LONDON - The number of Muslim converts in Britain has almost doubled in ten years with an estimated 5,200 men and women adopting Islam last year alone, according to a study by the think tank Faith Matters.
The study found that nearly two-thirds of the converts were women and over 70 per cent were white. The average age at conversion was 27.
The report has been the culmination of 7 months of work.
The key findings of this report are:
- The current figure for converts to Islam in England and Wales could be anything between 90,000 to 100,000 people, (based on a survey of mosques and the 2001 census figures for England and Wales and Scotland),
- That media representations of converts to Islam are negative and a survey undertaken for this report into media representation of converts found that 60.9% of stories linked the convert to terrorism and 15% linked the convert to fundamentalism. These negative portrayals are deeply problematic and further paint a negative picture of a vibrant community driven by social justice,
- That the average age of conversion to Islam took place around 27 years of age,
- Of 122 respondents to a survey as part of this report, 44% converted in 2001 or before, whilst 56% converted in 2002 or later.
- At the time of conversion, converts received most help and advice from books (96% of cases), Muslim friends (85% of cases) and the Internet (64% of cases). 52% received no help from mosques and 43% said their local mosque had no provision for converts.
- 66% said that their family had a negative attitude to their conversion.
- 91% disagreed with the statement, "Muslims should keep themselves separate from non-Muslims."
- 84% agreed with the suggestion that converts (especially converts from the majority White British Ethnic Group) could act as a 'bridge' and a link between Muslim and non-Muslim communities.
- 97% felt that some of the practices of born Muslims had more to do with culture rather than Islam.