A Pakistani immigrant and an convert to Islam of Christian European origins have teamed up to find and record the testimonies of twenty-eight converts (starting with the junior editor's own). This first half of Sun is Rising in the West is original and valuable; the second half consists only of a reprinted chapter and introductory materials for new Muslims. A number of patterns stand out from the testimonies. "Euro-American Muslims" (i.e., whites) usually discover Islam via a spouse or at the tail end of a long religious search that encompasses much reading and experimentation; curiously, in more than a few cases, these latter first become a Sufi, without realizing that Sufism "has anything to do with Islam." For African-American Muslims, the usual path is via the Nation of Islam. In both cases, it is striking to see how often the existence of an Islamic infrastructure (mosques, books, Internet user groups and sites, missionary activities) is critical to the process of conversion.
If whites frequently find their world "turned upside down" on becoming Muslim, blacks usually fit into an existing set of institutions and find the change far less radical. This makes the barrier to conversion for the former much higher. Converts often meet with a cool reception from immigrants and are known to return to their birth religions; one reason for this reversion is family rejection of Islam. In response, converts disdain the immigrants' lack of piety, criticizing them for giving up their strict religious practices in favor of "the pursuit of wealth in America." Most converts agree that America's allegedly terrible moral circumstances render it "ripe and ready" for Islam; some say this time is nothing less than American Islam's "golden moment" (implying that if this opportunity is lost, it may not come again).
Related Topics: Converts to Islam, Muslims in the United States
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