Why Are Black People Converting?

blackmuslims23223Growing up in the United States, I was exposed to all different kinds of Muslims, especially those who chose to convert to Islam later in life. I have always been fascinated with the challenges that new Muslims face. Conversion seems like a very difficult decision in the context of American culture and the Western sociopolitical setting more generally, where Islam is often represented so negatively. Yet, even after 9/11, the interest in Islam and the number of converts around the world continues to grow.

One particular conversion context has caught the attention of author Richard Reddie: that of Blacks in the United Kingdom. In his book Black Muslims in Britain, Richard Reddie explores the reasons for the growing numbers of Black Britons who are embracing Islam. Reddie was surprised to find a lack of previous research about this phenomenon, but he did find a number of aspects that offer insight into why the number is growing. malcolm-xAmong these is the feeling that Islam offers an identity that transcends ethnicity and race. This particular aspect has been echoed by African-American converts to Islam, probably the most well-known of whom is Malcolm X. In fact, Malcolm X’s life, Reddie found, continues to play a role in why some black men, in particular, consider Islam. His life story provides a blueprint for many of these young men, not only in the United States, but also in the UK.

Also, some of Reddie’s interviewees said that Islam “provided inspiration and strength to engage with a society they regarded as corrupted by materialism and moral relativism.” Many converts appreciated the rules and structure of Islam. Unlike the image of Islam that is often propogated in the media that focuses on violence and destruction, Reddie underlines that Black Muslims in the UK have the reputation of helping those involved in crime, drugs, and violence and of being among the most vocal about calling others to Islam and to a life as a constructive member of society.

While his focus was on young men, Reddie also interviewed women, many of whom said that the focus on modesty in Islam was liberating. This last point is especially interesting because one of the most prevalent stereotypes of Islam is that it oppresses women. Nevertheless, Reddie highlights the fact that many women choose to become Muslim and read Islam’s dictates concerning women positively. In my own interaction with Muslim women converts, like Reddie, I have found that many find Islam’s position on women to not only be refreshing but to be a motivating factor to convert.

The image of Islam is continously being misrepresented and thus Muslims and those who decide to convert are often misunderstood. Reddie not only explores the many reasons why someone would choose Islam as a faith, but he also recognizes that it is important to understand the real and positive role that Islam can play in a person’s personal journey and in the society at large.

Are you a convert to Islam? What was your reasons for conversion? Please share your story.

10 thoughts on “Why Are Black People Converting?

  1. Very interesting article. I converted from Baptist to Islamic. Then I left Islam. I consider myself a interfaith universalist. I find jewels in all faiths, even ancient animist beliefs.

    What has always been interesting to me, is how African Americans embrace everything but Africa. We chased Christianity, now Islam. We traded one slave trader religion to another white Arab dominated religion. PHiladelphia has a large Muslim community, but I see it becoming more of a fad to grow a long beard, wear
    Arabic dress, but refuse to follow the more strict Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries.

    So many women I see in hijab, driving cars, sitting in the front seat, keeping dirty homes, abusive towards children. Not to count the many Muslim men still smoking ciggarettes.

    We have been conditioned to discount the many faiths and philosophies of Africa. It seems we are always searching for something that is right in front of us.

  2. i had converted to islam well over 6 yrs ago. i was a christian. but it wasn’t cut out for me going to church every sunday. and now i know that is the religion of african amercans. we were muslims first. but the white men had us blacks thinking that we are christians and that is not true. all we have to do is look at history of black people and see what our religion was. we are from africa not from the untied states our people were brought over here as slaves. and i love being a muslim.

  3. I agree, blacks are embracing all but Africa. Please be reminded that the actual Koran, calls us monkeys.

    Mohammed referred to Blacks as “raisin heads”. (Sahih al-Bukhari vol. 1, no. 662 and vol. 9, no. 256).

    In another Hadith, Mohammed is quoted as saying that Blacks are, “pug-nosed slaves”. (Sahih Moslem vol. 9, p. 46-47).

    Mohammed goes on to state that if you have a sexual dream about a black woman, beware of coming diseases to follow.
    Blacks should read the article “Blacks calling themselves muslin should be ashamed. This article actually outlines (specifically from Mohammed) on how to control slaves. The blacks in Iran and Iraq are called slaves to this day! In Bafur, the black muslins hate the black farmers and “ironically” act as their Klu Klux Klansmen. Oh my, just as tribesman fighting amongst each other sold or allowed slave traders to take away our forefather’s from the mother land. I plan to write a short story on these matters. I find that blacks are more and more trying to “blend” in to be accepted as white. A OC Republican posted Obama and his family as apes and pasted his face on one of the animals and said “You see why he has no birth certificate! They have a website that declares, Kill Obama. Again, under a white president, that would have been a federal crime, There are a lot of injustices in this nation and yet we continue to seek acceptance in these foreign countries. The Jews have Jerusalem, The Arabs have the middle east, yet blacks are now unwilling to acknowledge or embrace returning to our homeland. A land, mind you that flows with gold and other enumerable riches left to a “first born son and daughter” for their needs and pleasure.

  4. I have to disagree! I am a Coptic Orthodox Christian and we are the oldest and ancient christian religion in africa, starting in egypt and ethiopia, we dont believe the white man started Christianity..
    Saint Mark did in Egypt and he is a North African.
    We broke away from the Roman Catholics as we didnt come to agreement with the Divinity of Christ and since then they have altered things in the church and it kept going which is why there are so many christian denominations as of today.
    I see why african americans turn to Islam but I wish they could see the Orthodox Christians to who also started in Africa even though its not where their ancestors came from which is West africa and Orthodoxy started in North and North Eastern Africa which dates back in the Bible.
    I have muslim friends and we don’t hate on each other, we respect each others point of views and religion.

  5. One other thing :
    the natural religions of Africans were the indigenous religions that preceeded Christianity and Islam? Having said that, Christianity has a far better historical claim in Africa than Islam.

    In AD 43, only 13 years after Christ’s death, Mark the Evangelist started the Church of Alexandria, an ancient church survives to this day. It is the church of the Copts of Egypt, who make up around 15% of Egypt’s population. By the end of the 2nd century Christianity was the main faith along the entire north African coast. This Christian Berber culture gave us Clement, Athanasias and Origen (all from Alexandria), Tertullian and Cyprian (both from Carthage in Tunisia), and the great Algerian, Augustine of Hippo.

    The passage goes on to describe how Philip helped the Ethiopian understand a passage from Isaiah that the Ethiopian was reading. After the Ethiopian received an explanation of the passage, he requested that Philip baptize him, and Philip did so. Christianity became the established church of the Ethiopian Axumite Kingdom in the 4th century.

    When Muhammad was born, two and a half centuries after this, Christianity was the only faith in north Africa and the horn of Africa while sub-Saharan Africa had its various indigenous religions.

  6. i converted to islam 4 years ago and have found nothing but peace and kind hearted people. Islam is the truth, and also did u know the fist man to perform the adzan call for prayer was a black man (Bilal ibn Rabah al-Habashi). I think you should see the movie The Message; its not what u wear as a Muslim, it’s how ur heart is, so before you go writing anything about any religion gets the facts right my love coz you seem like an idiot when u tell lies and may allah forgive you my friend. It really makes me laugh when i see so many people bagging Islam… its only because man fears the unknown so doesn’t that tell u to learn more about it instead of judging what u hear from others 😀
    P.S. Islam isn’t only for Arabs, its for everyone ,the universe religion.

  7. Iamshe, i am surprised of what you are saying, because its absolutely false , i dare you to get a verse from the Koran that says black people are monkeys. and i dare you to get the Hadith ( the saying from the prophet pbuh) that says they are raisin head, or about the dreaming of a black woman, and that Saying is a right saying that is actually belongs to the Prophet pbuh and not a fake one. I dare you because i am a scholar in Islam and i know for A FACT that all of that you are saying is lies and not true. For Coptic, Christianity is indeed old especially in Egypt . Yet Islam is the religion that spread all over Africa through trade. Finally, Islam is not Arab dominated, Arabs are nothing but a minority in Islam. the prophet pbuh said, there is no difference between black and white , Arab and non Arab, the best of you is the most fearful of God. and the Koran endorses that as well.

  8. @IAMSHE

    Al-Bukhari has nothing to do with Blacks or slaves. Al-Al-Bukhari is about those who believe in God (Allah in Arabic), and those who disbelieve in Allah. Part 6 is about “verily those who disbelieve,” it is the same to them whether you warn them or do not warn them, they will not believe.

    Also there is no volume of the Qur’an, just one Volume that has existed since the last prophet. Before You say something, please take the time to read the Qur’an in Arabic, or if you can’t read Arabic, then read it in English. Finally, Islam treats all races equal as we are sisters and brothers regardless of our skin color. I’m proud to say I’m a proud Black Muslim, that’s right I’m a proud Black Muslim who doesn’t believe nor does my faith considers Arabia to be more supreme than another. One we are all equal in the eyes of God.

  9. I converted to Islam some years back. I found the truth, peace, and the way of living my life. People always point fingers to the whole Muslim community, and mostly to Islam, if they see some people doing something wrong. It’s the people (some of them) who are not learning and implementing the Religion in their lives properly. And it’s well known that the MEDIA play a big role when it comes to feeding public anything, and many people believe anything blindly. The ones who want to know the truth about the Oneness of God and Islam should go to knowledgeable and trustworthy Muslims and ask questions, not just any Muslim. The reason is that not all Muslims are following all the rules correctly. Many people don’t even differentiate between the culture and the Religion (Islam). I have seen many Non-Muslim people who are totally arrogant and ignorant when it comes to Islam. I feel pity on them and can only think that “they are being too arrogant to know their own Creator.” This is the biggest loss in their life.