More Information
ISBN: 9781783687794
Imprint: Langham Monographs
Format: Paperback
Dimensions (mm): 229 x 152 x 11
Publication Date: 30/04/2020
Pages: 204
Language: English

The Conversion of Igbo Christians to Islam

A Study of Religious Change in a Christian Heartland


Often considered a Christian heartland in Nigeria, Igboland has recently seen a dramatic increase in Igbo Christians converting to Islam. Yet, despite this rapid change, there has been minimal research into the growth of Islam in the area and the implications this has for Christianity in the region.

Addressing this need, Dr Chinyere Felicia Priest provides a detailed exploration of Igbo converts’ reasons for conversion through skilful analysis of in-depth ethnographic interviews with thirty converts, considering their social, religious, and familial backgrounds. This unique study sheds much-needed light on the role of intellectual factors in the conversion experiences of many newly Muslim Igbos and challenges previous ideas of monetary and social influences as primary motivations for conversion. As a result of her examination of these conversion experiences, Dr Priest calls for serious intellectual engagement of biblical doctrine within the Igbo church and highlights the need for ministers and missiologists to better disciple and equip Christians to adequately engage with Muslim objections to the gospel and give a reasoned defence of their faith. The vulnerability of many Igbo Christians will continue to result in converts to Islam unless the church heeds the lessons learned from this research and outlined in this book.

Author Bios

Chinyere Felicia Priest

FELICIA CHINYERE PRIEST is a Nigerian and holds two master’s degrees in Missions and Biblical Studies from West Africa Theological Seminary (an affiliate of the University of Nigeria Nsukka), Lagos, Nigeria. She is a PhD candidate at Africa International University, Nairobi, Kenya (Intercultural Studies). Her field of research is the conversion of Christians to Islam within sub-Saharan Africa. Apart from serving as a missionary in Sudan, she served for many years as lecturer in the Mission Department of West Africa Theological Seminary (WATS), Lagos, Nigeria. She is equally a Teaching Assistant in Africa International University, Nairobi.


Chinyere Felicia Priest’s The Conversion of Igbo Christians to Islam: A Study of Religious Change in a Christian Heartland is a must-read for scholars and students of religion in Africa and all those interested in patterns of religious change. Building on ethnographic field research in Igboland, Nigeria’s dominant Christian homeland, the author succinctly explores the reasons behind the conversion of Igbo Christians to Islam. In doing this, she leaves no one in doubt of the diverse results for religious realignments in any environment and among different people groups. 

Egodi Uchendu, PhD
Professor of History,
University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria

Few researchers have undertaken an empirical study of the phenomena behind the mass conversion of Igbo people to Islam like this author. In my view, the findings of this research are very stunning. This book is a wake-up call to the church to re-examine its method of teachings and the discipleship of its converts. It convincingly highlights when and how Islam, an alien religion, began its gradual but steady incursion into Igboland, an erstwhile bastion of Christianity, and the rationale for its amazing success. The church in Igboland must be intentional in checking this Islamic penetration, without which the base of Christianity in Eastern Nigeria would be seriously eroded in no distant time. This book is a must-read for all scholars, church leaders, and Bible school and theological students.

Pastor Austen C. Ukachi
Senior Pastor, He’s Alive Chapel, Lagos, Nigeria
Member, National Advisory Council,
Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria

Nigeria is a land believed to be a locale where noxious rivalries among the Nigerian ethnic peoples exist and are acerbated by geopolitical and religious divides to the extent that Muslims control the North and Christians hold sway in the South. The South-East geopolitical zone is occupied predominantly by Igbo people with their religious bent to Christianity. It is due to this inner capacity for experiencing God in Christ, that Igboland is described by some religious studies scholars as “the heart of Christianity.” There had been a growing consensus among religious scholars in the past that Islam never appealed to the Igbo, especially when every effort to introduce Islam into Igboland was greeted with constant rebuff.

But it is a fact that some Igbo people are now being converted to Islam. This is why the study carried out by Chinyere Priest, The Conversion of Igbo Christians to Islam, is germane at this critical point in time. Chinyere’s work will help to distil what is true from what is false. I sincerely commend this book to all and sundry, particularly to serious-minded and heavenly conscious individuals in whom I know that this work will produce such a magnetic effect that will propel them into loving evangelism in Igboland.

Rev Mbachi Valentine Chukwujekwu, PhD
Dept of Religion and Human Relations,Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Nigeria

Table of Contents

  1. Acknowledgements
  2. Abstract
  3. Chapter 1 Introduction
    1. Background and Motivation for This Study
    2. Research Problem
    3. Purpose of the Research
    4. Objectives of Study
    5. Research Questions
      1. Main Research Question
      2. Sub-Research Questions
    6. Assumptions of the Study
    7. Significance of the Research
    8. Limitations
    9. Delimitations
    10. Operational Definition
    11. Conceptual Framework
  4. Chapter 2 Literature Review
    1. Introduction
    2. A Brief History of Igbo
      1. Culture
      2. Government
      3. Igbo Traditional Religion
      4. Igbo Cosmology
    3. Christianity in Igboland
      1. The Missionaries’ Techniques
      2. Igbo Response to Christianity
    4. The Igbo and Islam
    5. Conversion
      1. Conversion: Interdisciplinary Perspectives
      2. Anthropology
      3. Historians
      4. Sociology
      5. Psychology
    6. Christian Understanding of Conversion
    7. Denominational Perspectives of Conversion
      1. Evangelicals
      2. Pentecostals
      3. Mainline Protestants
      4. Catholics
      5. Orthodox
    8. Islamic Understanding of Conversion
    9. Biblical Understanding of Conversion
      1. Old Testament Conversion
      2. New Testament Conversion
    10. Factors Influencing Religious Conversion
    11. Conclusion
  5. Chapter 3 Research Methodology
    1. Research Design
    2. The Rationale for Qualitative Research
    3. Setting and Participants
    4. Sample Procedures
    5. Data Collection Procedures
      1. Interview
      2. Observations
      3. Digital Recording
    6. Data Analysis
      1. Organizing the Data
      2. Immersion in the Data
      3. Coding the Data
      4. Interpreting the Findings
      5. Validating the Findings
      6. Reporting Findings
    7. Site Entry
    8. Ethical Consideration
  6. Chapter 4 Findings and Interpretation
    1. Introduction
    2. Findings
      1. Sub-Research Question 1: What Are the Backgrounds (Social, Religious, and Familial) of the Converts?
      2. Sub-Research Question 2: What Are the Stages of Their Conversion?
      3. Main Research Question: What Are the Igbo Converts’ Reasons for Their Conversion to Islam?
      4. Sub-research Question 4: How Have They Changed as a Result of Their Conversion?
    3. Other Emerging Themes
      1. Igbo Christians’ Response to Igbo Muslims’ Theological Objections
      2. Igbo Muslims’ Position on Jihad
      3. Igbo Converts’ Justification of Their Conversion
      4. Existing Relationship between Muslim-Christian Spouses and Their Children
  7. Chapter 5 Discussion, Conclusion and Recommendations
    1. Introduction
    2. Summary of the Findings
    3. Discussion
    4. An Examination of the Findings in Relation to Existing Research
    5. Highlights of Interesting, New or Unexpected Findings Discovered
    6. Contributions or Practical Applications of the Study
      1. Scholarship
      2. The Church in Igboland
      3. Missiology
      4. To the Researcher
    7. Recommendations
      1. To the Church in Igboland
      2. To the Igbo Christian People
      3. To CAPRO Missionaries in Igboland and the Church
      4. To the Igbo Muslims in Igboland
    8. Limitations of the Study and Recommendations for
    9. Future Research
  8. Bibliography

Related Books

Related by Classification