Anna Linda Traustadóttir was born a Christian in Iceland in 1966. Forty years later she is a devout Muslim living in Denmark.
You can read her story in Islam Online. Her English is very good, since she was raised in Canada and the U.S.A. She got her undergraduate degree from McGill University in Montréal, but does not mention her major. Afterwards she wound up studying Arabic in Cairo, Damascus, and other locations in the Muslim world.
During that time she learned to dislike the Christian faith. Since she was anti-Zionist and pro-Palestinian, Judaism did not appeal to her. She considered Buddhism and Hinduism, but found them lacking as well.
After she married a Muslim, it was Islam that most attracted Ms. Traustadóttir. However, she says that she had to overcome the anti-Muslim prejudices with which she had been indoctrinated when she was in North America:
I’d grown up in the States, raised on American movies, which always portrayed Arabs as fundamentalists, radicals, women-oppressors, religious fanatics, terrorists, never normal, average people.
Yes, I’ve noticed that, too. Haven’t you? All that blatantly racist anti-Arab propaganda in American popular culture. It’s very unfair to Arabs to portray them as fanatics when they’ve proven time and again that they’re just “average people” like you and me.
People like Mohammed Atta and Mohammed Reza Taheriazar. People like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
The more she read, the more excited she became:
When I read the Qur’an, Islam’s holiest book, I thought it was beautiful, so scientific, so compassionate, so feminist! Nearly all the books I’d ever read about Islam, all written by non-Muslims, showed Islam in a negative light. Those people who wrote against Islam sometimes gave partial quotes from the Qur’an, leaving out the rest of the verse, or they would translate the verses incorrectly, on purpose or by mistake. I knew enough Arabic to know that what I was reading was unlike anything I’d ever read.
Like Ms. Traustadóttir, I’ve noticed the prominence of feminism in Islam. To quote the renowned Islamic prophet Isa: “By their fruits ye shall know them.” The fruits of Islam’s treatment of women have repeatedly revealed its deep-rooted feminism.
But what excited her most was all the contributions that Islam has made to science. I was surprised to find out that many of today’s scientific marvels were prophesied more than a millennium ago in the Koran!
So much science, so much knowledge that has been only recently discovered. I mean the Prophet Mohammad mentions: black holes, space travel, DNA and genetic science, evolution (transformation and mutation), geology, oceanography, embryonic development, aquatic origins of life… WOW! I had always heard that the Qur’an was basically just a watered-down version of the Bible, but none of this was in the Bible! I wondered how someone over 1400 years ago could have written anything like this! Some of these ideas were only discovered this century. Then I thought, well, Arab scientists, astronomers, mathematicians, cartographers were so advanced for that time, maybe some of them got together and wrote a book, loosely based on the Torah and the Gospels.
Wow. She’s just about convinced me.
I’m the first to admit ignorance about the Koran. I can’t read any Arabic, and, although I have read extensively from the translations of Koranic passages selected by Robert Spence, Bat Ye’or, Serge Trifkovic, Andrew Bostom, etc., I have no firsthand knowledge of the book. All the writers mentioned above have an agenda, and have presumably taken selected quotes out of context to further that agenda.
So it seems that I must have been misled. But I can’t help feeling a little bit of disquiet over passages like this one:
My husband, son and I stayed a month in Malaysia. What an incredible place! Of Islamic areas, I had only been to the Arab Middle-East and here was a whole new Islamic world in South-East Asia! […] Under the former Muslim Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, Islam had a revival. He wants to unite all the Islamic countries, not just in a so-called Islamic Union, but he also wants one currency, a gold dinar. What a visionary! Islam needs more men and women like him!
Based on what happens on the fringes of Islam, the a united Muslim Caliphate can only serve to make the non-Muslim nervous. What about those Christians in Indonesia and Nigeria? What will happen to them?
But Ms. Traustadóttir glosses over such concerns. To her Islam is a glorious prospect, even a feminist one, for the women of the world.
If someone like me can become Muslim, there’s hope for anybody!
Well, I guess so.
After lengthy discussions with her husband, Anna Linda Traustadóttir converted to Islam and changed her name to Núr. She seems very happy and enthusiastic about her newfound faith. But it’s not surprising that she didn’t return to Iceland to practice her religion: according to the statistics in my “Umma” database, Iceland, with a population of 296,737, has just 321 Muslims, or 0.1% of the population. Denmark, as we all know, has a much larger Muslim population.
Even so, Icelandic Muslims need not feel disconnected from the greater Umma, since there is a website serving Muslims in Iceland. It’s all in Icelandic, so I can’t tell you much about it. Maybe some of our Danish readers can translate it.
It will be of interest to revisit the Muslims in Iceland in five or ten years’ time and see how they fare then.
Hat tip: Harry Palmer.