It was while vacationing in Turkey that Miriam, a British subject, became fascinated with Islam. She was mesmerized by the beauty of the mosques and spellbound as she heard the daily calls to prayer. Miriam had been raised a Christian, but had turned against God when her mother died. The simplicity and security that Islam seemed to offer appealed to her: She decided to convert and married a Muslim man.
But within a few years, cracks began to form in her new faith. She felt that she could never be good enough to earn a place in Paradise, and that God did not love her. One day Miriam picked up her old Bible, and a few months later, re-embraced her commitment to Christ. But when Miriam told her husband what she had done, he promptly left her and their little girl. Islamic law required it: She was now an apostate.
Miriam tells her story in a new book by Rosemary Sookhdeo titled Why Christian Women Convert to Islam. What is shocking is how many of these women come from strong, evangelical backgrounds. Many converts, like Miriam, are brought up by Christian parents, accept Christ, and get involved in church activities. But as they grow older, their commitment fades, or they become disillusioned with Christianity. Islam, they think, may offer the answer.
Younger women often meet Muslims at college—men who convince them that there is really not much difference between Islam and Christianity. When their wives discover the truth that Christianity is not the same as Islam, it is often too late. Any children they have will be raised Muslim—and great pressure is put on wives to convert.
Some women marry with the best of intentions: Their husbands are recent Muslim converts to Christianity. The women learn later that they should have put off wedding plans in order to test the strength of this commitment, because all too often, these men convert back to Islam when their families pressure them.
The sobering truth is that the number of Christian converts to Islam is growing rapidly. Sookhdeo says that when her husband recently spoke at a major Christian conference, he asked the audience how many of them knew someone who had converted to Islam. Fifty percent of the audience raised a hand—astonishing!
Sookhdeo believes that some 30,000 Westerners have converted to Islam in the last decade—the majority of them women. Clearly, our churches need to do something about this. In Sunday school classes and youth groups, we need to teach our kids, especially our daughters, about the difference between Islam and Christianity. And we cannot forget the role that Christian education plays here. We must remind them of the Apostle Paul's admonition in Second Corinthians that we not be yoked with unbelievers.
As more and more Muslims immigrate to Western countries, Christians will likely find themselves mixing with them at work, in the college classroom, and in their neighborhoods. While we should welcome opportunities to develop friendships and share our life and faith, marriage is altogether different.
If you know young Christians tempted to marry outside the faith, talk to them. Pray for them. And ask your church family for support. We must do all we can to help our children remain faithful to the one true God and His only Son, who alone died for our sins: Jesus the Christ.
From BreakPoint®, November 1, 2007, Copyright 2007, Prison Fellowship Ministries. Reprinted with the permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or distributed without the express written permission of Prison Fellowship Ministries. "BreakPoint®" and "Prison Fellowship Ministries®" are registered trademarks of Prison Fellowship