Crisis as Catalyst: Crisis in Conversion to Islam Related to Radicalism Intentions
In Western democracies, Muslim converts are overrepresented in Islamist terrorism compared to born-and-raised Muslims. Consequently, researchers have begun to consider how the process of conversion to Islam might influence participation in terrorism, yet empirical data are lacking. To explore these connections, the present study measured the conversion experiences of Muslim converts, as well as their intentions to engage in radicalism. 177 U.S. Muslim converts completed the Radicalism Intentions Scale, which measures willingness to engage in violent and illegal political behaviors to support one’s group, and the Adult Religious Conversion Experience Questionnaire, which measures the components of conversion, including crisis. Crisis is an experience of stress or difficulty that contributes to the collapse of one’s pre-conversion belief system (e.g., when an alcoholic hits “bottom”). Results indicate that the level of crisis that converts experienced was the only conversion variable associated with converts’ radicalism intentions, which suggests that crisis may be an important construct in connecting the processes of conversion to Islam and participation in Islamist terrorism.