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UAE Supports Converting to Islam While Apostasy is a Serious Offense

How to Embrace Islam in the UAE? Here’s all you need to know

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Pavitra Shetty

Published on April 29, 2024, 09:09:35


converting to islam in uae, islam in uae, conversion to islam, religious conversion

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is renowned for its rich cultural heritage, diverse population, and adherence to Islamic principles. In a society where Islam is the official religion and holds significant influence over daily life, inquiries regarding religious conversion, particularly frequently arise.

It is crucial for individuals contemplating such a decision to comprehend the legal ramifications and procedures for religious conversion in the UAE.

Is it Legal to Convert from Islam in the UAE?

The UAE operates under Sharia law, which is derived from Islamic teachings and principles. As a result, matters concerning religion, including conversion, are governed by Islamic law.

In the context of converting away from Islam, also known as apostasy, there are legal and social considerations to be aware of in the UAE.

Under Sharia law, apostasy is generally considered a serious offense and is not legally recognised or accepted in many Islamic countries, including the UAE.

While the UAE Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, this right is subject to limitations, particularly when it comes to converting from Islam. Apostasy is viewed as a rejection of the Islamic faith and can carry social and legal consequences.

How to Embrace Islam in the UAE?

If one wants to embrace Islam, one can do so after following the procedures of the Ministry of Justice and other local government authorities. The process may involve:

  • Declaration to embrace Islam at the Ministry of Justice.
  • Declaration of embracing Islam at the Judicial Department in the emirate of Abu Dhabi.
  • Request for issuance of a certificate declaring Islam from Islamic Affairs & Charitable Activities Department (IACAD). 

Methods of Conversion

One method to convert to Islam in the UAE is through IACAD, while the other method is through the UAE Ministry of Justice (MoJ). Both options are similar and free of charge.

Notably, the conversion process does not require physical attendance; it is conducted virtually through electronic means, either via the IACAD or MoJ websites or by phone.

Submission of Documents

All required documents, such as a copy of the passport and Emirates ID, along with two photos (with the woman wearing a headscarf), need to be submitted online through the respective authorities' websites. The authorities' websites list the necessary documents for conversion.

Meeting with a Representative or Judge

After submitting the identification documents, a meeting will be scheduled with a representative or a judge, preferably in the presence of male witnesses. During this meeting, the applicant will declare the Islamic Proclamation, confirming their faith.

Issuance of Conversion Certificate

Following the meeting, a fully attested certificate of conversion will be sent by email and made available through the online portal. The conversion process typically involves only one meeting and is relatively straightforward.

Considerations and Restrictions

It's essential to note that women who are married to non-Muslims cannot convert to Islam, as it would nullify the marriage. Additionally, at this stage, there is no requirement for Islamic courses unless one intends to marry soon afterward. In such cases, basic Islamic courses that last only a few days, may be necessary.

Updating Immigration Records

Once the conversion is complete, it is advisable to take the conversion certificate to the immigration authorities in the UAE to update the religious status on the immigration application.

Additional Rules and Regulations

Islamic law outlines specific rules and procedures for converting to Islam in the UAE. The process for those interested in embracing Islam typically involves several key steps.

Declaration of Faith (Shahada): The central requirement for conversion to Islam is the declaration of faith, known as the Shahada. This declaration affirms the belief in the oneness of Allah and the prophethood of Prophet Muhammad - Peace Be Upon Him. Reciting the Shahada publicly or in the presence of witnesses is a fundamental aspect of converting to Islam.

Islamic Education and Guidance: Many individuals seeking to convert to Islam in the UAE undergo Islamic education and guidance to deepen their understanding of the faith. This may involve attending classes, seeking guidance from religious scholars or mentors, and participating in Islamic rituals and practices.

Public Declaration of Conversion: Some individuals may choose to publicly announce their conversion to Islam, either through social media, community gatherings, or formal ceremonies. While not a legal requirement, this public declaration can be a significant step in embracing the new faith and integrating into the Muslim community.

Embracing Islamic Practices: Upon conversion to Islam, individuals are expected to adopt Islamic practices and adhere to the tenets of the faith. This includes performing the five daily prayers, fasting during Ramadan, giving to charity and upholding Islamic moral and ethical principles.

Legal and Social Considerations

While converting to Islam is generally accepted and supported in the UAE, individuals considering such a step should be aware of the legal and social implications. Apostasy, or renouncing Islam, can result in legal consequences, including potential criminal charges and social stigma.

In the UAE, apostasy is not explicitly defined in the legal code, but actions that are perceived as apostasy, such as publicly renouncing Islam or engaging in activities contrary to Islamic teachings, may be subject to legal scrutiny and social backlash.

Non-Muslim expatriates who convert to Islam may face challenges related to family relationships, employment, and social acceptance, particularly if their conversion is met with resistance from family members or community members.

Converting to Islam in the UAE is a significant step that involves following specific procedures outlined by the IACAD or the Ministry of Justice. It's important to be aware of any legal restrictions and considerations, as well as the administrative steps required to update immigration records following conversion. Overall, the process is accessible and straightforward for those seeking to embrace Islam in the UAE.

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