29 October 2010


I just saw Lauren Booth, who rather famously has converted to Islam, defend her move as to do chiefly with respect for women and modesty

Now, I shall try to keep this brief as I'm meant to be asleep, I am left wondering why is Islam the method of choice for this statement?

Is it the only way to be modest?

Of course not, if you can't beat the 'western' sexualisation of society and obsession with looks within yourself then what does that say about you? You have to join a religion to keep yourself away from western excess? Loads of people refuse to conform, I will not watch X Factor for example - and plenty of secular women I know have no time for make-up and being stereotypical bimbos, and yes, Booth did effectively imply that it was Islam that allowed women to be modest and taken seriously, which seems somewhat odd when there are plenty of secular women with respect out there

Is she really saying you can't be a non-conformist if you don't join a group of other non-conformists? Strikes me as being incredibly weak-willed, actually - nobody is forcing you to live by 'western' rules, it's fine if religion helps you keep focus, but that could be applied to any religion, notably the one she converted from

Catholicism does teach modesty - you are supposed to cover your knees and shoulders in a church, for example, and that rule is observed in more religious societies than ours, likewise, one look at the US will show you plenty of good Christian girls from the mid-west

So it strikes me as rather odd that she chose this as the major reasoning (at least in public) for her conversion - it says nothing of the faith, the theological heart of any religion, nothing about the afterlife, God etc, just a simple practice of dress - this to me, seems a rather shallow reason to convert to anything

You would, in fact, never even mention dress in relation to Catholicism, you'd be talking about views on abortion, marriage, sin, transubstantiation, Jesus or the afterlife - these sorts of issues don't even seem to be on her radar

She was already a religious person, and it seems she has adopted a practice from another because she likes it, has she really changed her underlying religious convictions or has she just added a veil to her pre-existing beliefs? It would be more impressive had she been an atheist turning to god

So in fact, I find myself agreeing with Peter Hitchens on something - this is fashion, she's thought long and hard about herself and her modesty, but seems to lack any theological conviction, I can't see any faith based reason for why she converted aside from she gets to feel empowered by some clothing - you don't even need a religion to be modest

However, we soon diverge as he seems to think it's a trend for 'English women to take the [veil]' that's showing there's a moral gap in our society that is being filled by Islam

Uhuh...seriously? Firstly, show me this trend outside of a few media types, because I haven't noticed a surge in veils round my way just yet

And secondly - she's a lifelong Christian (like her half-sis, of course) who has worked in Palestine and works for Islam TV and an Iranian TV channel - so she was already in the religious minority, and heavily exposed to her new religion, not one of us fornicating Satan-worshippers - there was no gap for her to fill, she was a believer before, and remains one now

The Mail have played up the rise of the white, female converts - but is this much different to conversion to Christianity? We don't know how many were even Christians to start off with, making it nothing to do with secular society at large, and conversions have always happened - people were doing it in the Victorian era

And I think they've missed (deliberately, of course) one glaringly obvious fact for why women outnumber men in the conversion stats - because they always outnumber us in religion! Women are something like four times as likely to be religious in this country (forgive me, it's late, so no checking), it is men that have driven the religious decline, and if men aren't shown to be jumping on this bandwagon then how can you say Islam is filling some sort of moral gap that we yearn for?

The answer is, you can't, and that's why they ignore it in their theories - if it's only about women then it's saying something about women, who have already been shown to be far more religious and superstitious in general, not society at large

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