The word “Islam” literally stems from the Arabic word for peace, indicating making peace with God, with oneself and with His creations through submission to God and commitment to His guidance.
Islam is not a new religion but the final culmination and fulfilment of the same basic truth that God revealed through all His prophets to every nation.
Islam is no longer a foreign and strange religion practised by people living in other countries. It is very much a part of every day life for many Britons. In fact, the majority of Muslims in Britain were born here. Islam commands its followers to respect, preserve and strengthen all that is good in British society. Furthermore, it gives them the sense and inner strength to resist and change those aspects of the society which weaken its human character.
For further information about Islam and its beliefs, see:
Islam is Peace
and Islam Awareness Week www.iaw.org.uk
Muslims in Britain today
The UK’s 1.6 million Muslims consist of a diverse community, representing many backgrounds, colours and languages. Outside of the Hajj, the pilgrimage in which Muslims congregate, Britain's Muslim community is perhaps the most diverse faith community on earth. They can be found in every field and walk of life, and play their part in contributing to Britain 's wealth and culture at all levels.
A long history...
Of all the countries of Western Europe Britain has always had a “special relationship” with the Muslim world. Initially, Muslims landed on these Isles as explorers and traders. Trade was so important to King Offa of Mercia, a powerful Anglo-Saxon king of the 8th century famous for building Offa’s dyke, that his coins have the inscription of the declaration of faith of Islam (There is no god but Allah) in Arabic.
Later the relationship was dominated by the Crusades and the Brits played their part. For instance, the sacking of the Muslim city of Lisbon in 1147 during which perhaps 150,000 Muslims were massacred, was largely the work of soldiers from Norfolk and Suffolk. But England was the first country in Europe where medieval images of Islam were later to be challenged.
By the 14th century following the crusades and the introduction of several Muslim cultural traditions into British life, from the paisley to the arch to spices and the very concept of chivalry, the Muslim world was admired and respected for its scholarship and advances in all fields of knowledge. Muslim scholarship such as that of Razi, Avicenna (Ibn Sina) and Averroes (Ibn Rushd) formed the backbone of intellectual and scholarly life in Britain.