REASONS WHY FEMALE CONVERTS TO ISLAM HAVE INCREASED IN THE WEST
French Rapper Converts to Islam, Defends Hijab on National TV
Over the past few years, more and more Americas have converted to Islam, particularly women and I was curious to find out why.
It appears that women are converting to Islam at such rapid rates that they outnumber men 4 to 1, reports a study on female converts to Islam titled “Women and Conversion to Islam: The American Women’s experience.”
More importantly, many of these women are converting to a religion that many (especially the West) view as patriarchal and oppressive toward women. If that is the case, then why are these women still converting?
Religious converts to Islam greatly increased following September 11 when many people (both men and women alike) became interested in exploring the Islamic religion, such as by reading the Quran and Islamic philosophy and literature on the religion.
Although there have been many explanations offered as to why women continue to convert more than men, I find the research conducted by Elkoubaiti Naoual to be the most interesting.
Elkoubaiti Naoual sought to find out why American women were converting to Islam, especially after September 11. A total of 16 conversion narratives (videos of American women explaining why they converted to Islam) were examined in hopes of answering that question.
Contrary to popular belief, many women were not converting to Islam for marriage.
They were converting for what Naoual defined as “personal reasons…that the women themselves were not satisfied with the religion that they were raised in.” This disinterest in their own religion pushed them toward Islam.
Naoual argues that many women converted to Islam because it just made sense to them (for example, in Islam there is the belief in one god) whereas Christianity left women confused (as there was the belief in the trinity–the father, the son and the holy ghost).
Naoual labels the other reason to explain women converts as “political,” that following September 11 women started to gain interest in the Islamic faith. Because of this surge in interest, women began to read about Islam and the Quran. What they found was that Muslim women were treated the complete opposite of how they were portrayed by the media–as oppressed, controlled and submissive. Many women felt that the religion gave them many rights and freedoms (verses Christianity). Here is an excerpt from one woman named Elizabeth Lmgart Ancherage who was examined in the study and explains why Islam grants women freedom:
“In Islam, we have the right to have property, we inherit, we keep our last names, and we don’t have to take our husbands identities. In Christianity people just don’t understand how the Bible sees women, and I think people really should be working into that, and see how Christians think of women. Muslim women had rights and they can own property and that stuff, Christians were debating if we had so.”
Lastly, I want to point out that although it has been said by the media that female converts to Islam continue to rise, this may not be entirely true. I think because many of these American women are converting to Islam to engage in political violence, particularly as suicide bombers the media are constantly examining this topic.