Islam in Britain

Key information

Start date
End date
Year of study
Year 2 or Year 3
Term 1
Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of Religions and Philosophies

Module overview

The course examines the historical context of Islam in Britain, beginning with early Muslim migrations and settlement in the 19th century, through to the institutionalisation of Islam in Britain in the early twentieth century and the emergence of community leaders. Within this framework it will cover the different ethnic, sectarian and doctrinal approaches to Islam belonging to and/or adopted by migrants and second generation Muslims. The course proceeds to look at the various issues that have arisen, uniquely, out of this context and in response to world events.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

By the end of the course students should:

  • Understand the historical context of Islam in Britain.

  • Differentiate between ethnic, sectarian and doctrinal approaches to Islam in Britain.

  • Contribute to the debate about what it means to be British Muslim at the beginning of the 21st century.

  • Understand the different theoretical and disciplinary approaches to the subject: religious, historical, political, sociological.

  • Draw upon and evaluate different types of source material: texts, newspapers and journals and television.

  • Understand the use of oral testimony as a research tool.

  • Use online research skills and able critically to evaluate material obtained online.

Scope and syllabus

  • Early history of Muslims in Britain from Elizabethan period to post WW2
  • Institutionalising Islam in Britain
  • Islamic law in Britain
  • Media coverage of Muslim Britain
  • Conversion to Islam in Britain
  • British Muslim gender issues

Method of assessment

  • Essay, 500 words (25%)
  • Essay, 2,000 words (65%)
  • Seminar attendance and contribution (10%)

Suggested reading

  • Ansari, Humayun (2000) The ‘infidel’ within: Muslims in Britain since 1800, London: Hurst, (chapter 1) pp. 1-23

  • Gilliat-Ray, Sophie (2010) Muslims in Britain: an introduction, Cambridge: CUP

  • Matar, Nabil (1997), ‘Muslims in Seventeenth-Century England’, Journal of Islamic Studies, Vol. 8, No. 1, pp. 63-82

  • Bennett, Clinton (1992) Victorian Images of Islam, London: Grey Seal

  • Lawless, Richard (1995), From Ta’izz to Tyneside: an Arab community in the North-East of England during the early twentieth century, University of Exeter Press, pp. 218-244

  • Werbner, Pnina (1996) ‘The Making of Muslim Dissent: Hybridized Discourses, Lay Preachers, and Radical Rhetoric among British Muslims’, American Ethnologist, 23:1, pp. 102-122

  • Spellman, Kathryn (2005) Religion and Nation: Iranian Local and Transnational Networks in Britain, Oxford; New York: Berghahn Books

  • Menski, W. (2011) ‘Islamic law in British courts: do we not know or do we not want to know?’ in The Place of Religion in Family Law: A Comparative Search, Mair, J. and Örücü, E. (ed.s), Cambridge: Intersentia, pp. 15-36

  • Akbar Warraich, S. and Balchin, C. (2006) Recognizing the Un-

  • Recognized: Inter-Country Cases and Muslim Marriages & Divorces in Britain, London: Women Living Under Muslim Laws

  • Ahmed, Tahira Sameera (2005) 'Reading between the Lines – Muslims and the Media' in Abbas, Tahir (ed.) Muslim Britain: Communities under Pressure, London: Zed Books, pp. 109-126


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules