“Muslims in Britain: An Introduction” by Sophie Gilliat-Ray (Cardiff University) Cambridge University Press, June 2010

Archaeological evidence shows there was contact between Muslims and the British Isles from the 8th century. Beginning with these historical roots, Sophie Gilliat-Ray traces the major points of encounter between Muslims and the British in subsequent centuries, and explores Muslim migration to Britain in recent times. Drawing upon sociology, anthropology, politics, and geography, this comprehensive survey provides an informed understanding of the daily lives of British Muslims. It portrays the dynamic of institutions such as families, mosques and religious leadership, and analyses their social and political significance in today’s Britain. Through the study of the historical origins of major Islamic reform movements, it draws attention to the religious diversity within different Muslim communities, and sheds fresh light on contemporary issues such as the nature of religious authority and representation. It also considers British Muslim civic engagement and cultural life, particularly the work of journalists, artists, sports personalities, and business entrepreneurs.

Contents
Acknowledgements; Preface; Part I. Historical and Religious Roots: 1. The roots of Islam in Britain; 2. The development of Muslim communities; 3. Middle Eastern religious reform movements; 4. South Asian religious reform movements; Part II. Contemporary Dynamics: 5. Profiling British Muslim communities; 6. Religious nurture and education; 7. Religious leadership; 8. Mosques; 9. Gender, religious identity and youth; 10. Engagement and enterprise; Epilogue; Appendix: Source notes for researchers; List of references; Glossary; Index.

Silencing Bosnia’s minarets

In the eastern Bosnian town of Bjeljina, 1,200 Serb residents signed the petition which calls for the reduction of the volume of the ezan (call to prayer) as it apparently creates a disruptive “noise” for the local Serb population. Harun Karcic, a graduate researcher at the Roberto Ruffili Faculty of Political Science thinks that this new move following a citizens’ petition demonstrates that Switzerland’s referendum has more far reaching implications than was first obvious.

“This move, which will most probably go unnoticed in most parts of the world, shows that the Swiss referendum and growing Islamophobia in Europe will have more serious consequences for Europe’s autochthonous Muslims than for the largely North African, Turkish and South Asian Muslim immigrants of Western Europe”, states Karcic among other things.

Muslims Making Britain

A one-day workshop jointly run by the AHRC-funded research projects Making Britain (http://www.open.ac.uk/Arts/south-asians-making-britain) and Framing Muslims (http://www.framingmuslims.org)

This one-day workshop will explore facets of the historical and contemporary South Asian
Muslim experience in Britain, focusing on the cultural productions of writers, artists, activists
and workers from 1870 to the present in order to explore how they have negotiated,
interacted with and sometimes resisted majority British culture; their varied and complex
identifications and affiliations; and the ways in which they might have re-imagined the nation.
By focusing on how South Asian Muslims have helped to shape British cultural and political
life across the period, this collaborative workshop will foreground the depth as well as the
breadth of their contribution to the making of Britain.

Complicating the common perception that a homogeneous British culture only began to
diversify after the Second World War, the Making Britain project explores how an early South
Asian diasporic population impacted on Britain’s literary, cultural and political life. Framing
Muslims is concerned with the cultural, artistic, social and legal structures which ‘frame’
contemporary debates about Muslims in the West. The projects share a concern with the
ways in which South Asian Muslims in Britain have been depicted in a range of discourses,
and how individuals and communities have responded to and subverted these externally
imposed definitions. Combining the contemporary focus of Framing Muslims with the
historical depth of Making Britain will enable an exploration of how representational
structures have evolved through time.

Speakers include: Humayun Ansari; Katherine Butler Brown; Aamer Hussein; Siobhan Lambert-Hurley; Salman Sayyid; Sara Wajid; Amina Yaqin

To register your interest in attending this event, or for any queries, please email: artsmaking-britain@open.ac.uk or js64@soas.ac.uk.

Racism against minorities in Rome on the rise, says community leader

After several immigrants of South Asian backgrounds were beaten in Rome in the last couple of weeks, a leader of the Pakistani community in the city said that episodes of racism in the Italian capital are on the rise. “Episodes of racism are on the rise in Rome, above all in certain neighborhoods on the outskirts of the city which are full of hate and frustration,” said Ejaz Ahmad of the Consulta Islamica. Ahmed cited deteriorated conditions of neighborhoods in which minorities live, saying that there are political interests involved in the lack of concern for neighborhood infrastructure. Most recently, a Pakistani immigrant was left in a coma after being beaten last week by five Italian youths, in what investigators are saying was a racially-motivated attack.

American Muslim Women: Negotiating Race, Class, and Gender within the Ummah

African American Muslims and South Asian Muslim immigrants are two of the largest ethnic Muslim groups in the U.S. Yet there are few sites in which African Americans and South Asian immigrants come together, and South Asians are often held up as a “model minority” against African Americans. However, the American ummah, or American Muslim community, stands as a unique site for interethnic solidarity in a time of increased tensions between native-born Americans and immigrants.

American Muslim Women explores the relationships and sometimes alliances between African Americans and South Asian immigrants, drawing on interviews with a diverse group of women from these two communities. Karim investigates what it means to negotiate religious sisterhood against America’s race and class hierarchies, and how those in the American Muslim community both construct and cross ethnic boundaries.

This ethnographic study of African American and South Asian immigrant Muslims in Chicago and Atlanta explores how Islamic ideals of racial harmony and equality create hopeful possibilities in an American society that remains challenged by race and class inequalities. The volume focuses on women who, due to gender inequalities, are sometimes more likely to move outside of their ethnic Muslim spaces and interact with other Muslim ethnic groups in search of gender justice.

American Muslim Women reveals the ways in which multiple forms of identity frame the American Muslim experience, in some moments reinforcing ethnic boundaries, and at other times, resisting them.

Jamillah Karim is Assistant Professor in religious studies at Spelman College.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission Acknowledges Islamophobic Content in Maclean’s Articles

Canadian law students Muneeza, Sheikh, Naseem Mithoowani, Khurrum Awan and Ali Ahmed, and CIC (Canadian Islamic Congress) president, Dr. Mohamed Elmasry both filed complaints to the Ontario Human Rights Commission about an article, “The Future Belongs to Islam,” (an except from Mark Steyn’s American Alone: THE End of the World as We Know It) appearing in Maclean’s Magazine, a weekly current affairs publication, in October 2006. The article suggested that Muslims pose a threat to North American life. While the Commission stated that this “media coverage has been identified as contributing to Islamophobia and promoting societal intolerance towards Muslim, Arab, and South Asian Canadians,” it announced that it will not proceed with legal action. In Ontario, magazines are not covered under the Human Rights Code. Related complaints against Maclean’s have been filed with the British Columbia and Federal Human Rights Commissions. Its code covers publications. Hearings have been scheduled before the BC Commission from June 2-6, 2008 under s. 7(1) of the BC Human Rights Code, which prohibits publications that subject identifiable communities to hate. The Federal Commission is currently in the process of investigating similar complaints.

Many Asians ‘do not feel British’

More than a third of British Asians do not feel British, a BBC poll suggests. The research among the under-34s for the Asian Network found 38% of the UK residents of South Asian origin felt only slightly or not at all British. More than a third agreed to get on in the UK they needed to be a “coconut”, a term for somebody who is “brown on the outside but white on the inside”. ICM Research interviewed 500 Asian people aged 16-34 and 235 white people aged 18-34 between 4 and 12 July. Of those polled 84% were satisfied with life in Britain and almost half thought they have more opportunities here. All of the British Asians polled were of South Asian origin… Among the British Asians interviewed were 296 Muslims, 112 Hindus, 39 Sikhs and 33 Christians.