REBUTTAL- “Women & Islam: The rise and rise of the convert”

By Guest contributor Sarah Hunak- The rise of the single white female muslim documented in a mainstream broadsheet newspaper was a bit of a surprise and at first glance a refreshing change to the usual drivel written about Muslims in the British media.

The article in the Independent Newspaper “Women & Islam: The rise and rise of the convert” started off with some shocking statistics. All praise be to Allah most high that women in their thousands are converting to Islam. The article did, however, seem to try and sway the reader to thinking that most of these Single White Females (SWF’s) converted because they were marrying a muslim man, forced into it, jumping on the bandwagon, just doing it because their friends were. These are the kinds of rebuttals that I presume were being thought by non-muslims reading the article, no doubt the author’s attempt to rationalise such high numbers.

In fact, my own parents made similar assumptions when I started to recently wear the hijab. “oh so you’ve got a Pakistani boyfriend have you?”, “just because your friends are all wearing it, doesn’t mean you have to as well”.

“The sad thing is, whilst being too busy looking for excuses as to why we SWFs are turning to Islam, they’re missing the very reasons why this religion with its outward appearance of being strict and regimented, is attracting converts in their thousands!”

Faith is a funny thing to those who don’t have it. The ‘case studies’ interviewed at the end of the article didn’t do much to answer this question either. They ran along similar lines of – I’m doing it for hubby.

More important than the statistics was the highlighting of issues faced by recent reverts, a pertinent point amongst us newbies. Whilst I’m tempted again to think of the ulterior motives of the author for highlighting yet another flaw to converts and Islam, it is a valid point that the Islamic community can be very insular. Never mind the muslims not mixing with the non-muslims, it’s the Pakistanis not mixing with the Somalis and the Bengalis not mixing with the Arabs and each cultural group keeping themselves so much to themselves that there is no way that the born muslims would even think of mixing with the new muslims!

I found this too at the start. It’s hard to break into these already well established groups as a newbie. There’s a lot of furore around a person wanting to become a muslim. People can’t be helpful enough to notch up another shahada on their record! But it’s the aftermath that’s the issue. I’ve heard awful stories about new muslims being disowned by their families. Friends no longer want to know you because you’re ‘boring’ now, and Eid can be a VERY lonely time indeed. We want sisterhood. We want classes that run from the VERY basics, not ones that start aimed at people with a good decade or two of knowledge behind them. Books are great, but there’s no one to ask the silly questions to about where my feet should be in prayer or how on earth you pronounce this word correctly!

Born muslims can be a bit intimidating to ask, we feel like our questions are dumb, and that every other muslim in the whole world knows it, and we don’t want to look stupid. Yes, it’s something we should be trying to beat, but we all got that little bit of pride that will stop us from asking some of the silly basic questions and it can be very off putting, and there’s the danger of not asking, not getting an answer, getting frustrating, and then giving up, which is a trap that we all need to strive to not letting our new brothers and sisters in faith fall into. This was something that unfortunately I can relate too clearly with.

Having ‘officially’ reverted almost 9 years ago, I can honestly say that I did nothing really about it due to lack of support and fear of looking daft for too many years. Alhamdullilah since moving to Manchester, I have found a brilliant support group for new muslims. I can’t emphasise the importance of having that encouragement around you as a new muslim. We meet once a week and we can ask all the silly questions we want from the correct way to perform ghusl to what to wear under our abayas! We’re all in the same boat and no one feels stupid. To the sisters who run this group, my heartfelt thanks. I pray Allah (swt) will reward them a million times over for the amazing work they do for us. I hope this goes some way to inspire other people to set up similar groups around the country for fellow reverts.

Imagine all the reverts, like me, who will be making dua for you, imagine how many shahadas might be taken in your presence, imagine the blessings upon your meetings, and the continued blessings gained from the knowledge you pass on insha’Allah.

As more and more reverts turn to Islam and more and more ‘mixed’ marriages take place (it’s sunnah ya know! Tell your Pak parents to think of the fair-skinned grandkids if you must!), I pray for a time where cultural and geographic barriers no longer exist, and we are united as one Muslim ummah. Ameen.

Sarah Hunak is 26, single white female living in Manchester. Reverted 9 years ago, wavered, came back, and now proud to call myself a Muslim 


  1. Majed:
    now norway has legalised incest? Where? Cousin marriages is also incest and still its a higly common practice in many cultures tough not in europe. In pakistan cousin marriages is very common.

    Hitler and his cronies were christians….they believed god was on the side of their army and that their persecution of jews and gypsies and homosexuals were morally and religiously warranted. Whether or not christians see Hitler as a religious leader means nothing. He wasnt trying to be one. He was a religious politician.

    No need to email Obama. The US declaration of independance refereces god 3 times. Ben Franklin, John Quincy Adams and several others of the ‘founding fathers’ stated in documents that the constitution and declarations basic principles are the principles of ‘god the father’.

    The endless nature of spacetime does not concern us being borne or having everlasting life at all. I dont think you understand what spacetime is because if you did you wouldnt ask a question with no relation.

  2. kaiser:

    1) Encouraged or not this is discrimination. Women must have the same rights as men to marry the ppl they want to marry. And I must say that if children are dependant on their parents to become muslims…that doesnt really speak well of your confidence in ppl findint out the ‘truth’ for themselves. Why is that? And how on earth can this be fair to babies borne in non muslim families? They have less chance of becoming muslims and avoiding hell….innocent babies. Fair god?

    2) noone here is talking about homosexuals having children…its simply not the subject at hand.

    3) Physical strength is of no concern. Good leadership is only about mental capabilities and women are as good as men in that area. In Scandinavia we have built the most peaceful and stable and rich societies in the world because women leaders are common and because women have as much authority as men. Or are you saying men are smarter than women?

    4) Pakistan has way more rape cases per capita….spousal rape was even legal in pakistan for long periods. If you know pakistan well then you know that spousal rape has been legalised in periods.

    • Julia:

      1. How to define what is discrimination & whats not,according to u its discrimination but according to me its when if seen in wider perspective.

      Surely family environment is utmost importance for developing moral values.Yes I do agree with u that moral values may be different for me & u. Ur moral values allow lot of things which are not allowed by my values.( i can go in million examples but that wouldnt serve the purpose). Say baby born with parents & in that father tell him one thing & mother another,what will become of baby when he grows up? Surely confused,druggie & would end up living on state benefits! No wounder such people are on rise in all western societies.

      Regarding becoming Muslim,Islam is not the fastest growing religion?If u deny it then better look into CIA & other sources & no one disagree with what I am saying.Just recently numbers of Muslims surpassed the Catholics!

      2. U really think that societies can be based on homosexuals? I know that homosexuality is present from dawn of humanity & would continue to but encouraging it would result in total choas..(I mean no insult to u if you are one). I can give u examples that societies already showing signs of decay cuz of so called liberalization of sexual values. You are right its not the matter of debate here,& if u agree with shortcomings of homosexuality for whole society then I think Islamic or religious stand is right.

      Islam or any religion doesnt take consideration of just couple sexual feelings but it has to think of whole society as well.Society in order to progress need collective wisdom & in that many decisions may not be liked by many,but that how any law work.
      3.lolz…So u are trying to tell me that in your ideal Scandinavian societies women are one equal with men in every walk of life?let me think,,,,hmm,,women must be having equal share in army or in parliament or in civil service! If i am wrong please correct me!I am saying women are smarter but wounder why they are equal in every field of life! If i am not wrong women get suffrage in 1813 & that parliament was overwhelmingly consist of female members!..lolz.

      4. I can bet on it that u cant tell 5 cities name of Pakistan let alone rape cases! Btw what exactly mean by spouse rape?U mean rape by husband? hmm,,,i wounder how some one got that information from such private affairs of couple. NO i strongly refute ur claim that Pakistan has more per capital rape or whatever,its gift of liberal western societies.

      One last thing,no one is forcing u to become muslim or adopt muslim or any religious way,its entirely upto u whatever u profess & practice.”NO compulsion in religion” is my motto & at same time “for you yours religion & for me mine”.I wouldn’t mind answering u but to be honest I am quite busy man & only reason i am answering that u may be interested in learning or understanding other side thinking but seem that not the case.Hope u come up with some thing positive other wise I may not be able to answer u back

      Tc Salam upon u.

  3. kaiser:

    1) Again; if parents are instrumental in making ppl muslims (and parents are instrumental) then it doesnt speak very well about islam being the one true way. Children in muslim families usually grow up to become muslims…children in non muslim families usually end up becoming non muslims. You believe in a god that give innocent babies an unfair deal if they are borne in non muslim families. It doesnt make sense.
    People grow up to become as good people in the west as much as in the east, but we will not agree on values. For me its shocking that men in parts of the world think its right for example to deny women driving cars…for others this is a good thing. We will never agree.

    The CIA (why on earth talk about the CIA? :) doenst create statistics on demographical developments. It’s not a census bureau, It’s an intelligence agency. It’s also an american intelligence agency and as such even if we werent debating demography but secret services it would have no relevance for me.
    Noone argues that Islam is today the worlds fastest growing religion and noone argues that the cause is the arab youth wave. Just like noone argues that in 15-20 years christianity will be the fastest growing religion because of sub-saharan demographics. So what?

    2) We are not debating if you can build societies on homosexuality. We are debating the human rights of homosexuals. A certain % of ppl will always be borne as homosexuals and we are debating if our society should be advanced and human and allow them full rights…of if our society should be one of discrimination.

    3) Yes women are equal with men in norway. Women have the same right as men to inlist in the army if they wish to do that, just like men can inlist if the wish to do that. Half our parliament and top politicians are women. This goes without saying since here we understand that women are as intelligent as men and therefor women are not kept away from power. In this way we can utilize the full human potential of our people and create a stable and safe society where children can grow up in safety with education and without the class differences that wrech societies in most parts of the world.

    4) Spousal rape is indeed rape by husband. In interviews made by amnesty international 50% of pakistani women told they were victims of non-censentual sex at home. You dont however need private information to know that spousal rape has not been a crime in pakistan for long periods. Pakistans legislation is a matter of public record. Zia Ul Haqs goverment made spousal rape legal…the same is done in pashtun areas of afghanistan.

    5) *no compulsion in religion* is of course a meaningless statement. If you really meant that then you wouldnt tell your children what religion to believe in…you would let them find out about religion for themselves when they are old enough. But you dont have the confidence in your religion to let them do that. Instead you do indeed compel them to become muslims.

  4. Tanveer Khan says:

    Yeah KSA banning women from driving cars. Im mystified by this.Where did wahhabis get this from? Im pretty sure cars didnt exist during the time of the Prophet PBUH. Im also pretty sure he didnt forbid women from riding camels, donkeys, horses etc.

  5. I’m touched. i am born Muslim, living in a country with no obstruction to practice Islam but we surely take for granted by this opportunities. May Allah grant you Jannah and may Allah ease your journey towards Him. :)

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