Are Conversions to Islam Likely to Increase?

Are Conversions to Islam Likely to Increase? by • December 12, 2006 • Printer-friendly

In the writebacks thread on “WMDs: Found!” recent Chronicles contributor George Ajjan has raised some very good points about my claim, in my article (“Jihad in Rockford, IL: What the MSM Won’t Tell You“), that native-born conversion to Islam is “made easier by the growing Muslim presence in the United States”:

My question is: on what basis can we determine that attacks by converts to Islam will be made “easier” by a simple mathematical increase in the number of Muslims in America?

While no sane person would dispute the obvious reasoning that more Muslims in America will increase the exposure of Islam and therefore its accessibility (as witnessed by the local news broadcast on which you appeared), the fact remains that Muslims have settled in America, and in fact in the Heartland, for over a century.

Isn’t it logical to conclude, therefore, that those individuals willing to go to the disturbing lengths of John Walker Lindh or Rockford’s own Derrick Shareef, would manage to seek out and contact, within a reasonable driving distance that wouldn’t require a passport, a physical presence of “an ideology such as Islam that provides such a strong motivating force”, even if the immigration measures you advocate to curtail the presence of Muslims in America were enacted?

For reasons of space in my VDare piece, I didn’t discuss the mechanism by which this facilitation of conversion is happening, so let’s consider it now.

Both Muslim and non-Muslim sources acknowledge that the number of conversions to Islam in America has been increasing, particularly over the past 15 years. Moreover, the ethnic composition of the body of converts has been changing: In the past, blacks made up the greatest percentage of converts, and most converted to the Nation of Islam. Shareef and Minnesota congressman-elect Keith Ellison are good examples.

Today, however, there is an (admittedly small) increase in white converts; but the biggest shift has been the rather sizable increase in Hispanic converts–mostly immigrants or the children of immigrants.

Alongside that, there is the secondary conversion of black converts from the Nation of Islam to traditional Islam. Once again, Shareef and Ellison are good examples.

Why is this happening now, when, as Mr. Ajjan points out, Muslims have been settling in America for over a century?

There are at least four factors at work:

  • First, we’ve begun to reach critical mass. By some figures, there are now more Muslims than Jews in the United States; by others, they will surpass Jews by 2010, making Islam the second-largest religion in the United States. And Muslims are increasing in prominence, as the high profile of Ellison and the Council on American-Islamic Relations indicates. (Or, for that matter, the tradition of inviting Muslim leaders to the White House to celebrate the start of Ramadan, begun by President Clinton and continued by President Bush.) And, as the principal of the Rockford Iqra School told us, September 11 itself led to a marked increase in visits of inquirers to the school and mosque.
  • Second, the massive increase in mosques in the United States over the past 15 years means that, as Mr. Ajjan puts it, there is likely a mosque within “reasonable driving distance” of many potential converts to Islam. As I wrote in the October 2005 issue of Chronicles (“Welcoming Muhammad: Abandoning That Which Is Our Own“):

    Today, the U.S. State Department officially estimates the number of mosques in the United States at over 1,200, but that is based on a survey conducted in the late 1990’s; unofficial State Department estimates rise as high as 2,000. CNN notes that nearly 80 percent of those mosques have been built since 1990—after our first war with Iraq; of the rest, the bulk were built after the Islamic revolution in Iran.”

    In other words, people who might have had a passing fancy in Islam in the past are now more able to convert that passing fancy to a real interest–and a real conversion.

  • Third, the heyday of the Nation of Islam has passed. This has had at least three effects: the migration of some NOI members, such as Shareef and Ellison, to traditional Islam; the tendency of new black converts to convert directly to traditional Islam; and, most importantly, an increasing sense among the general population that Islam in America is mainstream, not simply something that is confined to disaffected, predominantly urban blacks.
  • Fourth, the constant drumbeat by the Bush administration and the media that “Islam is a religion of peace” has made conversion (or even simply inquiry) much more socially acceptable.

    None of this directly address Mr. Ajjan’s ultimate point, however, which I would summarize this way: Even if Muslim immigration were ended today, aren’t all the conditions in place to continue to encourage native-born conversions to Islam? The answer, sadly, is yes. What we need to look at, however, is the rate of conversion. If the presence of Muslims in America today is helping to drive conversions (as Mr. Ajjan concedes), why wouldn’t we expect that increasing numbers of immigrants (and the increasing number of mosques and schools that accompany them) would drive increasing numbers of conversions?

    Or, to look at it from the opposite point of view: If American immigration policy treated adherence to Islam as grounds for automatic denial of entry to the United States, wouldn’t that be likely to counter the social acceptability of conversion to Islam, and thus decrease the number of converts and inquirers?

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