A historical precedence for British Muslims?

The situation that Muslims in Britain find themselves in today shares many resemblances with their own experiences in Colonial India. Firstly, we find that Muslims continue to seek explanations for their problems and interpret them in religious terms. This is not surprising given that religion, for Muslims at least, takes all of life in its purview (Metcalf, 1982). Secondly, we are reminded from the pulpit (and more often, on various ‘YouTube’ channels) that the present problems are symptomatic of the failings from our own individual moral corruption. Thirdly, to various degrees and depending on ones religious affiliation we are observing an eschewal of customary practices in favour of a return to the Qur’an and tradition of the Prophet (Geertz, 1968). Finally, many of the various shades of Islamic movements are being led by religious leaders utilising an array of platforms to reach out to thirsty masses seeking leadership in times of confusion. All of this mirrors what occurred in Colonial India. Are the Muslims of Britain awaiting their own mujaddid, the renewer or the Mahdi, the rightly guided one to activate a much-anticipated religious revival in the 21st century? And will our institutions act as the incubator?


Geertz, C. (1968). Islam observed : religious development in Morocco and Indonesia: Chicago. London : University of Chicago Press.

Metcalf, B. D. (1982). Islamic revival in British India: Deoband 1860–1900 (Vol. 1).


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