Nowadays, we can see many Muslims around the globe. A few of these Muslims experience deprivation and prejudices in racism due to a reason that they are tagged in an issue called terrorism. But most of these Muslims who live in European countries like in UK, received benefits and equal rights just like other British people received. This study has the intention to examine the historical roots of the British Muslims; scrutinize its secularization and as the ramification of terrorism and; know how our Muslim brothers and sisters cope up with their lifestyle just to fit in the society of England. Some Muslims in England are engaging into business to earn a living. The British Muslims today as stated in one article, “Salam” published in 14th of June 2006 Wednesday, ‘have a rightful sense of familiarity with their surroundings. The encounter of Islam and the British isles goes back a long way. Just under the surface of Britain’s handsome landscape there is a complex geological interplay; synonymously our cultural topology has been fashioned by diverse forces and intermingling which include the Muslim encounter for over millennium. In the year 1897, a map of the British Empire would include Nigeria, Egypt, India and Malaya, all large territories with important Muslim populations. Muslim lands provided the manpower and material resources which contributed to the prosperity of Victorian and Edwardian England. The said colonial encounter first brought Muslims to Britain as seaman, soldiers or students. The seaman – known as “lascars” -established the first communities in the main ports of England and Scotland. By the turn of the century there were also several hundred Muslim peddlers who even ventured to the remoter parts of Scotland with their wares and medicines. The Muslims built their house of worship called mosque. In 1860, existence of a mosque at 2 Glyn Rhondda Street, Cardiff, recorded in the in the Register of religious sites. Twenty-six years later, in 1886, founding of the Anjuman-I-Islam in London and later renamed the Pan-Islamic Society. The following year, William Henry Quilliam now became Shaikh Abdullah Quilliam after he embraced Islam and led a small community in Liverpool.’ (See Salam, “Muslims in Britain: The historical roots of British Islam”. Wednesday, June 14, 2006. 17 Jumaada al-Awwal 1427 AH).
In a census 2001 data as stated in “Salam” article, ‘the British Muslims-ethnic categories had reached to 1.6 million as total of Muslim population. There were about 69% of UK Muslims are from the Indian Sub-continent. There are also important numbers from other parts of the world which has 31%. The census ethnic category “Black” (6%) applies to Black Caribbean, Black African, and other Black.’ (See Salam, “Demographics/Charts- Census 2001 Data”. Wednesday, June 14, 2006).
In a researched made by Martin Leatherman and Josh Wilson, August 1, 2005, stated that ‘the London transit bombings have spurred new questions about secular, moderate and Liberal Muslims, and their role in addressing the spread of extremist Islam. The search for answers requires a close at history, and reveals an ongoing debate which is polarized and often inflammatory.’ (See M. Leatherman and J. Wilson, “What about the Liberal Muslims?” .August 1, 2005).
Moreover, in a journal printed by the National Endowment for Democracy and the Johns Hopkins University press stated that ‘Soroush and Ghannouchi illustrate the broad alternatives offered by the situation in which Muslim societies now find themselves as they face the inescapable challenges of secularization in the modern world. It should be stressed that secularization is a comparatively recent phenomenon. It started in Western Europe and has spread throughout the world. Its pace and exact form have varied a great deal from place to place which depend on a host of political, economic, sociological, and other variables. The world’s religious have adopted varying responses to it, usually features some mixture of adaptation and self-defense designed to meet the new conditions. In short, societies have shown different ways of responding to the secularizing tendency. Muslim societies have not experienced secularization as an internal or autonomous move. There are some scholars believe that such a move did start within Islamic societies in the eighteenth century but was never allowed to unfold autonomously. External influences either began the secularization process or disrupted it. But secularization is already a reality in the Muslim world. No Muslim society nowadays is governed solely with reference to religious law; religious traditions no longer possess absolute or near-absolute predominance which has an exception in some remote areas; and newly emerging leadership classes are almost everywhere displacing or marginalizing the clerisy of the theological-legal experts who used to control meaning and organization in these societies. Yet even however all this has been occurring, Islamic reformation has not yet been accomplished. In the Muslim world, secularization is preceding religious reformation which a reversal of the European experience in which secularization was more or less a consequence of such reformation.’ (See Abdou Filali-Ansary, “Islam and Liberal Democracy: The Challenge of Secularization,” Journal of democracy 7.2 (1996) 76-80. JHU Press and National Endowment for Democracy, Copyright 1996).
According from an article written by William Cooper, September 23, 2003, he expressed his ideas that ‘one of the most fundamental points is that “secularism” actually confers on society a “value-neutral” stance. That is, there is no “bias” which is often the case when religious views meet on the “battlefield” of ideas. Secularism, it is said, confers upon society “progress”, “modernization”, and a more “scientific” outlook, helping to rationalize at least partly the foundations upon which it stands. Moreover, it is often suggested that religion in public life causes “stagnation” cannot meet the challenges they face today.’ (See W. Cooper, “Some Notes on Secularism, Secularization, and Islam: I”. September 23, 2003).
Reuel Marc Gerecht said in his article, Monday 18th of July 2005, that ‘Europeans often fail to see it, the secularization of the Muslims living in their midst has been, by and large, a great success. It explains why Muslim activists gain so much attention, be they arch-conservatives, like devotees of the Tabligh movement in Britain and on the continent who espouse segregation in Europe, or “progressives,’ like the Switzerland-based intellectual Tariq Ramadan, who refuses forthrightly to promulgate the Muslim Holy Law null and void as a political testament for Muslims in a European democracy. The moderates have abandoned the field. They have become European and the militants, who perhaps should be seen as deviants from a largely successful process of secularization, are the only ones left ardently praying.’ (See R. M. Gerecht, “Jihad Made in Europe”. Monday, July 18, 2005. American enterprise institute for public policy reserach).
On the other hand, Herman De Ley advocated in his, draft version 2000, study that ‘families of Muslim immigrant origins largely inhabit the working class districts in their towns. The social and economic situation of these Muslim families is being more comparable or less comparable like their predecessors at the end of the 19th and the first part of the 20th century. In current sociological literature as well the embedding of immigrant Muslim communities in Europe is regularly approached from “secularization” perspective. Herman De Ley continued that the dismissal today of secularization, at least on the level of dominant Muslin discourse, has its historical roots in Western colonialism and imperialism in the 19th and 20th centuries. Thus, Muslims at that time were confronted with a political secularization that was imposed by Western powers. In the European countries themselves secularization and laicization had clear emancipators effects which liberate society and man’s mind from the ideological and institutional shackles of the church. In the colonies or protectorates, on the contrary, secularization was enforced as an ideological weapon, against Islam, that is- in order to suppress national or political aspirations of Muslim communities. In the present time, Europe’s democratic and secular constitutions notwithstanding, Muslim minorities are confronted here with discrimination. Even such a basically human need as that of having a decent burial for yourself and love ones is still refused to Muslim citizens or residents in most Belgian towns. At least two Flemish politicians, when asked to provide for a Muslim section at the municipal cemetery, categorically dismissed the demand.’ (See H. De Ley. “Humanists and Muslims in Belgian Secular Society”. Draft version 2000. Centrum Voor Islam in Europa).
*The Ramification of Terrorism*
Muslims are denoted by their terrorist actions. Reuel Marc Gerecht further continued that in ‘the July suicide bombings in London, there were some or all of those whose perpetrators were Muslims born and reared in Britain which are likely to produce in the United Kingdom the same intellectual reflection on Muslim identity in Europe that is already underway in the United kingdom the same intellectual reflection on Muslim identity in Europe which is already underway in nearby countries. The French started this reflection in earnest ten years ago, after bomb-happy, lycee-educated, French-born Islamic holy warriors terrorized France. There are big problems of acculturation at home in mother England, all will confess, but the holy-warrior mentality is imported. For organizations like al-Qaeda, this may mean that the future will be decisively European. From its earliest days, al Qaeda viewed Europe as a significant launching platform for attacks against United States and its interests. Now, Western counterterrorist forces, which have traditionally tried to track Middles Eastern missionaries in Europe, would be well advised to begin searching for radical European Muslim missionaries in the Middle East and elsewhere.’ (See R. M. Gerecht, “Jihad Made in Europe”. Monday, July 18, 2005. American enterprise institute for public policy reserach).
A report published in Aljazeera.com said that ‘Muslim leaders had called on worshippers to pray for the victims of the London bombings, as a deluge of abusive messages fuelled fears of an anti-Muslim backlash. The Muslim Council of Britain had received 30,000 messages of hate via e-mail jamming its computers. The London police chief Ian Blair said that authorities were in touch with religious leaders to protect symbolic buildings. Nonetheless, Muslim groups were swift to condemn the bombings, they voiced their fears that racist right-wing groups were trying to stir up hatred against community, recalling anti-Islam backlash in the days that followed attacks of September 11, 2001.’ (See “UK Muslims receive hate mails”, Aljazeera.com. July 9, 2005).
*Lifestyle in London*
All immigrants including the Muslims have a place in the heart of United Kingdom’s government in spite of what the other Muslims have done, who connive in terrorism activities. They enjoyed what the other citizens are enjoying. They are allowed to go to universities and indulge in business industries. They receive benefits from the government while they don’t have jobs and they are well taken care of; in short, they have freedom to express themselves, freedom of speech, and the right to live decently. In a report published in “Harry’s Place”, it discussed that ‘Muslim journalists, writers, filmmakers and activists are banding together to form a new organization which aimed at influencing the media to move beyond “easy and simplistic portrayal of Muslims” and built on issue relevant to British Muslims at present. It is called as ‘Muslims for Secular Democracy’; the lobbying group is being headed by the journalist Yasmin Alibjai-Brown and supported by others such as Ghayasuddin Siddique of the Muslim Parliament, playright Nasreen Rehman, Sharq magazine editor Reem Maghrebi and scientist Ehsan Masud. The organization says it support a clear separation between religion and the state and wants to make “democratic engagement” its primary concern. The said organization says that it aims to: (1) Challenge those who have a vested interest in promoting the “clash of civilizations’ narrative. These include some Muslim leaders and prominent white commentators they say; (2) Highlights the rights of Muslims who are marginalized because of their inability to cope with or succeed with the system; (3) Encourage British Muslim men and women to recognize the contributions they have made to Britain; (4) Examine the role of the political parties that pander to “community leaders”; (5) Enable Muslims to become more aware of their autonomous rights and question Muslim leaders who set themselves up as “representatives” or “experts”; (6) Work with other global progressive Muslims opposing Saudi influenced Salafism and its offshoots; (7)Challenge the ill-informed and politicized nature of the state’s intervention with the organization of religious life in this country and the influence faith based groups now have on public policies; (8) Object to government policies that curtail civil liberties using the prevailing sense of fear of terrorism and ; (9) Work with young Muslims and try to win over their hearts and minds, so they espouse the quiet and compassionate Islam practiced by Muslims through generations (See “Muslims for Secular Democracy”, Harry’s place. June 13, 2006).
A researched report made by Professor Muhammad Anwar declared that ‘in Britain, Muslims are not evenly distributed throughout the country. They are mostly found in the Greater conurbation and some other areas of the South-East, the Midlands, West Yorkshire and the South Lancashire conurbations. There is also a concentrated Muslim population in the central Clydeside conurbation in Scotland. The country of birth figures from the 1991 census show that a majority, about 60 percent, of all British Muslims are settled in the South East, mainly in the Greater London area. The Muslim population in Britain is much younger than the white population. It is few fewer older than people; fewer than two percent aged 65 plus compared with almost 60 percent whites in this age group. There are more Muslim children of school age which is over 30 percent compared with whites which has 13 percent only. This clearly has implications for the issues which are relevant to the education of a relatively large number of Muslim children in the areas of their concentrations. Muslim households are larger, five persons per households, compared with the rest of the population (2.4 persons). Meaning, there is an important difference between Muslim households and other households. It is also relevant that many Muslims live in joint and extended families. These characteristics have clear policy implications for the size of houses available for Muslims. Moreover, society at large needs to reflect the diverse nature of communities in terms of adapting various services and provision to meet the specific needs of all communities which means that the presence of Muslims and other non-Christian religious groups in Britain poses a challenge for the policies and practices of the institutions of society as well as for the faith communities themselves. There are issues faces by the Muslims and these are related in Education, Employment, Social Care and Health, Housing, Police, Criminal Justice System, Prison Service, Armed Forces, Political Participation and Representation, Religious and Racial Discrimination and Violence and Community Facilities and Inter-Community Contacts.’ (See M. Anwar, “State Policies towards Muslims in Britain”. January 2002).
Professor Anwar Muhammad discovered in a researched that ‘educational achievement levels of Muslim children in Britain are generally lower than white and some other ethnic group children. He cited an example that in recent surveys show that children of Muslim parents on average scored lower points in GCSE examinations, although there are area variations. It further appears from the tenor of the other responses that this is something which all respondents accept. Apart from a reference to the high academic standards in the few Muslim schools that exist, there were no positive comments from any of the respondents in respect of the education system which is seen as failing Muslim pupils’ (See M. Anwar, “State Policies towards Muslims in Britain”. January 2002).
‘Muslims are mostly employed in manufacturing industry. Moreover, there is now a growing number of Muslims also working in the service sector as well as an increasing number are beginning their on businesses. In addition to other reasons the high unemployment among Muslims is inspiring them to become self-employed. In the 1991 census showed that 24 percent of all employed Pakistani and 19 percent of Bangladesh were self-employed. The self-employed Muslims are not only running small business but some are also providing employment as entrepreneurs’ (See M. Anwar, “State Policies towards Muslims in Britain”. January 2002).
Social care and Health
‘Certainly, many felt that the services on offer often failed to meet the needs of Muslim users. At the same time, there was little emphasis on overt discrimination against Muslims in the services. One reason for this might be the relatively high representation of Muslims as staff in this field.’(See M. Anwar, “State Policies towards Muslims in Britain”. January 2002).
‘Housing segregation for some groups has clear implications for the quality of education and bad housing will affect health. In Britain, some Muslim groups such as Pakistani have a high owner-occupation rate which was 77 percent compared with others such as Bangladesh which has 44.5 percent as stated in the 1991 census. Overall 67 percent whites are owner-occupiers. However, 37 percent of Bangladeshi households are renting from the public sector compared with only 10.4 percent Pakistanis’ (See M. Anwar, “State Policies towards Muslims in Britain”. January 2002).
‘In the last year Muslim young people had confrontations with the police in Oldham, Bradford and Burnley during street disturbances. Anwar said that the Muslim youth are becoming aware of their rights as British citizens and compared with their migrant parents, who often tolerated racial disadvantages and racial and religious discrimination as a price for settlement in Britain’ (See M. Anwar, “State Policies towards Muslims in Britain”. January 2002).
Criminal Justice System
‘It was pointed out that Muslims by and large have a great respect for law and order as a reflection of the Islamic way of life; however, faith in the British criminal justice was not high. A large majority of the respondents felt that the criminal justice was in some way discriminatory either against Muslims specifically or members of ethnic minorities generally’
‘In 1991, there were 731 Muslims in British prisons. However, in 2001 this number reached 5190. This is a very important increase in 10 years. Several respondents referred to the increasing numbers of Muslims in British prisons. Such an increase requires that attention be given to the needs of such prisoners’ (See M. Anwar, “State Policies towards Muslims in Britain”. January 2002).
‘It was generally felt that Muslims were under-represented in the armed forces. There were no positive opinions expressed with the overwhelming view being that the armed forces were a very long way indeed from having a good relationship with Muslim communities’ (See M. Anwar, “State Policies towards Muslims in Britain”. January 2002).
Political Participation and Representation
‘Political participation is a good measure of the integration of Muslims in Britain. Most British Muslims have a right to vote and stand for elections. The concentration of Muslims in certain areas means that in statistical terms they are in a position to influence the political and electoral process in the areas of their settlement. Their participation in the electoral process has increased in the last 20 years but their representation has made slow progress’ (See M. Anwar, “State Policies towards Muslims in Britain”. January 2002).
Religious and Racial Discrimination and Violence
‘In 1965, the first Race Relations Act in Britain was passed; the second was in 1968 and the third was in 1976 (current Race Relations Act). The 1976 Act is now being extended to include some public bodies and government functions which were so far not include in the scope of the Act. The Race Relations Act deals with racial discrimination.’ (See M. Anwar, “State Policies towards Muslims in Britain”. January 2002).
Community Facilities and Inter-Community Contracts
Anwar further discussed that ‘in Britain, it is now estimated that there are over 1200 local Muslim organizations and there is an estimated number of almost 1000 mosques. The first mosque in Britain was established at Working in Surrey in 1890. Mosques now include both newly purpose-built mosques and also converted houses and factories’ (See M. Anwar, “State Policies towards Muslims in Britain”. January 2002).
In spite of the fact that some Muslims are bringing pain to its nation where they belong, we should also look at the positive side which they attributed in building the nation as a whole. I believe that these Muslim Brothers have helped us in many ways which we overlooked due to the reason that our minds are programmed and full of biases that if you are a Muslim, you are related to terrorist activities. We should also think the possibility that they became hostile to us maybe because of our attitudes toward them.
1. Salam, “Muslims in Britain: The historical roots of British Islam”. Wednesday, June 14, 2006.
17 Jumaada al-Awwal 1427 AH. Http://www.salaam.co.uk/themeofthemonth/september03_index.php?l=22
2. Salam, “Demographics/Charts- Census 2001 Data”. Wednesday, June 14, 2006.
3. Abdou Filali-Ansary, “Islam and Liberal Democracy: The Challenge of Secularization,”
Journal of democracy 7.2 (1996) 76-80. JHU Press and National Endowment for Democracy, Copyright 1996. Http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/ansary.htm
4. W. Cooper, “Some Notes on Secularism, Secularization, and Islam: I”. September 23, 2003.
5. De Ley, H., “Humanists and Muslims in Belgian Secular Society”. Draft version 2000.
Centrum Voor Islam in Europa. www.flwi.ugent.be/cie/CIE/deley10.htm
6. Leatherman, M. and Wilson, J., “What about the Liberal Muslims?” .August 1, 2005.
7. Gerecht, R. M., “Jihad Made in Europe”. Monday, July 18, 2005. American enterprise
institute for public policy research.
8. “UK Muslims receive hate mails”, Aljazeera.com. July 9, 2005).
9. “Muslims for Secular Democracy”, Harry’s place. June 13, 2006.
10. M. Anwar, “State Policies towards Muslims in Britain”. January 2002.