Dr. Dudley Woodberry, professor of Islamic Studies at Fuller, produced a study which is here presented in synopsis.
Woodberry, aware that throughout the world Muslims have been converting to Christianity, was curious about the reasons why—especially in countries where the cost of converting is so high.
To find the answer, he created a detailed questionnaire. Over a 16-year period, some 750 Muslims from 30 countries filled it out—and the results are eye-opening. The number one reason Muslim converts listed for their decision to follow Christ was the lifestyle of the Christians among them.
As Woodberry, Russell Shubin, and G. Marks write in Christianity Today, Muslim converts noted that “there was no gap between the moral profession and the practice of Christians” they knew. An Egyptian convert contrasted the love shown by Christians “with the unloving treatment of Muslim students and faculty he encountered at a university in Medina.” Other converts were impressed that “Christians treat women as equals” and enjoy loving marriages. And poor Muslims observed that “the expatriate Christian workers they knew had adopted, contrary to their expectations, a simple lifestyle.” They wore locally made clothes and abstained from pork and alcohol, so as not to offend Muslim neighbors.
Second, converts identified “the power of God in answered prayers and healing.” For instance, in North Africa, a Muslim family asked Christian neighbors to pray for a sick daughter; and then the girl recovered. Some converts “noted deliverance from demonic power as another reason they were attracted to Jesus.”
Converts also mentioned unhappiness with Islam itself, especially the Koran’s emphasis on God’s punishment and the uncertainty of salvation. By contrast, Woodberry notes, the biblical teaching that God loved us so much that “He sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” is deeply attractive to Muslims.
Converts are also attracted to “the love expressed through the life and teachings of Christ.” Ironically, Muslims first learn about Christ through the Koran, but then read the Gospels to find out more about Him.
Finally—and this is the key—“When Christ’s love transforms committed Christians into a loving community, many Muslims [identified] a desire to join such a fellowship.”