Continuing our journey around the world, we now explore the UK, known for its red phone booths, giant Ferris wheel, and Greenwich Prime Meridian. As one of the world’s major financial centers, the UK is still a constitutional monarchy. With renowned schools like Cambridge and Oxford, it stands out in education. Let’s discover when the light of Islam first shone in England and learn more about Islam.
How large is the Muslim population in the UK?
With a population of 67 million, the UK had 1.5 million Muslims in 2001, which almost doubled to 2.7 million by 2011. Currently, the Muslim community is around 3 million, making it the second-largest religious minority group in the country.
When and how did Islam reach the UK?
Muslim presence in the UK was first heard in 732 when a group of Muslim merchants came as far as France. Despite significant contributions to the Crusades after their Christianization, the British heard about Islam mainly from its adversaries. By the late 16th century, England, excluded by Catholics, developed relations with the Islamic world. However, the terms “Islam” and “Muslim” were not well-known until the 17th century. After the British occupation of India, the first significant Muslim groups were brought to the region, leading to the formation of the first Muslim communities in the UK. Additionally, migrations for education and work from Islamic countries in the 19th century further increased the Muslim population and made Islam more familiar.
What are the famous mosques in the UK?
The list of renowned mosques includes Cambridge Mosque, Europe’s first eco-friendly mosque, where prominent figures like Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Yusuf Islam attended its opening, gaining wide recognition. The oldest mosque in the UK is Shah Jahan Mosque, an iconic symbol of Islam for 124 years. It offers various sports activities for children in its green garden. Next on the list is Birmingham Mosque, built through the collective efforts of local Muslims, not by an individual benefactor or community. As the second mosque established in the UK, it has three floors: meeting rooms and offices on the first floor, prayer area on the second, and a dedicated area for non-Muslim visitors on the third, offering a chance to learn about Islamic culture and practices. Other famous mosques in the UK include Fazl Mosque (opened in 1926), Al-Rahma Mosque (established in 1974), also known as Jamia Mosque, Manchester Mosque (commonly referred to as Jamia Mosque as well), and Baitul Futuh Mosque (built as a complex and opened in 2003).
Who are the influential figures working for Islam in the UK?
Among the mentioned figures, Abdullah Quilliam is noteworthy, appointed by Sultan Abdulhamid II as the Sheikhul Islam of Britain. He converted to Islam from Christianity and dedicated his life to Islam, establishing the first Islamic center and mosque in Liverpool. He also opened an orphanage for destitute children and facilitated around 600 British people in embracing Islam. Another notable figure is Robert Rashid Stanley, who embraced Islam through Abdullah Quilliam and became the first Muslim mayor in the UK, belonging to a family of tea merchants.
Hamza Tzortzis is another significant name, known for delivering lectures and speeches in many countries, including Turkey. His main objective after becoming Muslim is to convey that “Islam is a universal truth through our vast intellectual and spiritual heritage.” Other active figures striving for the spread and recognition of Islam in the UK and worldwide include Abdurraheem Green, Yvonne Ridley, Yusuf Chambers, Ali Dawah, and Shaykh Abdul Hakeem Murad (Timothy Winter).
What are the challenges faced by Muslims in the UK?
Muslims in the UK encounter the challenge of prejudice against Islam. Although this bias exists globally, it is partly present in the UK as well. Various reasons, including media censorship, contribute to incorrect perceptions about Muslims, leading to occasional isolation from society. Another problem is racism, with black Muslims facing numerous difficulties in work and education. Despite these challenges, the UK remains one of the most comfortable countries for Muslims to live in Europe. Compared to other countries, such situations are relatively rare in the UK.