Why child Islamic conversions become commonplace at UK’s 1,500 mosques
LONDON: (Web Desk) A media report has discovered that child and teenage Islamic conversions have become commonplace at the UK’s 1,500 mosques during the past five years.

 A video was posted online by a mosque and has been plastered over numerous Islamic TV channels as well as social media sites including Facebook, TikTok and YouTube, ever since, as reported by The Mail.

The video shows that a nine-year-old English boy in a dark Parka jacket holds up a certificate showing he has just converted to Islam.

‘You’re a Muslim, Rudi!’ cheers the imam as he hugs the child, whose hand he has held throughout a short ceremony at a Lancashire mosque.

In his piping voice, the youngster who eyes shining with excitement has just recited the words of the Shahada, a strict Islamic creed pledging that there is ‘nothing worthy of worship but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger’.

The mantra means he must now wash before praying five times a day, never eat pork and — when he is grown up — shun Western habits including drinking alcohol or sex, except with his own equally devout Muslim wife.

We know about Rudi, and that his mother, charity volunteer Claire, willingly agreed to his conversion, because we have seen a video of the event in January 2021.

During the video, Imam Muhammad Bilal can be heard asking Rudi if he has made his decision to become a Muslim of his free will and without any pressure from anyone. The boy answers yes, nodding his tiny, mopped head enthusiastically.

At that moment, Rudi became one of the youngest UK converts to Islam, according to the Greengate mosque in the former cotton town of Oldham.

But he is one of many hundreds of British children whose ancestors were largely Christians who are converting to the creed.

Type ‘Islam convert’ into an internet search engine and you will see scores of clips of British youngsters embracing the religion. Many have been posted by mosques to showcase the ‘phenomenon’ of mass conversions by disenchanted young Christians and non-believers, some still at primary school.

The number of converts — or ‘reverts’ as they are also known in Islam faith, which decrees that every person is born a Muslim — has grown into a tidal wave since the horrific massacre of Israelis by Hamas last year, which has provoked a pro-Palestinian fervour among the young  which has provoked a pro-Palestinian fervour among the young.

Even in the cathedral city seat of the Church of England’s Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, a mosque has posted a film online entitled Two English Brothers Accept Islam.

It shows the boys, perhaps aged 14 and 15, repeating the Shahada watched by groups of young Muslim men, some sitting on the floor, and nearly all recording the event on mobile phones. At the end, the bearded and gowned imam, waving a bottle of water and a microphone, smiles as the brothers hug each other and then embrace some of the watching worshippers.

In another astonishing video, a minuscule ten-year-old English child called George in a black and white headdress says the Shahada as he converts to Islam on a pavement under the shadow of Big Ben during a massive pro-Palestine protest in London last December.

The cherubic-looking child is told by the Islamic cleric with a strong South London accent (who is not shown on screen): ‘Our main aim is paradise, [as Muslims] we will never die.’

The child is standing by his unnamed and straight-talking father in a flat cap, holding a Palestinian flag. He tells the camera that he once converted to Islam ‘25 years ago’ but has since strayed from the faith, even visiting Anglican churches to pray.

The father insists that he is encouraging his son to convert. The boy himself pipes up that he is anti-Islamophobia and wants to have a new life during what appears to be an impromptu ceremony.

‘This is amazing, you’re a believer. Go to the mosque and learn Arabic,’ instructs the imam as he finishes the Shahada with the child grinning in delight.

Behind him as a backdrop to this extraordinary scene are flag-waving protesters, the statue of Winston Churchill and red London buses. This video of George has now gone viral across the world, along with those of other British boys and girls becoming Muslims.

One mosque welcoming the child converts with alacrity is Lewisham Islamic Centre in South-East London.

Its outspoken chief imam Shakeel Begg, 44, is a persuasive and voluble speaker who, as the Mail revealed last December, told his worshippers at Friday prayers after the October 7 Hamas attack: ‘Grant victory to the people of Palestine, the people of Gaza, support them over their enemy, your enemy. Punish the oppressors (Israel) ... destroy them, tear them apart.’

He went on to claim that, despite filmed evidence to the contrary, the West and Israel were lying by saying Muslims ‘had killed innocent children in Israel’.

Begg is a controversial figure. He once launched an unsuccessful libel case against the BBC for calling him an extremist. The judge warned him that he was in the perfect position to ‘plant the seeds of extremism in a young mind’.

Yet now he boasts of his growing following, particularly among school-aged children and students, from within his own deprived borough and across London.

On Islamic channels, the imam explains that he has welcomed 30,000 new Muslims to his mosque over two decades, two of the recruits only eight years old.

 ‘People are looking for the truth... spiritual guidance and not finding that in the materialistic world that we are living in,’ he claimed. ‘So they are getting the answers and solutions in Islam.’

In a film, Meet The Imam Converting Tens of Thousands Of Brits To Islam, published recently on the 5Pillars news site, he continues: ‘Islam is being normalised. It is... cool to be a Muslim. Because you find footballers, boxers, rappers, celebrities, so it is OK with the general public.’

In another recent podcast he is interviewed with a fellow Muslim, Fatima Barkatulla, for a show entitled Londoners Converting To Islam. It was broadcast on the social media site UMMAH (‘community’ in Arabic) TALK, which has a growing UK following.

In the Barkatulla podcast, Begg says his mosque is giving out 30 to 40 copies of the Quran every week to passers-by who come in and ask for them. Many are non-Muslims.

He gives details of the two recently converted eight-year-old English children.

‘The girl was with her father, a Muslim who had taken the Shahada before. The primary-school boy came with his friends who attended the mosque,’ he says. ‘In the last three or four years, a lot of people are becoming Muslims from the white community.’

When asked by Ms Barkatulla how he sees the future in 100 years’ time, the imam says that every household in the UK will have someone in it who is a Muslim, ‘a daughter, son, a cousin, or an aunt’.

He expects in Lewisham, if Allah is willing, that almost all the population will have joined Islam by then.

Dig a little deeper into events at Lewisham Islamic Institute and you find on social media the short film of a pale-skinned English child — perhaps the eight-year-old girl he mentions — taking the Shahada there.

She looks incredibly young and has certainly not reached puberty. Her head, shoulders and thin chest are shrouded in a brown hijab, the modest Islamic covering for women, as she repeats her promises solemnly in a quiet voice to a cleric.

 ‘You are now a Muslim, Sister Layla,’ the man tells the child as he congratulates her warmly.

Although we are told on the mosque footage that she is called Layla, that is the name many new Muslim women and girls adopt after the ceremony because they shed their previous, often Christian, persona.

It holds a special meaning in Islam because it is shared by a female contemporary of the Prophet Muhammad’s who was married to one of his most successful generals. The video of Layla could easily be viewed as a publicity blurb fuelling the mosque’s uptick in conversions.

Begg would tell you that she — and her family — agreed to her being filmed during the momentous decision to devote her life to Islam at such an early age.

And this surge in British youngsters converting to Islam shows no sign of slowing. Many mosques make it clear they are willing to welcome non-believing recruits sporting ‘tattoos, braided uncovered hair, or even immodest clothing’, without criticism or judgement.

One of these eager forward scouts is another imam at the Lewisham Islamic Institute.

He is Ashraf Dabous who recently appeared on the Thinking Muslim podcast to talk of the ‘phenomenon’ of youth conversions. He said that a really dramatic rise of 60 or 70 youngsters, some just 13 and 14 years old, took Shahada there during Ramadan, the month of holy fasting, during spring last year.

The imam said many of the converts had watched their friends and fellow Muslim pupils praying five times a day at school, being friendly, disciplined in behaviour, and liked what they saw — so wanted to copy them.

 ‘There are a new generation [of young people] in our society who live Islam confidently. They say they are British, yes, but they are Muslim first,’ he explained during the interview.

He added: ‘Our doors [at the mosque] are always open.’

He suggested that controversies around gender and LGBT issues have driven a wedge through society, helping to encourage the avalanche of male converts to Islam. ‘It is difficult for young men to find their way in a society that is feminising and erasing them. We as Muslims are very black and white on these issues . . . a man is a man and a woman is a woman.’

This is confirmed by the Leicestershire-based Convert Muslim Foundation where a ‘leading light’ who wished to withhold her name told us this week that youngsters are being inspired by Islam amid turbulent world events.

 ‘They, and others of all ages, are worried about the moral bankruptcy of modern society,’ said the spokeswoman to the Mail, revealing that she herself had converted from Roman Catholicism.

More converts had come forward since October 7 after what she claimed, in an extraordinary outburst, was the ‘genocide’ Israel was inflicting on Palestine in its ongoing military action.

Other films seen by the Mail reveal English teenage males turning to Islam. Lancashire’s Masjid as-Sunnah establishment in Accrington has posted one of Mitch, 17, solemnly saying the Shahada as he sits on the floor next to an imam last year. He stands up afterwards and, smiling, is hugged by members of the congregation.

In nearby Nelson, teenager Dylan, in a grey hoodie, is filmed accepting the Shahada in a local mosque in 2022.

A message posted under the online film written by him and signed in his full name a year later says: ‘It’s me on this video . . . It is still the best decision of my life and all the blessings that come with Islam.’

This weekend Rudi — now 12 — does not regret his decision. After he converted, he changed his name to ‘Muhammed Muzammil’, referenced in the Koran as meaning a person enwrapped in the Islamic faith.

In photos and film taken at the mosque and distributed on social media, he is portrayed dressed in Islamic regalia praying next to adult male worshippers. His mother, Claire, 45, can be seen hugging her son at the mosque after his conversion. An outpouring of messages congratulate them both for their decision.

 ‘This is really beautiful,’ says one. ‘Nine-year-old Rudi has accepted Islam, the youngest person to take Shahada with the [Imam] Muhammad Bilal.’

The message praised his mother Claire for ‘beautifully saying she is happy with whatever decision her young son makes’. ‘May Allah honour Imam Bilal, bless Rudi, and allow this entire country to accept to Islam [sic],’ added the enthusiastic message.

This week the family of Rudi confirmed that he — and they — have no regrets about his conversion three years ago at such an early age. Rudi still attends some of the weekly Friday ceremonies at the mosque half an hour’s bus journey away from his terraced house where he lives with his mother, sister and brother.

The fresh devotion of Rudi, and so many other British boys and girls, to Islam shows no sign of waning. And it has to be said those who lead our mosques seem very pleased about the way this religious revolution is turning out.