// The Islamification of Britain: record numbers embrace Muslim faith
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« on: Jan 04, 2011 02:39 PM »


Hah the title "Islamification of Britain" probably just woke up and scared a lotta ppl over there Wink
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The Islamification of Britain: record numbers embrace Muslim faith

The number of Britons converting to Islam has doubled in 10 years. Why?

Tuesday, 4 January 2011
The Independent


  
Hana Tajima, 23, fashion designer: "I became friends with a few Muslims in college, and was slightly affronted and curious at their lack of wanting to go out to clubs or socialise."


The number of Britons choosing to become Muslims has nearly doubled in the past decade, according to one of the most comprehensive attempts to estimate how many people have embraced Islam.


Following the global spread of violent Islamism, British Muslims have faced more scrutiny, criticism and analysis than any other religious community. Yet, despite the often negative portrayal of Islam, thousands of Britons are adopting the religion every year.

Estimating the number of converts living in Britain has always been difficult because census data does not differentiate between whether a religious person has adopted a new faith or was born into it. Previous estimates have placed the number of Muslim converts in the UK at between 14,000 and 25,000.

But a new study by the inter-faith think-tank Faith Matters suggests the real figure could be as high as 100,000, with as many as 5,000 new conversions nationwide each year.

By using data from the Scottish 2001 census – the only survey to ask respondents what their religion was at birth as well as at the time of the survey – researchers broke down what proportion of Muslim converts there were by ethnicity and then extrapolated the figures for Britain as a whole.

In all they estimated that there were 60,699 converts living in Britain in 2001. With no new census planned until next year, researchers polled mosques in London to try to calculate how many conversions take place a year. The results gave a figure of 1,400 conversions in the capital in the past 12 months which, when extrapolated nationwide, would mean approximately 5,200 people adopting Islam every year. The figures are comparable with studies in Germany and France which found that there were around 4,000 conversions a year.

Fiyaz Mughal, director of Faith Matters, admitted that coming up with a reliable estimate of the number of converts to Islam was notoriously difficult. "This report is the best intellectual 'guestimate' using census numbers, local authority data and polling from mosques," he said. "Either way few people doubt that the number adopting Islam in the UK has risen dramatically in the past 10 years."

Asked why people were converting in such large numbers he replied: "I think there is definitely a relationship between conversions being on the increase and the prominence of Islam in the public domain. People are interested in finding out what Islam is all about and when they do that they go in different directions. Most shrug their shoulders and return to their lives but some will inevitably end up liking what they discover and will convert."

Batool al-Toma, an Irish born convert to Islam of 25 years who works at the Islamic Foundation and runs the New Muslims Project, one of the earliest groups set up specifically to help converts, said she believed the new figures were "a little on the high side".

"My guess would be the real figure is somewhere in between previous estimates, which were too low, and this latest one," she said. "I definitely think there has been a noticeable increase in the number of converts in recent years. The media often tries to pinpoint specifics but the reasons are as varied as the converts themselves."

Inayat Bunglawala, founder of Muslims4UK, which promotes active Muslim engagement in British society, said the figures were "not implausible".

"It would mean that around one in 600 Britons is a convert to the faith," he said. "Islam is a missionary religion and many Muslim organisations and particularly university students' Islamic societies have active outreach programmes designed to remove popular misconceptions about the faith."

The report by Faith Matters also studied the way converts were portrayed by the media and found that while 32 per cent of articles on Islam published since 2001 were linked to terrorism or extremism, the figure jumped to 62 per cent with converts.

Earlier this month, for example, it was reported that two converts to Islam who used the noms de guerre Abu Bakr and Mansoor Ahmed were killed in a CIA drone strike in an area of Pakistan with a strong al-Qa'ida presence.

"Converts who become extremists or terrorists are, of course, a legitimate story," said Mr Mughal. "But my worry is that the saturation of such stories risks equating all Muslim converts with being some sort of problem when the vast majority are not". Catherine Heseltine, a 31-year-old convert to Islam, made history earlier this year when she became the first female convert to be elected the head of a British Muslim organisation – the Muslim Public Affairs Committee. "Among certain sections of society, there is a deep mistrust of converts," she said. "There's a feeling that the one thing worse than a Muslim is a convert because they're perceived as going over the other side. Overall, though, I think conversions arouse more curiosity than hostility."

How to become a Muslim


Islam is one of the easiest religions to convert to. Technically, all a person needs to do is recite the Shahada, the formal declaration of faith, which states: "There is no God but Allah and Mohamed is his Prophet." A single honest recitation is all that is needed to become a Muslim, but most converts choose to do so in front of at least two witnesses, one being an imam.

Converts to Islam


Hana Tajima, 23, fashion designer


Hana Tajima converted to Islam when she was 17. Frustrated by the lack of variety in Islamic clothing for converts she founded Maysaa, a fashion house that designs western-inspired clothing that conforms to hijab.

"It's true that I never decided to convert to Islam, nor was there a defining moment where I realised I wanted to be Muslim.  My family aren't particularly religious.  I was interested in religion, but very disinterested in how it related to my life.  I grew up in rural Devon where my Japanese father was the ethnic diversity of the village.  It wasn't until I studied at college that I met people who weren't of the exact same background, into Jeff Buckley, underground hip-hop, drinking, and getting high.  I met and became friends with a few Muslims in college, and was slightly affronted and curious at their lack of wanting to go out to clubs or socialise in that sense.  I think it was just the shock of it, like, how can you not want to go out, in this day and age.  

"It was at about that time that I started to study philosophy, and without sounding too much like I dyed my hair black and wore my fringe in front of my face, I began to get confused about my life. I was pretty popular, had good friends, boyfriends, I had everything I was supposed to have, but still I felt like 'is that it?'  So these things all happened simultaneously, I read more about religion, learned more about friends of other backgrounds, had a quarter life crisis.  There were things that drew me to Islam in particular, it wasn't like I was reaching for whatever was there.  The fact that the Qur'an is the same now as it ever was means there's always a reference point. The issues of women's rights were shockingly contemporary.  The more I read, the more I found myself agreeing with the ideas behind it and I could see why Islam coloured the lives of my Muslim friends.  It made sense, really, I didn't and still don't want to be Muslim, but there came a point where I couldn't say that I wasn't Muslim.

"Telling my family was the easy part.  I knew they'd be happy as long as I was happy, and they could see that it was an incredibly positive thing.  My friends went one of two ways, met with a lack of any reaction and lost to the social scene, or interested and supportive.  More the former, less the latter."

Denise Horsley, 26, dance teacher


Denise Horsley lives in North London. She converted to Islam last year and is planning to marry her Muslim boyfriend next year.

"I was introduced to Islam by my boyfriend Naushad. A lot of people ask whether I converted because of him but actually he had nothing to do with it. I was interested in his faith but I went on my own journey to discover more about religion.

"I bought loads of books on all the different religions but I kept coming back to Islam - there was something about it that just made sense, it seemed to answer all the questions I had.

"I would spend hours in the library at Regents Park Mosque reading up on everything from women's rights to food. Before I went to prayers for the first time I remember sitting in my car frantically looking up how to pray on my Blackberry. I was so sure people would know straight away that I wasn't a Muslim but if they did no-one seemed to care.

"During Ramadan I'd sit and listen to the Qur'anic recitations and would be filled with such happiness and warmth. One day I decided there and then to take my shahada. I walked down to the reception and said I was ready to convert, it was as simple as that.

"My friends and family were rather shocked, I think they expected there would be some sort of huge baptism ceremony but they were very supportive of my decision. I think they were just pleased to see me happy and caring about something so passionately.

"I grew up Christian and went to a Catholic school. Islam to me seemed to be a natural extension of Christianity. The Qur'an is filled with information about Jesus, Mary, the angels and the Torah. It's part of a natural transition.

"I do now wear a headscarf but it wasn't something I adopted straightaway. Hijab is such an important concept in Islam but it's not just about clothing. It's about being modest in everything you do. I started dressing more modestly - forgoing low cut tops and short skirts - but before I donned a headscarf I had to make sure I was comfortable on the inside before turning my attention to the outside. Now I feel completely protected in my headscarf. People treat you with a new level of respect, they judge you by your words and your deeds, not how you look. It's the kind of respect every dad wants for their daughter.

"There have been some problems. Immediately after converting I isolated myself a bit, which I now recognise was a mistake and not what Islam teaches. I remember a lady on a bus who got really angry and abusive when she found out I had converted. I also noticed quite a few friends stopped calling. I think they just got tired of hearing me say no - no to going clubbing, no to going down the pub.

"But my good friends embraced it. They simply found other things to do when I was around. Ultimately I'm still exactly the same person apart from the fact that I don't drink, don't eat pork and pray five times a day. Other than that I'm still Denise."

Dawud Beale, 23


Dawud Beale was a self-confirmed "racist" two years ago who knew nothing about Islam and supported the BNP. Now a Muslim, he describes himself as a Salafi - the deeply socially conservative and ultra-orthodox sect of Islam whose followers try to live exactly like the Prophet did.

"I was very ignorant to Islam for most of my life and then I went on holiday to Morocco, which was the first time I was exposed to Muslims. I was literally a racist before Morocco and by the time I was flying home on the plane a week later, I had already decided to become a Muslim."

"I realised Islam is not a foreign religion, but had a lot of similarities with what I already believed. When I came back home to Somerset, I spent three months trying to find local Muslims, but there wasn't even a mosque in my town. I eventually met Sufi Muslims who took me to Cyprus to convert.

"When I came back, I was finding out a lot of what they were saying was contradictory to what it said in the Qur'an. I wasn't finding them very authentic, to be honest. I went to London and became involved with Hizb-ut-Tahrir, the political group who call for the establishment of an Islamic state.

"But while I believe in the benefits of Sharia law, I left this group as well. The problem was it was too into politics and not as concerned with practicing the religion. For me, it is about keeping an Islamic appearance and studying hard. I think we do need an Islamic state, but the way to achieve it is not through political activism or fighting. Allah doesn't change the situation of people until they see what's within themselves.

"I have a big dislike for culture in Islamic communities, when it means bringing new things into the religion, such as polytheism or encouraging music and dance. There is something pure about Salafi Muslims; we take every word of the Qur'an for truth.  I have definitely found the right path. I also met my wife through the community and we are expecting our first child next year."

Paul Martin, 27


Paul Martin was just a student when he decided to convert to Islam in an ice-cream shop in Manchester four years ago. Bored of what he saw as the hedonistic lifestyle of many of his friends at university and attracted to what he calls "Islam's emphasis on seeking knowledge," he says a one-off meeting with an older Muslim changed his life.

"I liked the way the Muslims students I knew conducted themselves. It's nice to think about people having one partner for life and not doing anything harmful to their body. I just preferred the Islamic lifestyle and from there I looked into the Qur'an. I was amazed to see Islam's big emphasis on science.

"Then I was introduced by a Muslim friend to a doctor who was a few years older than me. We went for a coffee and then a few weeks later for an ice cream. It was there that I said I would like to be a Muslim. I made my shahada right there, in the ice cream shop. I know some people like to be all formal and do it in a mosque, but for me religion is not a physical thing, it is what is in your heart.

"I hadn't been to a mosque before I became a Muslim. Sometimes it can be bit daunting, I mean I don't really fit into this criteria of a Muslim person. But there is nothing to say you can't be a British Muslim who wears jeans and a shirt and a jacket. Now in my mosque in Leeds, many different languages are spoken and there are lots of converts.

"With my family, it was gradual. I didn't just come home and say I was a Muslim. There was a long process before I converted where I wouldn't eat pork and I wouldn't drink. Now, we still have Sunday dinner together, we just buy a joint of lamb that is halal.

"If someone at college had said to me 'You are going to be a Muslim', I would not in a million years have believed it. It would have been too far-fetched. But now I have just come back from Hajj - the pilgrimage Muslims make to Mecca."

Stuart Mee, 46


Stuart Mee is a divorced civil servant who describes himself as a "middle-of-the-road Muslim." Having converted to Islam last year after talking with Muslim colleagues at work, he says Islam offers him a sense of community he feels is missing in much of Britain today.

"Everything is so consumer-driven here, there are always adverts pushing you to buy the next thing. I knew there must be something longer term and always admired the sense of contentment within my colleagues' lives, their sense of peace and calmness. It was just one of those things that happened - we talked, I read books and I related to it.

"I emailed the Imam at London Central Mosque and effectively had a 15 minute interview with him. It was about making sure that this was the right thing for me, that I was doing it at the right time. He wanted to make sure I was committed. It is a life changing decision.

"It is surprisingly easy, the process of converting. You do your shahada, which is the declaration of your faith. You say that in front of two witnesses and then you think, 'What do I do next?' I went to an Islamic bookstore and bought a child's book on how to pray. I followed that because, in Islamic terms, I was basically one month old.

"I went to a local mosque in Reading and expected someone to stop me say, 'Are you a Muslim?' but it didn't happen. It was just automatic acceptance. You can have all the trappings of being a Muslim - the beard and the bits and pieces that go with it, but Islam spreads over such a wide area and people have different styles, clothes and approaches to life.

"Provided I am working within Islamic values, I see no need in changing my name and I don't have any intention of doing it. Islam has bought peace, stability, and comfort to my life. It has helped me identify just what is important to me. That can only be a good thing."

Khadijah Roebuck, 48


Khadijah Roebuck was born Tracey Roebuck into a Christian family. She was married for twenty five years and attended church with her children every week while they lived at home. Now, divorced and having practiced Islam for the last six months, she says she is still not sure what motivated her to make such a big change to her life.

"I know it sounds odd, but one day I was Tracey the Christian and the next day I was Khadijah the Muslim, it just seemed right. The only thing I knew about Muslims before was that they didn't drink alcohol and they didn't eat pork.

"I remember the first time I drove up to the mosque. It was so funny; I was in my sports car and had the music blaring. I wasn't sure if I was even allowed to go in but I asked to speak to the man in charge, I didn't even know he was called an Imam. Now I wear a hijab and pray five times a day.

"My son at first was horrified, he just couldn't believe it. It's been especially hard for my mum, who is Roman Catholic and doesn't accept it at all. But the main thing I feel is a sense of peace, which I never found with the Church, which is interesting. Through Ramadan, I absolutely loved every second. On the last day, I even cried.

"It is interesting because people sometimes confuse cultures with Islam. Each Muslim brings their different culture to the mosque and different takes on the religion. There are Saudi Arabians, Egyptians and Pakistanis and then of course there is me. I slot in everywhere. A lot of the other sisters say to me, 'That is why we love you, Khadijah, you are just yourself.'"  

Slideshow: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/the-islamification-of-britain-record-numbers-embrace-muslim-faith-2175178.html?action=Gallery

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/the-islamification-of-britain-record-numbers-embrace-muslim-faith-2175178.html
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« Reply #1 on: Jan 05, 2011 07:13 PM »

but what about the record numbers leaving it....
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« Reply #2 on: Jan 06, 2011 07:19 PM »

nice article.  I had heard about this but hadn't read the actual article.  I was worried it was going to be some scaremongering piece from the Daily Mail but I'm glad to read The Independent's take on things.

Quote
but what about the record numbers leaving it....

truesay.  That's food for thought.

"Even after all this time, the sun never says to the earth “you owe me”. Look what happens with a love like that, it lights the whole sky." Hafiz
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« Reply #3 on: Jan 20, 2011 10:07 PM »

Asalaamu Alaikum bro

Quote
Hah the title "Islamification of Britain" probably just woke up and scared a lotta ppl over there

It's interesting but none of the main UK news channels picked up this report as a news story when it broke (if they did I must have missed it!)

The only news station to cover it was Al Jazeera English who interviewed Sr Sarah Joseph on the subject (she's the Editor of the excellent Emel magazine).

Whilst agreeing largely with the report  she did say it was very difficult to monitor the number of converts as a whole but that female conversions (mainly white) outnumbered their male counterparts by 2 to 1.

She put this down to more women wishing to seek an enhanced spiritual dimension as compared to the current 'rat race' they live in.

Allah knows best but if these numbers continue, there will indeed be quite a demographic shift in the UK Muslim population not only by gender but also by origin.

Say: "O ye my servants who believe! Fear your Lord, good is (the reward) for those who do good in this world. Spacious is God's earth! those who patiently persevere will truly receive a reward without measure!" [39:10]
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« Reply #4 on: Jan 26, 2011 06:11 AM »

Quote
Hana Tajima, 23, fashion designer

"... had a quarter life crisis."

That made me smile! Crisis happens in all stages of life depending on how and when it does.

As to those who are leaving Islam, my guess is that they are more those who are born Muslim and take it for granted?

But then again, more of those who are born Muslims and have taken it for granted -  have posed, taken a hard look at themselves and are turning back to Islam in earnest - relearning, practicing and living it. I am seeing more and more of this.

May Allah SWT guide us ALL!, Ameen.

The Almighty Allah says,

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When he invokes Me, I am with him.
If he reflects on Me in secret, I reply in secret,
And if he acknowledges Me in an assembly,
I acknowledge him in a far superior assembly."

- Prophet Muhammad (SAW), as reptd by Abu Huraira
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« Reply #5 on: Mar 15, 2011 03:38 PM »

Asalaamu Alaikum bro


Ineteresting article on this topic from the Feb 2011 issue of EMEL Magazine.




A recent study put the number of Britons embracing Islam at 100,000 with two-thirds of them women. Sarah Joseph speaks to five converts about their journey to Islam



Given the perception of Islam as a strange and foreign faith, I am intrigued by how many times  converts tell me, “It was what I already believed in”, “It answered the questions that had always bothered me”, “It wasn’t anything new.” Whilst the change in faith may lead to some lifestyle shifts, the essence of the faith seems almost familiar.

Having made a conscious choice to be Muslim the new converts often struggle with those closest to them in order to articulate their decision. The constant questions of loved ones, who are often suffering their own sense of confusion and bereavement, can lead to conflict; but it can also facilitate an increased strength of conviction, and a deeper, more profound faith.

The convert sits between two worlds, both reconciled within their consciousness. They are thus able to act as a bridge if they can be true to the journey of where they have come from, and where they  going.


http://www.emel.com/article?id=81&a_id=2261

Say: "O ye my servants who believe! Fear your Lord, good is (the reward) for those who do good in this world. Spacious is God's earth! those who patiently persevere will truly receive a reward without measure!" [39:10]
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« Reply #6 on: Aug 04, 2011 12:41 PM »

From personal experience, most of those who i have seen convert, a few years later have left Islam. OK its only a dozen people or so.
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« Reply #7 on: Feb 09, 2013 09:54 PM »

More than half of those who make the switch are white – and 75 per cent are women. But what would make someone want to change their lifestyle so dramatically? Police Community Support Officer Jayne Kemp left her Catholic roots behind after “falling in love” with Islam while helping victims of so-called honour violence. Here EMILY FOSTER, JENNA SLOAN and EMILY FAIRBAIRN speak to Jayne and three other women about why they decided to become Muslim.  JAYNE KEMP patrols her beat wearing a traditional hijab headscarf and even works extra time after shifts so she can attend Friday prayers at her mosque.Devout Jayne converted to Islam last April and even plans to change her name to Aminah. “I just hope by speaking out I can show it is OK for a Muslim woman to work in the police force and change negative Islam stereotypes.

CLAIRE EVANS converted to Islam last July after researching it following a break-up. Claire, from Bridgend, South Wales, says: After my heart was broken by a Muslim man, I wanted nothing more to do with the religion – I thought it was cruel and unkind. But my mum started looking up more about Islam and pointed out the way this man had behaved was contrary to the faith’s teachings. I read up on it and discovered  that Islam actually promotes tranquillity and peace.

AYESHA OLUMIDE, from Edinburgh, is a model who works under her original name of Eunice. She converted to Islam in 2009 while at university. She says: Before converting to Islam I was a Christian – but where my family is from in West Africa, Islam and Christianity are both practised. But it wasn’t until I started studying philosophy at university that I began to learn more about Islam. At first I was worried it would be too extreme but when I studied the Koran it blew my mind. The theories about nature and science appealed and I felt enlightened. You can’t always explain everything in a scientific way and Islam helps me with that.

Islam is a very peaceful religion but unfortunately there are some serious misconceptions that are made in the West that tarnish its reputation with the main one being suicide attacks. Murdering innocent people is one of the most serious crimes in the religion. The punishment ascribed is "Whoever kills a person, it is as though they have killed every single person who has come into this world and every single person that will come into this world."

Christianity originated not in the Great Britain but in the Middle East. The Christians migrated to Europe bringing their religion with them. Similarly, while Islam too, originated in the Middle East, Muslims migrated to Europe and all over the world. Today, Britain is a multi-faith society and Muslims are part of this society just as Christians and people of other faith. If any one expects Muslims to go back to Middle East, then in all fairness, Christians must go back too because historically, Great Britain was the land of pagans before Romans invaded this country!

While Islam would not be for me... in fact no religion would be for me... but that's the beauty of the world we live in... everyone is free to make their own decisions, and choose the way they want to live their lives. In a world that contains so much hatred; so much heartbreak and so many evil people, how petty it would be to criticise and deride someone simply because their moral, ethical or religious beliefs are different to our own. If their lifestyle contributes toward their happiness... and they are not hurting anyone else... then what right have we to criticise. 

Islam do grow and according to world new record book, Islam is fastest growing religion in conversation, why? Because it gives more sense for many religion people that God is 1, God should not have any partners, not a Son.. Only 1 God, and that Jesus (Pbuh) is a man, he is Prophet of God, He came to lead people to true God, not to him. If anyone convert to Islam or anything, don't say anything bad about it.. it is their choice not your choice, you can't push her/him to become atheist or to any religion.. it is their choice. Your nation call themself for democratic country and people have their own choice. why don't you accept woman in hijab or be peace with the religion than be arrogant or be against the religion..


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