While there have always been significant numbers of educated and practicing Jewish and Christian converts to Islam, the reverse is not true, nor has it been true at any time in history. There are cases of those belonging to deviant sects of Islam who convert to different religions, but this is hardly surprising. Ignorant of the true teachings of the Islamic religion, they are often seduced by the worldly permissiveness of other religions.
Examples of these deviant groups include the Baha’i, the Nation of Islam, the Ahmadiyyah (also known as Qadianis), the Ansar, extreme Sufi orders and many, if not most, of the Shi’ite sects. These groups may identify with the label of Islam, but like a man who calls himself a tree, lack sufficient roots in the religion to substantiate the claim.
More importantly, the illegitimate doctrines of these misguided sects separate them from orthodox (Sunni) Islam, demanding rejection by all Muslims.
As for those born Muslim and raised in ignorance of their own religion, their conversion to other religions cannot fairly be viewed as turning away from Islam—since the individuals never truly embraced Islam in the first place. And, of course, not every person born into a religion is an example of piety, even if knowledgeable of their religion.
Then there are those weak of faith, who find religious conviction pushed aside by worldly priorities or the allure of more permissive faiths. But the sum total of these apostates simply doesn’t match 1,400 years of Jewish and Christian clergy converting in the opposite direction.
Conspicuously absent from the equation is the conversion of sincere and committed, educated and practicing Sunni Muslims, much less scholars (the Islamic equivalent of the convert rabbis and priests).
Still, the question remains: Why do some Jewish and Christian scholars embrace
Sunni Islam? There is no pressure upon them to do so, and significant worldly reasons not to—things like losing their congregation, position and status, friends and family, jobs and retirement pension. And why don’t Islamic scholars turn to something else?
Other religions are much more permissive in matters of faith and morals, and there is no enforcement of a law against apostatizing from Islam in Western countries.
So why have Jewish and Christian scholars embraced Islam, while educated Muslims remain firm in their faith? Muslims suggest that the answer lies in the definition of Islam. The person who submits to God and not to a particular ecclesiastical body will recognize a divine sense to revelation.
Islam represents a continuum from Judaism and Christianity which, once recognized, sweeps the sincere seeker down the smooth road of revelation.
Once a person sees past Western prejudices and propaganda, the Muslim believes, doors of understanding open.
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