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Making The Switch: An American Woman's Journey To Islam

Karen Danielson, who was raised Catholic, converted to Islam 30 years ago.
Courtesy of the Muslim American Society Chicago
Karen Danielson, who was raised Catholic, converted to Islam 30 years ago.
I have met women who weren't Muslim and they've married a Muslim man, and they've ended up converting. But it's a rare bird who just does it for her husband's sake.

Each week, Weekend Edition Sunday host Rachel Martin brings listeners an unexpected side of the news by talking with someone personally affected by the stories making headlines.

Karen Danielson converted to Islam three decades ago, was she was 19. She was raised Catholic, and then later became a Baptist and enrolled in a Baptist college, where she picked up the Koran. Now, she's the director of outreach at the Chicago chapter of the Muslim American Society.

Her experience is not as unusual as it may seem; some 20 percent of American Muslims are converts. Leaving one religion for another can be a complicated process for anyone, but in the United States converting to Islam can mean making some especially difficult personal choices, at least for some people. That was the case for Danielson.

"Islam is not about converting culture. It's about converting faith and spirituality and understanding. And I can still be American, through and through, even if I'm wearing a headscarf and even if I'm dressing in what might appear to be something foreign."

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