Date of Award

1-1-2019

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Department

Religious Studies

First Advisor

Andrea Stanton, Ph.D.

Keywords

American converts to Islam, Born-Muslims, Immigrants, Islam, Post-conversion experiences, Religious conversion

Abstract

American converts to Islam and their post-conversion experiences do not attract the attention of many researchers and policy makers in the United States. They have been understudied or overlooked as they are positioned at the margins of studies of Islam and in Muslim communities in the US. Interest in and attention to converts to Islam, however, is triggered once a few embrace an extreme worldview, especially if they join a terrorist group. Therefore, this research intends to add the complexity and diversity of post-conversion experiences of American converts to Islam to the literature of conversion to Islam studies in the US. Following lived-religion qualitative assessment, this research investigates the challenges that American converts to Islam encounter during and after their conversion to Islam as well as the ways in which they navigate through and negotiate these challenges. It finds that American converts to Islam tend to grapple with distinguishing between what is and is not Islamic, what is theologically-based and what is culturally-based.

Many of these challenges and struggles that converts face are due to some cultural and traditional practices of born-Muslims in the U.S. and all over the world. In order to identify these challenges, I explore these post-conversion experiences in the light of Lewis Rambo's theory of seven phases of conversion people go through during their religious conversion. Several personal post-conversion testimonials of various converts from different backgrounds in the context of the United States, according to Rambo's (1993) 'Stage Theory', demonstrates the complexity and sometimes the contradictory nature of post-conversion experiences. Due to the complexity of such research, the paper narrows its focus on the lived-religion qualitative assessment of mosques' websites, da`wah groups' websites, YouTube channels, blogs and articles related to converts to Islam and published post-9/11 in the US. Further, the paper prioritizes experiences of converts in relationship to Muslim communities in the US over converts' experiences with their pre-conversion non-Muslim networks. Studying converts to Islam provides better understanding of the internal complexities of Muslims in the US for researchers, policy makers and Muslims themselves as it highlights converts' diverse experiences such as loss, isolation, confusion, and belonging.

Provenance

Received from ProQuest

Rights holder

Muhammad Abdelhakam Kolila

File size

120 p.

File format

application/pdf

Language

en

Discipline

Islamic studies, Religion

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