London: The number of Britons converting
to Islam has nearly doubled in the past decade, despite the
fact that the UK has witnessed a rise in Islamophobia over the
same period, according to a comprehensive study by inter-faith
think tank Faith matters.
Previous estimates have placed the number of Muslim
converts in the UK at between 14,000 and 25,000, but Faith
Matters`s study suggests that the real figure could be as high
as 100,000, with as many as 5,000 new conversions each year.
Britain has witnessed a rise in Islamophobia since
September 11 and the London July 7 attacks, but figures reveal
that this has not adversely affected the number of people
converting to Islam.
By using data from the Scottish 2001 census ? the only
survey to ask respondents what their religion was at birth as
well as at the time of the survey ? researchers broke down
what proportion of Muslim converts there were and then
extrapolated the figures for Britain as a whole, The
Independent reported today.
Researchers polled mosques in London to try to
calculate how many conversions take place a year.
The results gave a figure of 1,400 conversions in the
capital in the past 12 months which, when extrapolated
nationwide, would mean approximately 5,200 people adopting
Islam every year.
The figures are comparable with studies in Germany and
France which found that there were around 4,000 conversions a
Fiyaz Mughal, director of Faith Matters, admitted that
coming up with a reliable estimate of the number of converts
to Islam was notoriously difficult.
"This report is the best intellectual `guestimate`
using census numbers, local authority data and polling from
mosques," he said.
"Either way few people doubt that the number adopting
Islam in the UK has risen dramatically in the past 10 years,"
Inayat Bunglawala, founder of Muslims4UK, which
promotes active Muslim engagement in British society, said the
figures were "not implausible".
He said: "It would mean that around one in 600 Britons
is a convert to the faith," he said.
"Islam is a missionary religion and many Muslim
organisations and particularly university students` Islamic
societies have active outreach programmes designed to remove
popular misconceptions about the faith," he said.