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Why Islam wins converts

Reader comment on item: Islamists Respond to Michael Jackson's Death

Submitted by GeorgeP (United States), Jul 9, 2009 at 02:58

Dear Dr Pipes: You often print articles about various people's feigned, real or rumored conversions to Islam. Muslims brag that theirs is the fastest growing religion in the world. A lot of non-Muslims lament how such a violent religion can win so many converts. I as a student of Islamic phenomenon will try to explain why Muslims win so many converts. Some of these reasons are negative but many others are positive (non-Muslims should pay serious attention to the latter).

I will first mention the negatives. These reasons are mentioned often and so I will be brief.

Relentless pressure: In societies where they have sizeable majority, Muslims impose relentless pressures on non-Muslims. This pressure can come in terms of school bullying, job discrimination, violence against churches of other religions, quick and ruthless violence (as in western China recently), and stubborn adherence to their beliefs (right or wrong). The last part is very important. You will find diverse views about who caused the violence in western China among non-Muslim observers of China but only a rare --very rare-- Muslim will find Muslim Chinese responsible for the violence.

Prohibition against preaching of non-Islamic religions in Islamic states: This is well known. Even the Pope has requested Muslim countries to allow non-Islamic missionary activities in their nations.

Unsymmetrical marriage laws and stigma against apostasy: When two people fall in love, a Muslim is not free to convert. In general, free thinking is not encouraged much in Muslim societies (especially when it comes to questioning thire religion).

Amalgamation of church and state: A Muslim ruler is obligated to create an Islamic state.

Petro-dollars: Petro dollars can finance many Islamic proselytizers.

The above are the bad reasons behind the current spread of Islam but there are many good reasons as well. I think non-Muslim religious leaders of all religions should pay serious attention to these:

When someone converts, Muslims do not question their intentions: As you pointed out, Michael Jackson for all his faults now is a darling of the Islamists. It does not matter whether the rumors about his conversion are true or false. It also does not matter how he conducted himself before or after his rumored conversion. Muslims are interested in numbers -- if they get a convert we will take him. On the other hand what do non-Muslims do? Take the case of President Obama. Thousands of people in the country --including you-- are trying to prove that Obama is a Muslim. If this process continues the way it is going, Obama may become first US ex-president to take shahada -- we will make him a Muslim even if he currently is not.

Attachment to the traditions: There is a need in all human beings to attach to their traditions and feel pride in those traditions. Traditions and culture provide an anchor to the human soul. Many of people's traditions come to them through their religions. As most of the modern world moves away from religions and toward secular ethics (or no ethics at all), it also divorces itself from its traditions. These anchorless people often find their anchors in Islam. There is nothing wrong in secular ethics. The core of all religions is the same. While all others deny this core, Muslims claim themselves to be their sole proprietors. Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and Christians should not try to prove which of their religions is best. We should find the commonality and build a base around that. Such a religion will be the religion of the modern men (and women). Some day even enlightened Muslims will join this movement.

Emphasis on the moral values: In the modern times only Catholics and Muslims are talking about morals. If you search for the word 'duty', disproportionately many Muslim sites will rise to the top. Many converts in the western world end up finding emphasis on good values in Islam. Who else is talking about being your brother's keeper in the current times?

This point is very important. When you hear someone say that the religion of the violent Muslim terrorists is not the true Islam, they might be telling the honest truth as they see it. Muslims violate their religion's dictums but do not question them.

Only Muslims are trying to convert: Christian evangelical and missionary effort is probably stronger than the Islamic missionary effort, but Christian missionaries have lost their credibility. Many times evangelists will indulge in wrong things for the wrong reason but more often they will even do the right things for the wrong reason. A lot of Islamic missionary effort --including when a Muslim tries to convert his friends-- is honest in the proselytizer's mind.

It is important to know what is working for those who are on the other side of your fence. That is why this article.

Submitting....

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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