Muslim conversion to Christianity. Where do they end up?

  1. Do the majority of Muslim converts to Christianity end up in a particular denomination? I would imagine that the majority of Muslim converts are Eastern Christians (Assyrian, Byzantine, and Oriental).
  2. Are the majority of converts Catholics or Orthodox (or some other pre-great-schism group)?
  3. What percentage of Muslim converts to Christianity accept the Pope as the successor of St. Peter, and hold him and his successors in such esteem as to ascribe a succession.

In Europe ? because many become Lutheran or Reformed.

You’re asking for a pre-great schism group. Why?

Most become protestant christians because they’re the ones who do the most evangelizing.


I haven’t seen any statistics but I would be very surprised if there any Muslims at all who convert to any of the Eastern Churches, whether Orthodox or Catholic (e.g. Maronite). A Muslim who moves to the West and decides to convert is presumably motivated, at least in part, by a wish to assimilate to his new cultural environment. Surely he would be most likely to pick a Western church, whether Catholic, Lutheran, Baptist, Seventh Day Adventist, or anything else.

I have to leave here till later after this but would like to make a personal observation:

It doesn’t seem to me that muslims moving to the west are interested in assimilating to their new cultural environment. In fact, this is causing much stress in the country of my residence.

I’d say, rather, that the reason they convert is because they have “found Jesus”, have become born again, have accepted christianity - or however else you care to phrase that.

I agree with your last sentence.

God bless

I assumed that most converts became eastern Christians simply due to such churches being the predominant form of Christianity in the Middle East, Iran, the Levant, etc. I’m including crypto-Christians among those converted. On second thought I think my assumption is likely wrong because (1) as was pointed out a Muslim is more likely to convert while residing in the West, and (2) the majority of Muslims do not live in the Middle East. Even in looking at the stats of countries like Malaysia and Indonesia Protestants constitute the majority of Christians.

Considering that apostasy is strictly prohibited in Islam, it’s virtually impossible for a Muslim living in most Muslim majority countries to convert to another religion. Not only is it against the law, but it can carry the death penalty in some Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia.

For Muslims who live in Western countries, I suspect that those who convert to Christianity mostly become Evangelicals of some sort. I know of a Pentecostal church in my area that has Muslim converts.

Thorlfr, you are the expert here. Do you know of statistics anywhere? Also, if we are talking about non-Muslim countries, primarily in the West, do you see patterns? Are people converting to marry? Because of Christian evangelization? Assimilation? This is all very interesting.

I don’t really have any statistics. I do know that it is extremely difficult for a Muslim in most Muslim majority countries to convert to another religion such as Christianity, even in what used to be considered more moderate ones such as Egypt. It would probably be possible in a a few Muslim countries such as Turkey, Tunisia or Indonesia.

As far as Western conversion, I don’t personally know hardly any Muslims that have ever converted to Christianity but I do know a lot of former Christians who became Muslims. I once had an Arabic speaking former Muslim tell me about some other Muslim converts to Christianity that went to a local Pentecostal church. I think they even had some sort of outreach ministry from that Pentecostal church to the Arab community in my area. But most of what I know is mostly anecdotal.

Here’s a Pew Research Center report about countries that still outlaw apostasy and as you can see from the map, most of them are in the Middle East.

Apostasy and blasphemy may seem to many like artifacts of history. But in dozens of countries around the world, laws against apostasy and blasphemy remain even today.

Earlier this month, the U.S. embassy in Khartoum said it was “deeply disturbed” that Sudan had sentenced a pregnant woman to death for apostasy, the act of abandoning one’s faith — including by converting to another religion. (The woman later gave birth in jail.) And in Pakistan, the country’s most popular TV station was the latest target in a rash of recent government accusations of blasphemy, defined as speech or actions considered to be contemptuous of God or the divine.

A new Pew Research analysis finds that as of 2012, nearly a quarter of the world’s countries and territories (22%) had anti-blasphemy laws or policies, and one-in-ten (11%) had laws or policies penalizing apostasy. The legal punishments for such transgressions vary from fines to death.

We found that laws restricting apostasy and blasphemy are most common in the Middle East and North Africa, where 14 of the 20 countries (70%) criminalize blasphemy and 12 of the 20 countries (60%) criminalize apostasy. While apostasy laws exist in only two other regions of the world – Asia-Pacific and sub-Saharan Africa – blasphemy laws can be found in all regions, including Europe (in 16% of countries) and the Americas (31%).

Hi Brandon. Interesting interest in this area.

In Malaysia, Catholics have traditionally been more than half of the Christian population, and in many ethnic groups, we are still the predominant denomination.

Many of the ethnic Malays (who by legal definition have to be Muslims to be ethnically Malay - yes, go figure) who convert are crypto-Christians. As it is legally prohibited for non-Muslims to evangelise Muslims in Malaysia, there is often a fear by Christians of prosecution if they were to associate with Malay converts. As such, unfortunately it has become common for such Malay converts to be excluded from mainstream Christian churches. They are often baptised and cared for in small independent house churches who get disrupted every now and then (often it is just harrassment, being locked up in the police station overnight).

While Catholic priests do baptise ethnic Malay Muslims, it is often done in the sacristy and never at a mass of the community. You can appreciate that we (or any other church) do not keep public statistics on that but every such baptism is reported to the local bishop. I would assume that only the bishops collectively would know the tally.

There are several news reports available about Muslims converting to Christianity in Indonesia. There is even a Muslim youtube video put out by a Muslim group that is concerned about the growing number of conversions to Christianity.

There are also youtube videos about refugees converting to Christianity in Germany–because if they “convert” they almost guarantee they won’t be sent back to wherever they came from because of apostasy laws. So it’s become a method of gaining refugee status.

In the US and Canada there are a number of youtube videos discussing the problems of keeping 2nd generation Muslims in Islam. They don’t necessarily become Christians, but they become secularized.

Personal experience: my daughter-in-law is a Muslim from Iran. She doesn’t practice it at all. Her entire family has non-Muslim given names. Her nephew, who lives a few houses down from her, has become an Evangelical Christian and hopes to become some kind of minister. The family seems indifferent–they certainly haven’t voiced any public concerns.

I suspect that a number of the current refugees will “convert,” whether they are sincere or simply seeking refugee status. This in turn will probably lead to a Muslim backlash accusing the Germans of trying to convert the refugees–these accusations were already on the internet before the current crisis. This will be something to keep an eye on.

It actually makes sense for the vast majority of them to convert to some form of Protestant Christianity. Here’s why.

  1. Protestants evangelize more. Straight up. We do.

  2. Muslims don’t have any form of authority, hierarchy, or divine tradition that remotely resembles either Catholic or Orthodox authority/tradition. Even more so than Trinitarian doctrine, these issues are so completely foreign to the average Muslim that you can’t expect to explain it in an understandable way within one conversation (or two or three or four), much less convince them to accept it. Have you ever tried to talk to a Muslim about authority? Try it sometime. In terms of authority and tradition, Muslims have much more in common with non-denominational Protestants. Don’t even be thinking about mainline Protestantism here, we’re going way in the opposite direction.

  3. If a Muslim is living in a majority-Muslim country, there’s an excellent chance that it’s impossible for a proper Catholic parish to operate in public or in private, or at the very least there are some onerous restrictions that prevent certain things from happening. But if a Muslim becomes a Protestant, we’re all about two or three gathering together, and that’s all you really need. House churches are more of a strictly Protestant thing, and their main purpose is to operate in any given land where Christianity is persecuted. I understand that apostolic Christianity has some catacombs in its own history, but it’s been a minute since any form of apostolic Christianity has effectively operated on the down low, plus in this instance we’re looking at some desert type areas and catacombs aren’t going to hold up well at all in the desert. :wink:

I don’t have any official figures for you at this time- and it’s worth mentioning that most of the countries you’re most interested in do not make full and official figures available as a matter of habit- but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Protestants currently have more than three-quarters of the Muslim convert share worldwide. 75 or 80% to our side would be my best guess, and the remainder goes mostly Catholic, followed by smaller parts for Orthodox and marginal Christianity.

The best anyone can do for you is rough guesswork though, and the margin of error is bound to be huge.

I would love to see these videos. Do you have the links?

You didn’t ask me personally, but here is one link you should enjoy.

I made a point of picking something from a fairly neutral-looking news agency in Australia. No one makes a point of specifying Catholic or Protestant, but there’s a lot of useful detail, some specific people that are really interesting, and with a little bit of research I think anyone could track down more details about certain people and a specific church or two that is mentioned by name.

As you watch more of it, we jump around to some other news agencies, some of which have more of a pre-existing interest than others. Fox News specifies that their guy is Evangelical. But overall we’re looking at actual journalism with someone operating as an outside voice.

Interesting question which poses many thoughts.

I would even consider could it be seen as a revert back to Christianity! That is if they were actually a practicing Muslim to start with.

If would be interesting if their Christian revert would also retain a Koran based reasoning about God and Christ.

Regards Tony

The problem with the Muslim society is that, while there are undoubtedly many who have sincerely found a personal relationship with God in Islam, (I dare say) most hold on to the religion out of force - of law or of social pressure. For many therefore the faith is brittle. Given a chance of freedom in a secularised society, I believe many would choose to be indifferent, as in your personal anecdote.

I would presume a smaller group though not insubstantial would choose to convert out of Islam, mostly to Christianity where the familiarity of beliefs eases the transition and the barriers are lower (many barriers are likely self-imposed cultural/political/personal - eg., I would find that Islam is theologically closer to Orthodox Judaism but it would be hard for any Muslim to overcome their history to convert).

In my country I find it courageous for Muslims to overcome legal, political and family pressures (of people in a very conformist society) to seek conversion to Christianity and more amazingly the number who did so from reading the Quran, not Bible. They have somehow managed to throw off the scales from their eyes placed there by religious leaders and government authorities and read their scriptures with open minds that led them to very different conclusions - which was probably why the injunctions were there in the first place. And these are not just Westernised urbanites though many are, but also people in remote villages with little contact with Western or Christian news & thoughts.

I would imagine that for many Muslims from Muslim-majority countries moving to free Western countries would choose to join mainstream churches. This is on the premise that the membership in the broader Muslim umat would find echoes in membership in worldwide churches. Also larger churches provide a greater sense of security which is sorely missing for Christian minorities in Muslim majority countries.

I hope someone has the statistics to test the validity of this hypothesis.

I don’t have much ideas of cultural Muslims who grew up in free securalised societies though.

No, personally I find most of them are seeking a personal interpretation of the Quran instead of that imposed on them by their clerics. It normally starts with someone asking difficult questions from the Quran and got put off by the way the question was handled (or not handled) - often an unsatisfactory stock answer with a warning not to ask too many questions.

So, most of them are genuinely seeking the truth & not looking to ‘revert’ to an earlier faith.

Also, it is not so much a ‘Quran’ based reasoning but more a Muslim-based reasoning that is retained. For instance, initially reading the Bible in a rigid literalist manner; seeing the actions/law rather than the intention behind the actions/law.

The Sermon on the Mount for instance is an interesting challenge. While it obviously resonates with them (many would be attracted to Christianity in the first place because of the precepts) but deeper analysis could leave some of them grappling with the idea that it is OK to not follow the written word of the Mosaic Law, which they have been taught have to be followed to the letter, as it is given by God (like the Quran). But eventually they overcome this because true conversion is not just adopting a new religion but also involving a rejection of a previous way of thinking in favour of a Christian one.

Btw, I believe the second largest group after Christianity, would convert to Bahaism, but again no stats. Do you?

Yes it does appear that man is looking at scripture themselves to determine why the world is why it is, all waiting from the promise in each of the scriptures and where it is best to be found. Of course IMHO.

I have heard of no statistics to date, it would depend I would say, on their expose to either Christianity or the Baha’i Faith from where they came from, either way to me they are turning to the Same God.

Also I would consider it is now time to forget about the complexities of religion but for us to all to try to obtain a goal to which can be found in Each of them. Love, Unity and Tolerance. Can this be achieved? I think so, but it would only be a stepping stone on the way to us all working together in a future most likely not that far away, with One God.

Regards Tony

I believe you are right but I suspect that the makeup may be different for those converts who migrate to or were converted in free countries. Also, I believe you are using the term ‘Protestants’ to include normally-evangelical independent house churches, which may not be the common usage of the term. Most of Muslim converts in Muslim-majority countries are members of small independent house churches as opposed to mainstream Protestant churches (Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists, etc).

Also, to add to your excellent points, most Muslim-controlled governments have some laws prohibiting evangelisation among Muslims. This leads to a certain wariness from both sides in the rare occassions that they do meet. The convert (invariably would not have officially converted and so officially still a Muslim) often guards against religious or government police while the Christian may suspect a bait planted to manufacture an accusation of trying to evagelise a Muslim. This mutual wariness often leads to a lack of support from mainstream Christian churches (who have a lot to lose) for Muslim converts (who often leads double lives).

As a result, a certain resentment arises and so most Muslim converts end up being served by non-mainstream house churches who are often self-evangelised and with an indigenious pastor as opposed to one sent from outside.

Also would like to note that not all cryto-Christians are Muslim converts to Christianity. We also have crypto-Christians who are Christian converts to Islam. The conversion could have been due to two reasons (i) wilful conversion for marriage, jobs, money or promotion but a refusal to adopt Islam other than outwardly - Such crypto-Christians consider themselves as still Christians in their heart (and eat pork as often as they can) or (ii) unwilful conversion due to fraud or government misadministration (or is it maladministration?). This happens when illiterate Christians are asked to sign some documents in exchange for some handouts (often cash). Or government officials register them as Muslims and once it is on your Identity Card, you will need to get a hard-to-get letter from the Syaria Court to reverse it.

Please pray for all crypto-Christians in Muslim-majority countries. And crypto-religionists of all shades anywhere in the world.

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