Turning Muslim in Texas Documentary
George W Bush may be backed by Christian fundamentalists but in his home state of Texas, Islam is the latest big draw.
Eric was a Baptist preacher before he became a Muslim 14 years ago. Now he prays five times a day – even in the middle of watching a football game. His wife, Karen, also a convert, is covered from head to toe in the traditional Muslim Clothes. Islam, says Eric, ‘is everything I wanted Christianty to be’. His mother has found it hard to come to terms with her son’s conversion and believes he will return to the Christan faith: ‘Then he will be a dynamic preacher.’ Eric says: ‘Maybe some day she’ll embrace Islam.’
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Women are also becoming followers of Islam. Yasmine (previously Mindy) arranged a marriage for herself and has three children. Islam, she says is ‘the solution to a lot of the prevailing evils: drugs, adultery, fornication…’ Converts often see the religious laws more clearly than those who have been brought up as Muslims and Yasmine can spot a mistake at 20 paces. She believes that she has a unique opportunity to help people who are born into the religion get back to the fundamentals.
Catherine has been a Muslim for two weeks. She came from a privileged background – private school followed by a career in PR. Now the established Muslim women guide her through the purification rituals as she washes before prayer and removes her nail varnish.
David is the only white Muslim in his little town on Route 66. He believes his new religion makes him a better American and, far from undermining liberties, gives the individual more rights. He had an arranged marriage and his wife, who was born a Muslim, was shocked by the strictness with which he insists they live their lives. His family – a white man with his wife and daughter dressed in their hijabs (headscarves) –are stared in the streets and supermarkets of their one-horse town.
There are 400,000 Muslims in Texas alone and Islam is the fastest growing religion in the USA. Since 9/11 there have been more converts to Islam than ever. Eric believes that people are trying to understand Muslims and want to learn about their religion. Yasmine says: ‘America should not be afraid. If it would be better Muslims were the majority. If a child asks me: “Who made this leaf?” I say, “Allah. Allah made everything.”’