British Muslims
Urban Hope and Spiritual Health
Voices from the Minarets - Empowerment not control
Review of the Evidence Base on Faith Communties
The Muslim Faith and School Uniform
Preventing Extremism Together - Working Groups
Guidelines on religious discrimination & Islamic ethos
Islam, Race and Being British
The Muslim Student Survey
Race,Religion & Muslim Identity in Britain
British Muslims' Expectations of the Government - Social Discrimination: Across the Muslim Divide
Multicultural Politics -Racism, Ethnicity and Muslims in Britain
Muslims in the Workplace
Diversity, trust and community participation in England
British Muslims Between Assimilation and Segregation
Muslim in the UK Policies for Engaged Citizens
Education of British South Asians
Focus on Religion
Aspirations and Reality: British Muslims & the Labour Market
Religion in England and Wales
The Infidel Within
British Muslims: Loyalty and Belonging
British Muslims and State Policies
Caring for Muslim Patients
Ethnic Minorities in Britain: Diversity & Disadvantage
Fair Justice: The Bradford Disturbances, the Sentencing and the Impact
Islam in Britain: 1558 - 1685
Monitoring Minority Protection in the EU: The Situation of Muslims in the UK
Moral Spotlight on Bradford
The New Scots: The Story of Asians in Scotland
Religious discrimination in England and Wales
Tackling religious discrimination

British Muslims

Author Ehsan Masood
Published by: British Council, in partnership with the Association of Muslim Social Scientists (AMSS)
Year: 2006

'British Muslims' is an easy read with a rich set of photographic images and up-to-date reference lists for further information. The subtitle of the book is 'Media Guide' and it is aimed at "those who write, and speak, about British Muslims". It seeks to demonstrate that "those of us who are Muslims hold on to as many different opinions as do those who are not". An underlying concern of the book is to dispel the notion that Muslims are a single, monolithic, homogenous entity. There is a tremendous diversity of ethnicity, schools of thought and outlook. 'British Muslims' succeeds in conveying this sense of variety and individuality.

Within this diversity there is also a strong desire for unity, though this seems to be played down. The book rarely uses the term 'Muslim community', more often preferring phrases like 'Britain's various Muslim communities'.

The author identifies three developments that have been "pivotal in shaping the political experience of Muslims in Britain. They are: the publication in 1989 of 'The Satanic Verses'…..the election of a Labour government in 1997; the rise of Al-Qaeeda, and the terrorist attacks on the USA on 11 September 2001, and subsequent attacks in London, Madrid and in other cities". There is no mention of the Bosnian War (1992-1996), an episode which not only politicised a generation of Muslims in Britain but launched numerous charity and relief projects, as well as volunteers for the front. There was widespread disgust with the Conservative government's policy of denying the supply of heavy artillery to the Bosnians while at the same time turning a blind eye to the involvement of the army of the Republic of Serbia in aiding the Serb rebels in the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina. As much as Salman Rushdie, the Bosnian Crisis was a rallying moment that brought together individuals, local communities and organizations desperate for an informed and rational voice that could speak up on their behalf.

The author's view is that it is 'The Satanic Verses' that had the most lasting impact, because "it led to the formation of the Muslim Council of Britain", thanks to a helpful midwife : "The Conservative government of the time…did not want to ban a work of fiction…and they were also frustrated at having to deal with many (and often divided) community groups, which is why Michael Howard, when Home Secretary, suggested at one meeting that the many heads of community organizations that had come to see him might want to establish an umbrella representative body. This is one of the drivers to the setting up of the Muslim Council of Britain in 1997".

For the sake of balance and even-handedness, the author ought to have presented the MCB's own narrative of its genesis: "the MCB is the result of a long period of consultation within the community. For several years, there has been a keenly felt desire to have a greater degree of coordination among Muslims in Britain to deal with the many issues and problems that constantly face the community. Increasingly, coordination and unity is now seen as a question of the very survival of the community...on specific issues of common concern, various initiatives from time to time have shown the potential for a unified Muslim response. For example, events like the publication of grossly abusive and sacrilegious material have shown the need and the value of greater coordination within the Muslim community….it was this growing realization of the need for a greater degree of coordination among Muslims in the UK which led to a meeting in Birmingham on 30th April 1994. This meeting formed the National Interim Committee on Muslim Unity (NICMU) to find out the views and ideas of organizations and individuals on the problems facing the Muslim community and their role in wider society. A country-wide consultation followed….The Muslim Council of Britain is a practical outcome of this process of consultation" ('An Invitation to form the Muslim Council of Britain', 1997). The differences in narrative are important because they go to the heart of the question of whether there is such a thing as a 'Muslim community'. The account that the MCB was government-inspired suggests an imposed and artificial unity; the MCB's own narrative points to an organic and independent development.

'British Muslims' contains as many column inches on the British Muslim Forum, a relatively new and untested body as it does on the well-established MCB. Such attempts at a misplaced 'even-handedness' extends to other topics. For example the paragraph on the 2001 Census - which included a question on religion - is followed by a longer account noting that "not all Muslims welcomed the religion question".

In terms of proportionality the overwhelming majority of Muslims were in favour of the religion question in the Census, and only a handful against, including the late Shaikh Zaki Badawi. The reviewer can state this with confidence because he chaired a meeting of the AMSS in September 2000 in which this matter was put to a vote, and he also had separate private conversations with Dr Badawi. The majority in the AMSS meeting supported the inclusion of the question, while Dr Badawi's reservations were to do with fears that Muslims households might be targeted by racists. The census findings themselves confirmed support for the question: 94% of all Pakistanis and Bangladeshis chose to answer it, rather than make a null response. However 'British Muslims' gives the impression that both opinions had equal weight.

The references to the Danish Cartoons affair also convey an odd perspective: "There is a strong sense, and not only among Muslims that the repeated publication of these cartoons had had a strong element of bullying to it. But there is also a feeling that those Muslims who have reacted violently and threateningly have played into their antagonists' hands". The book's foreword, by Lord Kinnock alludes to "ill-considered" reactions and offers the example of Britain "in which rights are defended and promoted, but in which restraint is also prized". 'British Muslims' conveys a sense of apology or reservation that is not representative of the feeling on the ground. Muslims in Britain may put up with being demonized, but the portrayal of the Prophet as a terrorist causes deep,deep hurt.

Notwithstanding these observations, the British Council and its partners are to be commended for a publication that presents Muslims in Britain in a positive light. After the episode in which its employee writing under the pseudonym of one Mr Cummins was found to be the author of Islamophobic articles (which included the statement "All Muslims, like all dogs, share certain characteristics"), this book serves to clear the air and reestablish the credentials of a flagship British institution.

Urban Hope and Spiritual Health

Author Leslie J. Francis & Mandy Robbins
Publisher :Epworth Press
Year: 2005

Professor Leslie Francis, Director of the Welsh National Centre for Religious Education, has pioneered the concept of 'empirical theology' and in particular a quantitative measure of 'spiritual health': "Spiritual health involves the whole person. Spiritually healthy individuals stand in right relationship with themselves, with other people, with the world in which they live, and with the transcendent, however they conceive it. Spiritually healthy individuals build purposeful lives, develop sound relationships, take responsibility for the world around them, and embrace the transcendent with confidence. Spiritually healthy individuals are needed at the heart of urban regeneration, to celebrate personal hope, to invest in social capital and to transform spiritual wilderness into centres of personal, social and economic creativity".

This book is based on an analysis of over 34,000 13- to 15-year old pupils in England and Wales, including 500 Muslims. It finds that "there are significant ways in which young people affiliated with the Islamic tradition enjoy higher levels of spiritual health in comparison with young people who belong to no religious tradition…in the environmental domain young Islamic affiliates display greater concern for world development issues…in the personal domain [they] express a greater sense of purpose in life…. there are however significant warning signs…they are more likely to experience low self-esteem and much more likely to be worried about being bullied at school…these findings demonstrate the significant contribution to urban hope which can be generated by the good spiritual health nurtured within the Islamic community".

'Urban Hope and Spiritual Health' includes chapters on pupils in various types of Christian denominational schools, and also on young persons in the Jewish, Hindu and Sikh faith communities. Professor Francis's work ought to be replicated and extended in a larger scale study of Muslim adolescents, perhaps focussing on issues such as the different results obtained for boys and girls, the effect of the Islamic calendar - would surveys taken in Ramadan different from other times of the year? It would also be important to investigate differences in 'spiritual health' between young persons in independent Muslim schools and other schools.

Voices from the Minarets - Empowerment not control

Published by the Muslim Council of Britain
Date: May 2006
38 pages
Downloadable from MCB web site (900 Kb pdf file) This is an empirical study based on interviews with over 90 imams and mosque trustees conducted in August-September 2005, mainly in the larger cities in the UK. It also draws on the literature on the role of mosques and imams. The study notes the changing role of mosques in the UK-setting. Britain’s over 1000 mosques provide a remarkable range of social welfare and educational services and often serve as an essential focal point through which many disadvantaged people access services. The report includes over 30 recommendations to be taken up by mosques themselves, bodies like the Muslim Council of Britain and Government. Though the sample size is limited, for the first time there is some data on imams' ethnic origins, qualifications, competence in the English language and other details on mosque structures and status. The reports title, 'Empowerment not Control' is a reference to recent attempts by Government to exert a type of control over Muslim places of worship not found in the case of temples, churches or synagogues. The first of these were plans to give police powers to temporarily close down places of worship 'being used by extremists' - this intrusion was rejected by all faith communities and subsequently withdrawn by Government. (click for details). The second was the proposal to set up a 'Mosques and Imams Advisory Body' (MINAB) that appeared to be masterminded by the Home Office in its first manifestation.

Review of the Evidence Base on Faith Communties

Published by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister
Date: April 2006
117 pages
Downloadable from Department for Communities and Local Government

This overview of the Muslim, Hindu and Sikh populations has been compiled for the ODPM - renamed the Department for Communities and Local Government after the May 2006 reshuffle - has been prepared by four of the leading academics with expertise in social geography and religious communities in Britain: Professor Paul Weller, University of Derby, Professor James Beckford and Dr David Owen, University of Warwick, Dr Richard Gale, University of Birmingham; and Professor Ceri Peach, University of Oxford. The professors have established an informal consultancy network, 'The Mercia Group'.

The report provides a comprehensive survey - over 600 references are cited in the bibliography - of publications and 'grey literature' in the last decade relevant to the Department's "strategic priorities of Housing Supply and Demand, Decent Places to Live, Tackling Disadvantage, Delivery Better Service and Promoting the Development of the English Regions" and "its bearing on the relationship between faith and other equalities strands in terms of ethnicities, gender, sexuality an disability". The review was conducted betseen January and July 2005

The evidence-based compilation confirms conclusions that have been drawn from the religion question in the 2001 Census: that Muslims live in the most deprived neighbourhoods of the country with the highest rates of unemployment. The report notes that "33 per cent of the Muslim population is located in the 10 per cent most deprived neighbourhoods" (page 39). Their share of the population "broadly declines as prosperity increases".

Nearly 18 per cent of Muslims aged 16-24 were unemployed and nearly 14 per cent of those aged 25+ (comparative figures for Hindus are 7 and 5 per cent respectively]. Forty per cent of Muslim [and 26 per cent of Hindu, for comparative purposes] experience housing deprivation.

Interestingly, the report challenges the stereotype that Britain is becoming sharply divided along ethno-religious lines and that Muslims in particular are an insular and self-isolating community. For example it notes "the Muslim population is more ethnically heterogenous than the Sikhs or Hindus" and "there were only three wards in London [of around 900] in which Muslims formed over half of the population" (page 42). Moreover, "all Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims in England are currently living in wards with mixed populations. They do not live in religiously exclusive wards....the Jewish and the Hindu populations, for example, have concentrations in areas of affluence" (page 43).

Clearly a policy implication is that when tackling problems of poverty and deprivation within the Muslim community, this should be done in an inclusive way, bearing in mind pockets of poverty within the Christian and ethnically white groups.

The Muslim Faith and School Uniform

Published by the National Union of Teachers
Date: March 2006
14 pages

Downloadable from

The guidelines from the NUT provide advice for drawing up a school uniform policy, noting that “pupils have a right to dress in accordance with the requirements of their religious beliefs. It should be recognized that for Muslims in particular, the concepts of modesty and dignity in dress carry the status of a religious obligation”. A school uniform policy “should be drawn up in consultation with parents, pupils, teachers and the wider community” and that if the school is unsure whether a particular choice of dress has religious or cultural significance, bodies consulted should include local religious groups.

The guidelines suggest that “in most lessons, the wearing of the hijab or jilbab would not present a health or safety hazard to either the wearer of the garment or other pupils”. For PE and games, it advises schools to consider loose fitting clothing, including longer-sleeved shirts, leggings and tracksuits; smaller headscarves that can be fastened with studs or poppers; separate girls and boys groupings within PE, or if possible, separate PE lessons for girls and boys only; single sex swimming pools and separate changing facilities for boys and girls. Health and safety issues in science and technology lessons could also be addressed by wearing lab-coats or smaller headscarves.

The NUT is to be commended for taking practical steps in times when there is an urgency to clear the air and restore a sense of self-esteem and dignity across all sections of society and communities. A school’s leadership should demonstrate there is room for Muslim culture and norms. It is only through nurturing Britain’s diversity today that the nation’s future talent can flower tomorrow.

The NUT now joins the NATFHE (the university and college lecturers union) in preparing guidelines so that its members are better informed and equipped to deal with discrimination and situations that ostracise Muslims.

'Preventing Extremism Together' Working Groups

Published by the Home Office
Date: August - October 2005
102 pages

Downloadable from

In August 2005, the Home Office invited about 90 Muslims to participate in a working group 'Working together to prevent extremism'. Seven task groups were set up: Education (chaired by Yusuf Islam); Engaging with Muslim women (Baroness Pola Manzila Uddin); Imams training and accreditation and the role of mosques as a resource for the whole community (Lord Nazir Ahmed); Regional and local initiatives and community actions (Nahid Malik); Community security - including addressing Islamophobia, increasing confidence in policing and lacking extremism (Muhammad Abdul Aziz); Tackling extremism and radicalisation (Inayat Bunglawala). The participants represented an informed and varied cross-section of the community with experience in community work, Labour Party political activity, the business sector, race and religious discrimination legislation, research and the media. There was a sprinkling of celebrities, some intellectual heavyweights and one or two non-Muslims well-known in interfaith dialogue circles. There was an element of oversight from Home Office civil servants observing and offering occasional advice.

The groups, varying in size from a dozen to over twenty, held a number of meetings including a week-end retreat (10-11th September) at Windsor . A draft report was presented to the Home Secretary on 22nd September and the final report, containing the task groups' eminently sensible 40 recommendations were published on the Home Office's website in November 2005. The Home Office has since announced its interest in pursuing three of these recommendations: a 'road show' idea - the establishment of an 'Islamic way of life' exhibition to tour schools to help increase understanding about Islam and "what Muslims actually believe and stand for"; the establishment of a national forum to tackle Islamophobia and extremism - it will "provide a forum for a diverse range of members of the British Muslim community to come together and discuss issues relating to tackling Islamophobia and harmful forms of extremism"; and finally and controversially, the establishment of a "new national advisory body/council of mosques and imams. This body would be inclusive and representative of the many traditions practiced in the UK, independent and lead by the instutions it serves".

The Government's intention to foster the advisory body of mosques and imams is likely to be seen as state interference in places of worship, unless it is genuinely independent of government and self-regulating. However the devil will be in the detail, and many imams are reserving comment until this is available.

The Government decided not to accept a recommendation most important to many of the Muslim participants: the need to establish and undertake a public inquiry (or a judicial inquiry) into the 'what, how and why' of the July bombings, including an enquiry into the root causes of, and the Government's and other public agencies response to, the atrocities". Presumably this was torpedoed because it would open up an investigation into foreign policy decisions that took the country into the Iraq misadventure. This rejection is a disservice to the nation, because a significant factor in tipping troubled young men into violent extremism have been the graphic images from that war and the resulting sense of injustice and hopelessness. The Home Office task groups provided Muslims in Britain with an opportunity to engage with Government. The participants should be commended for their sense of public duty and responding to the challenge with creative hard work. This report should not be allowed to gather dust on some Whitehall shelf. Its more credible suggestions could form a basis for many useful projects carried out by community organizations themselves.

Guidelines on religious discrimination & Islamic ethos - A guide for Muslim and Islamic organisations to explore religious discrimination legislation and organisational ethos

Published by: Faithworks and the Muslim Council of Britain
Date: August 2005
40 pages

Suppose you are responsible for recruitment of staff in a Muslim school and you have an applicant who belongs to another faith or tells you he or she is an atheist. Do you have grounds for rejecting the application because you perceive this as detrimental to the religious ethos of your institution? The question also has other variations - suppose the applicant has a life-style on sexual matters that you find unacceptable in a work colleague? What do you do in these circumstances?

These questions have come to the fore as a result of the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations (December 2003). The Guidelines' publishers are to be commended for providing a document that navigates through the issues and finding a legal expert (the author is unnamed) who has bravely endeavoured to seek a seamless join between liberal secular and religious values.

The new Regulations offer protection to those who might be victims of inferior treatment, harassment or discrimination because of their faith (or no faith). The Race Relations Acts of 1976 and 2000 are applicable where discrimination is on grounds of colour, race or nationality. Some faiths, like the Sikhs and Jews were able to obtain this protection because they were deemed to be ethnic groups. Muslims, not being an ethnic group, thus stood exposed and this lacuna, with respect to recruitment and employment, was removed by the 2003 Regulations.

The Regulations however do not just confer rights, but bring with them responsibilities, for employees and employers alike. The Guidelines are essential reading for managers and trustees of Muslim organizations and will help in addressing the questions outlined in the opening paragraph. The Regulations provide for Genuine Occupational Requirements (GORs) - the terminology to be used if a Muslim organisation seeks to appoint a Muslim employee and not anyone of another faith. Crucial to the application of GORs is the distinction between an institution part of 'organised religion' (this is the terminology of the Regulations) and one that might be deemed a 'religious organisation'. The former could be applied to institutions and service providers such as mosques and undertakers. The latter would be appropriate for Muslim schools, Muslim charities and civil society bodies including the Muslim Council of Britain itself.

The Guidelines provide advice on how both groups could justify GORs on the grounds of religious ethos. It notes, "identifying your organisational ethos is vital because it will be impossible to claim a GOR unless you can demonstrate that your organisation has a religious ethics...if the need for a Muslim in a certain post has nothing to do with the organisation itself being Muslim, then the need for a Muslim cannot be other words, the law says that if the organisation does not practice an Islamic ethos, then the need for a Muslim in any post cannot exist".

Three key extracts from the Guidelines:

"Ethos can be defined as the spirit or shared motivation of an organisation. It's why people do what they do. In other words it is the unique flavour or essence of an organsisation - what makes it tick. It is the distinctiveness that makes it different from another organisation and gives its identity. It is the environment within which the organisation's functions and activity are formed and delivered".

"The distinctive aspect of a Muslim organisation is that it is guided by universal Islamic values. This provides an ethical context in which all people, Muslims and Muslims alike, can co-operate in it order to fulfil the objects of the trust".

"Part of the ethos of an Islamic organisation is that there (a) is a personal relationship between human beings and God; and (b) individual responsibility before God for intention and action. This translates into the value of privacy which is guaranteed to Muslims and non-Muslims in their individual decisions on how to think and act".

"Family life has a central place in the life of an individual Muslim and within a Muslim community and provides an essential part of the values that maintain the religious ethos of a Muslim organisation. Marriage between a man and a woman is the central pillar for supporting the Islamic vision of family life and is the only proper context for sexual relations between people. Other forms of sexual relations are prohibited from an Islamic point of view. Part of the religious ethos of a Muslim organisation is that sexual relationships other than within marriage between a man and a woman are not an appropriate mattter for accomodation in the workplace. However, Muslim organisations will need to accept that private sexual relationships are outside the control and jurisdiction of the employer. They cannot be the basis of penalty or harassment within the workplace. A Muslim organisation can endorse support and advocate their view within the organisation, within the wider Muslim community and within wider civil society as part of its ethos. This can be seen to be part of the general religious ethos of a Muslim organisation".

Copies of the Guidelines can be obtained from the Muslim Council of Britain

Islam, Race and Being British
Edited by Madeleine Bunting

Published by: The Guardian in association with the Barrow Cadbury Trust
Date: October 2005
ISBN: 0 85265 056 6

We are indebted to The Guardian, and one of the paper’s finest writers, Madeleine Bunting, for this timely collection of over twenty essays on themes of multiculturalism and the British Muslim identity. Since 9/11, The Guardian stands out as a newspaper that has encouraged the expression of a variety of views and interpretations on world events - an oasis of independent journalism and comment. The Guardian's progressive instincts led it to play host to a Muslim youth forum in January 2005, at which 50 people were brought together and presented with some big questions on religious identity and ethnicity. The editor notes that "this book reflects this debate, giving space to the reflections of several of the participants and reprinting key contributions to this debate which have appeared on the Guardian's comment pages".

The book is essential reading for those seeking to dip their toe in the national conversation on Britishness or the future direction of a multi-faith, multi-cultural and multi-ethnic Britain. The essays are grouped around three themes: 'What am I? The politics of identity'; 'What are we? The politics of belonging'; 'Habits of solidarity: the politics of living together'. Contributors include Tariq Modood, Paul Gilroy and Herman Ouseley, Gary Younge, Safraz Manzoor, Tariq Ramadan, Dilwar Hussain, Sunder Katalwal, Seaumus Milne, Polly Toynbee, Tinoth Garton Ash, Jonathan Freedland, Maleha Malik, Shareefa Fulat, Geoff Mulgan, Sukhvinder Stubbs, Tahir Abbas and Phoebe Griffiths, Ted Cantle, Ann Cryer, Azhar Hussain, Indra Adnan and Madeleine Bunting.

Memorable quotes: "I am afraid what will happen to us Muslims now. I wonder if we can find a hole big enough to hide in" (Ajmal Masroor - comment after the London bombings of 7/7);"One participant to the conference prefaced her remarks with the statement 'I believe in God'. You could hear, in the quality of the silence in the room, the shock that religious belief is unapologetically trespassing into manstream debate for a generation. And it is triggering profound anxiety in the secular left...." (Madeleine Bunting); "The emergence of a 'politics of difference' out of and alongside a liberal assimilationist equality created a disonance. Similarly, the emergence of a British Muslim identity out of and alongside ethno-racial identities has created an even greater dissonance because it challenges the hegemonic power of secularism in British political culture, especially on the centre-left" (Tariq Modood).

The Muslim Student Survey, Voice of Muslim Students - a report into the attitudes and perceptions of Muslim students following the July 7th London attacks

Author:Federation of Students Islamic Societies (FOSIS)
Date of publication: August 2005

Downloadable from

It is estimated that there are about 90,000 Muslims students in further and higher education in the UK. A survey with a sample size of 401 was conducted by Britain's mainstream Muslim student body, FOSIS, in August 2005. The published report provides a valuable benchmark on young persons' attitudes and feelings post the bombings of 7th July, and to the credit of all concerned, frank questions were asked and frank results have now been placed in the public domain. The FOSIS report is structured around five sections: British Muslim Identity; Attitudes towards life in Britain including the impact of the terrorist attacks; Understanding and perception of Islam; Extremism including views on how the causes can be tackled; Government Policy, particularly foreign policy and anti-terror legislation; Muslim leadership and organisations.

For the majority, there was no "conflict of loyalty" between their British identity and ties to the global Muslim Ummah. The survey quotes a nineteen year old female student from Scotland: ""[There is no conflict because] Islam teaches us to respect the country we live in and follow its laws, where they do not conflict with our religion's rules. Since all laws are compatible with Islam (democracy, laws governing behaviour and conduct) there is no conflict in following them. You can live in Britain without agreeing 100% with what your government is doing, as we have the option of freedom of speech. You can still be true to your religion, and follow God's laws".

The psychological impact of the bombings can be judged by this finding: before 7th July, 83% of respondents felt proud and comfortable to be Muslim in Britain, but this fell to 52% following the London attacks. On Islamophobia, the survey notes, "Almost 1 in 2 Muslim students have personal experience of Islamophobia, over 75% of which is direct and mostly verbal. More than half of these (59%) said they have experienced Islamophobia at least 3 times. Worryingly, 25% of all incidents are reported to be occurring on campus. This could possibly help explain why 30% of Muslim students are feeling isolated from other students.

On Extremism, it notes, "The overwhelming majority of Muslim students unequivocally condemn the London attacks, with only 4% failing to do so. On suspecting someone is going to carry out a terrorist attack, almost three-quarters of our respondents said they would immediately go to the police, and of the remainder, 48% said they would do so after trying to first talk the person out of it. 9% of those who would not inform the police, felt they could not go to the police because they couldn't trust them or they feared them. The problem of extremism on campuses has also been grossly over-estimated, with 97% of students failing to report that they had experienced extremism pertaining to violence on campus".

Race,Religion & Muslim Identity in Britain

Author: Dr. Muhammad Abdul Bari
Published by: Renaissance Press 2005
ISBN 0 954329473
This book explores aspects of Muslim identity and social responsibility, noting Muslims now feel they are 'Muslims of Britain' rather than 'Muslims in Britain'. Written before the events of 7th July that have so profoundly affected Britain, the author documents the positive work that has taken place as Muslims integrate - without a forced assimilation - in mainstream life. However Dr Bari warns of the 'over-politicisation' of Islam and notes that "Islam's position on extremism is clear. Muslims are expected to choose the spirit of Islam rather than its lifeless rituals, action rather than rhetoric and enterprise rather than the dogmatism in their life...Muslims do not condone any unprincipled or unjust method to achieve even a just cause". The book aims to build bridges and better understanding among people and communities and is doubly important reading for Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

British Muslims' Expectations of the Government - Social Discrimination: Across the Muslim Divide

Authors: Saied R.Ameli , Manzur Elahi, Arzu Merali
Published by: Islamic Human Rights Commission 2004
ISBN 1-903718-28-7
The findings of a Rowntree Trust-funded investigation into anti-Muslim discrimination. Includes numerous first-hand accounts, including the tragic case of Yassir Abdelmoutalib, a PhD student who was subject of a viscious assault in Brent, leaving him handicapped for life. Nine community activists also offer their views on the causes of social discrimination against Muslims. The study notes that "new or amended laws that are cognisant of the existenceof religiously-motivated hatred and discrimination will clearly help address the problem, but only as part of a wider impetus...."

Multicultural Politics -Racism, Ethnicity and Muslims in Britain

Author: Tariq, Modood
Published by: Edinburgh University Press, 2005
ISBN 0 7486 2172 5 (Paperback)
ISBN 0 7486 2171 7 (Hardback)

Professor Tariq Modood, is perhaps one of the foremost academic commentators on the subject of race, ethnicity and Muslims in the UK. For sometime now Modood has argued that faith can be used as an increasingly potent category to explain a large body of evidence. Making faith central to the analysis also has several implications for any progressive prescriptive agenda to redress the inequities. more...

Muslims in the Workplace
A Good Practice Guide for Employers and Employees

Published by The Muslim Council of Britain with DTI support
32 pages
ISBN 0-9543652-5-9
March 2005

The purpose of this Guide is to explain and provide guidance on the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations, which came into force on 2nd December 2003. The law is a welcome development for religious communities in Britain, as it provides direct protection against religious discrimination in employment and vocational training. Such protection was previously lacking, which has meant that unfair discrimination has been a reality for many religious communities, especially Muslims.
The Guide provides both employers and employees with an understanding of the main provisions of the Regulations. It also explains the specific needs of the Muslim community at work and how these can be best accommodated. It includes a section that responds to some frequently asked questions.

Diversity, trust and community participation in England

Published by the Home Office, Research, Development and Statistics Directorate(RDS)
Date of Publication: January 2005

Downloadable from

This study by Rachel Pennant is of considerable importance to Muslims in Britain because it demolishes the myth that diversity in society is negatively correlated with civic trust - the argument put about by anti-multiculturalists such as David Goodhart (see his 'Is Britain too Diverse?', Prospect October 2004). The RDS analysis uses data from the 2003 Home Office Citizenship Survey to seek out the relationship between how diverse an area is in terms of socio-economic, ethnic and faith groups and the levels of trust between neighbours and in relation to institutions such as the Police, Parliament, the courts and the local council in that area. It also examines the relationship between this diversity and community participation. It is based on a nationally representative sample of about 14,000 people, including about 4,400 from minority ethnic groups.

The study establishes that ethnic diversity has no impact on factors such as trust in courts and Parliament. Moreover, Muslims demonstrated the most positive correlation with 'generalised trust' (trust of others in their neighbourhood) and are more likely to participate in civic activities. Other research by Professor Peach at Oxford University has shown that Muslims are more likely to have a non-Muslim neighbour compared with adherents of the Jewish faith.

British Muslims between Assimilation and Segregation

Authors: Mohammad Siddique Seddon, Dilwar Hussain, Nadeem Malik
Publishers: The Islamic Foundation
Date of Publication: July 2004
ISBN: 0 86037 354 1

This is a companion volume to the Islamic Foundation’s ‘British Muslims Loyalty and Belonging’, drawing on the discussion and issues raised at a seminar held in June 2002 in collaboration with the Citizen Organising Foundation. Though many of the essays tackle the same concepts and issues, this does not detract from its richness. The work should be read by serious-minded young Muslims who presently find themselves in the eye of the storm. They are the subject of academic and political interest, but it is within their grasp not to be passive actors taking up expected roles, but rather activists charting out their own destinies.

Chapter 1, ‘Muslim Communities in Britain: A Historiography’ is an excellent essay by Mohammed Siddique Seddon. It concludes that “young Muslims feel able to interpret and express their sense of ‘Muslimness’ within the cultural context of their new identities and environments. This shift from their geographical, ethnic and cultural origins results in their sense of Muslim identity within the global community of Islam - the ummah – becoming heightened”. Whether this evolves to a relationship of the type many British Roman Catholics feel towards Rome – a spiritual and moral allegiance rather than political – is a topic worth exploring by Seddon in further research. The essay includes a critique of Phillip Lewis’s ‘Islamic Britain’ for presenting one particular community in Bradford as the British Muslim paradigm.

Chapter 2, ‘Equality? The treatment of Muslims under the English Legal System’ aims to explore the rights of British Muslims within the English Legal System. The essay offers a reference point for non-specialist readers but this is a rapidly evolving area and in itself is not self-standing.

Chapter 3, ‘British Muslim identity’ by Dilwar Hussain offers “an insider view of British Muslim identity, primarily addressing a second generation, British Muslim audience”. The book takes its title from a line of argument in this chapter, “Integration is a very problematic word to use as people have varying definitions. Here is used as opposed to assimilation or segregation, as a middle way in which minority communities can become part of society while maintaining something of their values and religious and cultural norms”. A valuable section in the chapter shows how an application of the teachings and precepts drawn from the Qur’an, sunnah and other Islamic sources, including the rulings of contemporary Muslim scholars, should shape the attitudes and behaviour of Muslims in Britain.

Subsequent chapters are less engaging. These include ‘Locating the Perpetuation of ‘Otherness’: Negating British Islam’ by Mohammad Siddique Seddon, ‘Friends, Romans, Countrymen?’ by Nadeem Malik and ‘Councillors and Caliphs: Muslim Political Participation in Britain’ by Dilwar Hussain. Nevertheless the book is an otherwise admirable attempt by a group of young British Muslim scholars who have benefited from the intellectual space and other facilities offered to them by the Islamic Foundation, Leicester.

Muslim in the UK
Policies for Engaged Citizens

Editor/Authors: Tufyal Choudhury (Overview & Project Coordination); Maleiha Malik (Equality, Discrimination & Community Cohesion); Prof J Mark Halstead (Education); Zamila Bunglawala (Labour Market); Dr Basia Spalek (Criminal Justice)
Publishers: Open Society Institute
Date of Publication: 2004/5

This report focuses on four key policy areas: Discrimination, Education, Criminal Justice, and the Labour market where it believes Muslims-specific issues should be addressed by Government and other key institutions. It highlights the high increase in Islamophobia, especially post September 11, the difficulties and discrimination that those who ‘appear’ as Muslims face in the Labour Market, the perceived unfairness of police stop-and-searches and highly publicised anti-terrorist arrests. Due to the newly available data on religion from the last census (2001), this report was able to identify and screen out muslim-specific issues regarding the labour market and discrimination. Until now, the statistics developed has been an estimation of Muslims based on the previously available data on ethnicity. This new data has led to a shocking exposure of an increase in Islamophobia in the UK. For example, eighty percent of UK Muslims have reported being victims of Islamophobia since September 11 and more than a third complain of being singled out by authorities while using UK airports.

The report then summarises each section by recommending useful policies the government and other crucial institutions can undertake to tackle this growing problem of Islamophobia and to help British Muslims in integrating well into all spheres of the community. At the Educational level for example, some of the many recommendations include: Improved structures by the Department of Education and Skills for consultation with Muslims on matters of educational policy and practice, establishment of National guidelines on ways to meet the distinctive needs of Muslim pupils and a system of student loans that does not involve Muslim students in Higher Education being required to act against Islamic rules on paying and receiving interest.

Anyone willing to have a good understanding of the current issues affecting Muslims in the UK will find this report indispensable.

Education of British South Asians
Ethnicity, Capital and Class Structure

Author: Tahir Abbas
Publishers: Palgrave
Date of Publication: July 2004

This study analyses the reasons for differential educational performance of South Asians, taking into consideration social class, ethnicity, capital (cultural, social and economic) and the effects of schools in Birmingham in the education of Bangladeshis, Indians and Pakistanis. It considers the ways in which different ethnic minority groups achieve in education, and how. The author is a Lecturer in Sociology and Director of the Centre for the Study of Ethnicity and Culture at the University of Birmingham, UK. It is based on interviews, and focuses on entry into selective secondary schools, subjects chosen at the age of 13, eventual examination performance and entry into higher education.

‘Focus on Religion’

Published by the Office for National Statistics
Date of Publication: October 2004

Downloadable from

The introduction of a religion question in the 2001 Census was an historical event. The last time such a question appeared in a Census in England was a hundred and fifty years ago. The question in the 2001 Census was a voluntary one, asking ‘What is your religion?’, with 8 tick boxes - None, Christian (including Church of England, Catholic, Protestant and all other Christian denominations), Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Any other (with a write-in box). Wisely, the question did not seek to explore issues of religious practice, but solely religious affiliation.

The inclusion of the question was the result of a persistent and sustained campaign that began informally in the build-up to the 1991 Census but only took institutional form in the mid-1990s. The campaign was spearheaded by an interfaith network chaired by Professor Leslie Francis, in which the Muslim community, initially through the UK Action Committee for Islamic Affairs (UKACIA) and subsequently the Muslim Council of Britain, played a key role. It not only had to overcome institutional resistance within the civil service, long-used to treating ‘minority’ concerns through the lens of ethnic classifications, but also alter a cultural reflex that wished to keep religion in the private domain without a say in public policy decision-making. The Muslim position was that ethnic categorization on its own was not sufficient basis for equitable public service delivery or resource allocation. Moreover, Muslims themselves felt far more comfortable with a self-description based on their faith.

The first results on religion from the Census were published in February 2003. This was mainly ‘headline’ statistics in terms of overall numbers and age and gender breakdown. Since then, further tables have been released providing Muslim population breakdowns to lower level geographic boundaries: local authority district, ward and census output area. A limited number of cross-tabulations have also been available, for example by ethnic groups, housing tenure, educational attainment etc. The *‘Focus on Religion’* report prepared by Amanda White and her colleagues in the Ethnicity & Identity Branch of the Office for National Statistics now consolidates and summarises the census findings on this issue.

The report confirms the problems of poverty and deprivation facing Muslims in Britain – hitherto unquantifiable because the community has been ‘statistically invisible’.

On the positive side it shows that Muslims are making a massive social contribution in preserving and upholding the institution of the family: young Muslim adults are more likely to be married (22% compared to 8% Hindus, 6% Sikhs and 3% of Christians) and Muslim households are more likely to contain children – 63% contained at least one dependent child, compared with 25% Jewish and 27% Christian households. The report notes that “lone parent households are less common within Muslim, Hindu, Sikh or Jewish communities”.

The report confirms the problem of educational attainment facing Muslims - an issue that needs to be addressed through self-help initiatives by the community itself and not through public sector interventions alone. However, fresh statistics also highlight the glaring disparity in state-maintained faith schools. Much smaller communities receive facilities an order of magnitude greater: “there were 371,000 school-aged (5 to 16 year old) Muslim children in England in 2001 and four Muslim state-maintained schools in 2003, catering for 1000 children….there were 33,000 Jewish school-aged children in England compared with 13,000 places in state-maintained Jewish schools”. With such statistics in the public domain, it is possible to make a more cogent case for a level playing field and the recognition of more Muslim state-maintained schools.

The report also provides important data on health and disability, housing, labour market and employment patterns. The ONS is to be commended for the preparation of this land-mark report that is essential reading for service providers in local government and advocacy bodies in the community. The ONS, ever keen on cost-effectiveness, has released this as an on-line rather than paper report. The real savings will of course arise when its findings are taken on board by policy makers to achieve more optimal and efficient deployment of resources.

Aspirations and Reality:
British Muslims & the Labour Market

Published by:Open Society Institute
Date of Publication: 2004

This timely contribution to the debate on the socio-economic circumstances of Britain's 1.6 million Muslim community reviews the literature available, including analysis on Census 2001 data conducted by the Ethnic Minorities Employment Division, Department of Works and Pensions, and the report prepared in 2003 by the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit, 'Ethnic Minorities and the Labour Market'. It concludes that there is a disproportionate level of disadvantage faced by British Muslims in the labour market, notwithstanding the recently enacted Employment regulations relating to religious discrimination. Muslims constitute 3% of the UK population.

The report notes that a very high proportion of Muslims are in the younger age groups: the average age of Muslims is 28, 13 years below the national average. This has implications for their contribution to the work force in a time of demographic shrinkage and increase in the 60+ population. The author notes that "failing to meet the employment aspirations and needs of young Muslims will not only have economic costs but also create potential strains on social cohesion".

Urgent action is needed to promote employability within the community, such as target-based polices for access to education, training and apprenticeship. At present Muslims are three times more likely to be unemployed than the majority Christian group. They have the lowest employment rate of any group, at 38% and the highest economic inactivity rate at 52%. At 17% per cent, Muslims represent the largest faith group who have never worked or are in long tem unemployment, compared to three per cent of the overall population. Over half of Muslims are economically inactive, compared to a third of all faith groups. In London, where over 40% of London's population lives, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis have the highest level of children in workless households, at 30-40%, compared to 20 per cent of their white counterparts.

The author notes that Islamic law does not forbid women to enter employment, "however cultural sensitively and preference should be respected as much as possible". In addition to the 'ethnic penalty' that applies to Muslim men and women, the latter are more subject to a 'Muslim penalty' if they wear the hijab. Recommended policy actions in this area include work experience programmes - short periods of employment to help them assess whether employment is something they could, and would want to participate in, and also childcare provision.

Issues, challenges and action

Chaired: Dr Richard Stone
Research: Hugh Muir and Laura Smith
Editor: Robin Richardson
Adviser: Imam Dr Abduljalil Sajid
Publishers:Trentham Books Limited
Date of Publication: 2004

This report should be read by anyone who believes that Islamophobia only exists in the minds of Muslims. Credit is due to a retired London GP, Dr Richard Stone, for ensuring there is an up-to-date document describing the objective reality. As chair of the 'Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia' - a body comprising 13 experts, six of whom are Muslims - Dr Stone is largely responsible for keeping the matter alive and on the public agenda. The Commission was established by the Runnymede Trust in 1996 and its first report, 'Islamophobia: A challenge for us all' was published in 1997.

The updated report takes stock of the impact of 9/11 and the subsequent pillorying of Muslims by the media, the disturbances in the North of England in summer 2001, and other landmarks such as the publication of religion data from the 2001 Census and the new Employment Directive relating to religious discrimination that came into force in December 2003. It revisits the 60 recommendations that were made in the 1997 report - requiring action by central and local government, public bodies and civil society institutions - concluding that "a many-pronged approach to combating Islamophobia and [to] recognise British Muslim identity is required".

The report urges for a policy of 'positive duty' (i.e. a statutory duty) for the promotion of equality of opportunity and the avoidance of discrimination. It calls on the CRE (Commission for Racial Equality) to take an active role in policing how employers and suppliers in the public sector fulfil such 'positive duty' responsibilities. This raises two questions, conceptual and practical. Firstly, Islam is a religion rather than an ethnicity - in fact a religion that transcends ethnic boundaries. Therefore, is it not going against the grain to accept protection under racial equality legislation? Secondly, will the CRE - that has a dismal record in taking up cases of religious discrimination faced by Muslims of Asian ethnicity - rise to the challenge?

The Commission has taken particular care in its consultation process to ensure the views of mainstream Muslim community organisations have been taken on board. The Commission collected fresh data through interviews, and also took account of the views of experts and the findings of recent academic studies. The outcome is a work that is an authentic reflection of the state of affairs.

The Infidel Within

Author: Humayun Ansari
Publishers: C. Hurst & Co. Ltd
Date of Publication: 2004

In ' The Infidel within' , Humayun Ansari draws on published research, augmented with his own archival enquiries and first-hand experience of some of the key themes involved, to attempt an integrated history of the Muslim presence in Britain. Among the topics addressed are migration and settlement, the evolution of a British Muslim Identity, Muslim women and families, Muslims and education and the growing mobilization of Muslim in Britain's political, religious and economic life. The author is the Director of the Centre for Ethnic Minority Studies and Equal Opportunities, and a Senior Lecturer in the Department of History, at the Royal Holloway College, University of London.

British Muslims
Loyalty and Belonging

Authors: Mohammad S Seddon, Dilwar Hussain & Nadeem Malik
Publishers: The Islamic Foundation and The Citizen Organisation Foundation; ISBN: 0860373088
Date of Publication: April 2003

This publication addresses a number of pertinent issues relating to the current status of British Muslims who are under increasing public scrutiny in expressed terms of their allegiances and loyalties. It aproaches the notions of loyalty and belonging from two perspectives; the traditional Islamc view from the Shariah and a contemporary perspective bearing in mind the sociological, political and legal dimensions of the discussion.

British Muslims and State Policies

Authors: Muhammad Anwar, Qadir Bakhsh
Publisher: The Centre for Research in Ethnic Relations
ISBN: 0948303999
Date of Publication: 2003

This publication outlines some of the disadvantges, discrimination and other issues faced by British Muslims before and after the events of 9/11. It includes an examination of the current policy and practice of central and local government and other organisations towards Muslims and also suggests recommendations in order to tackle the issues Muslims face.

Caring for Muslim Patients

Authors: Aziz Sheikh, Abdul Rashid Gatrad
Publisher: Radcliffe Medical Press
ISBN: 1857753720
Date of Publication: April 2000

This work covers the practical and ethical issues surrounding Muslim patients. It includes an overview of the Islamic world and explores the concept of health and disease within this paradigm. The book also gives practial advice to provide care in a culturally appropriate manner and outlines Muslim practices and customs that are of relevance to health and healthcare.

Ethnic Minorities in Britain
Diversity & Disadvantage

Authors: Tariq Modood, Richard Berthoud et al.
Publisher: Policy Studies Institute
ISBN: 1853836702; Date of Publication: 1997

This is the fourth in a series of major studies by the Policy Studies Institute which have charted the experiences of ethnic minorities in Britain since the 1960s. It reports on changes in such key fields as family and household structures, education, qualifications and language, employment patterns, income and standards of living, neighbourhoods and housing. And it introduces important new topics which have not been examined thoroughly in the past, including health and health services, racial harassment and cultural identity.

Fair Justice
The Bradford Disturbances, the Sentencing and the Impact

Author: Christopher Allen; Publisher: FAIR
ISBN: 11904648002; Date of Publication: 2003

Published by the Forum Against Islamaphobia and Racism (FAIR), this report looks at the sentencing of young Muslim men incriminated in the July 2001 Oldham and Bradford troubles, which are serving as a further cause for alienation and disenchantment. The comparison is made with similar offences in Northern Ireland, and in the Brixton Riots, which prompted far milder punitive measures. The report focuses on aspects of Islamophobia in the criminal justice system and the political motivation behind the sentencing.

Islam in Britain 1558 - 1685

Author: Nabil Matar; Publisher: Cambrdge University Press
ISBN: 0521622336; Date of Publication: October 1998

This book examines the impact of Islam on early modern Britain. Christian-Muslim interaction at this time was not, as is often thought, primarily adversarial; rather, there was extensive cultural, intellectual and missionary engagement with Islam. The author documents conversion both to and from Islam, and surveys reactions to these conversions. He investigates the impact of the Qur'an and sufism, not to mention coffee, on British culture, and cites extensive interaction of Britons with Islam through travel, in London coffee houses, in church, among converts to and from Islam, in sermons and in plays.


Monitoring Minority Protection in the EU
The Situation of Muslims in the UK

Author: Tufyal Ahmed Choudhury
Publisher: Open Society Institute, Budapest
Date of Publication: September 2002

The EU Accession Monitoring Program (EUMAP) is a program of the Open Society Institute that is monitoring human rights and the rule of law in ten Central-Eastern European and the five largest EU countries. Its monitoring reports focus on minority protection, judicial capacity, and corruption and anti-corruption policy. This report focuses on the situation of Muslims in the UK.

Moral Spotlight on Bradford

Author: Mohammed Siddique
Publisher: M.S. Press
ISBN: 0952040409
Date of Publication: March 1993

Although this is a study of one city on the north of England, it has implications for most other cities in Britain, whether they have large Muslim communities or not. This thoughtful and considered study looks at Bradford from a moral and religious point of view and should be required reading for students studying modern British society. local authorities, religous leaders and community leaders up and down the country.


The New Scots
The Story of Asians in Scotland

Authors: Bashir Maan
Publisher: John Donald Publishers Ltd
ISBN: 0859763579
Date of Publication: 1992

This book explores the social history of Asians in Scotland during the past century, based on research and the author's own experience as an immigrant and his work in community and race relations in Glasgow. It includes a survey of the current constitition of Asian and other ethnic minorities in Scotland, including their religions, cultures and customs.

Religious discrimination in England and Wales

Authors: Paul Weller, Alice Feldman and Kingsley Purdam
Publisher: Home Office Research Studies
ISBN: 1840826126; Date of Publication: February 2001

This report aims to assess the evidence of religious discrimination within England and Wales, both actual and perceived, and to describe the resutling patterns, including: - its overall scale - the main victims - the main perpetrators - the main ways in which the discrimination manifests. It aims to indicate the extent to which religious discrimination overlaps with racial discrimination and to identify the broad range of policy options available for dealing with religious discrimination.

Tackling religious discrimination
pratical implications for policy-makers and legislators

Authors: Bob Hepple and Tufayl Choudhury
Publisher: Home Office Research Studies
ISBN: 1840826134
Date of Publication: February 2001

This paper aims to identify and examine the main options available to policy makers and legislators for tackling religious discrimination in Great Britain. The focus is on employment and the provision of goods, facilities and services, including education.



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