Source: Pew Research Center
BY BESHEER MOHAMED AND ELIZABETH PODREBARAC SCIUPAC
Among those who have converted to Islam, a majority come from a Christian background. In fact, about half of all converts to Islam (53%) identified as Protestant before converting; another 20% were Catholic. And roughly one-in-five (19%) volunteered that they had no religion before converting to Islam, while smaller shares switched from Orthodox Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism or some other religion.
When asked to specify why they became Muslim, converts give a variety of reasons. About a quarter say they preferred the beliefs or teachings of Islam to those of their prior religion, while 21% say they read religious texts or studied Islam before making the decision to switch. Still others said they wanted to belong to a community (10%), that marriage or a relationship was the prime motivator (9%), that they were introduced to the faith by a friend, or that they were following a public leader (9%).
In recent years, the number of American Muslims has been growing steadily, by around 100,000 annually. But the fact that the shares of people who enter and leave Islam are roughly equal suggests that conversions to and from the faith are having little impact on the group’s overall growth.