Friday, March 28, 2008

History of Islam - Free Essay -

History of Islam in Britain

"History of Islam in Britain"

Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. It is also the second biggest religion. However, in the past four years there were numerous attacks in the major cities of the world including Madrid, London, Washington and New York. The 11th September 2001 attack on America; and the two terrorist attacks on 7th and 21st July 2005 on London have and continue to shape the image and perception of Islam and Muslims. These attacks have raised questions about Islam and more people particularly in western countries have become more curious about what and how Muslims practise Islam. Despite these attacks Islam is the fastest growing religion. It is growing by 2.9 percent per year.

As a Muslim woman from a Muslim country coming to Britain to study, I am fascinated by the experience Muslims have had in Britain, in the past; since 2001; and will have in the future. History after all, shapes our thinking and action now and into the future.

It is important to understand what Islam is, before understanding the history of Islam and the experience of Muslims in Britain.

According to Martin Palmer “The core of Islamic belief is the “Oneness” of divine perfection of existence” . Islam means submission to the will of God (Allah) . It is the only religion has the “God” as the main principle. Islam has roots in the world since Hazrat Mohammed (PBUH) introduced Islam in the world of Arabia. The believers of the Islam are called Muslims, who believe there is not god “but Allah” and He is the creator of the whole universe including living BEINGS and non-living things. An Arabic book for the guidance of Muslims was revealed called Holy Koran or Quran.

Islam appeared as symbol of unity and brother in Arab world. It then spread worldwide from east to west. It has the message of being one for the whole mankind. The first sentence of the Holy Koran – the Islamic Book – revealed to Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) has invited humans to read . Learn reading and writing was the message affected hearts of people convert to Islam. Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) renamed the area Yasreb as Medina – city of civilization. Islamic civilization is the heritage mankind on the earth. Islam has developed science and arts in the world. Avicenna (Ibn Sena) is the father of medicine and Mawlawi Jalaloddin, Mohammed Balkhi Rumi is the father of Hegelian philosophy and eastern literature.

Muslims are living in Britain since four hundred. According to Trevor Phillips Muslims scholars were well known in Britain since 1386. It is clear that the existence of Islam and Muslims in Britain and other European countries are not a new issue.


During the 17th century there were a number of conversion to Islam in particular a great number of Christians converted to Islam who came in contact with each other through East India Company .The first recorded English man who converted to Islam in 17th century was John Nelson. According to the evidence, there was a sect of Mohammedans living in London in 1641and some conversions took place at the same time. During the 18th and 19th century some other conversions to Islam was among the English upper class in particular Edward Montagu.

Few years later in 1649 Alexander Ross wrote the English version of Holy Koran, as it was the essential need of English people converted to Islam.


According to BBC Religion and Ethics, there were Muslims in Britain three hundred years ago. The second way of Muslims’ arrival in Britain was immigration. The main reason for immigration was trade, which was highly demanded between the Muslim countries and Britain. Muslim sailors who persuaded to work for East India Company visited Britain frequently. They were from Indian subcontinent, Bangladesh and Yemen. Mainly, Yemenis came to Britain after the opening of Suez Canal in 1869. At the moment, more than eighty thousand Yemenis live in Britain. A very big community of Bangladeshis used to work in restaurants in 1873 in Britain.

According to the finding in 1842, Muslims in the form of “Lascar” (referred to the Indian servants or the sailors from east India) used to visit Britain every year, some of which married in Britain and settled. They were mainly found in port town. Most of the Muslims came in Britain from Indian subcontinent because in the middle of 19th British Empire controlled Indian subcontinent. People emigrate from there due to different reasons. With the passage of time after people were aware of living a safe and comfortable life, the immigration of Muslims started in 19th century.

According to records, in 1950s another huge number of Muslims from South Asia, Indian Subcontinent came to Britain. Mostly, the Muslims were found in port towns, because most of them were the works for trade between Britain and the other countries. Consequently, 1960s was the period when university education in Britain was very popular among Asian and Middle East Muslims (Pakistan, Iran, India, Iraq, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia). So many people used to come in Britain for the sake of education. However, some of these people married and settled.


The number of Muslims was increasing day by day, however, believes and the way of living are different in Britain, than that of Islamic countries. That was the time when Muslims decided to have a specific place where they could perform there religious believes.

They started efforts to build a place where they offer their prayers and celebrate the Islamic events. It was then in 1860 the first mosque built in Cardiff which was named “Working Mosque”. It is the oldest mosque built in Britain. There was another mosque built in Liverpool in 1887, and then gradually the number of mosques increased.

The Islamic Cultural Centre and London Central Mosque:

In 1930, the Muslims in London wanted to have a main Islamic cultural centre and a mosque in Central London because London was the only principal city among the European countries that contained a greater number of Muslims. Every one, not only the Muslims but also the non Muslims, were trying to participate in establishment of Islam in Britain.

An English man converted to Islam named Lord Headley (Mohammed Mobarek) and other Muslims made so many efforts to do so.

Eventually, the Muslims persuaded the Government to provide them with a site for mosque and on 24th October 1940, the Government gifted 2.3 acres (in size) at Hanover Gate in Regent’s Park to the Muslim community to built the Islamic Cultural Centre and London Central Mosque.

Now, there is mosque in each and every town where Muslims live. CONTRIBUTIONS OF MUSLIMS IN BRITAIN:

Muslims have a very important role in Britain as a part of the British nation. They have always participated in different fields of life; they are active and sincere to their work through out the whole United Kingdom and Europe. Muslims are appreciated for their works. The Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown said that he appreciated the enormous contribution of Muslims in the Britain’s economy. Many Muslims are active participant in British politics. One can find Muslims not only in the corner shops of an area but also in the House of Lords as an elected member and in the courts. They are doing their best for development and progress of the country.

Contribution of Muslims in Britain is not from the present time. Avicenna (Ibn Sina) is one the well-known Muslims in the history of Britain whose Canon of Medicine was a standard textbook for medical students during the 17th century. Muslims helped the British troops in the First and the Second World War shoulder by shoulder. Today, Britain is one of the progressed and civilized nations of the world and Muslims have a great part in it. Increasingly, Britain is making more and more relations with the Muslims worlds.

Briefly, Muslims are involved in every walk alongside British. They are participating as lecturers, doctors, barristers, broadcaster, factory workers, engineers, businessmen and scientists.


Islam is the fastest growing religion and that is why Muslims are increasing unexpectedly. According to the British Embassy News the percentage of Muslims are 1.6 million, in contrast, some other findings say it is estimated to 1.8 million.


After the 11th September 2001 the image of Muslims is lightly damaged. Usama Bin Landen, the leader of Al-Qaidah terrorist faction, claimed the responsibility for the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The event of 7th July 2005 in Central London was the one of worst attack in which some Islamic factions are accused of doing it.

On the other hand, analysts say that Islam is a religion and should be away from political games.

Those involved in terrorist actions in the world are not Muslims according to the Holy Koran: “To kill a human being is alike killing the whole humanity”.

Zahra Syed

by Anonymous Student



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