Scots Finding Islam Increasingly


Glasgow Central Mosque has been witnessing a sharp increase in the number Scottish people reverting to Islam, a phenomenon noticed in mosques across the country.

“I’d done a degree in comparative religion and had to analyse all the religious texts,” Hannah, a 25-year-old administrator from Glasgow who recently reverted told The Sunday Herald on October 4.

“I went away from that thinking that maybe I should be a Christian.

“But a few months later, while meditating, I found myself pulled in the direction of Islam. After that I started reading again, but this time in a more emotional way. I found I preferred the simplicity of Islam.”

Hannah is one of about 200 Scots who take the decision to revert to Islam annually at Glasgow Central Mosque.

For the young woman, she took over six months to take the final decision and revert to Islam, announcing that decision in July this year at Glasgow Central Mosque, where she took the Shahada or declaration of faith.

Her conversion was shared online by the Glasgow Central Mosque along with others including 20-year-old Jade from the Shetland Isles, and Katie, also 20 and an administration worker from Glasgow, who made her Shahada last month.

With the increasing number of reverts, Edinburgh Central Mosque says it has now started support groups for new Muslims.

The total number of reverts is not known, but according to a report by Faith Matters, 5,200 people now join the UK-wide Muslim population of three million every year.

Scotland’s community is significantly smaller at 90,000 people, over one-third of whom live in Glasgow.

“We are seeing an influx, particularly in the number of women expressing an interest in Islam. I don’t think there is one reason for it but it’s interesting that after 9/11, where Muslims were blamed for the bombing of the twin towers, a lot of people started doing their own research. Many found out more about Islam that led them to different conclusions,” Rizy Mohammad, a co-ordinator at the Glasgow Central Mosque, said.

“There is also the spiritual dimension. They’ve been part of the material world, done the shopping thing and now they are looking for a deeper connection.”


The decision to revert to Islam has not been easy to many Scottish reverts, especially with media focus on extremist voices which ruin the image of the faith.

“Because of the extent of Islamophobia in the media, my mum, who is a Pagan, thought that I was going to join IS,” said Hannah.

“People see the violent, loud things. They don’t see the quiet Muslims who aren’t doing anything bad. My brother told her not to be so ridiculous and after about a week she came round. Now she makes sure that I don’t drink when I come to her house and even cooks halal for me.”

Jay (not his real name), is another Muslim revert who took the decision less than three months ago after a near-death experience with drugs.

Ever since, he has been facing questions, even from close friends, on whether he will travel to Syria or join the so-called Islamic State (ISIL).

“One of my colleagues in particular was keen to know why I converted,” said Jay.

“He wanted to know how I could give up the clubs, drink and girlfriends, and now spend my time praying.

“I told him that now I had inner peace. I could now go to sleep at night. A few weeks later he also became Muslim.”

Other Muslim reverts blame fellow Muslims, who were born Muslims, for failing to offer support to them.

“When a person takes the Shahada they are treated like a superstar and everyone wants to know their story,” Dawud Duncan, originally from Oban, who became Muslim nine years ago, said.

“However, within a week they can be left to their own devices. This can make the individual feel very isolated as they are often caught between two communities.”

Duncan, who now lives in Glasgow, hosts an online radio program for reverts and also aims to set up a support and advocacy group.

“New Muslims have so much to offer the Muslim community and Scotland,” said Duncan.

“This would include a fresh perspective and a deeper understanding of the cultural issues our society faces. Converts find it easier to explain Islam to a Scottish audience.”


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