In the last few years, I have interacted with hundreds of Muslim converts from many nations around the world. As I heard many testimonies by Muslims of how they have come to Christ, I decided to conduct a formal research to try to understand the factors that led to their conversion. I prepared a questionnaire of 10 questions and asked 100 converts over a period of three years to fill it out. These converts had come to national conferences for Christians from Muslim Background held in Washington DC and New Jersey. The questionnaire included multiple choice questions.
Some checked more than one response which explains why the total is more than 100% sometimes.
This survey revealed much about the differences in experience for the believer between Islam and Christianity. It was clear from the responses that the two groups have entirely different experiences and feelings toward God and religious practices.
Here are the responses to the most important questions:
1. “Before I became a Christian, I was”
The people who responded to this survey represented a good cross-section of Muslim society:
40% were moderate.
40% had been nominal Muslims.
20% were self-described fanatic Muslims before their conversion. All of them said fear dominated their relationship with God.
2. “As a Muslim, did you feel that your relationship with God was based on fear, love, or duty/doing what is required?”
75% said it was based on fear.
40% included duty as a basis of their relationship with God.
5% said that as Muslims they felt that they had been worshiping God rather than duty.
Not one single respondent said that their relationship with God had been based on love when they were Muslim.
3. “What characteristic of God means most to you now?”
75% of the respondents mentioned the love of God.
25% mentioned God’s forgiveness.
4. “What was the major factor in drawing you to Christ?
85% of respondents cited the love of Christians as one major factor.
60% cited it as the exclusive factor.
30 % cited disappointment with Islam.
25% noted that there were other reasons not listed leading to their conversion.
25% experienced dreams and visions, most of Jesus but some various dreams.
15% mentioned the Christian concept of God.
5% cited the Bible as the sole factor in their conversion.
5. “What was the main change in your life after becoming a Christian?”
40% were attracted to the reality of having a personal relationship with God.
30% were drawn to the love of God and his fatherly nature.
25% of the responses talked about relief from fear.
Some of the comments added were:
“free at last”
“My mind has been transformed by Christ.”
“smile, love, tolerance,”
“joy and happiness,”
“My life! Everything! I am a different being!”
“180º = total change.”
6. “What was your view of Islam before your conversion?”
55% described it as a cultural system (65% of the formerly secular Muslims checked this.)
55% described it as a religion.
35% described Islam as a political system
20% indicated that all three aspects, political, cultural, and religious.
75% of the formerly fanatic Muslims described Islam as primarily a religious system.
65% of the formerly nominal Muslims described it as by-and-large cultural.
The formerly moderate Muslims were fairly evenly divided on that issue;
25% saw it as political,
20% saw it as cultural,
30% saw it as religious.
7. “Do you think that the God of the Bible is an entirely different God than the Allah of Islam?,”
65% wrote that the two are entirely different,
10% wrote that they are not entirely different
25% wrote that God of the Bible and the Quran are both different and similar.
8. “After becoming a Christian, did you feel that you were worshipping the same God?,”
90% wrote that they feel that they are worshipping a different God.
5% wrote both “yes” and “no,”
5% wrote that they felt they are now worshipping the same God.
9. “Did you have any dreams or visions”
60% responded that they had experienced a dream or vision or both.
15% did not respond to this question
10. “What characteristic of God means most to you now?”
75% wrote “Love of God.”
15% wrote “grace”
15% wrote “forgiveness”
5% did not answer.
This research clearly demonstrates that conversion to Christ is more driven by the positive aspects of Christianity than the negative aspects of Islam. Muslims are primarily drawn to Jesus because of his love and the love of his people. God is drawing Muslims to himself by appearing to them in dreams and visions.
It may not be obvious from this research so I would like to point out that 100% of the respondents were influenced by two major factors that were not directly addressed by the questions.
a. Scripture. Regardless of what factors drew Muslims to Christ, the Bible was always an important factor. Without a copy of the New Testament or the entire Bible, all the other factors would not have been enough.
b. Personal connection: In all situations all converts had a personal relationship with a Christian who was involved in helping them understand God’s plan of salvation.
Brother, George; May I please use your questions for my research that I am doing? Thanks, brother in advance. Thanks, again, for the article
Excellent survey, Georges. Many thanks.
A survey which dovetails into your findings was made by , Bruce Bronoske in his thesis called .
“A Comparative Study Of The Self-Revelation Of Jesus Found In The Canonical New Testament And The Jesus of The Qur’an, And The Effect A Muslim Seeker’s Understanding Of Jesus Has Upon Their Decision To Convert To Christianity” for his D. Min (2005) at the Northwest Graduate School Of The Ministry
This is what he found in a survey of 173 testimonies:
“This final portion of the project involves a comprehensive review of the documented testimonials of Muslim converts to Christianity. This section is intended to substantiate the overarching importance an understanding of the true Jesus (i.e., within the canonical New Testament context) has (as a singular element) upon a Muslim
seeker’s decision to convert to Christianity.”
Very good article! Shukran for sharing!
Lynne, I have posted the abstract to my blog: https://duanemiller.wordpress.com/2013/04/29/contextual-theology-making-and-ex-muslim-christians-abstract/
Hi Duane. I’d love to hear about your PhD. You can contact me (my name no space) at internode dot on dot net. thanks! lynnetaylor :)
And a further comment for Georges: if you are going to do additional research in this area may I encourage you to consider exploring the interaction between CMB’s and the Church? How did they first become part of a church? What do they think about their church? How important is it, or maybe it’s not important at all. And finally, how have they been treated by various churches, both for good or ill, over the years. Best wishes.
As to the actual findings, what is most surprising to me is that people understand that they are worshiping an altogether different deity, rather than worshiping the same one but more according to his will. This seems to fly in the face of much Protestant and Catholic theology of religion that states that Islam addresses the true God, but with flaws. It REALLY flies in the face of proponents of so-called Insider Movements.
It is interesting to see how ex-Muslim Christians end up with very different conclusions about Islam than evangelical theorists who are trying to evangelize (or whatever it’s called these days) Muslims.
And Lynne, I’d be pleased to chat with you if you like on religious conversion, I’m winding up a PhD which is closely related to that topic (contextual theology made BY ex-Muslim Christians, not theology made FOR them). You can contact me through my blog if you are interested.
And thanks for posting the questions as well.
We have added the questionnaire as a link in the first paragraph.
I agree Duane Miller – the original questionnaire would be very interesting. I posted this on another blog in reponse to these figures “I understand that recognizing Jesus Christ as the only begotten Son of God and the sacrifice that he made may be encompassed in many general answers such as Love and Forgiveness however I’d be very interested in the thoughts of Christian converted Muslims on how they accepted Jesus as the Son of God; knowing how adamant the Quran is in denying exactly this.”
Thanks for this… I’m embarking on a masters in theology on conversion so am very interested to hear how muslims who have converted to christainity have responded to these questions. (and also very grateful to receive the questionnaire, thanks!). I’m taking a qualitative approach (using grounded theory) but will be very interested to see if there is any commonality in the experiences of those I interview to those who responded to your survey. all the best in your work.
It would be helpful to see the original questionnaire. I would like to use this for academic research, but without that, it would no be possible.