How to Convert to Islam in Israel - a Guide

In 2014, 63 Israelis converted from Judaism and 19 from Islam to other religions.

Jack Khoury
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Mahmoud Mansour and Morel Malka arriving for their wedding recpetion in Rishon Letzion Sunday night.Credit: Ofer Vaknin
Jack Khoury

An Israeli who wants to convert to Islam must appear before the Muslim religious court closest to their home in order to recite the Shahada, the Islamic creed.

The recitation of the Shahada — “There is no God but Allah and Mohammed is His messenger” — is one of the five pillars of Islam.

After accepting the principles and religious duties of Islam, reciting the Shahada three times with sincere intent in the presence of two witnesses and undergoing a ritual immersion, the religious part of the conversion process is complete.

The qadi, or Muslim religious judge, registers the act and gives the candidate a certificate of conversion.

The candidate then applies to the Justice Ministry’s Christian Communities and Religious Conversions unit. Theoretically, the process is a brief one. But sources say that in many Jewish candidates encounter numerous obstacles, including delays and pressure from religious figures or organizations to change their minds. Christians seeking to convert to Islam and Muslims who want to convert to Christianity do not face such obstacles.

The sources added that Jews who convert are still considered Jewish, and their status is changed from Jewish to “dual religion.” The children of a woman who has converted from Judaism also receive “dual religion” status.

Sheikh Mohammad Kiwan, the imam of the Western Galilee village of Majdal Krum, in the, and head of the association of imams in Israel, told Haaretz that only legal adults who are mentally stable and aware of their actions are accepted for conversion. They must prove that they are not under pressure to convert and that their sole motivation is religious and not, for example, in order to marry a Muslim.

According to the Commissioner of Christian Communities and Religious Conversions, attorney Yossi Hershler, as of 2012 the ministry had 11,000 conversion files on record, but they were neither computerized nor were their data compiled. He said that of 423 approved conversion applications from 2011, to religions other than Judaism, 34 percent were from Judaism to another faith.

The highest number of conversions altogether approved in 2011 was from no registered religion to a religion (41 percent). According to Justice Ministry figures for the January to July 2014 period, 63 Israelis converted from Judaism and 19 from Islam to a different faith.

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