What Do We Make of the “Indian” Converts to Islam

Women eating Iftar - Via International Business Times

There is a lot of talk recently about “Latin” and Spanish-speaking converts to Islam, particularly women, which I have discussed in previous posts (here and here). Female converts to Islam, in general, give us a lot to talk about; thus, my question in a previous post on “Are converts news?” Some converts are treated as “cool” and progressive members willing to speak to the media. Others are used to represent media obsessions with wild-girls-gone-Muslim stories, which many Muslims and non-Muslims … [Read more...]

Are Converts News?


Growing up in Mexico, I had a very rudimentary understanding of religion and religious diversity. While the national census showed that about 80% of Mexicans practiced Catholicism, I was raised an atheist. My parents, born Catholics, had left religion during their teenage years for various reasons. My paternal grandfather (who was never really religious either) still likes to tell his story: His grandmother had a painting of Virgin Mary in the living room and would tell my grandpa to say a small … [Read more...]

Oops, Your Jahiliyya Is Showing: Exposing the Convert Party Girl

Heather Matthews with her daughters. Image via the Daily Mail.

There seems to be nothing more exciting for tabloids than publishing pictures of white women in hijab. Well, unless it's publishing pictures of white women converts in their racy, hedonistic, pre-Islamic days.Last month Amy Sall and Heather Matthews told their conversion stories to the tabloid press. And instead of using the stories to dispel myths about Muslims, educate the public about Islam, or even come up with something remotely newsworthy, both news sources emphasized their incredible … [Read more...]

The “Cool” Muslims of Contemporary Islam: Female Converts and their Presence in the Media

As a convert to Islam, I have had other Muslims ask me, particularly in settings where I have discussed Islamic feminism and LGBTQ2/S rights, whether or not I converted to be one of the “cool” Muslims that are often times presented in the media. By “cool,” people often mean not-orthodox.  (I started preparing this post before the discussion in the comments of Nicole’s post last week, but those comments emphasise the privilege that comes alongside getting to choose to be one of the “cool” ones.) … [Read more...]

Hot Off the Press! White Women Are Converting to Islam!

Kristiane Backer.  Photo via The Independent.

Look at pictures of real live white women wearing hijab!All the exclamation marks in existence could not hide that these are the usual soundbites in a story that gets repeated more often then Home Alone at Christmastime. The problem with these statements being that not only do they erase the experiences of convert from other ethnicities, they also have a "A white person choosing to be Muslim, the horror!" undertone to them. So while these statements are linked to the … [Read more...]

Lauren Booth Converts to Islam and Insanity Ensues

Lauren Booth is a human rights activist, a British journalist working for Iran's state channel PressTV, and half-sister of Tony Blair's wife Cherie Booth. She is also Muslim, and caused a gasping uproar in the British press when she converted to Islam less than a month ago, after having a spiritual experience while at the tomb of Fatimah Masumeh in the Shi'ite holy city of Qom.According to initial reports and Booth's own testimonies, she had always been "sympathetic" towards Islam, her … [Read more...]

The Poor White Women: Yasmin Alibhai-Brown on White Female Converts

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown is Muslim. In her articles she often likes to tell you this in the first sentence to give herself an air of authenticity. Therefore, when her articles are mere fodder for the further stereotyping and othering of Muslims, it is not because she is lazily feeding the expectations of her non-Muslim readers, but because her words are the truth? After all, she is Muslim, so how can she be wrong?Since the media pathologizes Muslims on a daily basis, who is Alibhai-Brown to go … [Read more...]