Why British Women Turning To Islam
SPREAD OF A WORLD CREED
Berrington finds the Muslim Faith is winning Western admirers despite
Times (London) - Tuesday, 9th November 1993
numbers of British people, nearly all of them women, are converting to
at a time of deep divisions within the Anglican and Catholic churches.
rate of conversions has prompted predictions that Islam will rapidly become an
religious force in this country. "Within the next 20 years the number of
will equal or overtake the immigrant Muslim community that brought the faith
says Rose Kendrick, a religious education teacher at a Hull comprehensive and
author of a textbook guide to the Koran. She says: "Islam is as much a
is Roman Catholicism. No one nationality claims it as its own". Islam is
on the continent and in America.
surge in conversions to Islam has taken place despite the negative image of the
in the Western press. Indeed, the pace of conversions has accelerated since
over the Salman Rushdie affair, the Gulf War and the plight of the Muslims in
It is even more ironic that most British converts should be women, given the
view in the west that Islam treats women poorly. In the United States,
converts outnumber men by four to one, and in Britain make up the bulk of the
10, 000 to 20, 000 converts, forming part of a Muslim community of 1 to 1.5
Many of Britain's "New Muslims" are from middle-class backgrounds.
Wilkinson, a former head boy of Eton who went on to Cambridge, and a son
daughter of Lord Justice Scott, the judge heading the arms-to-Iraq enquiry.
small-scale survey by the Islamic Foundation in Leicester suggests that most
are aged 30 to 50. Younger Muslims point to many conversions among
and highlight the intellectual thrust of Islam. "Muhammad" said,
"The light of
will rise in the West" and I think that is what is happening in our
day" says Aliya
an American-born psychologist who converted 15 years ago. She is a consultant
the Zahra Trust, a charity publishing spiritual literature and is one of
Islamic speakers. She adds: "Western converts are coming to Islam with
eyes, without all the habits of the East, avoiding much of what is culturally
The purest tradition is finding itself strongest in the West."
say the conversions are prompted by the rise of comparative religious education.
British media, offering what Muslims describe as a relentless bad press on all
is also said to have helped. Westerners despairing of their own society - rising
crime, family breakdown, drugs and alcoholism - have come to admire the
security of Islam. Many converts are former Christians disillusioned by the
of the church and unhappy with the concept of the Trinity and deification
of the Convert - Why Change?
converts describe a search for a religious identity. Many had previously been
Christians but found intellectual satisfaction in Islam. "I was a theology
and it was the academic argument that led to my conversion." Rose Kendrick,
education teacher and author, said she objected to the concept of the original
"Under Islam, the sins of the fathers aren't visited on the sons. The idea
not always forgiving is blasphemous to Muslims."
39, was raised as a High Anglican and confirmed at 15 at the peak of her
devotion. "I was entranced by the ritual of the High Church and thought
the veil." Her crisis came when a prayer was not answered. She slammed the
on visiting vicars but travelled to convents for discussions with nuns. "My
back stronger, but not for the Church, the institution or the dogma." She
every Christian denomination, plus Judaism, Buddhism and Krishna
before turning to Islam.
converts from Christianity reject the ecclesiastical hierarchy emphasising
relationship with God. They sense a lack of leadership in the Church of England
are suspicious of its apparent flexibility. "Muslims don't keep shifting
says Huda Khattab, 28, author of The Muslim Woman's Handbook, published
year by Ta-Ha. She converted ten years ago while studying Arabic at university.
changes, like the way some have said pre-marital sex is okay if its with the
you're going to marry. It seems so wishy-washy. Islam was constant about sex,
praying five times a day. The prayer makes you conscious of God all the time.
continually touching base."
Copyright © 2001 Glorious Islam