Problems and challenges facing new Muslims in Europe

There are attempts to distort conversion to Islam with allegations of extremism and terrorism, and conversion has fallen victim to the general indifference towards religiosity in secular societies that regard religion as a pre-modern phenomenon and the Enlightenment. This has affected the general understanding of the conversion to Islam in Western societies, causing problems and challenges for new Muslims, but that did not prevent the seekers of the truth from reaching it. It is a bitter journey, but its fruit is sweet. One of the newcomers says: “The Qur’an states that we should call ourselves Muslims, but we are on a journey to become true believers.”

Katherine Huntley, 21 years old, from England, says: “The journey began when I was studying Islam within the subject of “religious studies” in secondary school, as if something had happened inside me. I used to spend lunchtime at school every day reading about Islam on the computer. With peace in my heart and no longer caring about anything else, I found myself, but the person I found in me was unlike anyone I knew!

I used to hide my headscarf and Islamic books in a drawer away from my parents, and when I told them they were very upset, but my passion for Islam increased, and I began to dress modestly and fast secretly during Ramadan.

  And after a week my mother came running to my room: Do you have anything to tell me? Then she took out my Islamic certificate from her wallet. I think it was easier for her to find drugs or cigarettes with me, and then he would say: “It's a youthful indiscretion.” I could see my mother's fear in her eyes, she didn't believe, why would I give up my freedom for a foreign religion?! Why would I want to join these terrorists?

It was difficult for me to be a Muslim in my parents' house. They did not like my five daily prayers and called them "whispering". I used to pray in front of the door of my room, and yet my mother would always deliberately walk in front of me and ask me: “Katherine, would you like a cup of tea?”

I used to hear my grandfather say: “Muslim women walk three steps behind their husbands.” It made me angry because it was a custom, not a religion.

  I will marry a Muslim who tells me: “A Muslim woman is a pearl that her husband protects, not a shell that protects her.”

  The marriage ceremony will be in a mosque, and I don't think they will come. This was affecting me. Thinking that my wedding will not be as happy as the beautiful stories surrounded by my family! Nevertheless, I hoped that my new life with my husband would be happier.” (1)

This true story honestly shows the suffering of some new Muslims, especially within the family, of annoyance, rejection, and mockery of the new religion, out of ignorance or under the influence of hostile media. As well as concealing acts of worship or disturbing them by the family. The estrangement that sometimes occurs from the family also appears when the children do not participate in happy occasions.

Outside the family, there are obstacles that prevent caring for someone who converts to Islam until he becomes steadfast. The Englishman Michael Young, one of the converts to Islam, points out the negligence on our part, we, the Muslims of Europe, saying: Since he converted to Islam, he has known only two Muslims in his city. Neighbor and co-worker. He is surprised at the lack of a studied system and a continuous method of caring for him scientifically and socially after his conversion to Islam. He recalls the need for mosque-goers to pay attention to new Muslims, adopt them and invite them to their homes, and warns strongly against using the Internet as a reference for knowledge. On the Internet there is what is good, what is bad, and what is dangerous about Islam. He blames Friday preachers, especially in British universities, for focusing on political issues at the expense of education and acclamation. He who does not have knowledge will be an easy prey for some extremists (2).

Researchers believe that the purpose of the Islamic conquest in the past was not to impose a new faith on the people, but to create an institutional context in which Islam could flourish, and once an “Islamic atmosphere” was established, the masses would naturally and gradually transform. But the matter is different in the contemporary world. The external institutional approach to da'wa is no longer viable, where pluralism, the presence of a secular state, and the status of the Muslim minority combine to make it unlikely that the spread of Islam would be through hegemony. The alternative is the “personal heart” approach, in which individual transformation precedes institutional change (3).

One of the most important challenges facing the Islamic mission in Europe is the questioning of Muslims' pursuit of peaceful coexistence. This coexistence with which non-Muslims call flourishes. The frenzied campaign led by the media and some extremist and racist parties and personalities in Europe is trying to destroy the credibility of Muslims, and diminish their moral value, by using methods of ridicule and accusation. Satirical cartoons related to the Prophet and the burning of the Holy Qur’an are not far from us.

The difficulties faced by the converts in Britain are as follows, in descending order (4):

1- Learning the Arabic language.

2- The reaction of family and friends.

3- Acceptance within the local Muslim community.

4- Determine the support network for new Muslims.

5- Attitude towards the opposite sex and mixing between the sexes

6- Obtaining correct knowledge about Islam.

7- Understanding the Quran.

8- Make friends with Muslims.

9- Money and banks.

10- Learning acts of worship.

11- Islamic greeting and etiquette.

12- Islamic dietary requirements.


It is clear that learning the Arabic language by new Muslims is a priority of their interest, because it is the key to knowledge of acts of worship and understanding the Holy Qur’an. This places a great deal of responsibility on the shoulders of Islamic institutions, and then comes the reaction of family and friends, and then acceptance within the local Muslim community. There is a risk of isolation if social support networks are not available.

In this context, a doctoral dissertation entitled “Conversion to Islam and Family Relations in Contemporary Britain,” submitted to the University of Cambridge in 2020, revealed the existence of problems for some of them, in light of the liberal society, through interviews with new Muslims. The thesis examined their conditions in the family and society. One of them sums up the meaning of conversion to Islam in Britain in the twenty-first century in that the person remains torn between two worlds; Between devout Muslims who understand his belief system but find it difficult to associate it with a way of life, and "liberal" non-Muslims, who may agree with him in a way of life, but he does not share their beliefs (5).

To solve these challenges, those who were born Muslims should not wait for their new brothers to practice the same regional or ethnic traditions, as the conversion to Islam takes root after pronouncing the two testimonies, with alignment and complete harmony of the heart, soul, and mind, but the heritage culture may shift the interest of the converts from belief to a way of life. This makes the experience difficult despite the joy and spiritual satisfaction it brings. Mosques and institutions must be open and supportive through well-studied programs, so that newcomers can integrate with the rest of Muslims and learn and reassure their souls. The opinions and concerns of the new Muslims must be heard, and the nature of those who are seen as inferior to the original Muslims must be changed, so that they actively participate in bringing about reform, and become a bridge of call between Muslims and non-Muslims.

Misconceptions about new Muslims must be defended. In a survey of British newspaper content from 2001 to 2010, 62% of newspaper articles linked conversion to Islam with terrorism, and 14% linked conversion with fundamentalism.

The strange thing is that despite this charged atmosphere, people enter the religion of God in droves, with divine guidance that is like a miracle. By studying the Noble Qur’an, biography, or comparison of religions, but rather with a small touching gesture, or a short fruitful stance and manners, or a discussion from the heart whose benefit does not appear until after a while, or sincere love that prompts the meeting of the two hearts on the same belief, guides to the religion of truth in Britain from all sects and races and layers.

God Almighty chooses people and changes their hearts, and you see people you would never have expected to convert to Islam!



(1) Harris, Young British Female Muslim: Thousands of young British women living in the UK decide to convert to Islam, The Times, 29 May 2010.

(2) Young, Frustrations of a Muslim Convert, The American Muslim, 4 April 2006.


(3) Greil & Poston, “Islamic Da’wah in the West: Muslim Missionary Activity and the Dynamics of Conversion to Islam,” Review of Religious Research. 35, 2, (1993): 185.

(4) Brice, A minority within a minority, report on converts to Islam in the United Kingdom, London: Faith Matters, 2010: 22.

(5) Ramahi, “Conversion to Islam and family relations in contemporary Britain”, (PhD thesis, University of Cambridge, 2020).

Last modified on Monday, 06 November 2023 15:25