Before Converting to Islam
Converting to a religion is not a decision that should be taken without thoroughly examining information from all points of view. People may convert to a religion or decide to be an agnostic or an atheist.
Many converts to Islam claim to have seen the light and believe that Islam is the one and only true religion. Muslims welcome these new converts and encourage them to share their stories on the internet, magazines, and television. They are often featured on various Muslim media outlets to demonstrate that Islam's appeal reaches further than simply those who are born into the faith. To Muslims these new converts are proof that Islam is the truth.
Why People Convert to Islam
First it is important to understand why some people convert to Islam. There can be many scenarios in which a person can decide to convert to Islam. In most cases, people convert to Islam after hearing or seeing something that impressed them, while knowing very little about the faith itself, as there is no tradition in Islam of being well-versed in its laws and beliefs before taking one's "Shahadah" or Islamic oath. At times someone may meet a Muslim they like and fall in love with and if the person doesn't convert to Islam and the Muslim insists on the conversion in order for the relationship to continue, usually the person takes the path of least resistance, gives in and converts to Islam without caring to investigate what they are getting into. Sometimes a person may feel lonely in society and may be seeking some kind of inner peace and they might be attracted to the attention given to converts from Islam. Or they might have met some Muslims and were impressed or inspired by their personality at a time they were questioning their current religion or the direction of their current life. The real reasons for conversion may be unknown even to the convert themselves and they'll try to justify the conversion to themselves and others by giving some other reasons.
|Former Muslim||Reason for Conversion to Islam||Response|
|Blue Mage, Arjuna Haridas||Disillusion with Christianity and didn't want to reject the existence of God||If Christianity is wrong, it does not mean that Islam is right. God may exist but is any religion really from God or are they man-made? One must think carefully before believing that a certain religion is from God.|
|Blue Mage||"Islam looked like a uniquely liberal religion that embraced kindness, acceptance, peace, and the free expression of ideas."||Nothing can be further from the truth and one would realize that if they had read the Quran and the hadiths|
|Arjuna Haridas||"So many people were converting to Islam, so I decided to try it."||One should think for themselves and not blindly follow whatever society is doing.|
|Andrea||"When I started studying Islam, I was utterly fascinated."||If she was studying Islam from Muslim sources and websites, of course she would be fascinated. Did she study Islam from all perspectives?|
|Andrea||"To kill one man is the same as killing all of humanity" I really loved that one. (Now that I think about it I can see the stupidity of this statement)||Putting aside this particular verse which is in no way a peaceful verse and has actually had its meaning and the texts itself vastly distorted, Islam contains a lot of contradictions. Reading the Qur'anic text at face value, there are many good things to be found but it is foolish to only look at those teachings and not research Islam in its completeness before converting to Islam.|
|Andrea||"I wanted to feel connected to something larger than myself, and I wanted to be surrounded by moral people, with strong convictions against immoral things"||If she had studied the hadiths a little bit, she would have known that there is little morality in a religion if their 54 year old founder marries and has sex with a 9 year old girl. If you're looking for morality, Islam is the wrong place to go to.|
|Ampbreia||Had questions about Christianity but had no answers. "in Islam, I was allowed to ask questions and nearly always got reasonable answers."||This is not true. Islam does not encourage questioning at all.|
|Ampbreia||My teacher in this new religion also taught me the belief that women were never sex objects in Islam, but always treated with the highest respect.||Once again, the convert did not make the effort to study Islam for herself and instead decided to listen to the person who was 'marketing' Islam without researching the product themselves. To see how Islam views women, see what the Qur'an and hadith say about women and sexuality.|
|Jan Janssen||"When I proposed to my fiancée, she wanted me to convert to Islam, which I did."||But did they really believe in it? He should have asked himself "Why am I converting", "Is it the right thing to do?"|
Questions to Ask
Remember to think for yourself and not to depend on Muslims for answers to the following questions:
- How do you know Islam is a religion from God? How do you know Muhammad was telling the truth when he said he was a messenger of God? God may exist but it doesn't mean Islam must be from God. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence from non-biased external sources. Are there any non-Muslim sources at all that confirm any truth in the claim of Muhammad's prophethood? You need external non-biased sources of information to prove that Islam is really true.
- Islam views non-Muslims with a lot of hostility such as Qur'an 48:13 which says non-Muslims will burn in Hellfire (similar verses are spread all over the Quran). This applies to your family and friends. Are you okay with that?
- Are you okay with harsh Islamic punishments? Qur'an 5:38 orders Muslims to cut off the hands of a thief. This is an actual Islamic law and a Qur'anic verse. If you don't believe in this kind of law, why are you converting to Islam?
- In Qur'an 4:34, a Muslim man is asked to beat his wife if she doesn't obey him, or if he simply fears disobedience. Are you okay with that?
- Perhaps you've been eating pork and drinking wine in moderation. Islam strongly prohibits both of these. Can you think of any logical reasons why you should stop eating pork and drinking wine in moderation?
- Multiple sources exist to prove directly and explicitly that 51 year old Muhammad got himself married to 6 year old Aisha, and consummated the marriage with her when she was 9. Are you okay with that? Ask your family what they think of this. If there are any aspects of Islam that you want to keep secret from your family, that should raise a red flag for you in itself.
- The Qur'an itself permits pedophilia, making it a halal practice for all Muslim men and for all time. As the great Islamic scholar, Maududi, had once said regarding this truth "obviously no Muslim has the right to forbid a thing which the Quran has held as permissible." Are you okay with that? If you had a young child, would you allow her to get married to someone who is older than yourself?
- Women and men don't have the same rights in divorce, court hearings, or inheritance. A woman does not have a right to divorce her husband under the same terms as he does. Her testimony in court is worth 1/2 that of a man's and she gets a smaller portion than her brother does in terms of inheritance. These laws are taken directly from the Qur'an. Are you comfortable with that?
- Islam does not allow for adoption as most understand it. A Muslim child can only be a foster child and can not inherit, take on the family name, nor live with his foster parents past puberty. Is this a solution to the problem facing many Muslim countries with thousands of orphans that are abused regularly in orphanages?
- Muhammad and his army sexually enslaved women, a tradition that continued with all Muslim armies. Even if this would not happen to you, are you okay with a spiritual leader acting in this way?
- According to Muslim scholars, democracy is totally incompatible with Islam and is considered sinful. Do you believe in democracy?
Look for answers to these questions and many others and after doing your own study, consult an Islamic scholar or the local imam. Ask them for information to see how they deal with the questions. Know that they are marketing Islam, so don't rely on their answers. If they show any sign of anger or impatience, that's a red flag.
Read the links in the Further reading section at the end of this page and try to answer more questions that come up as you delve further into your research on Islam.
How to Proceed Next
- Slow down: Converting to a religion is not a trivial affair. Be sure not to be in a hurry and prepare to slow down. You deserve giving yourself time to investigate everything carefully before taking such a decision.
- Shut down external marketing attempts: If you are in contact with Muslims who are marketing Islam to you, let them know that for now you would like to study Islam for yourself and will let them know if you have any questions. Be cautious about aggressive and persistent inquiries. Refrain from asking them any questions at this point or engaging in discussions about Islam as you may be misled with incomplete and biased information.
- Now you are ready to investigate Islam at your own pace without external pressures.
- Soul-searching and self-discovery: Start some soul-searching and perhaps a private daily journal in which you express whatever you are thinking about or whatever you feel bothered about. Journals are very helpful (see this study by scientists). Find out what's going on in your life, the issues you're facing and the steps you're taking to resolve those issues. If you need, talk to friends and take up counseling or psychotherapy if you can afford it. Other options include group therapy or discussions and online forums where you can be anonymous and safely discuss private matters with others and get their feedback. Every little bit helps. Find out what you need to focus on for example career, relationship, family or health or other issues.
- Now you're reading to start investigating various religions and schools of thought.
- Faith Systems in the World: Start from the Wikipedia article about different faith systems in the world. Look at this chart and examine the basics of every major faith system that has a percentage of at least 5%. You'll find only about 6 faith systems to look at.
- Keep mental notes of all the important points/characteristics of the faith-systems you have examined (or use paper or a document writer such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs to keep your research more organized)
- Options available:
- Some people want to believe in a supernatural power (God) and they can convert to any religion that has a belief in God
- There are other options. Agnostics are ok with not being sure about the existence of God. Atheists decide not to believe in the existence of a God. Some people believe in multiple Gods. There are other paths that you can research (for example Unitarian Universalism). Almost all faith systems have support groups that you can join to meet like-minded people.
- Research thoroughly: If you find a faith system that you like, start researching it in more depth. Be sure that you get information from all perspectives so you do not miss out on any positive or negative information that you should be aware of before you decide to convert. If there are controversial issues, evaluate arguments from both sides and make up your own mind.
- Talk to people: Talk to people online anonymously so you can feel safe asking any questions or discussing any issues. For example if you talk to a Muslim face to face and bring up the issue of Aisha's marriage to Muhammad or any other controversial issue they may become upset so it is better to first discuss issues online on a forum. On our Resources for Former Muslims page, we have collected links to various external forums that you can look into. For example you can use the Philosophy forums.
- Make your choice: Now you may be getting close to making your decision. Contact a support group in your area for assistance. Depending on what you have chosen, this may be a mosque, a church or an atheist/agnostic/humanist group and so on. Good luck.
Muhammad ordered Muslims to kill anyone who left Islam. You should not convert to Islam without studying it in detail and reading the actual sources for yourself, the Quran and the Hadith. Read all the additional links in the section below. Don't take the decision to convert too lightly. You may distress family members and have regrets after you convert and apostatize. If you are going through personal problems and are searching for inner peace and answers to questions in your personal life, converting to Islam is not the solution that you need. Instead do some soul-searching, talk to friends and family about what is bothering you or get assistance from a support group or therapist. If you are in love with someone, they should accept you regardless of what your faith is.
- List of Killings Ordered or Supported by Muhammad
- Top 10 Controversial Verses in the Qur'an - A quick sampling of interesting Qur'anic verses
- Qur'an, Hadith and Scholars - study Islam from its own sources; what the Qur'an and Hadith say about various issues, such as:
- Characteristics of Non-Muslims - How does Islam view non-Muslims? In other words, what does Islam think of your family? Read this if you love your family
- Friendship with Non-Muslims - another page listing teachings of Islam about Muslim and non-Muslim friendships
- Islamic Silliness - the lighter side of Islam
- For women:
- Islam and Apostasy - the punishment ordered by Muhammad for leaving Islam is death. Are you sure you won't want to leave it? There's no turning back.
- Corruption of the Qur'an - an article from a former Muslim, now a non-believer
- Are you a black person thinking about converting to Islam? Read the following two links:
- Converts to Islam - no other religion has converts who are involved in religiously motivated crime and terrorism as is the case for so many converts to Islam
- The Story of Umm Qirfa - Is Islam a peaceful religion? Decide for yourself after reading this article which tells the story of an old woman who was tied between two camels and her body was split apart. Later Muhammad had her head paraded on the streets of Madina.
- Quotations on Islam from Notable Non-Muslims - what famous people have said about Islam
- Human Rights - learn how compatible Islam is with human rights
- Numbers of Islam - read this article if you're short on time
- Islam and Characteristics Associated with Cultic Groups - a good article studying how similar Islam is to a cult
- Questions to Ask About Islam - does Islam really have the answers you're looking for?
- A Brief Illustrated Guide to Understanding Islam - an article that responds to claims found in a book "A Brief Illustrated Guide to Understanding Islam" which is targeted towards potential converts to Islam
- Help and Advice - A hub page that leads to other articles related to Help and Advice