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Writing British MuslimsReligion, class and multiculturalism$
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Ahmed Rehana

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780719087400

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719087400.001.0001

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Muslim culture, class and controversy in twentieth-century Britain

Muslim culture, class and controversy in twentieth-century Britain

(p.30) 1 Muslim culture, class and controversy in twentieth-century Britain
Writing British Muslims

Ahmed Rehana

Manchester University Press

This chapter explores the presence and practices of South Asian Muslims in Britain from the early twentieth century to the 1980s, historicising the ideological narratives and counter-narratives that surround British Muslims today. Focusing on the activities of the working-class South Asian Muslims who worshipped in east London in the 1930s and 1940s, as well as their more elite counterparts at the Shah Jahan Mosque, Woking, it shows how South Asian Muslims in Britain have been forming collectivities and communities, and mobilising for the right to practise their faith in the public sphere, for at least a century. As well as investigating two controversies involving the Jamiat-ul-Muslimin (a group affiliated to the East London Mosque), it considers the secular literary and political culture enacted by elite South Asian Muslims in Britain towards the end of empire to demonstrate the different ways in which religion, class, gender, race and place can interact to form a narrative of resistance. Finally, a brief exploration of the secular forms of anti-racist activism that dominated after the Second World War seeks to challenge the thesis that the rise of public religious identities from the 1980s was the unfortunate offspring of multicultural policies imposed from above.

Keywords:   historicisation, East London Mosque, Jamiat-ul-Muslimin, Shah Jahan Mosque, public sphere, resistance, controversy, activism, H. G. Wells, Sajaad Zaheer

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