By: Fatima makki
An article published by Press TV discussed the issue of the increasing number of Muslim converts,in Britain and the West, as welland how the media is getting more and more concerned with the increasing number. The author, Mansour Ismail, explains the meaning of conversion and how Islam is not a mere faith but rather a life style to which one commits and adheres to.
Why should this trend in lifestyles cause so much concern to the media? Converting is only change of opinion and philosophy. Itís really nothing material. When one's thoughts are more natural and truthful then one easily becomes a Muslim. The word Muslim is not a title or identity of a community, nation or country. It is not nationalistic or political philosophy. In Arabic language it only means ďwho or what is natural and truthful, honest, realistic, consciously aware, enlightened with knowledge and that is IslamĒ. The word Muslim Ummah is understood to mean global Muslim Nation in a political sense. This may be a serious misunderstanding. The word Ummah in Arabic language means followers in a sense of a root from which rises a tree and its branches, leaves, flowers and fruits. Everything follows and grows up from the root source. Philosophically, Ummah have one religious belief in their hearts which is a root of their religion and they flourish in different branches, colors, and contributions to the world. Itís very much a natural belief and cannot be adopted into any political ideology. The root of the Muslim Ummah is their faith which they proclaim every day in their 5 times prayers and on calling for congregational community prayers as we hear on loudspeakers outside the Mosques. This is my understanding of Islam as a Muslim in mind, after I have read so many authentic books since early school days. The status of Muslim converts has become something of amazement for many years in Britain. Some of the British people who have reached an agreement with Islamic faith appear to convert to Muslim fashions, dressing and way of life which they show on media to be very different to the civilization and culture of Britain as seen in the lifestyles of the majority. This suggests some kind of discrimination in making choices about culture and civilization to which one feels one must belong. When we compare the two sets of cultures and the civilization we will see obvious differences in: (a) Fashion and dressing (b) Choices of meals (c) Choices of drinks (d) Behaviors, manners and etiquettes at home (e) Table manners (f) Religious knowledge and practice (g) Moral and ethical standards With the new Muslim converts showing themselves as more strict and conservatives than the individuals born and grown up within Muslim communities of India, Pakistan and Middle East, there appears to be some kind of a campaign going on. There may be the campaigns that are thought of as threatening to the cultures and civilization of Britain and therefore a threat to their peace and security. This may be the main concern in the media. It is noteworthy that vast majority of Muslim converts are in the educational and intellectual fields when in fact Islam is a religion for the poor, farmers and those not belonging to any fine culture or civilization of the world. Their intelligence is more of naturalist minds and suitable for the poor and working class. We find that many Muslim converts who are teachers and artists present a humble way of life as it is common with teachers and artists in British life but their philosophy of life is much more different to the poor and farming class in India, Pakistan and Middle East. They do not share common interests and philosophy of life. There is also obvious discrimination in Britain between the Muslim converts and inherent Muslims of other communities in Britain. The discrimination is very subtle. It is probably not on the above listed matters but more on intelligence and philosophical matters. Is such discrimination good or bad? Indeed, there are class discriminations in all the societies and communities around the world. There are also similar class discriminations within the Muslim Ummah around the world and the prejudices of the rich against the poor are clear and obvious in broad daylight.
The majority of population in British civilization raises voices in the media saying they dislike the Muslim culture, religious laws and their way of life. They illustrate their discriminations with examples of cases relating to domestic violence, family laws, marriage customs, parental responsibilities and other social issues found in British courts. Many also speak out against Muslim Ummah saying that they are a thousand years behind in civilization with Britain, United States and Europe.
All these are clear and obvious scenarios which we see every day in the media. It is not clear what roles the new Muslim converts are playing with their attitudes and presentations of very strict and conservative Muslim Ummah to the letter of the laws of Islam. When conversion is merely philosophical, it should not disturb and upset completely a personís life so that he or she assumes a new identity in the name of a Muslim. I think that a person brought up in a Christian family can easily change his or her opinion about God and religion which may make him or her Muslim in faith. This condition can go unnoticed if one continues with his or her life and work as normal. He or she may make some changes to lifestyles, such as giving up on alcohol and taking soft drinks instead, stop smoking, giving up on drugs, avoid falling into temptations of sexual sins. Such changes and improvements to life will be appreciated by members of all religions of the world. On more serious matters about the fundamental doctrine, he or she may say the prayers in a manner that it is worship to God as Muslims behave. If there is Muslim mosque in the town, one may enter the Mosque and join in congregational prayers at the appropriate time. One may continue to go to the Church and pay respect to the community but should avoid falling into an argument with people by saying his or her Muslim prayers at the Church. Over time, the Priest may allow saying prayers the Islamic way in the Church and it may become socially acceptable. This all depends on the manners and behavior of a person after he or she had further improved and developed his or her philosophy by conversion to Muslim on the basis of Islamic literature. In India and the East many of the Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh temples do allow Muslim farmers and laborers to say their prayers in separate rooms where there are no idol carvings. There really is no need of so much controversy over changing oneís opinions and beliefs to find more personal happiness and satisfaction in the books and literature that one reads. Books and literature do not change the world and what is recorded in writing is not a security concern for a religion, culture or civilization. It is the psychology of people that changes the world either for the good or for the bad.