It’s an odd thing: Thousands, upon thousands of people around the world – around 20,000 every year in America alone, are choosing to become Muslims.
Muslims. You know, those people who’ve murdered scores of civilians – brutally and mercilessly?
Not only are alleged Muslims behind atrocities like 9/11 and the massacre in Paris, they claim their violence is inspired and sanctioned by Islam itself – don’t they?
The word Terrorism has come to be directly – instinctively – associated with Islam.
Think about that word: Terror. What kind of people would desire to terrorize others? And what kind of monsters slaughter indiscriminately men, women, and children- Children – the epitome of innocence?
Well, if you believe what you hear and see, in far too many media and “news” outlets, the answer would appear to be: the Muslim kind.
This begs the question: “What kind of people would convert to a religion that promotes carnage and chaos like this?”
Naturally, one might imagine these converts must be people with sociopathic tendencies – self-hating psychopaths perhaps.
But that’s just not the case.
Who Converts to Islam?
From youthful, pre-pubescent teens, to sage elderly grandfathers and grandmothers such as Georgette Lepaulle of Belgium who converted at the age of 91 – Islam seems to be attracting all kinds of people – the vast, overwhelming majority of whom definitely don’t fit the description of terrorist.
Johannah Segarich, now a retired college Music professor, asked herself this question in the midst of the confusion after the 9/11 attacks:
“What kind of religion is this that could inspire people to do this?”
Johannah had studied other religions, but hadn’t thought to learn about Islam. Then she decided to buy a copy of the Quran, wondering if her notions of Islam as a male-controlled and now apparently violent religion, would be confirmed.
In the name of God, The Most Compassionate, Most Merciful…. All Praise is due to God, The Most Compassionate, Most Merciful. … You alone We worship, You alone we ask for help, Show us the straight way, the way of those who have earned your favor…
She finished the Quran a few weeks later, and then started reading it again. About half way through, barely 10 weeks after 9/11, “I came to the realization,” she said, “that I had a decision to make.”
So she decided to convert to Islam.
A travel bug took Angela Collins Telles, a quintessential California girl, to Egypt and Syria. She made friends abroad, and found most people to be generous and kind. When anti-Muslim rhetoric flared after 9/11, she felt a need to do something.
“I saw my country demonizing these people as terrorists and oppressors of women, and I couldn’t think of anything further from the truth,” she said, “and I felt a need to stand-up and defend them. But then I realized that I couldn’t argue without knowledge.”
Realizing she had no basis upon which to defend the people she felt were being wrongly demonized, she began studying Islam. Regarding her findings she said:
“The concept of God was the most beautiful thing, and that concept fit with what I believe.” She converted only a few months after 9/11. (Source)
For Caleb Carter, becoming a Muslim took years. Sept. 11, 2001, was a turning point — specifically his teacher’s hostile response to Islam that day.
“I was a junior in high school at the time, taking a class called Non western World Studies,” said Carter. “For him, it was purely, ‘This is what Islam teaches. We shouldn’t be surprised.’ He played the whole ‘Islam equals terrorism card.'”
But Carter wasn’t buying his teacher’s opinions, nor was he “educated enough to judge it either way.” Studying Islam and other world religions became his mission, and he converted to Islam in 2006. (Source)
Davi Barker, a writer and artist from California, also converted in 2006. Barker lived in Saudi Arabia and the Maldives for a few years as a child and knew “Muslims in Muslim countries,” so he didn’t believe that the religion was to blame for the terrorist attacks. He said he “saw the propaganda campaign going on” against Islam, something that continues to this day.
Canadian Micheal Atwood, was raised to be a practicing Christian. He first heard about Islam on the anniversary of 9/11. He was not intrigued to learn about it right away, but he later found out that Muslims believe in Jesus while on a class trip to a museum.
In 7th grade he overheard his Muslim friends talking about the Quran, and decided he wanted a better understanding of the Bible. What he found when he began researching its authenticity and history, left him un-impressed.
Atwood became curious about the Quran and began reading its translation online. He said:
“I couldn’t stop reading the Quran. It was beautiful.”
He learned about the practices of Islam and felt Muslims follow Jesus even more than he had learned to as a Christian. Half way through 7th grade, he converted to Islam at only 12 years old. (Source)
The internet is chock full of the stories of people, young and old, from every corner of the Earth, and how they decided to convert to Islam.
From high-power, successful business men and women, to bartenders; and from the highly confident and blissfully happy, to the ones who felt lost, lonely or depressed; from the party guys and girls who just wanted to have fun, to studious intellectuals – Islam appears to attract people from every walk of life.
Indeed the Quran confirms that it is in fact a message for all mankind:
This (Quran) is direction and guidance for the whole world. (Quran 38:87)
Why Are Conversions Increasing with Terrorist Activities?
I encourage every reader to read and listen to the stories of the people who made this choice. 9/11 and other terrorist atrocities did not influence people to learn about Islam, because they like violence. Rather, they fall into several categories:
1- Some of those whose conversion began with knowledge of a terrorist crime wanted to better understand how a religion could possibly be that evil. It’s an outrageous claim that isn’t easily swallowed by everyone. These people needed to find out for themselves. What they found not only defied their original suspicion; it spoke to them in the most beautiful way.
2- Others, like me, wanted to expose Islam for the hoax we thought it really was – until we realized it wasn’t. Conversion for my kind is often difficult, because it requires the admission of having been utterly incorrect, and often becoming the person who would have previously been the butt of your own jokes.
3- Then you have the ones who knew Muslims already. They knew they weren’t the bloodthirsty, deranged caricatures they appeared to be on TV. These people felt a strong sense of injustice and wrongful portrayal, slander of the innocent. In order to make their point though, they realized they needed to have knowledge for their stance to be credible.
4- For other people, the apparent chaos and strife in our world makes them begin thinking about life, God and inevitably, religion. Their searching eventually leads them to Islam. Had it not been for the unfortunate and misguided crimes committed in the name of Islam, many people would have never thought at all about Islam.
I’ve noticed in my extensive research of Muslim converts, that just about every single one of them did extensive research which included reading the Quran, most often the entire Quran, sometimes several times over before coming to a decision.
The people who convert to Islam, rather than exhibiting an increase in anger or bloodthirstiness, express that they have become kinder, gentler, more patient and caring people.
Being a Muslim in these times where Islam is so grossly misunderstood is not necessarily easy. We are wrongfully stereotyped and feared.
But, the benefits each and every one of us has gained – God – an understanding of the true purpose of life and death, guidance – dwarf any of the challenges we face.
(This article is from Reading Islam’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.)