Muslim scholars conducted a study in certain parts of the US about muslim converts. The results are quite interesting, it showed a surprisingly large amount left Islam after a while. I was surprised to hear that many converts tend to be ex-cons (60% according to the video).
I would be really interested in seeing the trends of apostasy in Islam. Anybody know if such figures exists or any indication of how prevalent it is?
Although I can't be detailed, I will say that I am very familiar with these studies and some of the other issues surrounding this, due to my past work.
I would take any Muslim survey of Muslims in the USA with a grain of salt. There is a lot of bias that goes into determining who is counted and who is surveyed - namely racial bias. Second, while pressured to do so, most converts don't change their name legally [though they may demand that everyone call them Aisha now or something], so a lot of the demographic surveys that have been attempted go by last names in public directories - which leaves out many people in the largest group of Muslims, African-Americans as well as many people who choose to be unlisted. So while you can definitely get an idea of some trends and things from these surveys, I wouldn't call them accurate or scientific. Come on, we know what a reputation Muslims have for science and accuracy! They're not going to spin stuff to their advantage - no way!
Also, this video uses "convert" and "new Muslim" interchangeably at some points. They are not the same thing. I don't know how long a person is a "new Muslim" but there are plenty of people who converted to Islam and practised for years and years who apostatise. I believe Dr. Ba-Yunus' study was on converts as a whole, yet this audio is muddling the issue. Are we talking about people who leave Islam within a year of converting or are we talking about converts as a whole? Does the moderator of the event mean one thing while Dr. Ba-Yunus is speaking about something else?
The "60% are ex-cons" refers to converts that Dr. Ba-Yunus and his team were able to speak with on the phone in the greater Chicagoland area; it does not mean that it is reflective of converts across the USA as a whole. Chicago is a very specific place with specific demographics and I'm not sure you can really extrapolate what you find there to reflect the nation as a whole. In places like Philadelphia you would probably find a lot of ex-cons in the masjids, but it probably wouldn't be the case in a place like San Francisco or Dallas.
Anecdotally, I have heard that the number of converts who apostatize is between 60 and 75%; this seems about right to me. I wouldn't be surprised if the actual number is higher. The problem is we will never really know. There are people who convert to Islam and then have nothing to do with the umma, they just quietly live their lives and happen to be Muslim. There are people who convert and are never seen again - does that mean that they have apostatised? I believe that it probably does, in most cases. There are many, many reasons for this, from the theology of Islam to Muslims themselves to people being spiritual seekers who try on a new outfit every now and then.
A lot of people - converts or not - leave Islam when they begin to study it in depth and learn "Everything You Wanted to Know About Islam - But Your Imam Didn't Tell You." Some on the thread alluded to being told one set of things or giving dawahganda without telling people about the rules - this is definitely something that leads a lot of converts right out the back door of dar al Islam in the end. Every person I know who has left Islam or is struggling with it - and even many who remain faithful - have complained about this, and talked about how it added so much confusion and even spiritual pain to their journey.
Some people I know, including some of my friends, who converted in the years from the late 80s to the early parts of this decade have left Islam, most for atheism. I do think that more people I know will leave in the future, but I tend to be optimistic. I don't know very many people who were born Muslims who have left Islam, or who will admit it, at any rate. For example, I have a number of relatives who are completely irreligious and will talk trash about Muslims, but you will never hear them admit that they are atheists. I would think that this has a lot to do with ethnic identity, culture, family, traditions and so on. For people who are in Muslim countries, it's also about your legal protections. I certainly never would have come out as an atheist to anyone when I still lived over there. A convert usually has a non Muslim family, a non Muslim past, and is from a non Muslim society. I think it is probably easier for converts to leave Islam in that sense. The few born Muslim apostates I know still have to pretend with their families or when they go overseas to visit relatives.