Source: The Conversation
The process of conversion to any religion is best thought of as a journey, and this is how it is often described to others by those who undergo it. While conversion happens in many faiths, conversion to Islam has been suggested as a significant factor in some acts of extreme violence. But what evidence is this based on and what does conversion actually entail?
Conversion to Islam sees non-Muslims take on new religious identities, adopt new beliefs and practices, and learn to live as Muslims who gradually become accepted by others. Technically speaking, it isn’t necessary to “convert” to Islam, as according to Islamic teaching all people are born Muslim; it is more a case of reverting to one’s true identity and submitting to Allah.
In the modern world, the focus is often on individual conversion. However, in a recent guide we produced on conversion in Islam, we point out that this hasn’t always been the case. In the past whole populations converted at once, for economic, political or social reasons.
The best known part of this process is repeating the shahadah three times. The shahadah is a phrase that proclaims “there is no God but God and Muhammad is His messenger”. This pronouncement normally takes place in public, in front of other Muslims. As the testimonies of converts show, however, this is part of a longer process of religious learning and socialisation in which new and existing relationships have to be negotiated.