This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Converts To Islam

"Converts are disconnected from mosque communities usually because they are from a different ethnic background."
"Most mosques are Pakistani, Turkish, Saudi or whatever, and converts are not being accepted into those communities. So they are outsiders. If they are not connecting to the mosque and they lose their families [disowned for conversion], they are doubly isolated."
"They are living in this environment and it's not conducive to openness. [Distrust of non-Muslim researchers asking questions about converts.] They ask 'Do you Work for CSIS?' or, 'Do you work for the government?' Even if they don't ask it, it has to be on their minds. It's the reality of doing research on this very sensitive topic."
"We can't say it's lack of education because we have people [who convert] who are professors, have master's degrees or Grade 12 educations. It's not about income either. We have people in our sample who are incredibly wealthy and have converted and people on welfare who have converted."
"They might be alcoholics or drug users, and seeking to solve and rectify that in some way. Islam and Pentecostal converts are seeking security -- Pentecostal Christianity no drinking. Islam, no drinking."
"It's black and white, and that simplicity is very powerful for someone who is confused, disoriented and unhappy."
"So it's not spontaneous, not a rash thing. Most Muslin converts think deeply about conversion. It's a big commitment."
Dr. Scott Flower Australian researcher

‘Veiling practices can be used to create a dichotomy between Islamic and Australian values’. Photograph: David Axelbank/Alamy
And so it must be. And there must be an awful lot of confused people in circulation, people who are looking for some element of salvation, something to rescue them from the lives they're living which have given them no satisfaction, no sense of accomplishment, of security. They look outside themselves for some mechanism that will furnish for them a sense of having arrived at some inner place of peace and sanctity. And, one supposes, they come to believe that Islam will provide them with that agency.

Dr. Flower points out that one of the major tenets of Islam is that its followers understand it is incumbent upon them as the faithful to do all they can to convince non-Muslims to accept Islam and surrender to it completely. It doesn't take much as far as ceremony is concerned; a statement termed the shahadah is the testament of faith; the declaration by anyone who means to convert, that "There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger", is all it takes.

Of course, any rational individual would want to know what they're pledging themselves to in perpetuity. They will make an effort to find out all they need to know, all they wish to know, all that they really should know, about Islam. So most mosques are initially welcoming to prospective converts; it is their mission, after all, to develop Islamic growth worldwide, to increase the ummah. Once conversion takes place, however, the convert is on their own.

There exists too many differences between a Western, white convert to Islam and the Muslims whose heritage, culture and traditions are inextricably linked with Islam. The convert is an outsider and will always be an outsider. And the convert whose family feels outraged at the conversion as a repudiation of all that they themselves believe, an insult and an assault upon them personally, preferring to have no further contact with the convert, is left to his/her own devices.

A Muslim adrift and alone. Dr. Flower is a professor of political economy at the University of Melbourne, and he has been contracted by the Public Safety Canada through a $170,000 grant to conduct a study into conversion to Islam by Canadians. A 70-question survey is featured in the study, as an enquiry aimed toward converts across the country. The survey also includes interviews with imams. Other similar studies have been done in Australia and Papua, New Guinea.

Conversion to Islam is of huge interest for many reasons not the least of which being that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. And Dr. Flower expresses his frustration that he has encountered a lack of cooperation from imams he and his researchers approach. He has, however, concluded on the basis of what he has learned to date that there is no simple answer to why Canadians seek to convert.

He has established that his research shows it takes converts from six to 12 months to take the final step of conversion, after 'discovering' Islam as a potential answer for their personal dilemmas.

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