Conversion to Islam on the rise in the U.S. Following September 11
Thirty or forty years ago, the great majority of people knew almost nothing about Islam; now, Islam has become the most talked about, written about, and researched religion in the world, as well as the religion about which the most programs have been prepared. Of course, this state of affairs has contributed to society’s learning about Islam. On the one hand, those involved in such activities have expanded their knowledge about Islam; on the other hand, those to whom this information is directed may have taken the opportunity for the first time in their lives to gain knowledge about Islam. So, it is from the lack of information or wrong information that people who have had little contact with Islam are coming to this religion in droves.
This movement is quite noticeable in the United States, a country founded on religious values. When Americans speak about their country, one of the things they stress is that people from every religious background are free to live together in peace and security. This situation has given Muslims immigrants a place to practice their religion freely and to talk about their faith. As a result, the number of Muslims increases daily. In spite of this, for years Muslims have remained small in numbers and economically and politically weak.
But over the past 10 years, these economic, social, and political difficulties have begun to disappear. In some states, existing mosques are filled to overflowing and new ones have been built. Hundreds of Islamic schools, both full-time and weekend, have opened and have had to expand to meet enrollment figures. Many companies have begun to set aside rooms for their Muslim employees, many banks have begun to open departments that operate according to Islamic law, and many state institutions have begun to hire Muslims for high-level positions.
A recent issue of Christianity Today, one of America’s best-known magazines, contained an article entitled “Are Christians Prepared for Muslims in the Mainstream?” It gives this account of Islam’s rise in America:
Excerpts from “Muslim American Leaders: A Wave of Conversion to Islam in the U.S. Following September 11″ © Middle East Media & Research Institute
Muslim American reports in the Arab press indicate that Muslim proselytizing efforts have been unusually successful since the September 11 attacks. ‘Alaa Bayumi, Director of Arab Affairs at the Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), wrote in the London daily Al-Hayat that “non-Muslim Americans are now interested in getting to know Islam. There are a number of signs…: Libraries have run out of books on Islam and the Middle East… English translations of the Koran head the American best-seller list… The Americans are showing increasing willingness to convert to Islam since September 11… Thousands of non-Muslim Americans have responded to invitations to visit mosques, resembling the waves of the sea [crashing on the shore] one after another… All this is happening in a political atmosphere that, at least verbally, encourages non-Muslim Americans’ openness towards Muslims in America and in the Islamic world, as the American president has said many times in his speeches…”(1)
CAIR chairman Nihad Awad told the Saudi paper ‘Ukaz that “34,000 Americans have converted to Islam following the events of September 11, and this is the highest rate reached in the U.S. since Islam arrived there.”(2)
According to Dr. Walid A. Fatihi, instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, Boston has recently become a center of Islamic proselytizing aimed at Christians. On September 22, 2001, Al-Fatihi sent a letter to the Egyptian weekly Al-Ahram Al-Arabi, in which he described the unfolding of events since September 11: “…From the first day, the media began to insinuate that Muslim Arab hands were behind this incident. At noon, the directors and administration of the Islamic Center of Boston held an emergency meeting, and I stayed on the line with them from my clinic. We decided to hold a blood drive, and we set up a committee to contact the Red Cross and organize it for us. We invited the media to cover the event…”
“All of us tried to grab onto every scrap of information that would indicate that Muslim Arab hands were not involved in the loathsome crime. Yes, my brothers and sisters, we tried to prove our humanity on the day we found ourselves attacked from all sides. Our hearts bled and our spokesman said that proselytizing in the name of Allah had been set back 50 years in the U.S. and in the entire world…”
“On Saturday, September 15, I went with my wife and children to the biggest church in Boston, [Trinity Church in] Copley Square, by official invitation of the Islamic Society of Boston, to represent Islam by special invitation of the senators of Boston. Present were the mayor of Boston, his wife, and the heads of the universities. There were more than 1,000 people there, with media coverage by one of Boston’s main television stations. We were received like ambassadors. I sat with my wife and children in the front row, next to the mayor’s wife. In his sermon, the priest defended Islam as a monotheistic religion, telling the audience that I represented the Islamic Society of Boston.”
“After the sermon was over, he stood at my side as I read an official statement issued by the leading Muslim clerics condemning the incident [i.e. the attacks]. The statement explained Islam’s stance and principles, and its sublime precepts. Afterwards, I read Koran verses translated into English… These were moments that I will never forget, because the entire church burst into tears upon hearing the passages of the words of Allah!!”
“Emotion swept over us. One said to me: ‘I do not understand the Arabic language, but there is no doubt that the things you said are the words of Allah.’ As she left the church weeping, a woman put a piece of paper in my hand; on the paper was written: ‘Forgive us for our past and for our present. Keep proselytizing to us.’ Another man stood at the entrance of the church, his eyes teary, and said, ‘You are just like us; no, you are better than us.’” (3)
“On Sunday, September 16, the Islamic Society of Boston issued an open invitation to the Islamic Center in Cambridge, located between Harvard and MIT. We did not expect more than 100 people, but to our surprise more than 1,000 people came, among them the neighbors, the university lecturers, members of the clergy, and even the leaders of the priests from the nearby churches, who invited us to speak on Islam. All expressed solidarity with Muslims. Many questions flowed to us. Everyone wanted to know about Islam and to understand its precepts.”
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