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A Closer Look

Our project is a three-year research program that will commence in two phases: Phase one runs from January 1, 2016 through December 31, 2016. Phase two will begin January 1, 2017 and end December 31, 2018.

Phase One:
Our objective here is to collect and analyze ethnographic and statistical data on Muslim converts in the general populations of United States to establish new large-N convert datasets – in other words, to represent and analyze the experiences of ordinary Muslim converts in the U.S. Our researchers will travel to several major cities in the United States to conduct surveys and interviews with Muslim converts and “born Muslims,” imams, and other community leaders. We want to collect personal stories about how, why, and when converts embraced Islam and became Muslim, and their attitudes and thoughts on Islam and what their religion means to them.

Phase Two:
During this phase, we will again conduct the same surveys and interviews, but this time of Muslim converts serving prisons sentences for terrorism-related offences. We also collect archival data on these individuals from a number of secondary sources, such as media accounts and court documents to reconstruct their lives and conversion experiences. To these data we will apply a range of qualitative and quantitative analytical approaches and compare these findings with the conversion processes of phase one participants to understand the range of causes and processes of Islamic conversion and convert radicalization. Finally, we develop and test an interdisciplinary theoretical framework and rigorous scientific method for understanding factors that contribute to convert radicalization.