Strength in Cultural Diversity – 300 Years of Anglo-Muslim Relations

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The UK has a strong history of immigration, with our society being a rich and successful melting pot of cultures.

Who can forget Amir Khan draping himself in the Union Jack at the Olympics? Or white families sitting down to watch Goodness Gracious Me on the BBC? Even British cuisine has also been influenced by multi-cultural diversity and curry has become an integral part of British cuisine, so much so that, since the late 1990s, Chicken Tikka Masala has been commonly referred to as the “British national dish”.

The first large group of Muslims in Britain surprisingly arrived about 300 years ago when Indian sailors helped Britain and eventually happily settled in various port towns. From the works of Shakespeare and references to Islamic scholars in the prologue to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, the influences of Islamic civilisation on the classic literary and philosophical traditions of the UK are forever cemented into our culture.

Nowadays, according to a 2001 census, there a recorded 1,591,000 Muslims living in the UK, which is only around 2.7{68d322ae31f1e6e0c1fb01577a31b4c5acc2b218b32cc133daf91ba1cb302777} of the population. The modern British Muslim shows the successful merging of two cultures with traditional religious Islamic clothing being combined with fashionable British styles – which has led to the emergence of a fresh and modern British variety of Islamic culture.

The British fashion industry is also beginning to take notice as bold new fashions: mixing the Islamic dress code with smart, urban streetwear began becoming popular in 2009 which was showcased by the British Fashion Council. Muslims can spot the cultural references, while non-Muslims will see fashions they want to wear.

For example, while the modern British Muslim is now able to buy fashionable traditional Islamic clothing, “Westernised” clothing such as Manchester United and Back to the Future t-shirts featuring simple Islamic messages are also readily available.

The future looks very bright indeed for Anglo-Muslim creations. Despite the efforts of the BNP during the forthcoming general election, the special bond between the UK and Islam shall continue to remain strong – just like the previous 300 years.

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