The Irresponsible Use of Statistics and Studies to Further the Islamophobic Narrative
This is really Islamophobic tactic # 6 and I would like to start a series here dedicated to how Islamophobes use and misuse statistics and studies to their advantage and to advance the Islamophobic narrative. I would also like to discuss bogus studies as well. The following video would like to advance the notion that if given a choice, and if living in a country where one cannot be killed or murdered for apostasy, most Muslims would leave Islam. Indeed the video suggests that most Muslim converts(75%) leave Islam(apostasize) after 3 years. This narrative is a counter to the mantra we hear all the time that “Islam is the fastest growing religion in the West” or “Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world”. It escapes me why it matters, except in the framework of how it reflects on the daw’ah efforts of Muslims. The Prophet(saws) has said that there will come a time when the Muslims will be many but will be as ineffective as the foam on the shores of the sea. This describes our disunity and how even as a large percentage of the Earth we will be weak in power, influence, etc. So the effort should be on good quality Muslims with the right ‘aqeeda since we cannot escape this prophecy of being weak in power and large in number. This does not mean we should be defeatist, just more realistic when reacting to anti-Mulsim polemics.
The reality is two-fold. Islam is still the fastest growing religion in the world. This is due both to Muslims having high birth rates and conversions. Most conversions do not happen because of daw’ah, but most ridda happens because we as Muslims have failed in our daw’ah efforts to the new Muslims. Also, the growth of Islam in the West, while attributable to conversion, the factors of Muslim immigration and high birth rates must be taken into account for any study to be considered even remotely valid.
Many Islamophobes either try to twist statistics to make it seem that we are inflating our numbers, or if they concede the growth of Islam in the West they lie and say it is primarily due to immigration. Yet looking at the ethnic composition of the Muslim community belies their objections. There is no proof that most of the Arab and South Asian Muslims are immigrants. In fact there is more compelling evidence that most of them are second, third generation Muslims. The climate that we live in makes extremely difficult for any Mooslim-y looking person to immigrate here legally, so compensating for illegal immigration we find that the largest Muslim immigrant population is from East Africa(Somalia first, Ethiopia second) and European countries such as Albania and Bosnia an eastern European countries with “hidden” Muslim populations.
Yet the graph shows 2.1% of American Muslims are European in origin and 3.4 are African in origin. Obviously the South Asian and Arab groups are largely due to birth rates(second, third, fourth…-generation Muslims). What of the African-American population? This group is the second largest Muslim group in the U.S. Are we seriously going to suggest that this is due to immigration? Yeah, maybe 400 years ago when we were forceably immigrating Africans to the U.S. as slaves, but now these Muslims are natives. The point is that the growth of Islam in the U.S. is due to higher birth rates and conversion, and not primarily due to immigration.
There is a fundamental flaw in using videos such as these and related studies to suggest that most converts to Islam leave very soon thereafter.
1. The sample size. Researchers can’t even begin to agree on the number of Muslims in the U.S. yet we are expected to believe that there can be an unbiased study of this type without interviewing every single Muslim in the U.S. The diversity of the Muslim community demands this and any sample size study will inevitable be flawed. Studying converts when most converts are White American Christians and African-Americans dooms a limited study, designed to be representative, to failure.
2. The video essentially was about Muslims improving our daw’ah efforts to Muslim converts and remarks on the particular situation of the speaker. The lens is the specific study that they carried out and doesn’t say much for the situation obtaining in the rest of the country. Extrapolating a generalization from this that most Muslims leave Islam, and therefore something is wrong with Islam, is irresponsible. It also does not jive with the anti-Muslim conspiratorial contention that Muslims want to take over America and impose Shari’ah law. Islamophobes need to make up their minds. Are we here to take over and impose Shari’ah Law, or are we here to apostasize because we can leave Islam here without fear of reprisal? Neither contention is true but the haters really should get their stories straight.
3. The demographics of the site illustrate well the limitation of this type of layman’s “study”. Studying Muslim groups that have a historically high rate of apostasy(Ex-convicts,”floaters”, and those who convert for marriage) can only lead to the (erroneous) conclusion that most converts leave Islam soon thereafter.