Michael Jackson is now Mikaeel after the singer embraced Islam. According to the reports, Jackson discussed religion with a music producer and songwriter of his new album, both of whom have converted to Islam. Michael warmed to the idea and the conversion happened.
This is not the first time when we have seen a celebrity converting to another religion. Half of Hollywood has already converted to Scientology and Quaker and back home A.R. Rehman’s conversion was the most visible one in the past few years. A common man also finds his own reasons for such conversions. Sometimes its for money, sometimes its because of the fear of death, sometimes its for love and sometimes its because of unanswered question which the present faith can’t answer.
Leaving aside the topic of Forced Conversions, according to this very elaborate survey done by The Pew Forum, 28% of American adults have left their faith in which they were born in favour of another. If the change of affiliation from one form of Protestantism to another is included, the percentage stands at a staggering 44%. Also the number of people who do not attach themselves to any faith have increased.
So, what is the big deal about changing religion and why do people indulge in the activity? Most of the children who are born to parents practicing a single faith, tend to accept the religion. The children born to parents with mixed religions tend to change their faith to an entirely new one because to the conflicts and confusions in their mind. It is nothing more than a mean of ironing out the complexities into which they were born. The whole idea of changing the religion stem out of the fact that people strive to smooth out their lives. It has more to do with psychology rather than pragmatism. It has more to do with finding an anchor.
I also believe that once a person has converted, he begins to subconsciously unclog his life. For e.g. the person can be a true blue dipsomaniac but might tend to leave the habit after conversion. This is something he could have done without converting but maybe he just needed a driving force. This does not mean that we can ask questions like – “So, would I be better off if I convert to another faith?”. The question should be – “Do I have to convert to another faith to be better off?”. Most of the times, the answer would be No, but as I pointed out earlier, some people do need a strong driving force, specially when their life had been turbulent.
Another aspect which raises its hood after conversions is – “How much does the life of the person change?” You can read the story of five people who converted to Islam here. Yes, the person has to go through a tough process of making the family and friends understand specially when the religions had always been conflicting. Sometimes, when the person converts for love, its hard to make the family understand specially when they realize that its the whole persona which is going to change.
Ofcourse, I must emphasise that I somehow don’t subscribe to the thought process which might lead to a conversion. To me, its something similar to changing your shampoo brand. Its still a shampoo which you are rubbing on your head! I somehow don’t connect to the idea of religion playing such an important part in my life and thus this whole topic fascinates me. I have been to a Church, a Gurudwara and a Temple and I could not find much of a difference. We pray in all of them for a better life. I could not grasp the idea where people stop calling God by a certain name and start calling him by another one. But I would love to meet a convert and understand his point of view.
Have you ever known a person who has converted from one religion to another?
Two interesting links which I found –