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Why Are Westerners Still Converting to Islam?

Have you ever wondered what are the main factors that inspire people to accept Islam?

Typically there is a trigger that first interests someone in Islam, and then something else that triggers them to take a later step when convinced and say their shahadah.

I conducted an online survey asking eight questions to find out these main factors.

Seventy reverts took the anonymous survey providing me with answers which I have sorted to give the following statistics and conclusions.

Triggers that Sparked their Interest in Islam

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The highest percentage of respondents, 30% (21 people), stated that the first thing that interested them to inquire about Islam was simply meeting and talking to a Muslim about something other than Islam. Just you being you, can be dawah in itself!

How easy is that!

Simply witnessing a Muslim doing something, was the trigger for 24.2% (17 people) to become curious about Islam. Never underestimate the power of observation of strangers! You may not see them, or talk to them, but they are paying attention!

One woman stated that she and a man she had just met went to a hotel to have sex, but that after arriving there he was overcome with a guilty conscience and changed his mind.

It left her pondering why, and he explained he was a Muslim. She had never heard of a man refusing sex before and it caused her to have respect for him because she saw that he had respect for his religion. She wanted to know more about the religion that could influence a man at such a time of strong temptation.

Ten people out of the 24% who simply witnessed a Muslim doing something said they witnessed a prayer. Seeing Muslims at Hajj on the news and a tour guide in Egypt stopping the tour to pray in random places, were examples that caught their attention.

Another man was having coffee with a friend whom he didn’t know was Muslim, then he got up to “pray” in the middle of their conversation, leaving him baffled at this action, and wanted to know more about it.

So, next time you think about delaying prayer until you get home, consider offering your prayer where you are because non-Muslims may just become interested in Islam from watching you pray!

Reading a small bit of information about Islam caused 17.1% (12 people) to become interested in Islam. However, only 3 of those 12 read the Quran, while the remaining read other books or articles about Islam.

Have you ever heard the phrase “There’s no such thing as bad publicity”?

Well, this seems to hold true for Islam because 12.8% (9 people) stated that hearing/reading something negative got them interested to know more. The events of 9/11 and the media blaming Muslims triggered 5 out of the 9 to want to learn more.

9/11 caused a huge surge in people accepting Islam, as people wanted to understand why Muslims would do such a thing, as the media insisted it was carried out by Muslims.

The remaining 15.7% (11 people) didn’t have notable commonalities, but included things such as learning something at school, traveling to a foreign country, hearing Quran, and seeing something online.

Since over half, 54.2% (38 people), were triggered by talking or witnessing the action of a Muslim, this tells us that we should get out there, and meet non-Muslims and socialize with them more. Let them know you and your faith. Build the bridge for opportunities to give dawah in the future! 

Where or Who They Learned that First Bit of Information from

Friends and roommates accounted for the biggest group of respondents, 20% (14 people), who taught them that first piece of information about Islam. Replies included telling them story tidbits from the Quran, discussing corruption of the Bible, to talking about marriage in Islam. There were no common threads in the topics, except for teaching them Islamic words in Arabic and explaining the meanings.

This simple and easy method of dawah can be done in our everyday lives simply by saying Islamic words and phrases in our conversations, in hope that someone asks “What does that mean?”  It’s super simple, and most people are naturally inquisitive of foreign words and phrases and want to learn them…. so make use of that!

The next category, 31.4% (22 people), either learned by themselves via browsing the web (15), Islamic chat rooms (4), or online contacts (3).

18.5% (13 people) responded stating that they learned that first thing about Islam from a romantic relationship partner. Boyfriend/girlfriend relationships account for 8 of the 13, leaving only 5 who learned it from a spouse after marriage. These results do not mean that we should go out and get involved in haram relationships for the sake of ‘dawah‘ – It can backfire later on!

The remaining 30% (21 people) learned something from a number of different people ranging from a neighbor, co-worker, school, relatives, or other undeclared sources.

Specific Information that Triggered Shahadah

The largest group, 27.1% (19 people) of those surveyed, expressed that tawheed was the trigger for them to say their shahadah. The simplicity and oneness of Allah can’t be beaten! The “rejection of the Trinity” was a common expression shared. Pure monotheism is the most logical and easiest concept for non-Muslims to grasp.

20% (14 people) said that Islam simply agreed with their natural inclinations, or common sense/logic regarding God and faith. This statistic is expected, considering we are all born with a natural pure state of submission to Allah, but may be raised as a Christian, Jew, Hindu, Buddhist, Atheist, etc.

Contents of the Quran led 15.7% (11 people) to their shahadah, including but not limited to scientific miracles in the Quran, inspirational verses, and the clarity of tawheed.

Then, there were 7.1% (5 people) that were guided by a dream after asking God for a sign, while another 7.1% (5 people) were triggered by witnessing an action by a Muslim.

The remaining 22.8% (16 people’s) replies were mixed, with no common factors.  

Where & How They Said Their Shahadah

The masjid with several witnesses was the prime location for 31.4% (22 people) to recite their shahadah. They expressed how they had an overwhelming sense of peace and comfort simply by being in a masjid. Next time you have someone that is interested in Islam, take them to the masjid as soon as possible. After all, it is the house of Allah, so they will most likely have strong emotions stirred within simply by being there.

It seems that the two opposites are the most common methods for reciting the shahadah. The second most popular method, 15.7% (11 people) – recited it alone. Many non-Muslims don’t know a Muslim, nor have a masjid anywhere near them, so it is expected to see this percentage being recited while being alone.

Friends were in the presence of 14.2% (10 people) when they recited the shahadah, while 8.5% (6 people) were at a Muslim event or gathering for their shahadah, while 7.1% (5 people) did their shahadah online.

Boyfriends/girlfriends/fiancées were witnesses to 5.7% (4 people), and 10% (7 people) were with spouses or other family members. The remaining 7.1% (5 people) said their shahadah with either a teacher, co-worker, or over the phone.   

General Conclusions

These survey answers reveal that most people are responsive to the actions of Muslims. Seeing or meeting a Muslim, are major trends for triggering a non-Muslim to become interested in learning about Islam.

So get out there, make an effort to get to know non-Muslims, and build up those windows and doors for dawah! Share small interesting bits of information about Islam, and let them see you pray.

The best way to learn is to be lead by example! We do this for our children, so why not for others?

Be friendly, outgoing, know how to talk about the basics of Islam, and offer to take anyone interested in Islam to the masjid.

Be the best Muslim you can be, because Allah is not the only one paying attention. Just think…. Someone’s journey to Islam can all start with you!

“Convey to the people even if it were a single sentence.” (Al-Bukhari)

By Allah, were Allah to guide a single man through you would be better for you than a herd of red camels.” (Al-Bukhari & Muslim)

This article is from Reading Islam’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.

About Shannon Abulnasr
Shannon Abulnasr: An American convert sister who accepted Islam in 2006, and since has dedicated her efforts as an advocate supporting new Muslims after their shahadah. You can read her reversion story here and visit her website created for new Muslims and non-Muslims.