CONTACT: DR. LEON MOOSAVI, LANCASTER UNIVERSITY
A four year study has just been completed that has examined the experiences of the growing number of Britons who are choosing to convert to Islam. Estimations suggest that as many as 100,000 Britons have converted to Islam in recent years. Some of the key findings of the study which was conducted by Dr. Leon Moosavi in the Sociology Department of Lancaster University are as follows:

• Britons from all backgrounds are choosing to follow Islam. There appears to be a tendency for younger people and women to convert to Islam. Some of these Muslim converts retain an Islamic identity for many years whereas others abandon the faith after a brief period.
• People are converting to Islam for a host of reasons, including because of a decreasing relevance of Christianity in Britain and in order to find a sense of community in a lonely ‘broken Britain’. 9/11 and 7/7 has also had an impact in triggering more questions about Islam for many non-Muslims, some of whom decide to convert to Islam after investigating Islam. Many of those who convert to Islam claim it is because Islam offers a suitable alternative to Western capitalism, the need for which is more pronounced during the current worldwide economic crisis. Some of those who convert to Islam do so after being targeted by Islamic preachers who seek to convert them. Others convert to Islam for the sake of legitimising their intimate relationship with a lifelong Muslim.

• Muslim converts can find it difficult to attain acceptance in the Muslim community. Many lifelong Muslims are suspicious of Muslim converts and exclude them from mosques, events and other events. Black Muslim converts in particular face rejection in the Muslim community indicating some racist attitudes in the Muslim community. Muslim converts often have to go to great lengths to prove their sincerity and worth to lifelong Muslims. The War on Terror climate has generated increased suspicion towards Muslim converts who are often suspected as government spies.

• Muslim converts are often disowned by their family and friends after converting to Islam. Their conversion to Islam is often ridiculed and treated with contempt by non-Muslims. This is indicative of a widespread attitude of Islamophobia towards Muslims in Britain. However, unlike previous studies which describe Islamophobia as blatant and rampant, this study has found that Islamophobia often operates more subtly and discreetly.

• Muslim converts often have to contend with stereotypes that their conversion to Islam is related to their sympathy with Al Qaeda or extremist views. While some Muslim converts do chose an extremist path, the majority are comfortable in identifying as British Muslims, and are often fiercely patriotic. They often describe themselves as ‘bridge builders’ who seek to act as ambassadors in bringing harmony between Muslims and non-Muslims.

Dr. Leon Moosavi, who conducted the four year study, said: “In a time when numerous questions are being asked about the role of religion in 21st century Britain and the place of Islam in the Western world, the growing number of non-Muslim Britons who are opting for Islam reminds us of the permanent status of Islam in Europe. The challenges faced by these converts also demonstrate persistent Islamophobia and racism in British society amongst both non-Muslims and Muslims”.

For more information, please contact Dr. Leon Moosavi on l(dot)moosavi(at)lancaster(dot)ac(dot)uk

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