Becoming Sinless: Converting to Islam in the Christian Solomon Islands



ABSTRACT  Islam is beginning to have a significant presence in the predominantly Christian nation of Solomon Islands. A few well-educated Islanders were drawn to Islam's elegant monotheism and promise of unity in the 1980s and early 1990s, but numbers have grown significantly in the years following a violent civil conflict (1998–2003). Many of these new Muslim converts, especially those from the island of Malaita, seem preoccupied with the problem of sin and blame Christianity for destroying customary rules, especially those enforcing gender segregation. Echoing long-standing Malaitan critiques of Christian freedom, they say that Christians rely too heavily on God's grace and their own ability to resist temptation. Unlike Christianity and similar to the traditional religion of the islands, Islam provides clear moral rules for living. Seeking an escape from a cycle of sin and redemption, these ex-evangelical Christians now see in Islam the possibility of becoming sinless.