By Ali Sina
Usually people who convert to Islam have had
some religious upbringing in their childhood and then a rebellious
adolescence filled with crimes and unruliness. These youth are torn apart
psychologically. They often come from broken or otherwise dysfunctional
families and have very low self-esteem. Lack of self-esteem is the root
cause of all evils. Youth
such as these gravitate towards drugs and crime not because of the
pleasure they get from this wretched life but because they want to belong.
In the lowlife, they find their peers and a community where they can
belong. They often join gangs in the quest to find a surrogate family.
Nevertheless because of their religious
upbringing and or because of the pangs of conscience there is a war waging
within them. The life of booze, drugs, sex and crime loses its luster
very soon and an inner battle for meaning starts within them. They find
themselves unable to get rid of this wretched life on their own and
desperately seek a heavy hand of an authority to pull them out of this hole.
These people are perfect candidates to become
victims of cults or religions in general and Islam in particular. Their life is so
screwed up and they are so unhappy that they are willing to accept any
absurdity and cling to any nonsense to free themselves from this tangle.
Religions provide this strong hand of authority, an authority that they often did not have when they grew up. Some of these people have had
abusive parents, parents who did not know how to raise their children and
give them proper direction in life. They either exerted no authority or
they wield too much authority and therefore have failed to establish
proper communication with their children. Kids of such dysfunctional
families cannot rely on their own. They do not have the proper tools to
make right decisions. They do not trust their own judgments. Emotionally
they have not mature to make independent and right decisions. They need
someone telling them what to do. In religions, these people seek the
authority that they have never had in their lives. They are willing to do
anything to get out of the miserable life in which they are embroiled. The emotional need to save
their lives is far greater than any intellectual quest. The yearning to
rebound is so strong that they often willingly overlook the hollowness of
the cults or religions that they embrace and they genuinely make the effort to change their lives.
So the promise of rebirth is self fulfilled. The power to change comes from within
them. This is the power of belief. However, belief is an inner force and
has nothing to do with religions. Religion becomes an anchor, a pretext, but
the power comes from within.
So in a sense religions play a positive role,
because they trigger the inner power of the humans. People can
literally transform their lives if they find strong motivations. Those who
are self-reliant and have proper directions in life, find their
motivations in their desire to succeed and excel in everything they do.
Those who lack such direction cling to religions and cults for motivation.
However, despite providing a strong anchor for
the weaker humans, religions have a negative side effect too. Not all
religions are made equal. Islam is a religion of hate. This religion
particularly attracts the angry people and the hardened criminals. Most
converts to Islam are prison inmates. They are emotionally unbalanced.
They feel that they are victimized and they are angry at the world. Islam is a
perfect religion for them. It validates their sense of victimization and
provides then a definable enemy to hate. The new converts to Islam find a sense
of direction in their lives that they never had before. However that is
not the direction towards love, inner peace and enlightenment. In Islam
they find a venue to express their anger, this time with no bang of
conscience but with conviction, determination and a sense of purpose.
Islam gives the new converts a sense of
belonging. They are called brother and they suddenly find a billion
brothers and sisters. Their conversion and their taking the oath
of allegiance (Shahadah) usually takes place in a Mosque and is
accompanied by congregational praise (takbir), much hugs and
congratulations. For an individual who has a low self-esteem, the experience of becoming the center of attention is so
overwhelming that the impact of that experience lasts for a long time.
People do anything for their 15 minutes of fame. A personís coming to
God must always be a private celebration between he and his God. However
Muslims, taking advantage of this human weakness make this a public event
and prize the newcomer with much fanfare. This is done deliberately and is
designed to reward the convert and encourage more people to join. In fact
this is a characteristic of all cults and gangs where initiation of new
recruits is an important event.
Notwithstanding the show of affection and
cheering, this is not a genuine love. The very people who hug and shower
the new convert with unbounded friendliness will not hesitate to kill him
if he chooses to change his mind and leave Islam. Converting
to Islam is a one-way trip. Converting to Islam is like falling into a
black hole. Once you become a Muslim there is no escape from it. You know
that by leaving Islam not only youíll lose all of your friends but also
they will become your mortal enemies. Now not only you have to deal with
the fear of abandonment and loneliness, you also have to be careful
that your best friends do not kill you. An individual whose lack of
self-esteem attracted him to Islam in the first place usually does not
have the strength of character to face this much pressure. Fear of
abandonment in itself is a strong deterrent to leave Islam. Fear of
reprisal is an extra hurdle.