The Dynamics of Conversion to Islam in Western Societies
by Larry Allan Poston, Northwestern University (Dissertation for Doctor of Philosophy 1988)
Printed by: UMI, Ann Arbor, Mich.
Reviewed by Jay Smith
[iii] Da’wah (“to call,” “to summon,” “to invite”) has two approaches:
1) “High-Church” (jihad), involving the conquest of nations, establishing Muslim institutions, and the conversion which came about over many generations, as they became enculturated to the new environment (used historically).
2) “Low-Church”, conversion of individuals, seeking to influence society from the bottom upwards (used today).
 Sura 16:125=The expansionist verse for Da’wah: “Call unto the way of thy Lord with wisdom and fair exhortation, and reason with them in the better way.” Versus Sura 2:256, which prohibits compelling others to enter the Islamic faith (pg.6).
– Muhammad Khurshid: believed it was to be active, dynamic, progressive, to all individuals with the objective that everyone may submit to the will of Allah. His view is becoming increasing popular (pg.6)
 Isma’il al-Faruqi: believed our lifestyle was to be a powerful attraction, causing others to inquire, presupposing Muslims to be “devout” and immersed in society (a problem for No. Americans).
– Believes No. American Islam has acquiesced and compromised itself to U.S. culture, so must be brought back into the fold.
 Ahmad Sakr believes conversion of outsiders to Islam is prohibited, because there is no compulsion in religion.
 ‘ahl al-dhimma’ (protected persons) applies to Christians and Jews. Thus Da’wah is a form of resurgence or reformation within Islam alone.
 When Da’wah pertains to others, it is for correcting the distortions found in others theology, but thus be transformed into a Muslim sect (?).
 Survey-questionnaire met with much distrust, and hostility, so had to drop it.
 Black Muslims movement under Elijah Muhammad was only an “elitist ethnic movement”, not recognized by the rest of the world, but today, under Warith al-Din Muhammad, now has noteriety.
Chapt. One: 7th-19th Centuries
I Da’wah in the East
 Doubtful whether Muhammad intended a world-encompassing religion, but rather something succinctly Arab and monotheistic.
 Expedition to Tabuk in 630 and Transjordan raid, just before his death, are the beginnings of international endeavors.
– After the Riddah wars, the military forays began. Their chief aim was to convert men and women to Islam.
 In middle East and No. Africa the Muslim raiders (Mujahidun) were welcomed with open arms as liberators.
– The classical theory of Jihad demands that enemies must be given the option of converting to Islam or pay the Jizya Tax, before attacking them (Sura 17:15,
Sura 16:125), and Sahih al-Bukhari.
– Thus, Da’wah is preliminary to Jihad, an invitation to convert before the military quest was taken.
 “The role of temporal power in creating a total Islamic environment as a precondition of the fostering of the right attitude and state of mind in individuals” (Levtzion, “Toward a Comparative Study” pg.11)
 executive, judicial and legislative control ensures the missionaries that their work could go forward.
– Setting up the institutions such as: Masjid (religious agency), Madrasa (educational agency), Shari’a (legislative, economic structure, and court system), helped to persuade and pressure them to convert.
 In order to create an “Islamic ambience” (a surrounding, all-emcompassing atmosphere of Muslim religiousity that eventually appeared in every institution and at every level of society), political, economic and judicial control over the culture was essential. This would provide an ideological framework through which the precepts of Islam could be disseminated. It would also protect the “divines” (professional men of religion) or agencies of propagation of these teachings (p.48).
– Muslims needed to speak from a position of power; to be seen as superior because of their literacy, magical, and wealthy, a contrast with Christian proselytizers, who came into a foreign society as guests mostly, and so were seen as inferior.
 Commerce was used, as only Muslims could be admitted to the credit system. Divines came along with the traders to propagate Islam. They allowed the use of amulets and indigenous beliefs, adapting and contextualizing to the culture there. They could only speak from superior learning and miracles.
– Contextualization= “kernels of supracultural truth (absolutes) are re-packaged with trappings of the target culture to be understood by the indigenous population.”
 It was the Sufis who made real gains in non-Muslim territories, as they sought to pursue God in esoteric and individualistic means.
– Were against the worldliness of the Muslims as well.
 They began Tariqas between the 12th and 14th centuries which propagated Islam by individual and personal contact with the natives.
 Around 1250 A.D. the shift from an offensive to a defensive mode for Muslims came about. Consolidation was more the need.
 The Mongols came onto the scene, and this caused the Muslims to interpret this defeat as Allah showing judgment on them because of their worlkliness. The Mongols forced the Turks back to Turkey, where they consolidated there power for the
, while the descendants of Ghenghis Khan went into India and brought about the Mogul Empire. The new name for their soldiers were ghazis or “raiders.”
 -The message was concise (5 pillars), theological ideas such as Tawhid, and elements of Shari’a law, proved ints superiority to other religions. Any syncretism was seen as bida’, and heretical.
– The Ottomans tolerated the absorption of Greco-Christian thinking, while the Mogul rulers were universalistic, and so syncretistic. Akbar was so relaxed that he tolerated Dhimmi treatment (protected persons, usually reserved for Jews and Christians) for the polytheistic Hindus.
– From the 18th-19th centuries the orientation of Islam changed from offensive to defensive, and has remained so to this day.
II Da’wah in the West: North America
[52-56] 5 waves of immigration:
1) 1875-1912= individuals and families, mostly unskilled and uneducated Arabs fleeing from bad political and economic situations back home. Had to assimilate.
2) 1918-1922= from E. Europe and Middle East, after WW1 (assimilated).
3) 1930-1938= relatives and acqaintances of earlier immigrants.
4) 1945-1967= post WW2 displaced people from India, Pakistan, and E. Europe. Mostly ruling elite, educated, westernized, rich, thus avoided assimilation.
5) 1967-today= wealthy individuals or families, highly educated professionals from Pakistan or Arab world. Don’t clump together.
 Most Muslims are Black Muslims. But others are growing, and have renewed pride in their ethnic and religious heritage
 Estimated 5 million Muslims from 60 countries. Arabs=2 million, but 90% are Christian. Turks are the most secularized of the group.
 Most of the influence in the U.S. is by the Pakistani’s (who are the chief suppliers of imams, teachers, guest lecturers and teaching material), and the Arabs.
 2 kinds of Islamic Da’wa in U.S.: 1) Defensive Pacifist, 2) Offensive Activist
1) Defensive Pacifist:
– Dar al’Islam (Muslims) and Dar al’Harb or Dar al’Kufr (the unbelievers) were to keep away from each other except as visitors or for learning, thus only to be in their territory for a short time.
 Muslims first believed all military victories were indications of Gods favour. Then the Mongols defeat showed Gods judgment of their worldliness. But the defeat by Christians (Dhimmis) in the 19th century caused a problem.
– The response was to exhort Muslims to pursue and overtake the West by imitating it. Yet Islam has done just the opposite, trying to stifle science and stop its progress (Esposito: Islam in Transition, p.16).
[71-72] But those who sought to follow the example of the new theologians made it easy for many to come to the west, as now in the U.S. there were constitutionally guaranteed individual rights & religious freedom, not found in their own countries.
 The earlier Muslims mostly assimilated into the mainstream, married Christians and became such themselves, except for those who built the first mosque, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa (1934).
 Most Muslim organisations in U.S. are geared towards caring for the social affairs of each particular group, rarely proselytizing, but calling or exhorting nominal Muslims.
 Yet, no mosque or Islamic center has ever accomplished the objective of reviving Muslim populations.
 Christian missions was seen as “the leavening of the total life of the surrounding culture with the basic ideals of a Christian culture, thus creating a more favorable atmosphere in which direct missionary work can be done.” (Braden, “Islam in America”, p.317).
– This is different that ‘Muslim ambience’ as it is done without having political control, as guests in a country.
 In Muslim countries the govt. wants one religion only, that of Islam, to control society. In the U.S. the govt. maintains strict independance from religious control. Constitutionally it can neither further or establish any one religion, but protect all. Thus there are 3 appeals for expansion:
1) size (if everyone belongs, than I want to belong)
2) similarity (the tradition is in accordance with contemporary culture)
3) differentiation (culture is in decline, so rel. trad. is a viable alternative).
– Islam in No. American exhibits none of the above (except Black Islam).
 To alleviate the problem of knowledge for Muslims in U.S. volunteers are sent to Al-Hazar, but only a few who learn few answers for believers living in Dar al’ Kufr. U.S. Imams are from Saudi Arabia and Egypt, too strict with little English.
 Muslims in America are those: “whose past is a painful memory, however romantically expressed, whose present is comfortable and confused, and whose future is a boundless haze.” (Haider “Canadian Saturdays…” pg.38).
 Not many in U.S., and mostly amateurish, but they will be coming more popular.
 Two kinds:
1) Temporary foreign students, who have nothing to lose. They see the un-Islamic facets of American life, and attempt to change it.
– Some, who have never been activists in their own country become so here, out of a reaction, as they are forced to compare, or are questioned by Americans about their beliefs. They have a identity crisis, see lack of ethical lifestyle (high crime, drugs, and pornography), get a sense of mission with purpose and meaning, and so work to introduce the superior Islamic values (pg.91).
2) New immigrants (25,000-35,000 per year). Come with reformist and activist ideologies (espoused by Ikhwan al-Muslimun).
[93-94] Isma’il al-Faruqi, in his “Islamic Vision”, speaks of 5 reasons for Muslims who come to the U.S. to be Offensive-Activists: (“Islamic Ideals” pg.268)
1) -must assuage any guilt for coming as immigrants, because God was leading them to become a da’iyyah, or ‘Missionary.’
2) -by seeing the U.S. through Islamic eyes, he will see that the U.S. is not so great, but quite inferior.
3) -the immigrant is given a feeling of being personally called by Allah to call all non-Muslims to Islam, in word as well as deed.
4) -the Islamic vision would provide the immigrant with necessary criteria for transforming this culture to conform to will of God.
5) -a deep attachment for the U.S. is given to see it become a nation finally returned to God.
[95-99] The immigrant is to constantly focus on his homeland, so that he will one day return there, and, as well, not be assimilated into the U.S.
– Yet, must not be isolationist, but “participate” in the culure (Maher Hathout: “Muslim Americans Dilemna, pg.48).
– Schools must be in accord with the Shari’a law: strict dress code, separation of the sexes, non-participation in plays & proms, or Christmas, Easter, Halloween, and St. Valentines day. Exemption from classes on Fri. (1-2p.m.) and 15 break each afternoon. No pork in meals.
– “An Open letter to the President” blames Zionism for political U.S. problems.
Chapter II: Towards Islamic Pietism
I “High Church” and “Low Church” Strategies in Religious Proselytization
[100-103] Conquest of the world requires strategies which may work in one part of the world but not in another.
–Two categories for entry of missionary agent:
1) Upper, authoritative level, by the executive, legislative, judicial
economic, and bureaucratic structures.
2) Lower, subject level, among the masses.
1)Upper level: high-church groups, are heirarchical, with formal and structured liturgy, controlled by officials (status), believing in the amillennialist approach to the Kingdom of God, that the Church had responsibility to bring it in. Thus religious and political spheres are bound together. (i.e.=Constantine, Holy Roman Empire, Crusades, and Conquistadores).
[105-106] Colonialism by the west was somewhat due to a desire for natural resources, and power, but the wider reason was the belief that “their nations had been divinely commissioned to transmit the Christian principles underlying Western civilization and in so doing produce a like civilization in non-Christian lands.”
– “It has to be remembered that in the 19th century the alternatives for many peoples were not independence and enslavement, but destruction by unscrupulous exploiters or through the slave trade, or the possibility of survival in a state of colonial dependence. They found the people divided, poor and barbarous, and left them united, prosperous and on their way to taking their places in the councils of the nations of the world.” (Neil History, pg.249)
– Since the enlightenment, religious beliefs have been relegated to the private sphere, and so there is no need to establish the physical kingdom of God.
[107-111] In Islam, the high-church missiology is quite evident, as there is a definite heirarchy (caliphal office), formal liturgy and beliefs (brings efficacy, in that one who prays 5 times washes the sins away-S. Imtiaz Ahmed, on the prophet).
Also the idea of a material kingdom to be established is strong.
– Political conquest brought about Islamic ambience, which allowed Islam to gradually pervade the culture at all levels, and thus make conversin more socially acceptable.
– Muslims always operated from a position of superiority, and conversion to Islam became a culturally positive phenomenon.
– In a newly Muslimized country, “traders could improve their credit, government bureaucrates could retain their offices, nobility could hold on to their property, if they became Muslims” (Levtzion in “Comparative studies” pg.9-11).
– A. Bausani states: “the truth of Islam is not, or not chiefly, a
theoritical truth, but also and prevalently las and customs
felt as given by God, and obvioulsy cannot be spread through personal conversion but only through physical conquet of the
region to be converted.”
(Bausani, from Whalings “Missionary Transplantation”, pg. 331, from a lecture given in 1972 at the University of London).
[112-116] What should those in the U.S. do? Sura 16:125 states: “Call unto the way of thy Lord with wisdom and fair exhortation.” A call for Da’wah.
2 options: 1)abandon the mission because it is too impracticable in the U.S.
2)abandon the traditional missiological approach.
a)Educational model, vs. military model. Bring in the Islamic world-view within the educational system, 1st to Muslims schools, then non-Muslim ones.
-i.e.=International Institute of Islamic Thought in No.Va. suburb of Wash. D.C. has taken the idea to recast university disciplines, by eliminating, amending, reinterpreting, and adapting its components to the Islamic world-view.
[118-126] b)Low-Church model= PIETISM. Modeled after Philipp Jakob Spener (1648). Focus must be on the Christians experience, upon his deeds, lifestyle, and morality. Using Romans 13:1-7, he felt Christians were not to be bedded with government, accepting all govts. as from God, even when they are evil, “just as a jewel remains a jewel, whether it is in the hands of an honest man or a thief.”
-History operates on two dimensions:
1) the physical/earthly dimension (political, economical, and social control), where kingdoms and empires rise and fall (according to the dictates of Gods permissive will-Catholic & Reformed), and
2) the metaphysical/spiritual dimension, in which lie the truly important aspects of life: spiritual regeneration, moral transformation of the individual, sanctification and the spreading of the Gospel.
a)-Aimed at individual conversion at the level of the masses.
b)-They then were expected to experience a new life-style, which would, in turn, have a leavening effect upon society in general (redemption and lift).
c)-According to Luke 17:21 and John 18:36, the emphasis is on the internal life of the Christian, and a separation of church and state.
-Now, no need for earthly security by a govt. for proselytizing, as was seen by the Catholics and Anglicans.
d)-Christianization, because of its emphasis on individual conversion, would occur from the level of the masses upward, as against the structures downward.
[126-132] Sufis also espoused a similar view as the Pietists.
a)-Focused on internal experiences rather than external observances. Had a strong distaste for doctrinal controversies, materialistic lifestyles, and the affairs of state. They became ascetic, and isolationists, however, and so undercut any missionary orientation.
b)-advocated an activist approach to sanctification and spiritual growth. -The idea of a military Jihad was rejected and replaced with a Jihad against personal wishes and sensual desires, thus spiritualizing it. For this rea- son Sufis were able to move outside Dar al-Islam and spread their ideas amongst the Dar al-Kufr. Allah was their provider and sustainer, instead of political entities.
**-Believed in the Jihad al-lisan or Jihad al-qalam= the Holy War of the tongue or pen (Peters, Islam and Colonialism, pg.119). (pg.130 for other sources).
c)-allowed for an eschatological motivation in the form of the Mahdi (the “guided one”), who would appear at the end times, to spread Islam in all the earth.
– This gave the Muslims (Sufis) a sense of purpose and mission.
Thus, “Sufism provides an alternative in the form of low-church missiology which aims at the conversion of individual persons within society followed by training in Islamic precepts, which will in turn enable each convert to induce further conversions.” (132)
II Hasan Al-Banna and Abul A’la Mawdudi: Pioneers of Modern Islamic “Pietism”
 Two movements using low-church methodology: 1)Hasan al-Banna’ (1906-1949)
2)Abul a’la Mawdudi (1903-1979)
[135-146] A) Hasan al-Banna’ and the “al-nizam al-islami”: (Egyptian)
– Founded the Hasafi Welfare Society, to build up a high moral character and to curb the activities of the Christian missionaries in Egypt. Assasinated at age 42.
Objectives were: a) To make every individual a true Muslim.
b) Develope the Muslim family on Islamic lines.
c) Establish a Muslim ‘umma (community).
d) Establish an Islamic state in Egypt.
note: al-Banna’ begins at the level of the masses and works upwards, whereas Levtzion’s model works the reverse direction.
– He sent students to coffee-houses, and public places to preach Islam, asked people to shun coffee, story-telling, and idle activities, & invited them to Islam.
– Believed Islam regulated every aspect of life, and established an “Islamic Order” al-nizam al-islami, which would in turn act as a leavening agent for society.
– Every Muslim was, like a khalifa, much like our ‘priesthood of believers.’
– The Muslims lot in this world was to be subordinate to his mission, in order to gain a reward in the next life for his self-sacrifice.
– His appeal was to the young, who had “nothing to lose”.
– Problem: there was an absense in his writings of a precisely defined model for the brotherhood’s goals. No way was given to achieve the 4 above objectives.
[147-162] B) Abul A’la Mawdudi and the “Jama’at-i Islami” (India and Pakistan)
– Born in India, and later moved to Pakistan, was influenced by Sufi teaching by his father. Was a journalist and editer of Taj. Became an activist, rebeling against traditional ways, a voice of dissent.
– Believed best way was to create a small, informed, dedicated and disciplined group, to transform the world to Islam.
– Began with Muslims, seeking to purify them, using Sura 2:143. Believed that: “the transformation of the political, economic and social institutions could only be achieved by transformed individuals.” (pg.150) (see Khurram Murad on Muradi, pg.27)
– Established in 1941, the Jama’at-i Islami (Islamic movement) 7 phases:
1) The da’i, made up of individuals from the masses, should expect to find trials and persecution in their work. They are to go out and “draw to the light” those bound to them by kinship, friendship, neighbors, buyers, and sellers. Not be isolationists.
2) Those who came were to go to training camps, to be purified, and prepared for their new mission.
3) The group was made up small groups of transformed individuals, who assuaged the severity of the present trials (Dunya=this world) by looking toward the rewards of the hereafter (akhira=hereafter). The focus was inward.
4) From these groups elected officials got appointed to office in the state.
5) They then had institutional control of the state.
6) The state then would implement decisions for the populace for Islam.
7) An Islamic ambience would be instilled, as the trasformation of a significant number of individuals would effect changes in the structures.
8) A new awakening in the populace, would affect the masses (see page 159).
– Problem came about, when the above was implemented, because little attention was given to more practical and mundane aspects of the Islamic state; a failure to consider the working out of principles and applications. “Technique, which has been of supreme importance in the West since the Industrial revolution, finds little to commend it in the Muslim world.” (162)
[162-167] For Christian Pietists, the lifestyle serves only as supportive of the verbal witness, rather than being a witness in and of itself.
– Mawdudi and al-banna’ felt the methods are not important so long as the life of the communicator is in order. All one need do is display it.
– The teachings of Mawdudi and Al-banna’ have entered the U.S. in 3 ways:
a) the influx of immigrants from Egypt and Pakistan
b) the Muslim Student Association founded in 1963, at Univ. of Ill., Urbana, all founding members belonging to the Muslims brotherhood of Al-banna’.
-The Islamic Society of North America, came out of this group and relects the writings of Mawdudi and Al-banna’.
c) through the speeches and writings of Khurram Murad, a disciple of Mawdudi, residing in Great Britain, who writes of Da’wah in the west.
– 80% of U.S. Islamic Da’wah writings are by or about al-Banna’ and Mawdudi.
III Khurram Murad: Contextualization of the Islamic Movement for the West
(168-189) -Indian, born in 1932, went to Pakistan in 1948, and joined the Islamic Movement under Mawdudi. Received Master of Science in Michigan, U.S., and in 1978 became director of Islamic Foundation, based in Leicester, England. His booklets and speeches are considered as standard for Islamic workers in Britain and the U.S.
*“Islamic Movement in the West: Reflections on some Issues” (1981)
“Da’wah among Non-Muslims in the West: Some Conceptual and Methodological
– For him the Islamic Movement is “an organized struggle to change the existing society into an Islamic Society based on the Qur’an and the Sunna, and make Islam, which is a code for the entire life, supreme and dominant” (“Islamic movement” 1981)
– Methodology is low-church, done by locals using Al-‘Imran 3:187 and 110, al-Baqarah 5:159-160 and al-Hajj 22:77-78 as his authority.
– Thus, for Muslims in the U.S., they must “fix the whole direction of their lives, activities, programs, institutions and structures towards the goal of making American society Islamic and Muslim.” (Murad “3rd Opportunity,” pg.10). “Every non-Muslim is a potential Muslim.”
– Murads Strategy involved:
1) Literature, to proclaim message of Islam & aimed at the non-Muslim mind.
2) Da’wah amongst non-Muslims:
a) People are invited back to their “own religion.” Judaism and Chris- tianity, in their original form were the same as Islam today, but were corrupted purposely or by accident, thus making it necessary for a renewal by Muhammad.
b) Begin with full surrender to Allah; to have justice in the world.
c) Must begin their witness by showing the commonalities between the be- liefs (found in Al-‘Imran 3:64); emphasis on concepts and values vs. Islamic forms.
d) No-one must accept the historical Islam of the last 14 centuries, but should accept the Islam of the Qur’an and the Sunna.
e) Evil of modern man should be partially blamed on Islam, because they have not given a good witness, and so let the Kafirs go astray.
f) A Kafir= a rebel against God. He is not ignorant of his Creator. So everyone to be witnessed within their context, by others of his kind (HUP principle)
g) Since each prophet spoke in the vernacular, and in their context, a Muslim must do so today (Contextualization necessary), to make the message relevant.
3) Support Home movements by stimulating the Islamic movements at home.
4) Create appreciation for Islam amongst children of immigrants.
5) Create appreciation for Islam amongst foreign Muslim students.
6) Resolve Community Needs amongst the Muslim communities by setting up community centers for Muslims to help them, and give added schooling to children.
7) Co-ordinate thinking, planning and action between the various Muslim groups in the U.S. or whatever foreign country they find themselves.
– Murad believed that the primary reason for problems within the Muslim communites in foreign lands is because they no longer are involved in missionary activity. If they would concentrate on Da’wah, the problems would evaporate.
– “Da’wah is a command to be obeyed, a strategy to be implemented, and an activity to be performed.” (189)
IV The Muslim Missionary Today (190-211)
Islam has not produced highly-organised missionary agencies, as in Christ- ianity, due to the belief that all Muslims are “Da’is,” & so automatically share.
Muhammad Kurshid (Texas) believes Da’wah should be amongst the rich: exhibit that what Muslims say is true, evince boldness in lifestyle, and a practical inde- pendent testimony, even to martyrdom. Arabic is to be used only after conversion, for training, as it attracts the hearer.
Emphasis is on: Laicization, lifestyle, and education. Kurshid feels all methods must: communicate to the hearer, be simple, plain, clear, goal-oriented, global, without antagonism, creating an atmosphere to talk on the listeners level.
Rashid al-Ghanoushi (Tunisia) feels a moral lifestyle is not an issue for U.S.
Fathi Yakan (Lebanese), holds to 3 emphasis’ above, but believes it must be amongst the poor, and involve “al-isti’ab” (“full and total comprehension”=context- ualisaton). Be “Cultural Chameleons”, understanding the settings and weaknesses of the hearers, to communicate, comprehensibly, Islam to them. Borrowed from x-tians.
Problems: No way to help the masses to learn these precepts. The Manual of Da’wah for Islamic Workers is not comprehensive, poorly written, and has a strong anti-Christian polemic(210). Only a few professional “Da’is” in the U.S. now.
Chapter III: The Institutionalization of Da’wah in the Western Context
I “Para-mosque” structures and Their Development
– Def.=”Para-church” or “Para-mosque” is any spiritual ministry whose organiza- tion is not under the authority of a local (Christian/Muslim) congregation or body.
– Problems: no accountability, no support of local church, duplication & non coordination of resources, and built around a central figure.
2 Muslim examples: Hasan al-Banna, and Abul A’la Mawdudi.
In west, the mosque has taken on a different feature, much like a church (visiting, counselling, prayer-room, educational center, political forum, & social hall). Thus, Imams must play role they never were trained for.
– So, no over-arching authority, no checks and balances to prevent the forming of self-interested, and blatantly heretical sects, breaking down “umma.” (221)
– Most Islamic institutions in U.S. are defensive in orientation. There were several attempts to propagate the “gospel of Islam” but many (if not most) were unsuccessful and were abandoned within a few years of their inception.” (226)
– “They failed to grasp the nature of western society & its dynamics, mostly ethnic groups, with emphasis on preserving their cultural identity” (Arabia-226)
A The Islamic Information Center of America (227-231)
Musa Qutub, Quaker educated, from Jerusalem, established the Center, in 1983, with John Merenkov, an American Doctor. 3 objectives:
1) deliver the message of Islam
2) inform non-Muslims about Islam
3) aid U.S. Muslims to deliver the message to others.
– goals fulfilled by: contacting people, giving lectures, conducting seminars, writings, giving out Qur’ans, using T.V., radio, and Newspaper.
– no governmental connection, non-profit, and lay-oriented
– depends on contributions; donaters will receive rewards, up to 700 times.
– Qutub seeks to give viable spiritual alternative to dissatisfied Americans. No debate or discussions, but do so for the love of Americans.
B The Muslim Student Assoc.(MSA) & Islamic Soc.of No.America (ISNA) (231-245)
Started in 1963, some 75 students, at Urbana campus in Illinois formed the MSA, to improve students’ knowledge of Islam, perpetuate the Islamic Spirit, explain Islam to Americans, and help the restoration of Islam in students home countries.
– In 1983, 310 student chapters with more than 45,000 members (MSA & USA p.63).
– MSA’s magazine is “Al-Ittihad”, ISNA’s is Islamic Horizons (The Muslims answer to ‘Christianity Today’, edited by U.S. graduates of the Medill School of Journalism). Has good quality.
– “Know your MSA” brochure states: “the most important task is da’wah among non-Muslims, as the campus is where the most curious, the most inquisitive, and most open-minded audience for Islam.”
– Other groups: Muslim Social Scientists (AMSS), the Association of Muslim Scientists and Engineers (AMSE), and the Islamic Medical Association (IMA) Islamic Book Service (Muslim writings & videos), & Islamic Teach. Cent. (activist organiza- tion preparing workers with lectures, correspondance courses, & training camps (238)
– Recommended reading: Yusuf ‘Ali’s Qur’an, Malik’s Al-Muwatta, ‘Abd al-Ati’s Islam in Focus, and Abul A’la Mawdudi’s Towards Understanding Islam.
– MSA has $21 million building with 124 acres of land, for a mosque of 1500, and library of 80,000 volumes, in Plainfield, Indiana (near Indianapolis).
– MSA is N.America’s leading activist agency, the backbone of ISNA (241).
– “Long characterized by immaturity, American Muslims are now being co-ordinated and refined by an influx of indigenous converts to Islam and by the steadily-rising level of education of its leaders.” (244)
– Murrad wants U.S. as a “Muslims continent, teaching Islam in Public schools, on the Qur’anic Morality and Ethics, political and economic development” (245).
C Rabitat al-Alam al-Islami (The Muslim World League) (245-249)
Founded by the Saudi Arabian govt. in 1962, “to combat the influence of Nasser and Islamic Socialism.” (Haddad-Muslims in Canada).
– Low-church organization, dedicated to Da’wah in those countries where Islam is a minority religion.
– Functions: assists Islamic centers, youth camps, summer schools, provides teachers and imams, develops prison min., fellowships and grants for Univ. profes- sors, produces T.V. & radio programs, and Muslims newspapers (Sakr-Isl.conf.)
– Muhammad Ali al-Harakan felt World League was to “perform the obligation of jihad, to propagate Allah’s religion…” (248).
– League is moving more firmly into the activist camp (249).
D Sh’ite Organizations (Islamic societies of Georgia and Virginia (249-254)
– population of Shi’ites is quite small in U.S. Yasin T. Al-Jibouri from Atlanta was imam of the Islamic Center of Atlanta, until they found he was from the Jafari school of Law.
– Most Shi’ite converts are black in the U.S. Literature comes from Iran (World Organization for Islamic Services) and East Africa (Bilal Muslim Missions of Tanzania and Kenya).
– Much more politically oriented than that of Sunni’s, due to the inferiority complex inherent in minority groups (253).
E Islamic Circle of North America ICNA (Canada) (254-257)
– established in Montreal in 1971. It is a well-developed group, with evangelical intent (255). Put together Manual of Da’wah for Islamic Workers. Is poorly written, with bad grammar and style. Stresses Door-to-door canvassing.
F The Ahmadiyya (Non-Orthodox Organization) (257-262)
– Calls itself the “True Islam” but is seen as heretical by other Muslims.
– Founded by Ghulam Ahmad, born in 1839, to a well off family in Qadian, India.
– Had visions and dreams; that he was appointed mujaddid (renewer). By 1891 took on title of Khalifa, and saw himself as Christian’s Messiah and Hindu’s Krishna (258), thus was repudiated by other Muslims.
– Ahmad castigated both Christians and Muslims.
– His eccentric personality and teachings of Jihad were attractive to many. Holy War, he felt was wrong, and Islam was to preach “with reasoning and heavenly signs.” (Inniger, p.160)
– Ghulam Ahmad came to Chicago in 1920, with Mufti Muhammad Sadiq, borrowed freely strategies of Christians. As of 1981, there were 26 (jamaats-chap-ters), run from Pakistan, with missionaries serving 10 yrs. (Richardson, Islamic Cultures).
-7-year course for missionaries at Punjab univ., including: linguistics, world religions, contextualization, apologetics, mass media, doctrines. (261)
– Every adherent must give 1/16th of income, thus many frugal missionaries, using American strategies: “blitz” campaigns and city-wide evangeliz. programs (262)
G Other Para-Mosque Organizations and Strategies (262-270)
– Many Muslim Organizations fail to contextualize their message, giving cultural interests a higher priority than the interests of the Muslim community.
– “No Muslims organization or institution established in the West has made any serious effort to make a systematic study of the west in order to develop a meaningful dialogue with its leading institutions.”
– A lack of capable leaders, not well educated, either in religion or in secular culture, read no western books or newspapers, with views of the west from “literature which originated in their countries some 30-40 years ago.” (268)
– “Incompetency and lack of education of leaders, makes it unable to produce competent followers.”
– “The programs which do exist are said to consist of little more than recita- tions of verses from the Qur’an which are intended to inspire the aspiring worker to perform da’wah activity.”
– “There is a complete lack of self-evaluation on the part of Missionaries, and none of the organizations encourage criticism or discussion, due to feelings of inferiority. Thus one must assume para-mosque agencies are making very litte progress in their mission of bringing Islam to North America.” (269)
II Para-Mosque Strategies and Methodologies; Intro: (270-278)
– Want to define the strategies and methodologies of the “offensive-activist” Muslims involved in Da’wah in No. America.
– Only the Ahmadiyya movement borrows an evangelical approach of evangelism without apology for its ‘Moorish Temple Foundation.’
– By 1959, the Ahmadiyya had 500 converts, 30% orientals, 5-10% of Muslim extraction, the remaining negroes, and only 5-10% white.
– *”The chief appeal of the (Ahmadiyya) movement lay in its presentation of Islam as non-discriminatory with regard to race, as a simple and rational religion and as a viable alternative to Negroes dissatisfied with their treatment at the hands of Christian churches.” (274)
– “It is generally conceded among Sunni and Shi’ite groups that imitation of Christian practices is unacceptable for Muslim workers.”
– Islahi forbids borrowing because of a situation he knew of in India, in which a Muslim leader allegedly “adopted a christian practice in urging “Muslim whores” in Delhi to preach Islam to their non-Muslim customers.” (Islahi-Call to Islam, pg.13)
– Isma’il al-Faruqi prefers to adopt “lifestyle Evangelism”, so that it would attract the non-Muslims to Islam.
-Fathi Yakan is scathing in his denunciation of lifestyle concept, in that it “guarantees nothing, it is slow, and it has little effect, and is an aspect of the Christian missionary approach.” (Yakan, Isl.Move. p.111)
– Akbar Muhammad agrees but says: “American converts of Islam, who of necessity must experience some form of conversion, are infinitely more effective in their proselytization efforts than are those who boast Muslim parentage or ancestry…they seek to produce an experience in others which duplicates their own, and this lends an effectivety to their efforts which is not observable in the case of “lifestyle” advocates.” (Akbar Muhammad, Some factors…pg.41-43)
A “Lifestyle Evangelism” (278-289)
1) –Muhammad Imran says: “Take Islam to the West not by pulpit preaching or mailing Islamic literature, but by doing what Muslims ought to do, living, drinking, eating, sleeping and behaving as Muslims are enjoined to do.” (Imran,15)(presence)
– It is more comfortable, not necessary for the witness to actually confront a targeted individual, and thus run the risk of trauma or scorn, and rejection. (279)
– Yakan mentions: “the humble da’i is the one who lives together with the people, receives the people, speaks…visits…loves…serves…is bonded…and lives for others, not for himself…rejoices at the happiness of others.” (Yakan 45)
– Personal contact with a devout adherent of a religious faith is nearly always instrumental. (281)
– “In order to produce a witness that will pinpoint Islam as the root cause of one’s lifestyle orientation, some intellectual interaction must inevitably occur.”
-One must be aware of the doctrines of Tawhid and Muhammad, and have intel lectual contact before religious commitment can occur (proclamation-183).
2) -Some believe Muslim education is a middle approach between the two.
– Robert Crane advocates a “databank” where one could ask any question on politics, economics, law, morality etc.. and instantaneously receive an “Islamic” answer or solution. 20 “Ummatic Scholars” would work 20 years compiling the info.
– Islamic institutions must be established as alternatives to secular schools. Not to seperate Muslims from non-Muslims, but an invitation for all to receive info.
– Children would be exposed to Islamic teachings.
– Problem: whereas Catholic and Fundamental schools are an acceptable alternative in U.S., Islamic schools would not be. (289)
B Activistic Preaching (290-312)
aslama=submitting to Allah, kafara=refusing Allahs demands.
-Allal al-Fasi from Sura 16:125 draws 3 principles, the 2nd of which is: “gentle preaching with reasonable and acceptable ideas which will attract the people.”
– Islahi speaks of 7 principles for Da’is: a)begin with own people, b)quality greater than quantity, c)clear, self-evident, dignified and effective call, d)present arguments, e)exhibit uniformity, f)never be antagonistic, g)regard for the feelings of others (Islahi).
– Ahmadiyya’s are the most practiced in arranging seminars, and debates. Billy Graham refused to debate in early 70’s, “showing his cowardice” (294).
– Public halls are preferred, because general populace would come to them.
– Lectures and Seminars are shunned by non-Muslims.
Dialogues: 4 types: 1)Discursive dialogue=intellectual inquiry, with sympathy for each person’s position.
2)Human dialogue=stress on humanity of individuals, & the I-thou relation ship
3)Secular dialogue=recognition of man’s situation, and joint concern and action to rectify it.
4)Interior dialogue=emphasis on the mystical contemplative tradition, rather than intellectualization (296)
– According to the Islamic Circle, Da’is should: develop friendships, engage in dialogue, present concepts of Tawhid, prophethood of Muhammad, the Day of judgment, and explanations of the erroneous teachings of Christianity. (Manual of Da’wah,21)
– Steve Johnson believes dialogues should include diverse Christian groups to show the diversity of Christianity vs. the unity of Islam. (Johnson Pg.21)
– Muhammad Khurshid is against dialogue because its very spirit is not to unravel truth, but to create a myriad of confusion and enigma. He believes “nothing short of direct, confrontational preaching is acceptable…because according to the rules of propriety, (in a dialogue) the da’i must relinquish the freedom to preach which is his by right of Allah’s appointment of the Muslim ‘ummah, to be “witnesses” unto mankind. A Muslim does not bandy words with unbelievers; “his sole aim is to convince any and every person of the Truth.” (Kurshid)
– Door-to-door is not acceptable, as it invades privacy, not cold-turkey, but visiting other Muslims by appointment. (300)
– Maryam Jameelah (American convert) feels Small study circles in private homes, especially for women, with their close female friends and small children is an option.
– Offensive-activists are only a small fraction of the Muslim population, because evangelism is perceived as 1)a violation of the Qur’an’s non-compulsion directive, and 2) difficult due to the inability of speaking English by many Muslims who are the most active (new immigrants-those contrasting the spiritual atmosphere of their homes, and the religious poverty of the west). (301)
– Youth camps and summer schools also advocated, but for other Muslims.
Prison Ministries are highly effective, as prisoners are technically a “displaced people” & therefore more susceptible to religious transformation. The Islamic Teaching Center, in 1981, contacted 4,000 inmates in 310 prisons, and enrolled more than 500 in Islamic Correspondance courses.
– Black Muslim movement “had been criticized for its heretical tendencies and that Blacks commonly viewed Islam as something other than merely a personal faith to be adopted in pietistic fashion (303). It appeals to blacks by presenting Islam as an African religion and therefore the Black Man’s religion, in contrast to Christianity, identified with the White man, oppressive, and the originator of the ‘darkie slave’ phenomenon. (304)
– In 1974, suggestion was made to study foreign missionary techniques to establish Islamic broadcasting stations.(305)
– Literature is used by all the groups to further Islam and their causes.
C Contextualization Struggle (312-320)
Muslims have been negligent in studying the west
Rashid Al-Ghanoushi states: “Islamic literature needs to transcend the stage of idealsim..which does not go beyond generalizations whose relationship to the environment of da’wah hardly varies from place to place or from one age to another…rendering Islamic ideology an empty or vacuous form, with no basis in actual facts” (Ghanoushi,p.13)
– He believes this neglect is fear of bida’, the introduction of Islamic heresy.
-Sharafuddin Murghani suggests they “observe the Sufis, who are a major force behind conversion to Islam in Britain…and that to understand people, one must either rule them or get right into their culture for long time.” (Murghani-p.46)
– Both Islahi and Khurshid stress the need to address Da’wah to the influential people, who will in turn reform the common people.
– Fathi Yakan disagrees, believing it must be done among the poor (317-318)
D 100% Mobilization of the Muslim “Umma” (320-323)
All Muslims are responsible, but not all can be involved to the same degree. 3 categories: 1)those who have the best abilities, 2)whose abilities hover between strength and weakness, and 3)those whom natural abilities appear non-existent.
E Dilemna of the People of the Book (Christians and Jews) for Da’wah
Qur’an is ambivalent on this issue.
– Musa Qutub: “Da’wah should not be to the people of the book, but rather to “those who have gone astray.” (324)
-The Ahmadiyya, interpret Sura 46:28 as indicative that Islam was meant to prevail over all other religions.
– Muzzamil Siddiqui concurs, stating that “the People of the Book are kafirun, and that Muslims are therefore obligated to perform da’wah among them.” (325)
Ahmad Shafaat studied Christian Missionary methods and wrote about it in his Missionary Christianity and Islam. Shows Muslims what Christians do, by examining missionary manuels, answering the assertions point by point. Focuses on doctrine of abrogation (that it is in Bible as well), and the true concept of God (as being only monotheistic). (Shafaat,p.5)
-Materials for training Da’is are inadequate, using archaic suggestions, and misunderstanding Christian theology, with flaws on the treatment of Protestantism.
G Issue of Leadership
Muslim leaders in the west are not well-read in Western literature or culture.
Khurshid: “Whoever found himself thrown out of the world of competition and endeavor, became satisfied by becoming the imam of a local masjid and kept on beating about the bush, with no vision and without knowledge.” (Khurshid,pg.32)
– Leadership based on the following of Islamic principles and ideals is flawed because principles and ideals must be both created and modelled by exemplary individuals if they are to have a lasting effect. (336)
Robert Crane suggests a solution would be to design an Islamically-formed educational system. (336)
– 3 options: 1)using immigrants who were trained in their own country. But are they willing to serve, have practical experience in Da’wah, and do they acculturate to U.S. easily? 2)utilize visiting lecturers, but do they understand English, and know how to acculturate the message to U.S.? 3)send American Muslims overseas, but there is lack of volunteers, language difficulties, problems of adjustment, and inapplicability of teaching methods for the American situation.
III Contemporary Apologetics: The Literature of Proselytization
– Muslims almost exclusively rely on the printed word, and so have produced an imposing array of literary works. But, they have not come up with the number of tracts and small booklets which Christian evangelicals use for their “plan of salvation”. The Literature used by the da’is is necessarily more intricate since in Islam “Salvation” is not obtained by following a three or four step formula, as is done in evangelical Christiandom. (340)
– Most books are by Hasan al-Banna’, Abul A’la Mawdudi, and Khurram Murad.
–3 booklets for New Muslims by Mawdudi:
1)Towards Understanding Islam, an explanation of the 5 pillars.
2)Islam: An Historical Perspective, a panoramic view of history by Muslims,
3)What Islam Stands for, a continuation of the former, with a view of Islam as being universalitic and holistic. These three are geared for the new convert, and not non-believers.
–3 writings for seekers:
1)“Islam at a Glance”, emphasizing Islam as the only true religion, explaining 5 pillars, the Qur’an, hadith and Tawhid.
2)“Ten unique features of Islam”: a)the only religion given its name by its prophet, b)the only religion with any sense or outlook on life, c)the only religion with a multi-purpose institution (mosque) for religious, social, educational and political community needs, d)the only religion with divine and democratic institu- tions, e)the only religious book (Q ur’an) which was unaltered, f)the prophet Muhammad, alone has a historical significance, g)the only religion which gives a platform from which to overthrow oppressive powers, h)the only religion with plain & simple teachings, and i)there are no large-scale defections in its history (345)
-all claims are debatable, some quite false.
–*”What the Muslim authors have failed to do is deal adequately with Protestantism, which is the more influential sect on the North American continent. The Christianity being opposed here is in the main, Roman Catholicism. Many of the “unique features” would not appear unique at all to a Protestant.” (346)
3)The Islamic Correspondance Course: 11 unit study of basic principles of Islam, 247 pages, with lots of doctrine and history, of most value to a new convert.
– Ahmad Shafaat writes The Gospel According to Islam, about the 93 verses about Jesus, showing Muhammad as the messenger of God denied by Christians (Shafaat-intro)
-Ahmad Deedat, born in Gujarat, raised in Durban, South Africa, had discussions with missionaries of evangelical American mission there, and set about to answer their questions.
-In 1958 founded the Islamic Propagation center, which puts out books and videos to combat Christian proselytization. His main encounters, and much of his literature deals with Jehovahs Witnesses, and 7th Day Adventists and Worldwide Church of God.
-Deedats successor is Yusuf Buckas, a young South African lawyer.
– “The IPC aims not at the scholarly Christian who is familiar with the argu- ments against the inspiration and authority of the Scriptures and the Deity of Christ, but rather those who are not deeply grounded in their faith and to the uncommitted.” (352)
IV The Anti-Christian Polemic
“The concept of the ‘ahl al-dhimma (protected persons, usually used as a synonym for ‘ahl al-kitab) grew out of a situation in which Islam was a superior ideology by right of conquest. This is not the case in the contemporary world in which Islam, despite the fact that its adherents constitute a fifth of the world’s population, holds a position of a minority as well as being inferior with respect to the West in matters of technology and economic and social development.” (353)
“Many of the most recent works attack Christian missionary activity as being politically oriented; it is generally believed that Christians seek to dominate Muslims politically, economically and culturally as well as religiously. The idea of a purely spiritual motive for proselytization does not appear to have credence and this is not difficult to understand, given the traditional inability on the part of Muslims to divide between the spiritual and material realms. Missionary endeavors are interpreted…under the concept of Jihad, but the term used is “crusaders”, a continuation of the medieval incursions of Europeans into the Middle East in the 15th century, with aims at the total annihilation of Islam as a world religion.” (355-356)
– Examples of this are seen in Samuel Zwemers writings: “…before we can establish Christianity in the hearts of Muslims we must destroy (hadama) Islam in their souls…the destruction of Islam in the soul of a Muslim implies the destruction of the religion in general.” (Al-Jindi,p.27) (356)
-“Zwemer can therefore speak of ‘the destruction of the religion in general’ and mean only the religion, but to the Muslim this would be tantamount to annihilation of his external environment.” (357)
-Therefore Zwemers “destruction of the religion in general” implies for a Muslim that which the term “holocaust” today connotes for a Jew.
– Many Muslims reiterate commonly that Paul, and not Jesus, was the actual founder of the Christian religion, and came up with ideas such as the trinity, the crucifixion, the resurrection. (Ahmad Deedat, Cruci-fiction, p.1)
– Thus Hasan Al-Banna’ felt that “the missionary…was the major ‘agent’ of cultural imperialism.” (358)
– Maryam Jameelah writes against Westernization and Christianity in her book Islam Versus Ahl al-Kitab (see pp.398-399 =how Jesus would reject x-tianity and choose Islam when he returns). She has no academic credentials, but popular (361)
– Ahmad Deedat receives $10,000 renumeration, has vitriolic style. Says in his “Roman Catholicism” brochure-1985 “Now, for the conquest of Britain for Islam” (363)
– Is critical of recent missiological strategies, calling Josh Mcdowell “sick”, for whom “every trick in the bag is permissible to clinch a convert for christ” (Deedat-Crucifiction,p.76). Tells readers to: “take the wind out of the mission- aries’ sail. You can CRACK HIS SKULL, exactly as young David…did.” (Cruci-p.59)
– Notice Deedats use of words to describe missionaries: “…merciless mission- ary punched the wind out of the Muslim with snide remarks…the hot gospeller, the door to door peddler of Christianity and the shameless insulter of Islam…I humbly undertook…from the assaults of Christians.” (Deedat-Bible God’s, p.62)
Ata’ullah Siddiqi in his “Islam and Missions” criticizes the missionaries contextual approach as less honest when they call themselves “followers of Isa”, and churches as “Masjid Isa”, hoping to fool the Muslims (364).
Chapter IV: The Dynamics of Conversion to Islam
I Religious Conversion: The Traditional Western Paradigm (pgs.367-394)
I Conversion to Christianity
William James, James H.Leuba, and Edwin Starbuck all led the field in research in conversion.
– Starbuck administered a questionnaire to 192 converts in the 19th cent.,
72 males and 120 females, and found that primarily adolescents were converted at the ages of 13-14 for females and 16 for males, with the conclusion that “the frequency of conversions correspond with the periods of bodily growth for both males and females (puberty).” (368)
– At adolescence, individuals are forming a world and life view, as well as an identity. Two things must happen: 1)one must experience a sense of incompleteness or wrongness concerning one’s life in general, and 2)there must be a positive ideal which one desires to attain. In addition both of these must be expressed in religious tenets (i.e. sin and righteousness repectively). (370)
– Starbuck points to 2 types of conversion:
1) “volitional”, conscious and voluntary, the end product of a reasoned
and thoughtful search.
2) “spontaneous”, involuntary and unconscious, a self-surrender, or an
emotional experience. (a pseudo-solution for some, most likely to
occur in neurotic, prepsychotic or psychotic persons, according to
Salzman (Salzman 177-187)
F.J. Roberts in 1965 studied 43 theology students, 23 of whom had sudden conversions. Found that those from Christian backgrounds were more neurotic than those who converted from outside, due to the parental pressure they felt. (374)
– John Lofland and Rodney Stark explained a form of reverse psychology in conversion: “individuals would relinquish a more widely-held perspective for an unknown, obscure and often socially devalued one.” Conversion thus became a form of protest against familial or social conditions deemed to be less than ideal.
– Reasons for conversion were: an experience of tension, the feeling that con- ventional methods for solving problems weren’t good enough, so alternatives were sought; believing they were pilgrims, seekers, at a turning point, came to make a decision, at which time relationships were established which attracted them towards that decision, while negative factors (sometimes relationships) pushed them away from their roots, and intensive interaction was had with the new group (377).
– Some believe the above is only an escape mechanism.
Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman talk of “snapping” for spontaneous conversion.
Characteristics of Conversion:
1)Integration factor-people choosing a religious grid to make sense of their problems and difficulties around them.
2)During Adolescence is when the most occured, as this is the period during which individuals are most intensely involved in constructing a world and life-view as well as forming a personsl identity. It is only logical to expect that the highest rate of conversions will take place during the time when the struggle to integrate reaches its peak intensity (387).
3)It happens during a time of Personal Stress or anxiety. In the U.S. only 10-30% experience some form of religious conversion, and for the majority of these it apparently is a satisfactory experience. The attrition rate of religious converts is actually quite low. (Starbuck p.360).
4)Interprsonal relationships are important in the conversion process, especially those who have themselves been converted. This can be a positive rela- tionship with them or a negative reaction against the group they are coming out of.
5)Conscious Motivational Factors are influential at the time of conversion:
a)fears= an insecurity concerning life in general.
b)Self-regarding motives= a desire for status, or to enter the ministry, or see a loved one in heaven.
c)altruistic motives= desire to be a part of a religion based on ethic, love, sacrifice.
d)Following out a moral ideal.
e)Remorse for and Conviction of Sin.
f)Response to Teaching=an intellectual or rational decision.
g)Example and Imitation= the influence of family, relatives, or peers.
h)Urging and social Pressure= more direct than the above. (390-391)
– Thus, a western convert to Christianity can be one who: is between 12-18 years, usually a female, one who has grappled to integrate internal and external factors impinging on their life, resulting in stress, whereupon they have looked to a religious solution, which is found in a relationship with another individual of like mind. The final commitment could be spontaneous or gradual, and may be attributable to one or more of the above motivational factors. (393)
II Conversion to Islam (pgs.394-443)
Muslim literature is poor in recording conversion to Islam. Most of the conversion which are recorded do not emphasize supernatural phenomena, because Muslims believe propositional tenets of his faith are self-evident. Thus the focus of his proselytization is the proclamation of these tenets.
Nehemiah Levtzion, a convert to Islam questions whether or not conversions during the early history of the Islam were forced by the mujahidun, and concludes that this was rarely the case. (395) He showed the importance of traders and Sufi’s for its spread.
Richard Bulliet felt ‘Individual conversion would be true “conversion” while the communal phenomenon would be considered “adhesion.”‘ (Bulliet, p.4)
A Research Methodology (Postons Questionnaire)
– Must note that a “typical” western convert to Islam differed significantly from that of the “typical” religious convert.
– Poston put together 4-page questionnaire, sent out a general letter to 20 Muslim (offensive-activist) organizations, but only 8 organizations were agreeable. 136 questionnaires were distributed, but only 10 were returned (7%), due to suspicion, because he wasn’t a Muslim. Personally gave out 15 questionnaire at a conference, but only 2 were returned (401).
– Islamic Horizons offered to publish the questionnaire in its Jan.-Feb. 1988 issue, 15 answers came back but were not released to the author (402).
– Thus Poston sought to peruse written accounts (60), and put together a composit of 70 converts: U.S. (32=46%) and foreign (38=54%) responses (28=British). 49 (70%) were male and 21 (30%) were female.
– Yvonne Haddad claimed that in 1982- 5,000 individuals of European background had converted to Islam, but gave no documentation for this figure (405).
B Results of the Study
 Male-female ratios (405-410)
– In the study, of the 70 respondants 49 were males and 21 females. While Christianity is characterized as appealing mainly to women and children, Islamic studies indicate that men are attracted as much as or perhaps more so than women.
Why more males are attracted than females:
1) It is a male dominated religion.
2) Women are to be veiled and in seclusion.
3) Womens attendance is not required at mosques functions.
4) They are excluded from from official positions of leadership.
5) The Muslim male emphasis on virility and masculinity.
6) The media protrays Muslim women as veiled, secluded, uneducated and little
more than a material possession of the male. (407)
– In Europe, more males were converted to Islam then females, while in the U.S. it was about equal. This is due to 3 reasons: a) Women in America are found to adhere in greater proportions to all expressions of faith, b) Some women have reacted negatively to the feminist movement, and c) American women are less opposed to marryiung Muslim men, which nearly always involves conversion to Islam.
– Concerning marrying for reasons of marriage: Ghayur found in U.S. 90% are females who married Muslims, and so converted. Henningsson found the same in Europe. Haddad found, however, that converts are generally U.S. men who have married Muslim women. (411)
 Dissatisfaction with Christianity: (410-412)
– Most common reasons were: 1) “irrationality of the concept of Trinity, 2) the doctrine of transubstantiation, 3) the disappointment that Christianity couldn’t speak to modern social issues, and 4) it’s exclusivistic claims.
 Age for rejection and Conversion: (412-416)
– The average age of conversion for a Muslim convert is 31.4 years (U.S.=29 years, Europe=33.7) (John Renard: “Understanding the World of Islam,p.207). The age of rejection of Christianity was 16.8, thus a “Moratorium period” of 14 years, where they were experimenting with other beliefs, was noticed (412).
– “Whereas in a Christian context, conversion is at ages 15-16 for maximal commitment, followed by a period of “backsliding”, when they look for financial security, then followed by renewal to religious values later on, the convert to Islam rejects completely their natal religion, followed a Moratorium period of 14 years, during which other spiritual options are explored, and then a final conversion to Islam in the late 20s to early 30s. There appears to be little backsliding on the parts of Muslim convers.” (415-416)
 What does one do to become a Muslim? (416-427)
– Testimonies are usually silent on this issue.
– Some believe it is through a private conversation with a friend, or a public recitation of the Shahadah (“There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is His messenger”). Others felt they had always been Muslims, and so now are reverting.
– Conversion did not involve an upheavel: 69 of the 70 converted over time, as a process, rather then as a “spontaneous” experience. Not an emotional reaction, no crisis; no sense of desperation. They were fully conscious, making careful examinations and considerations of alternatives; by means of conversations with Muslims, reading the Qur’an, and journeying to Muslims lands.
– Islamic conversion, differs from Christian conversions. They are ‘conversions of the head’ (the intellect) not ‘conversions of the heart’ (emotions). (421)
– The overwhelming majority experienced no crisis, which may be attributable to their age, being beyond the stresses which accompany adolescence. (421)
– 60% of converts mentioned the influence of a Muslim friend in their decision.
 The attraction of Islam: (428-441)
– Some saw the only hope for uniting mankind & creating equality was in Islam.
– Many found a haven in the “strictness” of the new faith.
– 18% considered Islamic morality to be the significant factor for conversion, yet only 5% of Europeans mentioned this (due to conservative U.S. environment).(429)
– Only 1 of the 70 felt sin was a factor for conversion. Many felt they were not sinful, that the doctrine of original sin was repulsive, and so, were attracted to Islam’s view of the innate goodness of man.
– Some stated that while family and friends attempted to understand and accept, they could not comprehend the reasons for the decision. (Benjelloun. pg.6)
-42 of the 70 mentioned that individuals had influenced their decision. So, a pietistic lay witness (low-church) is the key to spreading Islam in the west (441).
– “The Response to Islamic Teachings” was the chief motivating factor (52 out of 70 converts=74%), which made Islam qualitatively superior.
1) Simplicity (20%), much less complicated and easier to explain, just Shaha dah and 5 pillars; no baptism, catechism, or complicated traditions. Christianity was corrupted and syncretistic, while Islam was preserved in its original form (434)
2) Rational (20%), strictly in harmony with reason and science, not irra tional like x-tianity (i.e.=trinity, incarnation, resurrection, transubstantiation)
3) Tawhid (the oneness of God)
4) Brotherhood of Man (20%) Almost all Europeans mentioned this, while not a single American male did so. Felt, also that Islam had positive stand on social justice and racial equality.
5) This-worldly focus, (19%). Provides a solution to the acute needs of human society, answering all of mans problems, and bringing in the Kingdom now.
6) Lack of Priesthood (9%). No medial agents, that the believer can go directly to God.
A typical Muslim convert:
An individual, who after deliberately rejecting their parents religion at age 16-17, after pursuing religious alternatives for 6 or more years, makes a commitment to Islam in late 20’s or early 30’s, after considerable intellectual, rather than emotional thought, as well as contact with another Muslim, due to aspects of Islamic doctrine, which are found appealing.
Chapter V: The Future of Da’wah in the West
– Expansion of Islam in the U.S. is more like a trickle than a torrent. It makes up not even 2% of the U.S. population. The majority of Muslims continue to be assimilated into their secularized environments. Offensive-activist organizations are increasing in size, but are small, disorganized, poorly staffed, and funded.
– “Only 1/5 of U.S. Muslims participate actively in a mosque.” (Haddad,p.75)
– “In pluralistic America the one who is most forceful in his presentation gains the most publicity and, hence, the greatest number of converts.” (444)
– Over the years ethnic concerns were given priority rather than matters which involved the ‘umma as a whole. (447)
Kerry Lovering (publications secretary of SIM) in 1979 wrote: “Christianity…has failed miserably…it is now Islam that ofers salvation from the drunkenness, sexual license, political corruption, violence, blasphemy and corrupt lifestyles that afflict ‘Christian’ nations.” (Lovering, p.6)
Martin Marty speaks about certain traits which have been ingrained into the American ethos which will stay. Islam can answer many of these quite well:
1) Pluralism and Experimentalism: generic traits, the willingness of Americans to both seek and practice spiritual alternatives. Islam will thus be assured of a hearing, if it proclaims its distinctive elements.
2) Scripturalism: adherence to a written revelation. The Qur’an as the revelation of God accords this distinctive.
3) The Enlightenment thinking of ‘Reason’: Islam has a viable alternative for those repulsed by the emotional emphasis of contemporary Christianity.
4) Voluntaryism: the view that the Church or institution should be supported by voluntary contributions rather than the state. Islam is lay led in the U.S., and thus should be attractive in this area. (Marty, Religion and Republic, pp.36-48)
– But, changes must be had for the Muslims to gain on these traits:
a) Islam in the U.S. must develope an indigenous leadership, or else it will retain a distinctly foreign character, which will inhibit its growth. (451)
b) New converts to Islam must stop adopting an Arabic name upon conversion.
c) Much seek to change the stereotypical image of Islam as consisting mainly of Iranian and Libyan terrorists, Black activists, and male chauvanists.
d) The anti-Christian polemic must cease, as such attacks serve to increase the interest of nominal Christians in the precepts of their faith.
e) Unity, as envisioned by Muslims, is a vain pursuit, and best abandoned. The diversity of the Muslim world will have to be accepted, much like HUP principle.
f) Khurram Murads low-church missiological approach must be expanded and continually developed. Muslim laymen must be mobilized.
Dr. Abdel-Halim Mahmoud: “We cannot deny that U.S. Muslims might one day try to replace the Constitution with Shari’a law.” (Lovering,p.6)
Isma’il al-Faruqi: “The Islamic vision endows No.Am. with a new destiny worthy of it. For this renovation of itself, of its spirit, for its rediscovery of a God-given mission and self-dedication to its pursuit, the continent cannot but be grate- ful to the immigrant with Islamic vision. It cannot but interpret his advent on its shores except as a God-given gift, a timely divine favor & mercy.” (Faruqi-p.270)
Musa Qutub: “The people of the West (U.S.) will assist (in spreading) the Truth when the Hour comes.” (Sahih Muslim, Bab al-Imara 177). (455)
Benjelloun, Amina, “Why I am a Muslim,” Islamic Horizons, September 1984, p.6
Braden, Charles S. “Islam in America”, International Review of Mission, XLVIII (July 1959): 309
Bulliet, Richard. Conversion to Islam in the Medieval Period, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1979
Deedat, Ahmad, Crucifixion or Crici-fiction?, Durban, S.A.: Islamic Propagation Centre, 1984
Deedat, Ahmad, Is the Bible God’s Word?, Durban, S.A.: Islamic Propagation Center, 1980
Donahue, John J. and Esposito, John L., eds. Islam in Transition, N.Y.: Oxford University Press, 1982
Al-Faruqi, Isma’il Raji, ” Islamic Ideals in North America,” In The Muslim Community in North America. Edited by Earle Waugh et al. Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 1983
Al-Ghanoushi, Rashid. “What We Need is a Realistic Fundamentalism.” Arabia: The Islamic world Review, October 1986: 13-15
Haddad, Yvonne Yazbeck. “Muslims in Canada: A Preliminary Study.” In Religion and Ethnicity, pp.71-100. Edited by Harold Coward and Leslie Kawamura. Waterloo: Wilfred Laurier Univ. Press, 1978
Haider, Gulzar. “Canadian Saturdays, Pakistani Sundays.” Whole Earth Review, (Winter 1985):38
Hathout, Maher. “Muslim Americans’ Dilemna: A Response.” Arabia: The Islamic World Review, July 1987, p.47.
Imran, Maulana Muhammad. Importance of Da’wah (Tabligh) in Islam. Lahore, M. Siraj-ud-Din and Sons, 1976
Inniger, Merlin W. “The Ahmadiya Movement: Islamic Renewal?” In Dynamic Religious Movements. Edited by David J. Hesselgrave. Grand Rapids; Baker Book House, 1978
Islahi, Amin Ahsan. Call to Islam and How the Holy Prophets Preached, Kuwait: Islamic Book Publishers, 1978
Al-Jindi, Anwar. Afaq Jadida lil-Da’wah al-Islamiyya fi ‘Alam al-Gharb. Beirut: Mu’assasa al-Risala, 1984
Johnson, Steve, Da’wah to Americans: Theory and Practice (Plainfield: Islamic Society of North America, 1984), p.21
Khurshid, Muhammad. Da’wah in Islam. Houston: Islamic Education Council, n.d.
Levtzion, Nehemia. “Toward a Comparative Study of Islamization”, In Conversion to Islam, pp.1-23. Edited by Nehemia Levtzion. N.Y.: Holmes and Meier Publishers, Inc., 1979
Lovering, Kerry. “Tough at Home, Aggressive Abroad: Islam on the March,” Muslim World Pulse, August 1979. p.6
Manual of Da’wah for Islamic Workers. Montreal: Islamic Circles of No. America, 1983
Marty, Martin E. Religion and Republic (Boston: Beacon Press, 1987), pp.36-48
“MSA and Family Builds in the U.S.”, Arabia: The Islamic World Review, May 1983, p.63
Muhammad, Akbar, “Some Factors which Promote and Restrict Islamization in America”, American Journal of Islamic Studies (August 1984): 41-43
Murad, Khurram Jah. Da’wah Among Non-Muslims in the West. London: The Islamic Foundation, 1986
Murad, Khurram Jah. Islamic Movement in the West. London: Islamic Foundation, 1981
Murad, Khurram Jah. “Third opportunity to Keep Islam in the West.” Islamic Horizons, November 1986, p.10
Murghani, Sheikh Sharafuddin. “When In Rome…” Arabia: The Islamic World Review, May 1987, p.46
Mawdudi, Abul A’la, Witnesses Unto Mankind: The Purpose and Duty of the Muslim Ummah, ed. and trans. Khurram Murad (Leicester: The Islamic Foundation, 1986)
Neill, Stephen. A History of Christian Missions. N.Y.: Penguin Books, 1964
Peters, Rudolph. Islam and Colonialism: The Doctrine of Jihad in Modern History. N.Y.: Mouton Publishers, 1979
Renard, John “Understanding the World of Islam,”, America October, 20, 1979
Richardson, E.Allen. Islamic Cultures in North America N.Y.: The Pilgrim Press, 1981
Sahih Muslim, Bab al-Imara 177
Sakr, Ahmad, Proceedings of the First Islamic Conference of North America. N.Y.: Muslim World League, 1977, pp.62-63
Salzman, Leon, “The psychology of Religious and Ideological Conversion,” Psychiatry (May 1953): 177-187)
Shafaat, Ahmad. The Gospel According to Islam, (N.Y.: Vantage Press, 1979)
Shafaat, Ahmad. Missionary Christianity and Islam (2 Volumes) Montreal: Nur Media Services, 1982, I,p.5
Starbuck, Edwin D., The Psychology of Religion (N.Y.: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1900)
Whaling, Frank. “A Comparative Religious Study of Missionary Transplantation in Buddhism, Christianity and Islam.” International Review of Mission LXX (October 1981): 314ff.
Yakan, Fathi. Islamic Movement: Problems and Perspectives. Indianapolis; American Trust Publications, 1984