How Muslims feel about Andrew Tate’s conversion to Islam
By ITV News' Here's The Story team
‘Mashallah Brother Tate,’ was a common response popping up in comment sections and Twitter replies as the news broke that controversial influencer Andrew Tate had been released from a Romanian jail and put under house arrest.
Tate thanked God upon his release after spending part of his first Ramadan behind bars over charges of rape and human trafficking - all of which he denies.
In the past, Tate’s identified as both Orthodox Christian and atheist. But just before his arrest in December 2022, he converted to Islam, claiming it to be "the last true religion".
This didn’t come as a surprise for some in the Muslim community, as he’d already praised Islam and and shared his views on the religion in the run-up to him taking shahada with friend and fellow kickboxer Tam Khan in a mosque in Dubai.
His conversion, or reversion, to Islam, has received a mixed response amongst Muslims.
"We saw the initial video of him praying in the mosque with a brother called Tam Khan, and that confirmed that he actually had converted, so after that video it was just pure happiness," content creator Danzy, who makes TikTok videos on Islamic news, says.
Danzy added that Muslims shouldn’t be judging Tate for his past actions, as Allah forgives all previous sins when someone converts to the faith.
Maqs, a journalist and content creator, has a more moderate view on Tate’s conversion.
"I understand it’s not my place to accept his conversion, that’s between him and God – However I do understand the sentiment of wanting him to be held accountable for his past actions," he told ITV News.
Since the news was made public about Tate’s conversion, influential Muslim figures have welcomed him on to their platforms to speak on Islam. Maqs believes these influencers have failed to hold him to account and make it clear that Tate’s "harmful rhetorics like misogyny and victim-blaming" have no place in Islam.
One of those influencers is Mohammed Hijab. With over 700,000 YouTube subscribers, he was one of the first to have Andrew Tate on his channel to speak on his conversion.
Hijab told ITV News: "I support Andrew Tate and as much as he supports Islam.
"When I first decided to have a conversation with him, it was going to be more, if you like, inquisitive or even interrogative, based on some of the things that he's said in the past."
Hijab, who’s also known for holding controversial views, believes that some of Tate’s opinions on gender roles and families are reflective of a world view.
“Most imams on many of the same issues would have a view. Maybe many rabbis would have a view. Many priests would have a view similar, if not identical, to Tate's when it comes to the nuclear family, when it comes to gender roles,” he said.
But Hijabi Half Hour co-hosts, Anjum and Heena are concerned that Tate’s influence on young men and new converts could mean that they try to justify misogyny and gender roles with Islam.
"I think that there are issues because now that he has become Muslim, there is this association of his previous views. But the reality is those are not Muslim views or Islamic views in any way, shape or form,’ Anjum said.
In a livestream with Adin Ross in November 2022 Tate encouraged the streamer to get himself an Islamic wife, and "that she wouldn’t cheat on you, she’d cook for you, she’d look after you, she wouldn’t have an OnlyFans".
Heena questions where Andrew Tate picked up this stereotype of Muslim women.
She asked: "Where has he’s got his version of Islam? I worry - is it from genuine Muslim men? Is it from misogynistic Muslim men? Or is it things he’s seen on the TV?"
"I think it emboldens those boys, those young boys who have no scholarly knowledge, no kind of Islamic background. They're Muslims, but they have these misogynistic opinions. And so they use they filter that out through religion."
Heena and Anjum say social media has a huge part to play in this narrative, and with the closure of local youth centres, that more young boys are finding validation and affirmations for these views online.
Javad Hashmi a PhD Islamic Studies candidate, and Director of Research at Muslim Public Affairs Council believes that young Muslim men have been seeking influence and religious guidance long before Andrew Tate by influential Muslim figures like Mohammed Hijab and others.
‘What I call the ‘Akh-right bro’s’ - They were already saying and doing reaction videos to Andrew Tate and saying, 'look, not everything he says is wrong. It's actually a lot of things he's saying is correct'. But he just was Muslim and then he converted. So that was, you know, the last step that they demanded from him."
Hashmi, already believes that content from figures like Hijab tap into audiences that could be considered alt-right, or in line with red pill culture or incels.
Andrew Tate believes in something called ‘The Matrix’ - a theory that politics, media and large organisations are hiding "the truth" from the real world, of which he is living in.
The concept is derived from the acclaimed 1999 film ‘The Matrix’, where the character Morpheus says: "You take the blue pill... the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill... you stay in Wonderland."
It’s been associated with predominantly men who do not believe in feminism, liberal ideas and instead the "manosphere".
The film’s creator Lilly Wachowski has spoken out previously saying the film is more so based on transgender allegory, and not those of the red pill ideology.
Hijab, whose platform includes debates, lectures and reactive content on Islam, denies any association to the red pill movement and says it isn’t in line with Islam, but he does think it carries some truth.
"The reason why I think the red pill ideology is abominable or abhorrent is because of it’s decadence, because of the things it calls for , the strong objectification of women, which I don’t agree with.
"I think it’s a reactionary movement, at the same time it carries a lot of truth.
"In my opinion way more truth than a political ideology like feminism, in terms of it’s scientific backing, it’s, you know, statistical backing and so on."
Social media plays a key part in why these ideologies and ideas, and Andrew Tate are having such traction and impact on young people. Heena and Anjum say young people need to critique social media more, and more positive role models need to step up.
"We need to become role models for these young people.
"We need to be able to explain the kind of science and process of Andrew Tate's and how they come to be and how they're not the best of, you know, they're not the most influential Muslims that you need to be following," Heena says.
Anjum, who’s a teacher by profession, says there is a responsibility on the community to engage with young Muslim boys who may be exposed to this online phenomenon and that they need to seek better guidance in their journey to Islam.
"It's really important that they're able to do their own research and find their own scholars to guide them and find out what Islam is really about as Andrew Tate's version of Islam is not Islam."
There have been multiple videos online of Tate fans, who have referenced Andrew Tate as the reason they converted to Islam. This poses the question as to whether he should be seen as a role model to young Muslim men – a position all those interviewed for this article agreed was problematic.
Danzy says looking to anyone but the Prophet Muahmmed as a role model should be considered Haram.
"I say that because the only person we should be looking up to is the Prophet Muhammad for this, peace be upon him," he said.
"You can't really compare someone, to the prophet who we respect so highly and have so much love for, to like a normal person."
Mohammed Hijab believes this too, and says we can’t be sure of Tate’s next move – but that Andrew Tate does does carry qualities that men look up to.
"Andrew Tate is an individual who is manifesting a series of attributes which men have been deprived of seeing in and having role model to them.
"What is could be seen classically as like, you know, the intellectual warrior type."
Javad Hashmi thinks Muslims should look at this as their ‘Andrew Tate moment’ and re-evaluate who and why people are deciding to convert.
"We're seeing people who are making the slide into Islam because that understanding of Islam is just validating viewpoints that they already have, these misogynistic viewpoints that they already have. I think that's a very negative phenomenon."
Anjum and Heena agree that anyone with genuine intention to convert to Islam should look to closer sources of inspiration, like their local mosque or accessible scholars.
"Anybody who's looking into Andrew Tate and thinking of taking up the faith in, in earnest needs to really, really do some research and ask themselves some really serious questions, like why are they following Andrew Tate in the first place," he said.
Upon Andrew Tate’s release from prison, it’s still yet to me made clear whether he will lead a more 'Islamic' life and whether his intentions for converting are pure. However, there is a sense of hope that his conversion will have a positive impact on Tate.