Lauren Booth’s conversion to Islam highlights a trend that has seen an increasing number of white, professional British women, abandoning a liberal lifestyle and turning to Islam and the worship of Allah (swt).
Many have ridiculed such an assertion, however. A journalist wrote: “There were so many random, petty rules. No whistling. No chewing of gum. No riding bikes. No watching Top Of The Pops. No wearing make-up or clothes which revealed the shape of my body. No eating in the street or putting my hands in my pockets. No cutting my hair or painting my nails. No asking questions or answering back. No keeping dogs as pets (they’re unclean).
These ground rules were imposed by my father and I, therefore, assumed they must be an integral part of being a good Muslim. Small wonder, then, that as soon as I was old enough to exert my independence, I rejected the whole package. After all, what modern, liberated British woman would choose to live such a life?”
In spite of the unprecedented volume of attacks on Islam since 9/11, many women who have very successful careers are choosing Islam in an environment where it is not easy to be a Muslim in public life.
In the 2001 Census, there were at least 30,000 British Muslim converts in the UK. According to Kevin Brice, of the Centre for Migration Policy Research, Swansea University, this number may now be closer to 50,000 – and the majority are women.
“Basic analysis shows that increasing numbers of young, university-educated women in their twenties and thirties are converting to Islam,” confirms Brice. At the London Central Mosque in Regent’s Park, women account for roughly two thirds of the “New Muslims” who make their official declarations of faith – and most of them are under the age of 30.
So the question that comes to mind is why are so-called liberated women choosing Islam.
Kristiane Backer, 43, and former MTV presenter led the kind of liberal Western-style life that many white British teenagers yearn for, yet turned her back on it and embraced Islam. In describing her reasons, she said: “the ‘anything goes’ permissive society that I coveted had proved to be a superficial void.” In a Daily mail article she said: “Because of the nature of my job, I’d been out interviewing rock stars, travelling all over the world and following every trend, yet I’d felt empty inside. Now, at last, I had contentment because Islam had given me a purpose in life. In the West, we are stressed for superficial reasons, like what clothes to wear. In Islam, everyone looks to a higher goal. Everything is done to please God. It was a completely different value system. Despite my lifestyle, I felt empty inside and realised how liberating it was to be a Muslim. To follow only one god makes life purer. You are not chasing every fad”
According to Kevin Brice from Swansea University, who has specialised in studying white conversion to Islam explained that such women are part of an intriguing trend. He explains: “They seek spirituality, a higher meaning, and tend to be deep thinkers.”
While 9/11 has led to a western military and ideological onslaught on Islam, 9/11 has also been the catalyst for increasing numbers, born and bred in the west, to question and reject western hedonistic values and convert to Islam, discovering the true meaning and purpose for life, which provides tranquility and peace of mind.