On the 12th of April, what is considered by Muslims as one of the holiest months in the Islamic calendar began: Ramadan. It is one of the five pillars of Islam and a time where Muslims fast from dawn until dusk, an act of worship which they believe reinforces their relationship with God and creates stronger self-discipline.
In the twenty-first century the world has seen rising Islamophobia, however surprisingly, Islam is also the world’s fastest growing religion. These converts or reverts (as they are known to Muslims as they believe everyone is born Muslim, but forgets Islam), come from all walks of life.
In the UK, it can only be estimated how many people convert to Islam each year. This made more difficult as the results from the latest census in 2021 are yet to be published and most current information available is from the last census in 2011. The only reliable information is from the Scottish census, as only it asks what people’s religion was at birth and at present.
The organisation Faith Matters, which works with all faith communities to resolve conflict and religious extremism and builds bridges for people of faith, used this information to work out that an estimated 5200 people converted to Islam across the UK in 2010.
Huseyin Al-Diakides, 36, a student from London, converted to Islam 10 years ago, “I was a Christian, but always had problems believing that Jesus, peace be upon him, was God,” says Huseyin. “I used to go mosque with friends and would debate religion, but it became clear that they knew the bible very well, whilst I had no knowledge of the Quran, so asked for one and promised I would disprove it in two weeks.”
Huseyin had no doubt that he would stick to his faith of Christianity, he just needed to understand the Quran better so he could have the knowledge to defend his own faith better when debating religion with his Muslim friends. So, he set out to read the Islamic holy book.
“I was shocked with it, and it came to answer many of the questions I had about Christianity. When I reverted, I didn’t see it as changing my religion, rather I was purifying it.” Years later Huseyin is still a devout Muslim, who regularly holds talks at libraries on Islamic history.
Faith Matters estimates that the majority of those who convert to Islam are women, as only 38% of converts are men. The average age a person who converts to Islam
in the UK is 27.5 years old, and 55% of British converts in the UK are white British.
James Blackmoore, 33, is one of those. “The reason why I reverted/converted is that initially, I liked how Islam is accepting of science in a way that science proves that everything is created by The Creator such as the purpose of volcanoes,” said James.
“Gradually I stopped drinking alcohol, eating pork and Haram food and tried fasting for a day till one day I was sitting in a restaurant with my friend, and he said: “James, I’ve just been noticing that you don’t drink alcohol, eat port and anything else Haram, you might as well become Muslim, you just have to take that leap of faith”.
James had been brought up with Christian parents and growing up he had not considered sin to have physical consequences. His parents would tell him to stop doing something because it was a sin but would not explain why. Through the Quran he found answers to why some sins, example drinking alcohol, are bad for you.
“So, some months later when I was 27 or 28, I took my shahadah in front of him and his family,” said James. After taking his shahadah (Muslim profession of faith) his friend taught him how to pray. James hasn’t looked back since.