Flood of conversions to Christianity in the Islamic world
A silent upheaval is taking place in many countries worldwide – thousands of Muslims are converting to Christianity. Even more surprising, they are doing so knowing that they will be rejected by their families, marginalized and even killed. Apostasy (giving up the Muslim faith) is punishable by death in many Muslim countries such as Pakistan and Sudan.
Camille Eid is a Lebanese journalist who has been living in Italy for 30 years working for the press as an expert on Christianity in the Arab world and Islamic affairs. He talks about a little known phenomenon that continues to grow each year resulting in an increase in conversions “both in Europe and in Muslim-majority countries.”
One of the reasons that lead Muslims to convert to Christianity, he says is “the discovery of the Gospel of love and truth, as an increasingly repressive Islam prompts them to seek answers elsewhere.” For Muslims, “to discover that God is love is revolutionary.”
He comments that although we cannot know what truly influenced them, these conversions are “really important”. “This is possible also because while before measures to curb the spread of the Good News, prevent proselytizing and promote the Gospel were successful, today through the internet it is much easier to discover Christian content” he adds.
Camille Eid also refers to the work done by the daughter of former President Moncef Marzouki of Tunisia, who has written a thesis on the phenomenon of conversions in this North African country.
Who would believe it! In Iran – the country of the ayatollahs, the cradle of the Islamic revolution which began almost four decades ago – Christianity is flourishing and numbers of Christians are growing steadily. It is a silent but steady movement as many Muslims “discover that God is love “ – a revolutionary concept for them – and are attracted to Christianity.
The French missionary priest Pierre Humblot, recently expelled from Iran after 45 years in the country, Eid says “has talked about three hundred thousand Iranian converts to Christianity, a mass phenomenon. What’s amazing is that in the country (Christian) celebrations in the local language are prohibited. ” This phenomenon has been described in the book “Too Many to Jail: The story of Iran’s new Christians”by Mark Bradley
Camille Eid believes this may be “the tip of the iceberg, since in some countries conversion from Islam is prohibited by law and there are no records of this; nevertheless, we know that in these countries conversions to Christianity are increasing.”
In Pakistan, another Muslim majority country where Christians are constantly being discriminated against and even killed, hundreds have converted to Christianity. This is despite the fact that apostasy (changing from Muslim to another religion) is a serious crime in Pakistan, which could result in the death penalty.
The experience is not restricted to the Middle East and predominantly Muslim countries. Significant numbers of Muslims are also being baptised in the West. Conversion to Christianity is also being seen increasingly among Muslim immigrants to Europe.
In the German diocese of Hamburg 196 Muslims were recently baptized. Similar conversions have happened in other German cities. The large number of immigrants fleeing from the war in Syria and Iraq and taken in by the Germans is one of the factors contributing to this growing trend. But that alone is not enough to explain this phenomenon, because some of the converts are Moroccan, although most converts in Germany are of Iranian or Afghan origin.
The most recent data from Austria, last April, indicates that about forty Syrians, Afghans and Iranians were baptised.
French church records state that 4,000 adults are baptized a year, of whom 4% converted from Islam. Among French converts there are stories of men who after baptism have become priests or began to discuss their faith with others.
Camille Eid refutes the argument of those who think increasing conversions in the West are due to refugees hoping to obtaining asylum. Christian refugees are not getting greater support than Muslims, rather the reverse.