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Young white women in the UK are embracing the Muslim faith, helping the number of Islam converts to top 100,000 for the first time.

A recent study has shown that Britain is undergoing “Islamification”.

Multi-faith organisation Faith Matters has released a report which estimates that 5,200 people have converted to Islam in the past year, including 1400 in London.

Two thirds of these converts are women, more than 70 per cent are white and the average age at conversion is 27.

“Converts are generally at ease living in the UK and do not feel that British people are essentially hostile to Islam,” reveals the study.

Tony Blair’s sister-in-law announced her conversion to Islam last weekend. Journalist Lauren Booth embraced the faith after what she describes as a ‘holy experience’ in Iran.

She is just one of a growing number of modern British career women to do so. Here, writer EVE AHMED, who was raised as a Muslim before rejecting the faith, explores the reasons why.

Much of my childhood was spent trying to escape ­Islam.

Born in London to an English mother and a ­Pakistani Muslim father, I was brought up to follow my father’s faith without question.

But, privately, I hated it. The minute I left home for university at the age of 18, I abandoned it altogether.

As far as I was concerned, being a Muslim meant hearing the word ‘No’ over and over again.

Girls from my background were barred from so many of the things my English friends took for granted. Indeed, it seemed to me that almost anything fun was haram, or forbidden, to girls like me.

There were so many random, petty rules. No whistling. No chewing of gum. No riding bikes. No watching Top Of The Pops. No wearing make-up or clothes which revealed the shape of the body.

No eating in the street or putting my hands in my pockets. No cutting my hair or painting my nails. No asking questions or answering back. No keeping dogs as pets, (they were unclean).

And, of course, no sitting next to men, shaking their hands or even making eye contact with them.

These ground rules were imposed by my father and I, therefore, assumed they must be an integral part of being a good Muslim.

Small wonder, then, that as soon as I was old enough to exert my independence, I rejected the whole package and turned my back on Islam. After all, what modern, liberated British woman would choose to live such a life?

Well, quite a lot, it turns out, including Islam’s latest surprise convert, Tony Blair’s sister-in-law Lauren Booth. And after my own break with my past, I’ve followed with fascination the growing trend of Western women choosing to convert to Islam.

Broadcaster and journalist Booth, 43, says she now wears a hijab head covering whenever she leaves home, prays five times a day and visits her local mosque ‘when I can’.

She decided to become a Muslim six weeks ago after visiting the shrine of Fatima al-Masumeh in the city of Qom, and says: ‘It was a Tuesday evening, and I sat down and felt this shot of spiritual morphine, just absolute bliss and joy.’

Before her awakening in Iran, she had been ‘sympathetic’ to Islam and has spent considerable time working in Palestine. ‘I was always impressed with the strength and comfort it gave,’ she says.

How, I wondered, could women be drawn to a religion which I felt had kept me in such a lowly, submissive place? How could their experiences of Islam be so very different to mine?

According to Kevin Brice from ­Swansea University, who has specialised in studying white conversion to Islam, these women are part of an intriguing trend.

He explains: ‘They seek spirituality, a higher meaning, and tend to be deep thinkers. The other type of women who turn to Islam are what I call “converts of convenience”. They’ll assume the trappings of the religion to please their Muslim husband and his family, but won’t necessarily attend mosque, pray or fast.’

I spoke to a diverse selection of white Western converts in a bid to re-examine the faith I had rejected.

Women like Kristiane Backer, 43, a London-based former MTV presenter who had led the kind of liberal Western-style life that I yearned for as a teenager, yet who turned her back on it and embraced Islam instead. Her reason? The ‘anything goes’ permissive society that I coveted had proved to be a superficial void.

The turning point for Kristiane came when she met and briefly dated the former Pakistani cricketer and Muslim Imran Khan in 1992 during the height of her career. He took her to Pakistan where she says she was immediately touched by spirituality and the warmth of the people.

Kristiane says: ‘Though our relationship didn’t last, I began to study the Muslim faith and eventually converted. Because of the nature of my job, I’d been out interviewing rock stars, travelling all over the world and following every trend, yet I’d felt empty inside. Now, at last, I had contentment because Islam had given me a purpose in life.’

‘In the West, we are stressed for super­ficial reasons, like what clothes to wear. In Islam, everyone looks to a higher goal. Everything is done to please God. It was a completely different value system.

‘In the West, we are stressed for super­ficial reasons, like what clothes to wear. In Islam, everyone looks to a higher goal. Everything is done to please God’

‘Despite my lifestyle, I felt empty inside and realised how liberating it was to be a Muslim. To follow only one god makes life purer. You are not chasing every fad.

‘I grew up in Germany in a not very religious Protestant family. I drank and I partied, but I realised that we need to behave well now so we have a good after-life. We are responsible for our own actions.’

For a significant amount of women, their first contact with Islam comes from ­dating a Muslim boyfriend. Lynne Ali, 31, from Dagenham in Essex, freely admits to having been ‘a typical white hard-partying teenager’.

She says: ‘I would go out and get drunk with friends, wear tight and revealing clothing and date boys.

‘I also worked part-time as a DJ, so I was really into the club scene. I used to pray a bit as a Christian, but I used God as a sort of doctor, to fix things in my life. If anyone asked, I would’ve said that, generally, I was happy living life in the fast lane.’

But when she met her boyfriend, Zahid, at university, something dramatic happened.

She says: ‘His sister started talking to me about Islam, and it was as if ­everything in my life fitted into place. I think, underneath it all, I must have been searching for something, and I wasn’t feeling fulfilled by my hard-drinking party lifestyle.’

Liberating: Kristiane Backer says being a Muslim makes her life purer

Lynne converted aged 19. ‘From that day, I started wearing the hijab,’ she explains, ‘and I now never show my hair in public. At home, I’ll dress in normal Western clothes in front of my husband, but never out of the house.’

With a recent YouGov survey ­concluding that more than half the ­British public believe Islam to be a negative influence that encourages extremism, the repression of women and inequality, one might ask why any of them would choose such a direction for themselves.

Yet statistics suggest Islamic conversion is not a mere flash in the pan but a significant development. Islam is, after all, the world’s fastest growing religion, and white adopters are an important part of that story.

‘Evidence suggests that the ratio of Western women converts to male could be as high as 2:1,’ says Kevin Brice.

Moreover, he says, often these female ­converts are eager to display the ­visible signs of their faith — in particular the hijab — whereas many Muslim girls brought up in the faith choose not to.

‘Perhaps as a result of these actions, which tend to draw attention, white Muslims often report greater amounts of discrimination against them than do born Muslims,’ adds Brice, which is what happened to Kristiane Backer.

She says: ‘In Germany, there is Islamophobia. I lost my job when I converted. There was a Press campaign against me with insinuations about all Muslims supporting ­terrorists — I was vilified. Now, I am a ­presenter on NBC Europe.

‘I call myself a European Muslim, which is different to the ‘born’ Muslim. I was ­married to one, a Moroccan, but it didn’t work because he placed restrictions on me because of how he’d been brought up. As a European Muslim, I question ­everything — I don’t accept blindly.

‘But what I love is the hospitality and the warmth of the Muslim community. London is the best place in Europe for Muslims, there is wonderful Islamic ­culture here and I am very happy.’

For some converts, Islam represents a celebration of old-fashioned family values.

Ex-MTV Presenter Kristiane Backer with Mick Jagger in the late EightiesEx-MTV Presenter Kristiane Backer with Mick Jagger in the late Eighties

‘Some are drawn to the sense of belonging and of community — values which have eroded in the West,’ says Haifaa Jawad, a senior lecturer at the University of Birmingham, who has studied the white conversion phenomenon.

‘Many people, from all walks of life, mourn the loss in today’s society of traditional respect for the elderly and for women, for example. These are values which are enshrined in the Koran, which Muslims have to live by,’ adds Brice.

It is values like these which drew Camilla Leyland, 32, a yoga teacher who lives in Cornwall, to Islam. A single mother to daughter, Inaya, two, she converted in her mid-20s for ‘intellectual and feminist reasons’.

She explains: ‘I know people will be surprised to hear the words ­“feminism” and “Islam” in the same breath, but in fact, the teachings of the Koran give equality to women, and at the time the religion was born, the teachings went against the grain of a misogynistic society.

Convert: Former DJ Lynne AliEscape route: Former DJ Lynne Ali is happy to pray five times a day

‘The big mistake people make is by confusing culture with religion. Yes, there are Muslim cultures which do not allow women individual freedom, yet when I was growing up, I felt more oppressed by Western society.’

She talks of the pressure on women to act like men by drinking and ­having casual sex. ‘There was no real meaning to it all. In Islam, if you begin a relationship, that is a ­commitment of intent.’

Growing up in Southampton — her father was the director of Southampton Institute of Education and her mother a home economics teacher — Camilla’s interest in Islam began at school.

She went to university and later took a Masters degree in Middle East Studies. But it was while living and working in Syria that she had a spiritual epiphany. Reflecting on what she’d read in the Koran, she realised she wanted to convert.

Her decision was met with bemusement by friends and family.

‘People found it so hard to believe that an educated, middle-class white woman would choose to become Muslim,’ she says.

While Camilla’s faith remains strong, she no longer wears the hijab in public. But several of the women I spoke to said strict Islamic dress was something they found empowering and liberating.

Lynne Ali remembers the night this hit home for her. ‘I went to an old friend’s 21st birthday party in a bar,’ she reveals. ‘I walked in, wearing my hijab and modest clothing, and saw how ­everyone else had so much flesh on display. They were drunk, slurring their words and dancing provocatively.

‘For the first time, I could see my former life with an outsider’s eyes, and I knew I could never go back to that.

‘I am so grateful I found my escape route. This is the real me — I am happy to pray five times a day and take classes at the mosque. I am no longer a slave to a broken society and its expectations.’

Kristiane Backer, who has written a book on her own spiritual journey, called From MTV To Mecca, believes the new breed of modern, independent Muslims can band together to show the world that Islam is not the faith I grew up in — one that stamps on the rights of women.

She says: ‘I know women born Muslims who became disillusioned an d rebelled against it. When you dig deeper, it’s not the faith they turned against, but the culture.

‘Rules like marrying within the same sect or caste and education being less important for girls, as they should get married anyway —– where does it say that in the Koran? It doesn’t.

‘Many young Muslims have abandoned the “fire and brimstone” version they were born into have re-discovered a more spiritual and intellectual approach, that’s free from the cultural dogmas of the older generation. That’s how I intend to spend my life, showing the world the beauty of the true Islam.’

While I don’t agree with their sentiments, I admire and respect the women I interviewed for this piece.

They were all bright and educated, and have thought long and hard before choosing to convert to Islam — and now feel passionately about their adopted religion. Good luck to them. And good luck to Lauren Booth. But it’s that word that sums up the difference between their experience and mine — choice.

Perhaps if I’d felt in control rather than controlled, if I’d felt empowered rather than stifled, I would still be practising the religion I was born into, and would not carry the burden of guilt that I do about rejecting my father’s faith.

Source : Daily mail

New study reveals some 5,000 Britons covert to Islam each year despite growing criticism of Muslim community. Group: People are interested in finding out what Islam is all about

The number of Britons choosing to become Muslims has nearly doubled in the past decade, according to a study published by the Independent newspaper on Tuesday.

The report said the figures were surprising in light of the fact that British Muslims have faced more scrutiny and criticism than any other religious community following the global spread of violent Islamism.

The Independent said estimating the number of converts living in Britain has always been difficult because census data does not differentiate between whether a religious person has adopted a new faith or was born into it. Previous estimates have placed the number of Muslim converts in the UK at between 14,000 and 25,000, according to the British daily.

However, the report said, a new study by the inter-faith think-tank Faith Matters suggests the real figure could be as high as 100,000, with as many as 5,000 new conversions nationwide each year.

By using data from the Scottish 2001 census, researchers estimated that there were 60,699 converts living in Britain in 2001.

‘Most shrug their shoulders’

With no new census planned until next year, the report said, researchers polled mosques in London to try to calculate how many conversions take place a year. The results gave a figure of 1,400 conversions in the capital in the past 12 months which, when extrapolated nationwide, would mean approximately 5,200 people adopting Islam every year.

“This report is the best intellectual ‘guestimate’ using census numbers, local authority data and polling from mosques,” said Fiyaz Mughal, director of Faith Matters. “Either way few people doubt that the number adopting Islam in the UK has risen dramatically in the past 10 years.”

Asked by the Independent why people were converting in such large numbers, Mughal said, “I think there is definitely a relationship between conversions being on the increase and the prominence of Islam in the public domain. 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 of 25 years who works at the Islamic Foundation and runs the New Muslims Project, one of the earliest groups set up specifically to help converts, told the Independent she believed the new figures were “a little on the high side.”"My guess would be the real figure is somewhere in between previous estimates, which were too low, and this latest one,” she said. “I definitely think there has been a noticeable increase in the number of converts in recent years. The media often tries to pinpoint specifics but the reasons are as varied as the converts themselves.”

Source : ynetnews

A survey of Muslim students at 30 universities throughout Britain has found that 32 per cent believe that killing in the name of Islam is acceptable and that 40 per cent want Sharia law established in the UK, reports Christian Concern for our Nation.

The comprehensive survey was initiated by the Centre for Social Cohesion. It examined students’ attitudes to key issues such as killing in the name of religion, establishing a worldwide Caliphate, introducing Sharia law to the UK and setting up an Islamic political party in the UK. Of the 32 per cent who believe that killing in the name of Islam is acceptable, 28 per cent said that killing could be justified “only if the religion was under attack”, and 4 per cent supported killing “in order to promote and preserve that religion”.

Of the 40 per cent who supported the establishment of Sharia law in the UK, 33 per cent said they want to see the introduction of a worldwide Caliphate based on Sharia law. The overwhelming majority supported the introduction of Sharia into British law for Muslims. The survey also found that found 54 per cent of respondents wanted a Muslim party to represent their worldview in Parliament.

In July 2010, another survey by the same organisation revealed that the majority of Islamic terrorist activity in the UK over the last ten years has involved British citizens. It compiled the profiles of 124 individuals convicted of Islamic terrorism offences and found that 69 per cent of offences between 1999 and 2009 were carried out by British citizens. Almost a third of those had attended university. In June 2009, the think-tank Civitas made an investigation into the number of Islamic legal establishments in Britain and concluded that there are at least 85 Islamic Sharia courts operating in the country.

The recent investigation of the case of Taimour Abdulwahab Al-Abdaly, the Stockholm suicide bomber, found that Luton council, in the area where he lived, had been handed more than £550,000 of taxpayers’ money to combat extremism but have failed to tip off police about a single terror suspect. The grants were handed out to mosques, schools and women’s projects by the council to prevent young Muslims being radicalised. It is reported that the Luton Islamic Centre, where the bomber preached before being banned, refused to sign up to the Government scheme as its leaders did not want to inform on their “Muslim brothers and sisters”.

The Centre’s chairman Qadeer Baksh said: “If we had taken the money our members would have seen us as working for the Government. The young men with radical views would not have listened to us. I have never called the police or authorities on anyone.” Commenting on the case, Melanie Phillips, a Daily Mail and Spectator columnist, wrote that it showed “yet another radicalised British Muslim university graduate”. “He was but the latest in an unremitting procession of British Muslims who have committed terrorist attacks in other countries. And many have been educated to a high level in Britain.

“Over the past decade, around 30 Muslim graduates or students at British universities have been involved in Islamic-inspired terrorism, including former University College London student Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who has been charged with trying to blow up a U.S. airliner with explosives hidden in his underpants,” she wrote.

Source :

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) – Fingers were not lickin’ good for KFC in their bid to sell fried chicken to Islamic customers in Britain. It hoped to woo the Islamic market by opening over 100 outlets selling halal-only meat, slaughtered under strict religious guidelines.

However, Dr Nassem Chairman of Birmingham central Mosque said that the method used for slaughtering by machine was not Halal. The slaughtering must be performed by a muslim while reciting the tasmiyyah on each and every animal, which is an important part of the slaughter for halal, as per the guidance for halal as set by the Food standard Agency. And the fact the tasmiyyah is being played over a speaker means each bird it not blessed individually as it is killed by a machine.

KFC insisted their methods met the approval of the Halal Food Authority, ( Private business).

A survey carried out by Islamic Scholars here in the UK said that machine slaughter was deemed not to be Halal. This view was also endorsed by the Lancashire Council of Mosques at their meeting with KFC, and also the Birmingham Council of Mosques who have also gone on record that machine slaughter is Haraam.

Asking a private business to certify the product does not make it Halal.
Dr Yunes Teinaz, advisor to the Islamic Cultural Centre and the London Central Mosque Trust, said: “What is required is a government-supervised body for the sale and production of halal meat, with the issue of the guidance for halal to the local authority enforcement officers who are now requested to use this advice when planning inspections, food sampling and labelling checks relating to Halal foods.

They should then take appropriate enforcement action where necessary to protect the interests of the Muslim Community. The mislabelling and misrepresentation of Halal foods is of great importance to the Muslim Community, and continues to be an issue of concern.

We have now warned the UK’s 2.4 million Muslims not to eat KFC meat, Imam Yusuf Shabbir of the Lancashire Council of Mosques said: “With KFC confirming to us that it has no intention of changing the mechanical method of slaughter we will advise members of the Muslim community of this.” Any companies claiming to do machine slaughter will also be deemed to be not Halal.

How can KFC claim some of their restaurants are halal and the majority of them are not, when the same slaughtering process has been adopted which is identical for both types of restaurant? It’s either halal or not, it can’t be both, that’s why its important to label every thing 100% Halal.

Though the Daily Mail recently highlighted the situation that all KFC restaurants are using halal chicken, but the UK public don’t know, they have done nothing to change their policy.

Lord Nazir Ahmed of Rotherham said in his interview in front of the Houses of Lords that Machine slaughter / Blessed Blade is not a method for Halal slaughtering. He also stated that companies that are issuing Halal certificates to organizations using machine slaughter / Blessed Blade are committing a crime and should be reported to the government/ Local Authorities.

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