By Michael Blau
From the Author: This paper is a product of my qualitative research methods in psychology course, taught by Rick Pringle in the Fall of 2008. The following narratives present the stories of two individuals’ conversions to Islam. I interpret their experiences through a social-relational lens, focusing on the role of mentors, families, and friends in the conversion process. In the past year, my conversion research has expanded to investigate the perception of the American Muslim community. In order to effect positive social change I hope to share my findings with the public through workshops, discussion groups, and theater. This paper should be viewed as the springboard that led to my senior thesis and an ongoing social justice endeavor.
From the Faculty Nominator: In Qualitative Research Methods students conduct research on topics of profound personal interest-projects that make you quake. The Qualitative Research framework disrupts some of conventional science’s cherished values:
- being a neutral or objective observer is acknowledged as both impossible and undesirable;
- the subject matter is more concerned with intangibles, such as meaning, subjectivity, and personal narrative, than the properties and behavior of material things;
- the research is often about "finding the question" rather than answering one.
One day Michael emailed to say, "I’m quaking!" He had elected his topic: the experience and meaning of one’s conversion to Islam. While abroad in Senegal the previous semester, he had lived, worked, played and prayed with Muslims every day. Deeply moved and impressed, he took his curiosity and affection one step further. What follows is his write-up of this remarkable step, which he later expanded into a senior thesis.
Read: The Straight Way: A Narrative Study of Conversion to Islam
Copyrights of all Verge articles and editorial material belong to the authors.