Islam is a proselytizing faith that calls its followers to spread Islam. Hence, many Muslims have become adept in the techniques of conversion.
In recent years, about 100,000 British citizens have converted to Islam. In France, the number of converts is estimated at 70,000; in Spain, 50,000; and in Germany, about 20,000. It’s likely, however, that these estimates are on the low side—as are the estimates of the number of Muslims living in Western Europe.
A common methodology, as with other faiths, is to seek out the most susceptible—the young, the confused, those who have been scarred by experimentation with drugs and sex. Because of the decline of Christianity in Europe and the resulting anomie, increasing numbers of young people are looking for a sense of structure and purpose—and Islam offers itself as the answer. Islamic proselytizers address the need for authority of the rising number of fatherless children—particularly boys—in Europe and the U.S. As these boys grow up, they tend to be attracted to masculine, even hyper-masculine organizations. They may find what they are looking for in the boy scouts, or in a sports team, or in a street gang—or, as is increasingly the case, in a mosque.
This is not to say that women are less likely to convert. In fact, there are more female than male converts to Islam in Europe. Sometimes these conversions take place as the result of a romance and as a prerequisite for marriage. The promise of marriage and family is often enough of an incentive to conversion for women living in societies where few men seem willing to commit themselves.
Islamic evangelists emphasize the irenic aspects of their faith first in the conversion process. The early peaceful verses in the Koran are cited often to initiates, and the later warlike verses reserved to a later time. Potential convert aren’t informed that according to many Islamic sources, all of the peaceful passages have been abrogated, or cancelled, by the later verses.
Potential converts are offered a version of Islam that makes it look as much like a “religion of peace” as possible. From a Catholic and Christian perspective this incorporates a degree of deception. For example, a bowdlerized version of Muhammad’s “Last Sermon,” which is available on many Muslim websites and which has been incorporated into many Western textbooks, presents Muhammad as a model of enlightened thinking. Here’s a sample: “Do treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.” The authentic version, however, reads quite differently: “Lay injunctions on women kindly, for they are prisoners with you having no control of their persons.” The newer, Disneyfied version also conveniently neglects to include the part about the husband’s right to beat his wife.
Unfortunately, the multicultural West has been all too eager to assist in presenting Islam as a “religion of peace.” For example, the majority of high school and college texts that deal with Islam define “jihad” as an “interior spiritual struggle” to achieve personal betterment when, in fact, there is an almost universal consensus among Islamic scholars that jihad is a holy war against unbelievers and infidels. Moreover, in the textbooks, Islam’s bloody conquests of other territories are usually referred to in terms of “expansion.”
Ironically, Christians also have helped to smooth the way for the advance of Islam in the West. In their eagerness to appear tolerant and open, many Christian leaders and educators tend to emphasize the commonalities between Islam and Christianity rather than the profound and irreconcilable differences.
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