Women in Canada converting to Islam: a narrative inquiry

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University of New Brunswick


Although Islam is frequently cited as the fastest growing religion in North America, very little research has been done on the topic of the conversion of Canadian women to Islam. This narrative inquiry uses open-ended, semi-structured interviews with six Canadian women in Ontario and the Atlantic provinces. The women's stories of conversion were collected and analyzed in the context of a number of important scholarly discourses, including: the role of women in Islam; attitudes toward Islam and Muslims in North America; the process of conversion in general; and conversion to Islam in particular. Common threads in their conversion stories included such influences as: identity; the amount of time it took to convert; the importance of social bonds; dissatisfaction with one's former faith; feeling a sense of belonging and community; and appreciation of Islamic values, beliefs, and practices. There are also influences unique to each woman’s conversion. This thesis concludes that while the women's stories reflect shared patterns of influence, there is no template for conversion. Also, all of the conversion stories demonstrated a sense of agency; each woman chose Islam of her own free will.