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Islam Attracts Converts by the Thousands, Drawn Before and After Attacks
New York Times ^ | October 22, 2001 | JODI WILGOREN

Posted on 10/21/2001 10:08:53 PM PDT by gcruse

              Islam Attracts Converts by the Thousands, Drawn Before and After Attacks

              By JODI WILGOREN

                   ALLWIN, Mo., Oct. 20 — Since she
                   became a Muslim six months ago,
              Angela Davis has given up many things. She
              stopped listening to music, started sleeping
              on the floor, put away her 100 Disney
              videos and traded her porcelain doll
              collection for velvet posters with verses from
              the Koran.

              Now, in the aftermath of the Sept. 11
              terrorist attacks, Ms. Davis may have to
              give up her children.

              After her photograph, in full veil, appeared
              in the local newspaper on Sept. 30, Ms.
              Davis's soon-to-be-ex- husband refused to
              return their children, 5 and 2, from a
              weekend visit. She has not seen them since.

              "It's a test that is given to me from Allah to
              see if my faith is strong enough," said Ms.
              Davis, 27, who discovered Islam in an
              Internet chat room this spring and now
              teaches pre-kindergarten at the Al-Salam
              Day School in this St. Louis suburb. "I'm
              asked to give up my religion for my kids, but
              I won't do it. On Judgment Day, as much as
              I love my kids, they won't be there with me."

              Though her situation is extreme, Ms. Davis
              is one of thousands of new Muslim converts
              struggling with their identities amid
              anti-Muslim fervor and declarations of an
              Islamic holy war being broadcast on
              television. Already estranged from relatives
              and friends, some of whom accuse them of joining a cult, these new Muslims
              face catcalls and fresh challenges to their faith.

              Many say the events of Sept. 11 only confirmed their commitment. Shannon
              Staloch is not sure why, but upon hearing of the hijackings, she immediately
              grabbed a book from her backpack and recited the Arabic declaration of
              belief; she made the conversion official 12 days later.

              "You know how the world changed when that happened and everyone was
              shaky?" Ms. Staloch said. "I wanted something steady."

              With some 6 million adherents in the United States, Islam is said to be the
              nation's fastest-growing religion, fueled by immigration, high birth rates and
              widespread conversion. One expert estimates that 25,000 people a year
              become Muslims in this country; some clerics say they have seen conversion
              rates quadruple since Sept. 11.

              Experts say Islam is attractive because of its universal message — the faithful
              believe that everyone is born Muslim and thus call the transformation
              reversion, not conversion — and because its teachings incorporate other
              traditions, honoring Jesus Christ, the Jewish patriarch Abraham and other
              Biblical figures as prophets. Though missionary work is rare in Islam,
              spreading the message is demanded by the Koran. Conversion is as simple
              as reciting one sentence — "I bear witness that there is no deity except Allah
              and that Muhammad is his messenger" — in front of witnesses, a ceremony
              known as Shahadah.

              "There's no class," said Khalid Yahya Blankinship, chairman of the religion
              department at Temple University. "There isn't really a formalized
              requirement, you don't have to be tested." Mr. Blankinship, who converted
              to Islam in 1973 and has since witnessed 100 Shahadahs, added: "It's very
              important that Islam should spread. The idea is that one should want other
              souls to be saved."

              The vast majority of converts are African-Americans, who make up about a
              third of Muslims in the United States. Thousands find Allah while in jail or in
              recovery from drug or alcohol addiction. Less familiar are the lapsed
              Catholics and lost Jews, often highly educated professionals, who come to
              the mosque.

              Many convert because they want to marry a Muslim who demands it, a
              common reason for conversions in any religion.

              "I would never have changed if it wasn't for Rania," David Nerviani, a St.
              Louis police officer, said of his Egyptian-born wife, a bartender he met on
              patrol. "It's probably not that deep for me."

              Others find Islam through friendships on college campuses, research papers
              on world religions or trolling the Internet.

              Some just feel called. Abdullah Reda of Reston, Va., said the news of Susan
              Smith, the South Carolina woman who drowned her two sons, brought him
              to Islam. A 13-year-old California girl had an epiphany during a sunset drive
              through the red rocks of Arizona. Katie Mathews, a graduate student at
              Washington University in St. Louis, who plans to make her Shahadah on her
              23rd birthday in November, prayed for a sign and soon saw a license plate,
              "4 ALLAH."

              Nine years ago, Jim Hacking was in training to be a Jesuit priest. Now, he is
              an admiralty lawyer in St. Louis who has spent much of the last month
              explaining Islam at interfaith gatherings. Mr. Hacking's search began in the
              12-step program Overeaters Anonymous and intensified when he befriended
              an Egyptian-born woman, Amany Ragab, at the law review at St. Louis
              University. He made the Shahadah on June 6, 1998, and proposed marriage
              to her the next day. This summer, the couple traveled to Mecca.

              "The thing I've always latched to is that there's one God, he doesn't have
              equals, he doesn't need a son to come do his work," Mr. Hacking, 31, said.
              "Giving up the pork and the alcohol was the easy part — I never drank
              much, but I did like bacon. The hard part, and the part I still struggle with
              every day, is being a good person, and living a good clean life."

              To help with the social transition, the All Dulles Area Muslim Society in
              Sterling, Va., pairs converts with mentors. Other mosques offer seminars in
              the basics of Arabic prayer. Web sites like jews-for-allah.org and
              understandingislam.tripod.com provide glossaries to common Muslim
              expressions, step-by-step guides to ritual washing, interactive games to teach
              Arabic, and profiles of fellow converts, organized alphabetically, by county
              of origin and by former religion.

              Perhaps the greatest challenge is maintaining family relationships, as parents
              often view conversion as a betrayal. One Web site offers a how- to guide for
              telling relatives. "Do not allow them to drag you into a conflict regarding
              religion at all," it lectures.

              Ms. Stolach, who teaches middle- school literacy, said her mother had
              helped her shop for hijab, the traditional Muslim head covering, but Ms.
              Mathews says the main reason she has delayed her Shahadah is that she is
              living with her parents.

              "My mom, she's Christian and she's very upset," Ms Mathews said. "I told
              her about my signs. She said, how do I know it's not the Devil?"

              "The Koran says you have to obey your parents, heaven is at the foot of
              your mother," she added. "I have to obey God before I obey my mother."

              On Sept. 11, Ms. Davis's mother exhorted her to remove the hijab, saying it
              would endanger her grandchildren. (Ms. Davis's divorce lawyer, and her
              husband, did not return telephone calls.) Ms. Davis, who wears a
              shoulder-to-ankle robe over her clothes, also faces resistance from her older
              two daughters, from a previous marriage, whom she enrolled in an Islamic
              school this fall, but who have lately said they would prefer to live with their
              father.

              As the afternoon call to prayer sounded from the mosque above Ms. Davis's
              classroom, the girls, white scarves around their heads, scrambled up to the
              women's balcony, where they bowed and knelt like old pros. They
              murmured "bismillah" ("in the name of Allah") before starting a game,
              "astaghfirullah" ("I beg Allah for forgiveness") after a misstep. But they say
              their father says their mother worships Satan.

              "I got one person saying they want me to be Muslim and then I got my dad
              saying no Muslim," said Krashanna Agers, 9. "I don't know, I'm not grown
              up yet."
 

 


TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events
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1 posted on 10/21/2001 10:08:53 PM PDT by gcruse
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To: gcruse
I was wondering if this would happen, especially if a lot of disaffected blacks in America would convert.
2 posted on 10/21/2001 10:10:41 PM PDT by xm177e2
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To: gcruse
missionary work is rare in Islam

That's not true, they have the KLA, MILF, Hamas, Hizbullah, Islamic Jihad, Black September, Al Qaeda...

3 posted on 10/21/2001 10:13:16 PM PDT by xm177e2
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To: xm177e2
On Judgment Day, as much as I love my kids, they won't be there with me."

No Sh$$$t!

4 posted on 10/21/2001 10:14:43 PM PDT by KQQL
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To: xm177e2
There are many people with great pain, people who will wear the most anti-social mantel possible if it is presented to them. I bet, in America, there are actually hundreds of new Osama Bin Ladin followers, too.
5 posted on 10/21/2001 10:15:36 PM PDT by Lazamataz
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To: gcruse
They are just getting the leftists losers that hate America anyway!
6 posted on 10/21/2001 10:17:06 PM PDT by xclusiv1
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To: gcruse
"I'm asked to give up my religion for my kids, but I won't do it. On Judgment Day, as much as I love my kids, they won't be there with me."

That is correct Ms. Davis, you'll be in HELL and your children will not be there with you!

<p<
7 posted on 10/21/2001 10:19:59 PM PDT by rundy
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To: riley1992
She stopped listening to music, started sleeping on the floor, put away her 100 Disney videos and traded her porcelain doll collection for velvet posters with verses from the Koran.

Hmm, sounds like fun. Do you think they would let me keep my velvet Elvis poster?

8 posted on 10/21/2001 10:20:23 PM PDT by NoCurrentFreeperByThatName
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To: Lazamataz
Even Jeffrey Dahmer had a number of female groupies showing up faithfully to the court room every day and he didn't even like women. Some people are just that flakey. If a woman converts to Islam now after Sept 11, the father should definitely get the kids, no questions.
9 posted on 10/21/2001 10:20:25 PM PDT by FITZ
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To: gcruse
Like other cults, Islam will pick up membership among defectives of many sorts among our society. Those who can't handle their own lives, don't mind giving those lives away. BTW, I wonder how many converts are told prior to conversion that Islam demands that Muslims murder anyone who leaves the cult.
10 posted on 10/21/2001 10:21:20 PM PDT by atafak
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To: NoCurrentFreeperByThatName
LOL, I saw that! velvet posters Oh my God, if that's NOT tacky!!! She probably had those dogs playing cards posters up too as art......LOL LOL
11 posted on 10/21/2001 10:30:34 PM PDT by I_Love_My_Husband
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To: xm177e2
missionary work is rare in Islam That's not true, they have the KLA, MILF, Hamas, Hizbullah, Islamic Jihad, Black September, Al Qaeda...

And dont forget bombings and terror..that one fool converted right after she heard of the terrorism.....she must really hate America..

12 posted on 10/21/2001 10:31:27 PM PDT by RnMomof7
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To: grlfrnd
Yeah, the dogs playing cards is pretty bad. My favorite is of the dogs playing pool. Now, that's art!
13 posted on 10/21/2001 10:33:10 PM PDT by NoCurrentFreeperByThatName
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To: gcruse
What absolute God damned idiots. But everybody wants to be something and these kooks have made it.
14 posted on 10/21/2001 10:42:23 PM PDT by RLK
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Comment #15 Removed by Moderator

To: gcruse
Velvet posters? Shades of Elvis and matadors!
16 posted on 10/21/2001 10:56:20 PM PDT by skr
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To: NoCurrentFreeperByThatName
So for her, these are just new velvet posters to replace the velvet dogs playing pool, or the velvet malcolm x, or the velvet jesse jackson. Plus it doesn't sound like she even married the guy she had kids with, so she was probably on welfare before, or doing crack. I see this all the time in the black neighborhoods. They are looking for a daddy figure since they don't have one, and Farakkan represents daddy to them, then they replace the velvet dogs with new velvet posters. LOL, the whole thing cracks me up!
17 posted on 10/21/2001 10:57:51 PM PDT by I_Love_My_Husband
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To: gcruse
Lots of examples of lost souls from a city that fraudulently elected Deadman Taxman Carnahan to the Senate.
18 posted on 10/21/2001 11:05:44 PM PDT by AF68
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To: gcruse
This is starting to sound like the great falling away. Good bye, Ms. Davis. Good luck on Judgement Day!
19 posted on 10/21/2001 11:07:47 PM PDT by redhawk
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To: gcruse
So what thousands "convert" annually to crack cocaine useage as well. Does not mean its good for you or your community. Satan is happy in both instances.
20 posted on 10/21/2001 11:08:24 PM PDT by Kay Soze
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To: gcruse
But they say their father says their mother worships Satan.

They should listen to their father. He's a wise man.

21 posted on 10/21/2001 11:18:24 PM PDT by P-Marlowe
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To: gcruse
No music and no images of living beings-no wonder that Islam lacks imagination that propelled the Western Civilization to greater heights, no wonder Islam has spend last 1400 years devolving.
22 posted on 10/21/2001 11:20:12 PM PDT by doomtrooper99
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Comment #23 Removed by Moderator

To: gcruse
Poontang is a powerful persuasive tool.
24 posted on 10/21/2001 11:31:35 PM PDT by Skywalk
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To: RLK
Stupid and illiterate losers, but now they're dangerous.
25 posted on 10/21/2001 11:40:35 PM PDT by onyx
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To: xm177e2
I was wondering if this would happen, especially
if a lot of disaffected blacks in America would convert.

I would have thought the opposite.
I would have been wrong.

26 posted on 10/21/2001 11:55:05 PM PDT by gcruse
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To: gcruse
Many say the events of Sept. 11 only confirmed their commitment. Shannon Staloch is not sure why, but upon hearing of the hijackings, she immediately grabbed a book from her backpack and recited the Arabic declaration of belief; she made the conversion official 12 days later.

Well sure... see, she's probably some anti-American nut, saw some group she could really identify with and signed up. Just as our own military has seen increased recruitment of brave young men and women willing to fight for our country, we have this moronic young woman signing up with the terrorist sympathizers to fight against our country.

One of the greatest benefits of this whole situation, if you can see any benefits at all, is that the REAL wackos infesting our population are making themselves known. There's is now a stark contrast, whereas beforehand, they had some success in blending in and at least appearing to be "normal" while they were spouting all their anti-American rhetoric.

27 posted on 10/21/2001 11:56:45 PM PDT by MPB
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To: atafak
Like other cults, Islam will pick up membership
among defectives of many sorts among our society.

Any American who willingly joins the enemy
ranks is defective.  How on earth can there
be so many?  The flip side of patriotism is
suicide.

28 posted on 10/21/2001 11:58:09 PM PDT by gcruse
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To: skr; JMJ333
Velvet posters? Shades of Elvis and matadors!

Islam, the kitschy, kitschy coup.

29 posted on 10/22/2001 12:00:32 AM PDT by gcruse
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To: redhawk
This is starting to sound like the great falling away.
Good bye, Ms. Davis. Good luck on Judgement Day!

I does sound like that, dunnit?  I tell ya, I got
my Jesus stamps out and I'm pasting like crazy.

30 posted on 10/22/2001 12:02:09 AM PDT by gcruse
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To: doomtrooper99
no wonder Islam has spend last 1400 years devolving.

You're right.  They needed a Reformation that never came.

31 posted on 10/22/2001 12:06:51 AM PDT by gcruse
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To: gcruse
On Judgment Day, as much as I love my kids, they won't be there with me."

Quite true, honey, but not in the way you think.

32 posted on 10/22/2001 12:07:52 AM PDT by Timesink
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To: Skywalk
Poontang is a powerful persuasive tool.

Not carved out and wrapped in burlap, it ain't.

33 posted on 10/22/2001 12:08:18 AM PDT by gcruse
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To: MPB
There's is now a stark contrast, whereas beforehand, they had some success in
blending in and at least appearing to be "normal" while they were spouting all
their anti-American rhetoric

You would think the spouting would have been a tipoff.  Wait,
what am I saying?  Hell, that's how liberals always talk.

34 posted on 10/22/2001 12:11:59 AM PDT by gcruse
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To: gcruse
Hmmmm, I guess it really is a stupid, violent cult for morons, as I suspected.
35 posted on 10/22/2001 12:14:52 AM PDT by Hank Rearden
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To: NoCurrentFreeperByThatName
started peeing on the floor too, I bet. What a dork!
36 posted on 10/22/2001 12:18:20 AM PDT by timestax
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To: gcruse
She "picks up Islam" in an Internet chat room ... sounds flaky.
37 posted on 10/22/2001 12:20:09 AM PDT by BunnySlippers
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To: BunnySlippers

She "picks up Islam" in an Internet chat room ... sounds flaky.

Heh.  Good catch.  You gotta watch out
for toilet seats, too.

38 posted on 10/22/2001 12:43:17 AM PDT by gcruse
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To: gcruse
LOL no, but my guess is the guys who found these women so attractive that they wanted to marry them, did not experience burlap or excised labia and clitori.
39 posted on 10/22/2001 12:47:14 AM PDT by Skywalk
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To: Skywalk
Jeez, it sets my teeth on edge, even when trying not to think about it. The only guy with a decent sex life has to be the shepherd.
40 posted on 10/22/2001 12:55:41 AM PDT by gcruse
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To: gcruse
Islam attracts converts because it gives them something to belong to; and it makes demands of its converts. It provides a focus for hatred and instills in its members a sense of mission.

Blacks in America are transferring their allegiance from the Left, which is now degenerate and discredited, to the Coming Thing. It is happening not just in America, but the world over.

Part of the solution is to rediscover Christianity and western values. What a difference there is between Jesus and Mohammed! Read their lives and ask yourself who lights the way and who darkens the path. The only way to rediscover our core beliefs is to strip away the crud that has been laid on by the Liberals. Robert Mapplethorpe and the NEA did as much as anyone could to convince the world that the only place for the cross was in a bottle of urine. We can begin by reviving some of the old Christian watchways. I am not ashamed to make the sign of the cross in public, and will do so especially when Muslims can see me.
41 posted on 10/22/2001 1:08:41 AM PDT by wretchard
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To: wretchard
 I am not ashamed to make the sign of the cross in
public, and will do so especially when Muslims can see me.

Don't do it while driving, OK?

42 posted on 10/22/2001 1:11:50 AM PDT by gcruse
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To: gcruse
When I drive, I say "in the name of the spectacles, the testicles, the wallet and the watch" as this is more in keeping with the spirit of road rage.

But when I am in church, it is "In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit".
43 posted on 10/22/2001 1:14:58 AM PDT by wretchard
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To: wretchard
When I drive, I say "in the name of the spectacles, the testicles, the wallet and the watch" as this is more in keeping with the spirit of road rage.

Our Lady of Blessed Acceleration, don't fail us now!

44 posted on 10/22/2001 2:39:10 AM PDT by Chemist_Geek
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Comment #45 Removed by Moderator

To: whitelight1
It's a 106 miles to Chicago. We got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark and we're wearing sunglasses.

Okay, it's closer to 400 miles from where I'm at. I got about a half tank of gas, no cigarettes, it's still dark, and my sunglasses are in the car.

46 posted on 10/22/2001 2:57:10 AM PDT by Chemist_Geek
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Comment #47 Removed by Moderator

To: NoCurrentFreeperByThatName
Do you think they would let me keep my velvet Elvis poster?

Only if it shows him kneeling on a prayer rug and Lisa Marie is veiled.

48 posted on 10/22/2001 3:07:26 AM PDT by riley1992
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To: Chemist_Geek
Sunglasses in the dark is so over. Night vision goggles are the happening thing now.
49 posted on 10/22/2001 3:14:41 AM PDT by xp38
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To: gcruse
Experts say Islam is attractive because of its universal message

I'm really surprised. I thought it had a very poor image in the West. We associate Islam with terrorists, oppression of women, lack of human rights, tyrannical governments, etc ...

50 posted on 10/22/2001 6:12:15 AM PDT by A Ruckus of Dogs
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