Source: The Press Enterprise
On September 1, 2002 The Press Enterprise reported that "at least 8,000 U.S. women have become Muslims since Sept. 11, according to annual projections by the academic Hartford Institute for Religious Research. Conversion rates for all Muslims have quadrupled in the past year, some clerics report. Conversion has brought inner joy but external harassment, some [California] Inland women say. Three of them declined to be interviewed because of anticipated fallout from neighbors, employers or family members. Two asked not to be photographed. Others are trying to make sense of conflicting -- or negative -- attitudes about their new spiritual path. Even as they praise Islam as a peaceful tradition, they don't deny that millions of Muslims pray for death to America. Such actions distort the authentic Islam, convert Nancy Hadiza Collins insists. The Temecula resident joined the 'ummah' -- the global Muslim community -- on Sept. 28. 'Every religion has its nuts. I don't see how radicals can believe the Quran promotes violence or inequality. . . . I pray for those souls,' she said. 'In America, you can practice Islam with true emphasis on peace and love.' Collins, 60, grew up in a Catholic family surrounded by Muslims in central California. But her commitment to Islam didn't solidify until mid-September.