British Muslim Converts: Choosing Alternative Lives by Kate Zebiri

By Kate Zebiri

The single exploration of this certain staff in British society, this well-argued and strong e-book investigates the attention-grabbing contribution that Western converts to Islam are making to a particular tackle Islamic notion and discourse. knowledgeable via interviews with British converts in addition to released and net fabric, Zebiri asks no matter if converts might act as much-needed mediators within the starting to be divide among Islam and the West.

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Adı¯th as ‘the best generation’, were in fact converts. e. to God). g. Q 12:108), and Muhammad is said to have written to the leaders of neighbouring countries inviting them to adopt it. In the classical provisions on jiha¯d in the military sense, opponents were to be invited to embrace Islam before the commencement of hostilities, and when defeated they still had the choice of converting or paying the jizyah (a poll tax imposed on nonMuslim subjects). 61 This 59 Birt, ‘Lobbying and Marching’, pp.

Qxd 8/31/07 2:58 PM Page 41 Converts in the British context 41 Conversion in recent decades, in the wake of large-scale Muslim migration to Britain, is a very different phenomenon to that described above, in the historical section. Bulliet, a historian of conversion to Islam, expresses the view that conversion does not occur where it would involve a decline in social status,88 but this does not seem to apply to all converts in the present, some of whom suffer discrimination (for example in the job market) as a result of their conversion.

The idea that Islam was ‘spread by the sword’ has long been discredited; in fact it was the Muslim polity rather than the religion that was spread by military expansion, with mass conversion coming at a later stage. In most cases conversion was neither encouraged nor discouraged, rulers being happy to take the jizyah, and there was no deliberate proselytization during the early period – on the contrary, the Muslim conquerors were often kept apart from the conquered populations in special military garrisons such as Fustat in Egypt and Basra in Iraq.

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