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09 June 2010
British Muslims in today’s media are often discussed through the lens of extremism or terrorism, but a new book by a University academic explores British Muslim life from a fresh perspective.
Muslims in Britain, by Dr Sophie Gilliat-Ray of the University’s Centre for the Study of Islam examines the representation and construction of British Muslims though the preventing violent extremism agenda.
The media’s current focus, says Dr Gilliat Ray "is not very helpful because it’s distorting and arguably fuelling prejudice."
Drawing upon sociology, anthropology, politics and geography, Muslims in Britain addresses British Muslim life in a fresh light and gives readers, who have perhaps had little first-hand contact with Muslims, a sense and understanding of the daily lives of British Muslims.
Tracing the major points of encounter between Muslims and the British from the 8th century onwards, the book explores Muslim migration to Britain in recent times. Muslims in Britain shows the dynamic of institutions such as families, mosques and religious leadership, and analyses their social and political significance in today's Britain.
Through the study of the historical origins of major Islamic reform movements, it draws attention to the religious diversity within different Muslim communities, and crystallises contemporary issues such as the nature of religious authority and representation. It also considers British Muslim civic engagement and cultural life, particularly the work of journalists, artists, sports personalities, and business entrepreneurs.
Dr Gilliat-Ray said: "Few people know very much about these everyday issues, and I hope this book will help to ‘normalise’ British Muslim communities."
This is the first textbook on the subject, and draws from academic articles and books as well as British Muslim community publications and sources giving it a sense of being informed by both insider and outsider perspectives.
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