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Thursday, Jul 31 , 2014 ( Shawwal, 1435)

Updated:10:00 PM GMT

Britons Increasingly Revert to Islam

OnIslam & Newspapers
British Muslim convert
The numbers of Britons reverting to Islam has doubled over the past decade

CAIRO – The number of Britons reverting to Islam has grown remarkably over the past decade, despite the negative portrayal of the Islamic faith in the British media, a new report has found.

“This report is the best intellectual 'guestimate' using census numbers, local authority data and polling from mosques,” Fiyaz Mughal, director of the inter-faith think-tank Faith Matters, told The Independent on Tuesday, January 4.

“Either way few people doubt that the number adopting Islam in the UK has risen dramatically in the past 10 years.”

The report found that 100,000 Britons have embraced Islam in the past ten years, suggesting that about 5000 Britons revert to Islam annually.

Failing to differentiate between Muslim-born and converts, previous estimates have often put the numbers of Britons embracing Islam at between 14,000 and 25,000.

But the think-tank used new techniques to get the most accurate numbers of converts in Britain.

Using data from Scottish 2001 census, the only survey defining whether religion was at birth or by conversion, researchers set the proportions of Muslim converts and extrapolated the figures for Britain.

They estimated about 60,699 converts living in Britain in 2001.

Moreover, researchers polled mosques in London to calculate the number of converts in a year, putting the figure at 1400 conversions in London last year.

Extrapolating the number nationwide, approximately 5,200 people were found to be adopting Islam every year, close to French and German numbers; about 4,000 conversions a year.

Britain is home to a sizable Muslim minority of nearly 2.6 million.

Media Role

The researchers believe that the negative portrayal of Islam in the media prompt many Britons to seek knowledge about the faith, resulting in their conversion.

“I think there is definitely a relationship between conversions being on the increase and the prominence of Islam in the public domain,” Mughal told The Independent.

“People are interested in finding out what Islam is all about and when they do that they go in different directions.

“Most shrug their shoulders and return to their lives but some will inevitably end up liking what they discover and will convert.”

Batool al-Toma, an Irish born convert to Islam, agrees.

“I definitely think there has been a noticeable increase in the number of converts in recent years,” said Toma, who runs the New Muslims Project, one of the earliest groups set up specifically to help converts.

“The media often tries to pinpoint specifics but the reasons are as varied as the converts themselves.”

A recent government-commissioned study has found that a torrent of negative and imbalance stories in the British media demonize the sizable Muslim minority and their faith by spreading prejudices and portraying them as the enemy within.

An earlier British study had accused the media and film industry of perpetuating Islamophobia and prejudice by projecting Muslims as violent, dangerous and threatening people.

Some Muslims believe that interactive programs planned by British Muslims to reach out to the mainstream society and defy misconceptions about their faith, were also an attracting factor for converts.

“Islam is a missionary religion and many Muslim organizations and particularly university students' Islamic societies have active outreach programs designed to remove popular misconceptions about the faith,” Inayat Bunglawala, founder of Muslims4UK, said.

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