Muslim diversities: communities and contexts

“Muslim diversities: communities and contexts” seeks to bring together a collection of academic works that extends and informs knowledge and understanding about the diversity of communities and groups that constitute the contemporary Islamic and Muslim social, political, economic and theological landscapes in the UK, Europe and beyond.

To do this, chapters are required that focus upon a specific community (understood in terms of a community, organisation or group) that is then considered within a very specific contemporary context. It is vitally important that a specific context is therefore identified and established from the outset, as it is this that will provide the necessary framework from within which the necessary critical engagement of that community will be undertaken.

In being interdisciplinary and innovative in your approach, you may wish to consider some of the following communities (a list that is indicative rather than exhaustive):

  • Long established ethnic communities, e.g Turkish, Pakistanis
  •   Newly established communities, e.g. Eastern Europeans, Somalis
  •   Theological groups and movements, e.g. Shi’a (broad), Tablighi Jamaat (more specific)
  •   Political or politicised groups, e.g. Hizb ut-Tahrir, Stop the War (Muslim contingent)
  •   New and emergent communities, e.g. the Muslim Boys, converts/reverts
  •   Splinter and/or non-mainstream communities, e.g. Nation of Islam, Ismailies
  • In approaching these communities, you might wish to consider some of the following themes as a means of contextualisation:

  •   Political issues, e.g. integration, assimilation, belonging
  •   The media, e.g. how the community use the media, how the media represent the respective community
  •   Security, terrorism and associated legislation, e.g. responses both to and by Muslims organisations following major events such as 9/11, 7/7 and so on
  •   Theological differences, e.g. from orthodox forms of Islam, how these impact upon intra-community relationships and understandings
  •   Inter-faith perspectives and relationships
  •   Cultural aspects, e.g. music, art, literature, film
  •   The influence and effect of geography, e.g. from the simplest understanding of a given geographical location through to the perspective of minority status and all that this entails
  • Both established academics as well as postgraduates from across a variety of disciplines are encouraged in the first instance to submit an abstract of no more than 500 words that clearly sets out both the community concerned and the context within which the proposed chapter will undertake its exploration. Accompanying your abstract should be a short biography, full contact details and any academic affiliation. Submissions from suitably qualified practitioners outside the traditional academic environment will also be considered where appropriate.

    The deadline for submission of abstracts is 31 May 2007. For those whose abstracts are successful, you will be required to submit a first draft of your chapter by 1 September 2007.

    To submit abstracts or to request further information, please contact Chris Allen at: info@chris-allen.co.uk / christopherallen@blueyonder.co.uk

    Election 2007: A Call for Muslim Boycott of Elections

    A French document, circulated around Brussels (Schaerbeek, Saint-Josse,…) and on the internet, has declared the upcoming legislative elections of June 10 “illegal”, referring to the Koran and to a fatwa declared by a British mosque. It also called for a boycott. The twelve-page document titled, “Participation in the Elections,” has since circulated in the Arab-Muslim community in the Brussels region.

    Islamic text calls for election boycott

    BRUSSELS – A French-language document is circulating in Brussels and on the internet calling on Muslims to boycott the elections on 10 June because they are “illegal,” Le Soir reports. The 12-page document is titled “Participer aux elections” (Taking part in the elections) and is being distributed among the Arab Muslim community in Brussels and online. The document states that only Allah has the authority to make absolute laws. “Every Muslim who takes part in the elections is unfaithful,” the text reads. The text is anonymous, but well written, Le Soir writes. The author makes reference to the Koran and various prophets and is based on a fatwa from Great Britain.

    Muslim Politician Is Messenger of Change

    By Manfred Ertel In Denmark of all places — the country with Europe’s toughest immigration laws — a Muslim member of parliament has become a rising star on the political scene. Now he wants to shake up traditional Danish politics with his new party. Is this the kind of man Danish voters are pinning their hopes on? The sort of man who is causing an upheaval in the calcified political atmosphere between _rhus and Copenhagen? He is casually dressed, and his black hair and bronze skin reveal his Arab roots. He also happens to be a Muslim. Naser Khader, 43, sits in his makeshift office in Copenhagen’s old town surrounded by boxes, laptops and loose cables. “It was so boring here, with absolutely nothing going on,” he says. “I am very pleased that we have managed to get some movement into politics.” He is putting it mildly. Since Khader announced the establishment of his party, the New Alliance, more than two weeks ago, a debate has erupted of the sort that Denmark hasn’t seen in years. Some of the issues on the new political agenda in Copenhagen include a radical 15-percent tax cut (a proposal that was quickly discarded) and a relaxation of the country’s stringent immigration policies.

    Campus extremism request rejected

    By Hannah Goff {Lecturers have voted unanimously to oppose government plans urging them to fight against extremism on campuses.} They had been asked to monitor and report suspicious behaviour amongst Muslim students. But at the University and Colleges Union annual conference in Bournemouth, delegates rejected the demands, saying they amounted to spying on students. UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said student trust would be undermined by fears of a “quasi-secret service”. In November, the government warned of what it described as the serious threat posed by radical Muslims and issued guidance to colleges and universities calling on them to monitor student activity.

    The Catalan Islamic Council Warns of the Dangers of Connecting Politics and Terrorism

    The Catalan Islamic Council claims that the overlap between politics and so-called Islamic terrorism in Catalonia and the association of Islam and violence by authorities foments the radicalization of the youth sectors of the Islamic community. The Catalan Islamic Council’s president, Abdennur Prado, believes that the declarations of a police syndicate group stating the proliferation of jihad’s groups in Catalonia were very irresponsible. He adds that the fight against radicals has to be more discrete and the law enforcement has to be harsher.

    Blair, Pakistan PM to open conference on Islam

    An international conference on Islam is being held in London next week but without the participation of such mainstream organizations as the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB). Last year, the British government altered its strategy of bringing into dialogue, such organizations as the MCB, while promoting new groups that it was more prepared to cooperate with. The two-day program, entitled Islam and Muslims in the World Today, opens Monday by British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his Pakistan counterpart Shaukat Aziz. Speakers also include the Grand Mufti of Egypt, Shaykh Ali Gomaa, the Grand Mufti of Bosnia Mustafa Ceric and Britain’s Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly. The concluding session is also being addressed by the UK’s opposition Conservative leader David Cameron.

    America not an enemy of Islam, Muslim Clerc Says

    A moderate European Muslim leader – in Seattle this weekend to attend the annual conference of the Congress of North American Bosniaks – drew upon a deep affection for the United States before cautioning Americans, “Don’t cease to believe that you are good.” The gentle warning from Grand Mufti Mustafa Ceric – the supreme Islamic cleric for Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Slovenia – followed the second day of meetings of the Bosniak congress attended by about 1,000 people from around the continent. About 7,000 Bosniaks came to the Seattle area after genocidal violence that ripped the former Yugoslavian province in the 1990s. Several dignitaries, including Haris Silajdzic, Bosniak member of the three-person Bosnia-Herzegovina presidency, attended the meetings, which are being held on the West Coast for the first time. In a private interview Sunday, Ceric said he believes it is his responsibility as a leading Islamic cleric and “friend and partner” of the United States to get out the word to Muslim people around the world that America is not an enemy of Islam. “America did not come to Bosnia because of oil,” Ceric said of the U.S. intervention in 1995. “America came because of the great American ideals of human rights and peace and security in the world. Your coming to Bosnia proves that America did not lose the ideals of freedom and human rights.” That said, Ceric made clear that he believes American foreign policy has lost its moral compass, citing actions taken at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. “We Bosnian Muslims need America in Bosnia and America needs us Bosnian Muslims to get the message across that American policy towards Bosnia has been positive and affirmative,” he said.

    Belgian Attitudes toward the Veil

    According to two recent studies conducted by Pr. Vassilis Saroglou, (Facult_ de Psychologie de la religion de l’Universit_ Catholique de Louvain), more than half of the 313 French-speaking native Belgians questioned said the wearing of the Muslim headscarf is contrary to the values of to modern society. They also indicated that they would like the headscarf to be forbidden in some places. Of those questioned, 44.6% said they are worried about the wearing of the headscarf at school; 35% said that the wearing of the headscarf is not appropriate in public spaces; 20% said that the headscarf is not appropriate anywhere; and only 17.5% of those interviewed said they are not disturbed at all by the wearing of the headscarf.

    RVW A Subtle Racism Against the Headscarf — Un racisme “subtil” contre le voile

    By Annick Hovine Plus de la moiti_ des Belges estiment que le port du voile va “_ contre-courant de la soci_t_ moderne”. Vingt pc d_clarent que “cela les d_range partout”. La soci_t_ d'”accueil” n’est pas tendre envers cette pratique musulmane. Quel regard, quels sentiments, quelles attitudes les Belges manifestent-ils _ l’_gard du port du voile ? Sont-ils bienveillants, indiff_rents ou hostiles face _ cette pratique musulmane ? Pour la premi_re fois, des chercheurs ont sond_ la soci_t_ d'”accueil” sur cette probl_matique. Objectif : _valuer l’attitude des Belges autochtones face au voile et, le cas _ch_ant, tenter de comprendre les raisons de leurs _ventuelles perceptions n_gatives.