British Muslim converts : an investigation of conversion and de-conversion processes to and from Islam

Alyedreessy, Mona (2016) British Muslim converts : an investigation of conversion and de-conversion processes to and from Islam. (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .


This study proposes an investigation into the formation of a new British Muslim identity, alongside various personal and social challenges and consequences many Muslim converts face as a result of conversion to, and in some cases from, Islam. The thesis analyses the factors and elements that greatly contribute to a more positive conversion experience and draws on insights from colonial history, the political climate, the Islamic fitrah, and western theories on conversion and identity development. Based on a qualitative study sample of thirty-four British converts, the thesis argues that many challenges Muslim converts face are due to them having a limited understanding of Islamic teachings and their rights. The study was guided by research questions: What are the anticipated benefits and positive elements that encouraged the start and continuation of an Islamic conversion journey? What constitutes a comfortable and balanced British Muslim identity and lifestyle for westerners? and What are the main problems and challenges new Muslims face that can lead to de-conversion? Is Lewis Rambo’s stage model, alongside Helen Ebaugh’s de-conversion stages appropriate for the study of conversion and de-conversion to and from Islam? It was found that those who enjoyed being Muslims were able to create a balanced British Muslim identity by negotiating and applying their own western values to their understanding of The Prophet Muhammad’s biography and The Quran, and integrated Islamic values into their own environments and everyday lives that were free from foreign cultural practices. It was important to understand what they were expecting to benefit from Islam and how they later perceived, practised, expressed and understood their new faith and identities as British Muslims. The study also examines how converts deal with Islamophobia and extremism, and how Islamic conversions can be perceived as a threat to White British identity, social class and values. The participants shared common difficulties regarding gender and racial discrimination, living among Muslims, identity development, marriage, parenting, Muslim culture, isolation, integration and practising Islam, but at different levels, and with differing consequences. The sacrifices, challenges and consequences faced by some individuals as a result of a de-conversion are explored, which includes living with hidden identities as ‘closeted disaffiliates’ out of fear of abuse and stigmatisation.

Actions (Repository Editors)

Item Control Page Item Control Page