Millennial and Gen-Z women say they were inspired to convert to Islam by the war between Israel and Hamas – and are sharing their religious awakening on TikTok.
Recent converts say the conflict, which began with the killing of 1,200 Israelis on October 7, has become a driving factor in their decision to join the Muslim faith.
Experts suggested to many that the choice is the “ultimate rebellion against the West.”
Among those sharing their journey is a self-described “left-wing queer gremlin” named Alex, who recently purchased a copy of the Quran — even though most interpretations of Islam take a dim view of LGBT relationships.
She says she began attending pro-Palestinian marches after the October 7 terrorist attacks and retaliatory attacks on Gaza.
Millennial and Gen-Z women, including a self-proclaimed ‘left-wing queer gremlin named Alex (pictured), describe their conversion to Islam in the wake of Israel’s Hamas conflict
Michelle is pictured having formally converted to Islam and donning her head covering – known as a hijab – while out and about
She bought a copy of the Koran on October 24 and shortly afterwards took her shahada, a profession of the Muslim faith.
Alex was encouraged to convert after seeing TikToks from Megan Rice, another recent convert.
Rice posted on October 20 that she planned to read the holy book for the first time.
“It seems like the Palestinians have this rock-solid faith even if they literally lose everything,” she told her then 400,000 followers.
Days later, she founded the World Religion Book Club, where she reads the Quran live. The online community now has 13,000 members.
Israel’s bombardment of Gaza in the wake of Hamas is where her conversion “all started,” she told her followers.
Many of the videos from predominantly Western women contain a variation on the hashtag ‘revert’.
Return is the Islamic belief that everyone is born into the Muslim faith and so any conversion is simply a return to the religion.
TikTok user Megan Rice was among those leading the trend. She founded a book club where she reads the Quran live, which amassed 13,000 members in a few weeks
Rice said she was inspired by the Palestinians’ “rock-solid faith” when she began exploring Islam. Within days of reading the Quran, she had formally converted
Among them is Madison Reeves, a 24-year-old mother from Tampa, Florida, who became interested in Islam in September after speaking to a Muslim girl through a language app.
However, the outbreak of conflict and the resulting “genocide,” as she describes it, exacerbated her decline.
On October 24, the army doctor posted a video of herself wearing a hijab and celebrating her new-found faith.
“It’s a big adjustment,” she told the newspaper Free press.
Lorenzo Vidino, director of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University, is not surprised by the women’s conversion.
“I mean, rebellion is part of being young,” Vidino told the outlet. “What is more rebellious right now, what is more anti-Western, anti-capitalism and anti-establishment, than a conversion to Islam?”
He stated that return is ‘the ultimate rebellion against the West’.
In one of her videos, Alex returns to criticism that she will revert to Western habits once the ‘craze’ is over.
Israel launched a wave of devastating airstrikes on Palestinians after 1,200 people were killed by Hamas in the October 7 terror attack and many more, including this elderly person, were kidnapped.
New converts have cited Israel’s retaliatory attacks, which have killed more than 11,000 people, according to Gaza’s health ministry, as motivation for their decision. They also condemned the West’s “rampant capitalization and colonization” when challenged over their decision
Several women began their journey to Islam after attending pro-Palestine rallies, such as this one in Sacramento, California, calling for a ceasefire
What part of the Western lifestyle do you think I will return to?’ She asks. “Um, unbridled capitalism? All the colonizing? “Because I hate both things.”
Vindino also drew parallels between this and ‘salad bar extremism’.
“You can pick different aspects of different extremist ideologies that are completely incompatible with each other,” he said. ‘You put it all in a kind of collage that has little meaning.’
The phenomenon is not without precedent. According to projections by the Hartford Institute for Religious Research, 8,000 American women converted to Islam in the year after September 11.
Similarly, there have been several high-profile cases of “Jihadi Johns” and “ISIS brides” going to the Middle East, including Alabama ISIS bride Hoda Muthana who traveled to Syria to join ISIS in 2014.
Katherine Dee, an internet historian who studies social trends, said women are more likely to be religious and may be attracted to a return in real life and online “because it offers them a safe community.”
“I suspect TikTok is just following the same pattern,” she added, explaining that a “fandom dynamic” could emerge for some religious people who like to share with an online community.
“It’s less about genuine religious belief,” she explained, and more about “tribal alignment.”