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Converting to Islam 

 

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.

 

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