This is a reader’s contribution from a Muslim woman
A recent report conducted by the University of Swansea and commissioned by the Faith Matters Forum, has produced unprecedented statistics regarding the rates of conversions to Islam amongst Britons since 2008. The study which has been widely discussed by certain quarters of the media including articles in both tabloid and broadsheet papers and radio shows, has sought to understand the reasons surrounding the phenomena of British women in particular, especially white women, who have embraced Islam. While the report looks at many factors it has unequivocally exploded many common myths surrounding female converts to Islam.
These include statistics showing that 62% of women as opposed to 38% of men have converted, that their was no evidence that conversions had to do with marrying a Muslim man as was previously the common explanation offered as to why women would wish to convert, and that the vast majority changed their appearance after converting by wearing the hijab. And also converts believed that they should be a force for good by building bridges between the Muslim and Non Muslim communities in order to understand Islam better.
Examples of women who have left high powered jobs in the city, educated women who mostly found out about Islam independently via books, the internet or discussion with Muslims; seem to be the picture that is portrayed in this study. This clearly demonstrates a clear pattern of converts who while non Muslim rethought their lives and actively sought to reject secular values, for a belief system offering spiritual and worldly guidance in order to regulate life in a meaningful and fulfilling way. The rejection of materialism and decadence seem to be some of the catalysts in making that change.
While certain newspapers have reported on these findings, confusion still reigns amongst the wider British populace as to why women would reject liberal values which seemingly offer freedoms and liberation for all and opt fora belief which is seen to be archaic and oppressive. But while this point is pored over the truth of why there is potentially 100,000 converts to Islam in the UK now lies in the very heart of question itself; and that the barrage of anti Islamic and Muslim coverage that has dogged portions of the western press over the last few years has created a smokescreen for the reality amongst the masses.
Some converts have sought to understand the Islamic belief because of the emphasis on it in the media, only to discover that Islam and its values offer an elevated thinking and lifestyle not enjoyed by the world today.Others while querying and doubting the current soulless value system they were experiencing, undertook a deeper study of Islam, trawling through the sensationalism and tawdry witch hunt to find it offers something fundamental to the human disposition. In the case of women, itoffered the honour and status truly afforded to women which did not objectify and sexualise them to no more than commodity.
It is of no surprise to the followers of this Deen that thinking women and men alike would be drawn to system of belief, norms and values which agree with the mind and can convince them a Creator does exist. And that acceptance of Allah’s (swt) solutions for every sphere of life be that personal worship, looking after the community or how to govern a society, not only brings about a yearning to implement that, but also toconvey that message to others.
It is also of no surprise that nomatter what policies or narrative is pushed by governments, writers, thinkers or elements of the media to try and reason away such conversions as ‘fringe’, ‘coercion’ or ‘blind following,’ this trend will continue in a world that seeks to understand the extent to which Capitalist liberal values have failed man in every sense and left a voidwhich can only be filled by the truth!
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