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The conversion process in stages: new Muslims in the twenty-first century


Islam and Christian–Muslim Relations Journal abstract

This study deals with stages in the process of conversion to Islam. However, unlike the extensive research on pre-conversion stages, this contribution looks at post-conversion development. The initial stage after conversion brings with it a zealotry in which converts tend to become ‘more royal than the king’. The second stage tends to be a period of disappointment with the new peer group. The third stage is one of acceptance, when converts accept that Muslims are ‘ordinary’ human beings with shortcomings rather than saints who manage to totally live up to the ‘ideal’ of Islam. The fourth stage is one of secularization, when converts tend to adopt a private religious attitude to the religion. This stage is to a great extent linked to the post-9/11 situation, in which many Muslims feel targeted as potential terrorists, but it also reflects the extent to which converts integrate into Muslim communities. Some converts continue to practise religious precepts in this fourth stage, while others leave their religious practice and become non-practising Muslims. The stages in the conversion process are also discussed in terms of Susman's modal types of ‘character’ versus ‘personality’. Converts tend to adopt the modal type of ‘character’ as they embrace Islam. In the fourth stage, however, converts tend to return fully to the modal type of ‘personality’, the modal type into which most of them were socialized.

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