With the Israel-Hamas war continuing after the Islamist terrorist group attacked Israel on October 7th, the tide of public opinion among many young Americans, many of whom hold progressive views, shifted significantly in favor of Palestine.
Young Americans are picking up the Qur’an ‘to understand the resilience of Muslim Palestinians’ | Books | The Guardian https://t.co/lbmXdtxInf
— (@hassanmoontv) November 29, 2023
According to a national poll by NBC News, 37% of Americans aged 18-34 years old have negative views of Israel, and 42% think Israel’s response to the October 7 attacks has gone too far and was not justified.
As many young Americans are becoming more and more pro-Palestine, this seemingly radical shift led to a surprising consequence. More and more young Americans are picking up the Quran, reading it, and even converting to Islam.
Megan B. Rice did not grow up religious. However, she loved reading and even started online book clubs, such as a romance novel book club on Discord. As the Chicago native campaigned using social media to spread awareness of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, she was introduced to the Quran by some Muslim social media users. She then organized a “World Religion Book Club” on Discord, where people of all backgrounds can read the Quran alongside her.
The more Rice read the Quran, the more she discovered that the Islamic holy book aligned with her progressive belief system. She found the book to be anti-consumerist, anti-oppression, and feminist. So she started the process of converting to Islam by reciting the shahada, the official profession of faith in Islam, and buying hijabs.
Rice was not the only one. More and more young Americans are reading the Quran and sharing their thoughts on TikTok to better understand the religion amidst the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas. Videos under the hashtag “quranbookclub” have around 1.9 million views on TikTok, and they show users holding the Quran and reading verses from the book for the first time.
Young Americans are picking up the Qur’an ‘to understand the resilience of Muslim Palestinians’. Readers find themes that align with their values as ……https://t.co/BWvHgAI5Vu
— Mousavian (@hmousavian) November 23, 2023
Although not all young Americans reading the Quran are women, the renewed interest in the Quran overlaps with the #BookTok space, a community where netizens, most of whom are women, gather to discuss books.
Rice and other young American converts say their progressive interpretation of the Quran supports their feminist principles, and they also see some verses of the book covering the Big Bang and other scientific theories. For them, they also believe that men and women are equal in the eyes of the Quran.
Many young Americans like Rice are also reading the Quran not only because they found the book to align with their progressive ideals. They are also picking up the Quran as a way to show solidarity with the Palestinians who have suffered since Israel began its offensive after Hamas’s attacks on October 7th.
As I said a while back, this (temporary) political alliance between the woke and Islam should be allowed to continue to its logical conclusion. It might just solve a lot of our problems. pic.twitter.com/qPJoVDKB6j
— based_seattle (@based_seattle) November 26, 2023
This trend of young Americans converting to Islam is also coming at a time of rising rifts between Muslims and liberals in the West. Last June, the Muslim-led government in a city in Michigan passed a resolution banning Pride flags from being flown on city property.
In addition, conservative Muslims and Christians in Canada took to the streets last July to protest the LGBTQIA+ pride in the country, presenting a challenge to Western progressives and liberals who have long fought for the rights of Muslims in the West.
Zareena Grewal, an associate professor at Yale, believes that just like how Americans bought the Quran in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks to confirm their biases against Islam, many young Americans are turning to the Quran to confirm and validate the worldviews they already have.
“Just as racist people are looking for verses to confirm their racial biases, people on the left are looking to this book to confirm progressive messages,” Grewal said. “Every scripture is complex and invites multiple readings,” and TikTokers “are coming to the text looking for what they hope to find.”