My name is Joram van Klaveren, and I’m a former member of the Dutch parliament who represented the Party for Freedom, the anti-Islamic nationalist party of Geert Wilders.
For years I gave everything I had to fight against Islam. I tried to make legislation to shut down all Islamic schools in the Netherlands. I attempted to close all mosques, ban the Quran, and ban Islam altogether from the Netherlands. As a Dutch politician, I opposed Islam in every way possible.
But my views drastically changed during a party rally in 2014.
“Wilders asked supporters ‘do you want more or fewer Moroccans in the Netherlands?’ Then the crowd shouted back ‘fewer, fewer, fewer.’ Wilders smiled and answered: I’ll make sure that it will happen. Then I thought it’s not about political ideology anymore, but the idea of getting rid of an ethnic group. A lot of people thought he sounded like the Nazi [Joseph] Goebbels. I thought he was crossing a line. Then I left the party,” he said.
In 2017, I left parliament and finally had the time to fulfill a long-held desire: to write an anti-Islam book. I wanted a book that would provide conclusive theoretical grounding for all of the objections I held against Islam as a politician.
My book would settle the dispute about Islam with a clear conclusion: Islam is a danger to Europe, to America, to the West, and, actually, to the whole world.
Before writing my book, my view about Islam was influenced by the conservative Protestant environment of my upbringing, in which other religions, and certainly Islam, were definitely seen as wayward and wrong.
I was also influenced by the cultural aversion toward Islam that many Europeans have, which was a result of their historic clashes with the Islamic world.
And of course, the fears and worries I experienced during years of studying comparative religion at the university formed my opinions. Remarkably, my studies at the university actually began on September 11, 2001.
Many horrors would sadly follow, inside and outside of Europe, from the murder of columnist Theo van Gogh; to kidnappings, anti-Semitic terror, and beheadings; to haphazard stabs, truck attacks, and suicide attacks; to the proclamation of the caliphate by ISIS. There were even Muslims from the Netherlands who travelled as jihadists to Syria.
These events confirmed and deepened my negative feelings about Islam and motivated me to join Wilders’ party. I believed that Islam should be fought where possible.
But as I began writing my book, I came across information that was at odds with my ideas.
I learned that many of my ideas about Islam—stated by orientalists, far-right Westerners, and even by Islamic extremists—had little or no basis in historical Islam.
My research often presented me with contexts and interpretations that were very different from those I had propagated for years. A more nuanced image of Islam slowly developed in my mind.
Seeking more information, I wrote to various academic authorities on Islam, including Timothy Winter who converted to Islam and became Professor Abdul Hakim Murad of Cambridge University. He pointed out various scholars, books, and facts and advised me to read again and more deeply.
One by one, my objections to Islam vanished. Islam was no longer a religion that promoted violence, hatred, and anti-Semitism, or a religion that categorized women and non-believers as inferior humans and stridently opposed democracy. Slowly, my perspective of Islam changed.
I also received surprisingly satisfying, Islamic answers to my existing Christian questions about specific dogmas, such as the Trinity, the sacrifice of Christ, and original sin.
All that I was learning about Islam influenced my work on the book in such a way that it began to take on the character of a personal search for God.
During this search, the person of Prophet Mohamed SAW raised the most questions with me. Who was this man? A deceiver, an antichrist, or was he truly the last prophet of God?
I started to read again about his life, but now without my previous biases. And I saw a more than special man. A man with almost supernatural patience, care, love, guidance, and above all dedication to his God and to his mission for justice.
The arguments against his person and prophethood disappeared as I made a comparison with Old Testament prophets. In fact, I now understood what the 19th century historian Thomas Carlyle meant when he wrote:
“The lies, which well-meaning zeal has heaped around this man, [Muhammad SAW] are disgraceful to ourselves only.”
Joram van Klaveren converted to Islam on 26th October 2018 and is now the president of the Anthony Janszoon Association. The English translation of his book, Apostate: From Christianity to Islam in Times of Secular Terror, will be published towards the end of the year by ‘t Kennishuys.
When asked how his family reacted to his decision, he said: “Some thought I went crazy. Old political friends were not happy. But my brother and my wife said that they feel happy for me. My daughters are still too young to talk about this.”
- Emir-Stein Center
- Former far-right Dutch MP van Klaveren tells of reactions to his conversion to Islam – World News
- Joram van Klaveren – Wikipedia
- Joram van Klaveren: ‘I Want to Explain Islam with all My Love’ – IslamiCity