Are Conversions to Islam Likely to Increase?
In the writebacks thread on "WMDs: Found!" recent Chronicles contributor George Ajjan has raised some very good points about my claim, in my VDare.com article ("Jihad in Rockford, IL: What the MSM Won't Tell You"), that native-born conversion to Islam is "made easier by the growing Muslim presence in the United States":
My question is: on what basis can we determine that attacks by converts to Islam will be made "easier" by a simple mathematical increase in the number of Muslims in America?
While no sane person would dispute the obvious reasoning that more Muslims in America will increase the exposure of Islam and therefore its accessibility (as witnessed by the local news broadcast on which you appeared), the fact remains that Muslims have settled in America, and in fact in the Heartland, for over a century.
Isn't it logical to conclude, therefore, that those individuals willing to go to the disturbing lengths of John Walker Lindh or Rockford's own Derrick Shareef, would manage to seek out and contact, within a reasonable driving distance that wouldn't require a passport, a physical presence of "an ideology such as Islam that provides such a strong motivating force", even if the immigration measures you advocate to curtail the presence of Muslims in America were enacted?
For reasons of space in my VDare piece, I didn't discuss the mechanism by which this facilitation of conversion is happening, so let's consider it now.
Both Muslim and non-Muslim sources acknowledge that the number of conversions to Islam in America has been increasing, particularly over the past 15 years. Moreover, the ethnic composition of the body of converts has been changing: In the past, blacks made up the greatest percentage of converts, and most converted to the Nation of Islam. Shareef and Minnesota congressman-elect Keith Ellison are good examples.
Today, however, there is an (admittedly small) increase in white converts; but the biggest shift has been the rather sizable increase in Hispanic converts--mostly immigrants or the children of immigrants.
Alongside that, there is the secondary conversion of black converts from the Nation of Islam to traditional Islam. Once again, Shareef and Ellison are good examples.
Why is this happening now, when, as Mr. Ajjan points out, Muslims have been settling in America for over a century?
There are at least four factors at work:
Today, the U.S. State Department officially estimates the number of mosques in the United States at over 1,200, but that is based on a survey conducted in the late 1990’s; unofficial State Department estimates rise as high as 2,000. CNN notes that nearly 80 percent of those mosques have been built since 1990—after our first war with Iraq; of the rest, the bulk were built after the Islamic revolution in Iran."
In other words, people who might have had a passing fancy in Islam in the past are now more able to convert that passing fancy to a real interest--and a real conversion.
None of this directly address Mr. Ajjan's ultimate point, however, which I would summarize this way: Even if Muslim immigration were ended today, aren't all the conditions in place to continue to encourage native-born conversions to Islam? The answer, sadly, is yes. What we need to look at, however, is the rate of conversion. If the presence of Muslims in America today is helping to drive conversions (as Mr. Ajjan concedes), why wouldn't we expect that increasing numbers of immigrants (and the increasing number of mosques and schools that accompany them) would drive increasing numbers of conversions?
Or, to look at it from the opposite point of view: If American immigration policy treated adherence to Islam as grounds for automatic denial of entry to the United States, wouldn't that be likely to counter the social acceptability of conversion to Islam, and thus decrease the number of converts and inquirers?