You are here:   Features > Why do Western Women Convert?

Sister act: A Muslim woman at prayer (AFP/Getty Images)

Following 9/11, the number of people converting to Islam began to rise. In the US it is estimated that approximately 30,000 convert annually. There are about 2.4 million Muslims in Britain and studies suggest there are between 10,000 and 14,000 white converts among them. It is estimated that 75 per cent are female.

As a feminist who rejects religion on the grounds that it promotes inequality between men and women, I wanted to try to understand why so many women are attracted to Islam. Its messages are clear about a woman's role. She will be subservient to her husband and devote her life to pleasing him and raising his children. "If a man calls his wife to his bed, and she refuses, and he goes to sleep angry with her, the angels will curse her until morning," is a popular phrase recited to Muslim women during religious study. 

"The true Muslim woman is always keen to win her husband's love and to please him. Nothing should spoil his happiness or enjoyment of life," says the Sisters' section of The website also has a section on how the Taliban upheld certain rights of women that are "non-existent in the West". 

Saskia converted to Islam 15 years ago during her first year at university. "I did so because I married a Muslim. I can't imagine why women would do it for other reasons." But prior to meeting her future husband, Saskia had begun to engage with Islam. "The Bible can be vague about the roles of men and women and I wanted certainty. Islam gave me that." She was brought up by an atheist father and a "pushy feminist" mother who occasionally attended church. "Although they had quite a traditional marriage, my mother made it clear that the only options for her daughter's future, as far as she was concerned, were an education and a career. I rebelled."

Soon after starting at university, Saskia began attending its Islamic Society through which she met Muayid, a Moroccan Muslim. "I was attracted to the conservative family values and the high esteem in which mothers are held." Dropping out of university, Saskia married Muayid and had two children within the first three years. But she was unhappy. "Marriage to Muayid was very hard. I wanted to be a good Muslim but he hardly prayed and almost never went to mosque." Saskia became increasingly devout and as a result tension built up in the relationship. The children would be taken to mosque every day to learn Arabic but Muayid was uninterested in their education. "He didn't even work, even though the Koran makes it clear that a man has to provide for his wife."

The fact that Muayid's family lived in Morocco meant that there was no pressure on him to change his ways. "The mother reigns supreme in Islam and even grown men have to respect and obey them," says Saskia. "If I needed Muayid to listen to me I would ask my mother to talk to him, which sometimes worked."

View Full Article
Sonya Anew
July 24th, 2014
12:07 AM
I have been doing my homework on a number of things in this day and age. Feminism, unfortunately, has gone terribly wrong in the West. Women have been brainwashed into believing they don't need a man when having a man is one of the things that comes to them most naturally. The effects of modern culture on the western family are devastating. There are fewer men in the West who are interested in marriage and family life. As a result, western white women, in particular, catch the fancy of Muslim men of Middle Eastern and East Asian origin. The vast majority of women want a provider and a protector and, in order to have it, a good number of them will convert to a religion with draconian laws, wed and bed with potential terrorists, and birth anti-American people's children. This may give you some insight.

May 15th, 2014
9:05 AM
The idea that people (non-muslims) especially women convert to Islam under some compulsion or live under under compulsion after converting is not true and is a lie. AT LEAST- Because in western world there are good ways to live and die like a non-muslim. Noone in this world, like I repeat in non-muslim countries, cannot be forced to accept islam. This is all because of ALLAH SWT shows the way.

May 9th, 2014
3:05 PM
this is very interesting, its just so sad to see muslims trying to defend islam knowing so well the truth in everything that has been said. i think islam is more appealing to minorities because of racism, islam makes them feel like they are rebelling and kinda gives them some sense of false authority. women on the other hand turn to islam probably for the same reason, also i think women naturally are protective. muslims do try to make it look as if everyone is against islam and muslims are being discriminated against. they always make islam look desperate and under attack, this particularly appeals to the women protective instinct... my thoughts

March 13th, 2014
10:03 PM
The woman who was gang-raped and converted, may have been suffering from a form of Stockholm syndrome. There are many stories of clubbers who convert. They cite disgust with their former promiscuous, drunken lifestyles, and their satisfaction with their newfound modesty, but they could just have easily chosen a modest secular lifestyle. As far as I'm aware there is no party police forcing girls to go and behave horribly. Obviously some do it for marriage, and others as a form of rebellion. One thing I find interesting is that I've yet to hear someone say that they converted after a serious study of Islam and realising that it is the truth. I did meet a Muslim woman who converted to Judaism, but was too afraid to tell her family lest they try to kill her. Unfortunately, most of the western women who convert have no idea what they're getting themselves into - polygamy, sanctioned domestic violence, modesty patrols, etc. It's really very sad as millions of Muslim women would love to have the freedoms that these women are throwing away.

January 1st, 2014
9:01 PM
(("Violence and abuse are allowed")) This statement is false. In islam, it is not allowed for a man to abuse women physically or mentally. Its sad that many Muslims are ignorant about their own religion.

November 20th, 2013
3:11 PM
the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

October 8th, 2013
1:10 AM
People should understand that individual muslim's acts do not always portray islam... as with christians.. hitler was a christian... do we blame christianity for his acts? highly biased article!

September 26th, 2013
9:09 AM
If you study the Islamic history, you will find stories of Men and women who were living at the same time with the prophet Mohammad" peace up on him" who hurt and bothered the prophet while they were muslims and non muslims. The prophet showed them how they could behave for themselves, their families or for others. His respect and love to all specially children and women, the poor and slaves, the Black and white a real view of what Quran is teaching the human being. We, men/women, should follow Mohammad's "P..." manner in our lives to reach to the peak of rationality, morality and humanity.

July 3rd, 2013
1:07 PM
From the picture at the beginning of the right-up, I know its gonna be biased! The picture pictured somewhat unhappy covered woman, which try to portray that's how Muslim women are. Not minding to ask whether that's how Islam made it compulsory for the women. In the first place, covering of women's body is only in the presence of men who are not are close relations! And the Niqab/burqa (the picture) above is never compulsory in Islam.

April 21st, 2013
7:04 AM
So you think Muhammed (in the final story) acted upon the teachings of Islam? Absolutely not!. And so do many others who do stuff totally out of the fold of Islam and claim it to be affliated to the religion. Your final comment ".. choose a lifestyle that brings subjugated existence" makes me laugh out loud! I am a Muslim woman and the hijab has undoubtedly liberated me. And yes it was never forced over me and I choose to adopt it.

Post your comment

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.