According to the Daily Mail, most women get their feet in the mosque through a very unempowering door: a boyfriend. But what makes converting to Islam for love more meaningful, and popular, than Charlotte's three-visits-to-the-rabbi attempt to switch to Judaism in Sex and the City?
Women say they find a purpose in life once they're no longer slaves to Western clothes, careers, and binge drinking. Most report an Eat, Pray, Love-like bliss, or state of peace, upon visiting a Muslim country or temple. "In the West, we are stressed for superficial reasons, like what clothes to wear," said Kristiane Backer, author of the German book From MTV to Mecca.
Ultimately, women seem to fall in love with the religion's old-fashioned values that emphasize community and family. They don't feel oppressed, they say, because Islam is not inherently misogynistic. "The big mistake people make is by confusing culture with religion," said yoga teacher and Muslim convert Camilla Leyland. "Yes, there are Muslim cultures which do not allow women individual freedom, yet when I was growing up, I felt more oppressed by Western society."
I don't want to belittle anyone's genuine religious conversion, but a lot of these women are quite young and sound idealistic. One admitted to giving up the hijab after a few years, and I wouldn't be surprised if others followed her lead. Is it purely conversion? Or is it partly contrarianism, like a more extreme version of refusing to own a TV?