Islam is the world’s fastest growing religion by number of conversions each year. Despite’s Islam beginnings in Arabia, today more than 80% of all Muslim believers life outside the Arab world (Records, 2009). Surprisingly, many of this new converts are women who despite Islam’s numerous female restrictions, many have affirmed a new found joy and harmony in their lives. Islam laws for women are seen by many as coercive because they regulate important aspects of women’s life such as clothing, social relationships, marriage, divorce, inheritance, etc. I would be examining the different reasons why this western women converts decided to make such a radical change to their lives.
To achieve my goal successfully I would like to use various qualitative and quantitative methods to identify eligible individuals to interrogate further and to measure multiple variables that might be interconnected. I will be examining different factors such as age, education, time living in the US, time they have been a Muslim, marital status, religion of their significant other, religion of their parents, and degree of religiosity while growing up. Many of these new converts are fellow Americans who have found multiple benefits practicing their new religion. I therefore think my research is important because it portrays what Islam teacher and has to offer to its believers from people that we can easily relate to.
Many people claim that Muslim women are restricted by their religion because of the immense amount of rules that it is imposed to them. One particular research conducted by Zaidi and Shuraydi (2002: 507) interviewed 20 Pakistani women in the United States in an attempt to study the different perceptions of arranged marriage among women living in western society. The study concluded that “Muslim feminist have to cope with a prevalent double standard governing the behavior of males and females”. This means that while the Koran claims that men and women are the same, in reality they are treated with fewer privileges than men. To support their claim they presented that while women are prohibited from courting potential mates, men are given tacit approval. Despite the many claims against Islam, new women converts often argue that the Islamic religion and the Arab culture are sometimes confused.
Researchers Maslim and Bjorck (2009: 98) claim that many times “the culture rules try to oppress women while the religion in turn promotes positive cultural views of gender roles and ethnic diversity”. Their research mainly focused on the reasons why so many women were switching to Islam. To study this topic, the authors to contact the editors of a North American Magazine to get the sample group and then posted an online surveys that the participants could answer. The results showed that while there are a variety of reasons why women switch their religion to Islam, the most common ones included dissatisfaction with their previous faith, marriage requirement, and because of Islam’s significance and meaning.
To understand further their point of view we have to compare Islam to other religion practices at the time Islam was instituted. One study performed by J Sechze (2004, 263-274) tried to evaluate different religious practices against women at the time Islam was created. The research found that many practices such as female infanticide, traditionally common in Christian communities, was ruled out when Islam was implemented. Additionally, it is suggested that polygamy was instituted in Islam to protect Muslim widows, whose husbands were killed during wars. This historical comparison makes us understand that Islam does support some feminist principals that lacked in other religions at the time.
My study will use a quantitative and a qualitative method to gather the data necessary to answer the research question presented on the introduction part. I have organized a short ten question essay that will allow me to collect quantitative information. The survey will ask for variables age, education level, time living in the US, time they have been a Muslim, marital status, religion of their significant other, religion of their parents, and degree of religiosity while growing up. All of these questions will try to find different correlations among the different variables that might be important to consider when creating interview questions.
The interview will be based of the survey taken by the individuals here. The idea is to contact people that took the survey that might be interested on meeting with the researcher and let us learn more about them. Interview will hopefully provide insight information about the survey answers that will further help us identify patterns that might answer why they switch to Islam. The interview place will be up to the participant, they will sign release paperwork and the interview will be recorded for further analysis. I would like to base my research question entirely on the survey correlations and therefore I do not have the interview questions pre- prepared. However, I will provide a list of possible interview questions that will be pose to change with the survey answers.
This paper is a proposed research study of the different reasons why western non –Muslim born women change their religion to Islam in their adulthood years. This is a fairly controversial topic since many people see Islam as oppressive to women because of its countless provisions regarding women’s clothing, marriage and other social affairs. While many previous researches support this notion and further give evidence of Islam women having to live in a double standard, other numerous studies suggest that Islam religion does not support such a thing and instead argue that it actually protects women that have help many women find faith and peace in their lives. To be able to conduct my study I will be using surveys and interviews that will provide me with quantitative and qualitative data to analyses and further interpret.