The study carried out by the inter-faith think-tank Faith Matters estimates that nearly 100,000 Muslim converts are now living in the UK, with as many as 5,000 new conversions nationwide each year, the daily Independent reported.
Meanwhile, data from the Scottish 2001 census estimated that there were 60,699 converts living in Britain in 2001.
Fiyaz Mughal, director of Faith Matters, admitted that coming up with a reliable estimate of the number of converts to Islam was notoriously difficult.
“This report is the best intellectual ‘guestimate’ using census numbers, local authority data and polling from mosques,” he said.
“Either way few people doubt that the number adopting Islam in the UK has risen dramatically in the past 10 years”, said the director of Faith Matters.
Asked why people were converting in such large numbers he replied: “I think there is definitely a relationship between conversions being on the increase and the prominence of Islam in the public domain. People are interested in finding out what Islam is all about and when they do that they go in different directions. Most shrug their shoulders and return to their lives but some will inevitably end up liking what they discover and will convert.”
Batool al-Toma is an Irish born convert to Islam of 25 years who works at the Islamic Foundation and runs the New Muslims Project.
Batool said she believed the new figures were “a little on the high side”.
“My guess would be the real figure is somewhere in between previous estimates, which were too low, and this latest one,” she said.
“I definitely think there has been a noticeable increase in the number of converts in recent years. The media often tries to pinpoint specifics but the reasons are as varied as the converts themselves”, said Batool.
Inayat Bunglawala, founder of Muslims4UK, which promotes active Muslim engagement in British society, said the figures were “not implausible”.
“It would mean that around one in 600 Britons is a convert to the faith,” he said. “Islam is a missionary religion and many Muslim organisations and particularly university students’ Islamic societies have active outreach programs designed to remove popular misconceptions about the faith”, he said.
Islam is one of the easiest religions to convert to. Technically, all a person needs to do is recite the Shahada, the formal declaration of faith, which states: “There is no God but Allah and Mohamed is his Prophet.” A single honest recitation is all that is needed to become a Muslim, but most converts choose to do so in front of at least two witnesses, one being an imam.
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