About this Blog

Mosque Directory supplement



The MuslimsInBritain.org website provides a directory of all UK and Eire masjids/mosques, in list, Google Maps, satnav and smart-phone formats, i.e. it is intended primarily for people looking for a masjid when in an unfamiliar area. So the blog will provide more explanation of the data we have published where this needs elaborating.

Guide to Islam and Muslims in Britain



The website contains a web version of my Guide, originally commissioned by City of London Police. Of necessity, issues were covered in the Guide very briefly and with few examples or discussions of the implications for community involvement and engagement. This blog will dig further, led by topical developments.

Violent Extremism



The website also contains some versions of reports I have written for UK government bodies. The common strand to all of them is how there are many strong reasons for individuals to be alienated from their local masjids, how masjids fail to or refuse to engage with dissenters, how they totally fail converts to Islam, and how therefore the most vehemently anti-extremist masjids and their imams and managements are often the biggest obstacles to tackling extremism. The blog will continue that theme with topical examples as they unfortunately keep coming up. At the time of writing, the murder of Lee Rigby is the most current example, and demonstrates this thesis, tragically, perfectly.

Sectarianism



Inextricably bound up with masjids' failures to engage, is their failure to tackle their own factionalism and sectarianism in an open, honest and respectful manner. "Officially" many masjids deny they are in any way sectarian, yet almost everyone who uses them knows perfectly well which sect, Deobandi, Bareilvi, Salafi etc., they promote; and their own imams and advocates are swift to deliver malignant hints or blunt polemics against the sects they disapprove of. Protagonists of alternative views are shunned or lobbied against. By highlighting which masjids propagate for which sects, MiB.org seeks to push this dishonourable charade into the daylight and tackle it with plain-speaking. The best tool we have is to introduce the concept of mutual respect and open tolerance of dissent among Muslims. This is such a novel concept that some masjid committees are deeply hostile to MiB.org!

Racism



When I converted to Islam, in southern central Africa in 1982, the one thing that struck me most prominently among the Muslims that I had met, was the sense of egality among Muslims of different races. Indeed the most basic lessons of the early history of Islam included the early Muslims' undermining of racial and tribal oppression. I had been deeply involved in the anti-racist anti-fascist, anti-NF movement of the late 1970s in Britain, and indeed my activism against apartheid had been an important element of what took me to Africa in 1980. Yet here in the UK, where we like to believe we have put the most raw elements of racism in our past, I witness the most blatantly outrageous examples, by Muslims against Muslims, against non-Muslims and against converts to Islam. When added to the exclusivity created by sectarianism, it creates a poisonous disaffection of those thus marginalised, tipping some into militancy in sheer frustration. The subject of racism will be a recurring feature of this blog.

Collaborations



I have been privileged to have been able to share the work that has gone into collating the MiB.org directory with a number of people over the years, and will continue to do so insha'Allah. Many of these collaborations have included discussions that have a much wider interest, so the blog will provide a medium through which the discussion can be aired publicly. In the past, I have worked on issues around masjids/mosques and the Muslim community with among others:
* The Charity Commission
* English Heritage
* British Religion in Numbers, University of Manchester
* UK Defence Academy
* Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe
* RUSI
* Chatham House
* SOAS, University of London
* ISCR at Kings College, University of London
* Institute of Community Cohesion
In addition, the work and the statistics it provides, have been cited in a number of books and academic papers. This blog provides a medium in which I can comment on those authors' interpretations.

FAQs


Many emails to MiB.org repeat the same or similar questions, e.g.
* 'Can I have a spreadsheet of all the UK mosques?' - answer: there's a downloadable list set up for satnavs just to the right of this text. If you want the whole database, first tell me how you will keep it up to date. (One strong incentive to starting the directory online, was to drive out all those half-baked and unreliable lists by finding and correcting every error I possibly could! I would be the last person to undermine this very work by littering the internet with wrong and out of date data, yet certain mosque directory websites are heedless of the problems caused by needless propagation of inaccurate data.
* 'Why have you categorised this masjid as xxxx when it is open to anyone?' - answer: of course it is open to anyone, but when anyone turns up there, they will find only xxxx practice is permitted.
* 'I am an imam born, qualified and living in country xxxx and speak fluent xxxxish only, I would like to come and be imam in your mosque in the UK, can you help?' - answer: well, no actually, you are doing fine right there in xxxx.

Exclusions



Much of this blog is personal anecdote, extrapolated to current circumstances. Big issues affecting Islam and the Muslim community, however overwhelming or urgent they may be, are unlikely to be the subject of my personal experience, and are probably thoroughly covered elsewhere. If I blog about the imam who expectorated on the pavement in front of my gaze and on his way to the masjid to lead Jumu'ah salaah, rather than acts of lethal bullying by IDF or MVD troops, it is not because my judgement is warped, but that the former is directly related to the status of Muslims in Britain and the latter is well covered by experts in those fields.

Likewise although I get a stream of emails with pleas for charitable help, or to propagate a very worthwhile campaign, there are other forums where such requests can be made, and this blog will remain focussed on its theme.

All comments will be moderated, always. Comments are welcome, but I will only publish those that add relevant points to the issue under discussion. The aim is to keep subject matter relevant and useful.

Why MiB.org?



The MiB.org website stands on its own merits. However something of its background will be found useful for callibration against other websites.

Its author, myself, am an English convert to Islam who was an activist in the libertarian left in the UK in the latter 1970s. That gives me a compass reference with which to balance the often primitive interpretations of Islamic morals against the expectations of Western society's often decadent norms.

As already noted, I was, and remain, a deeply committed anti-racist activist. While preaching tolerance, I remain unapologetically intolerant of racism, whosoever is its source, and racists, whatever the religion they claim to adhere to.

I travel within the UK extensively, and have accumulated the masjid and community information published here, mainly first hand, continuously over three decades. When the MiB.org masjid directory states "Reasonably recent first hand knowledge of the masjid.", the (first) hand is usually my own. When a certain other mosque directory states "A: Reasonably recent first hand knowledge of the masjid.", the (first) hand is in most cases also my own, but Allah knows best.

Much of what I write has an intended audience in the security, criminal justice and community cohesion segmnents of local and national government, and the fact that, by and large, the same segments engage with me for professional technological services, provides a level of assurance that would otherwise remain to be established.

Finally, as an articulate 'white' convert to Islam, from a relatively privileged background, I have expectations of how non-Muslims in Britain ought to be treating with Muslims, and equally importantly, how Muslims in Britain ought to set their expectations and attitudes towards the host society and their own neighbours in it.

MiB.org does not exist to pander to the whims and vanities of any special interest group. It does not carry advertising, does not promote its owner's professional services, and does not receive any payment. On the contrary it incurs costs for web hosting, time given up voluntarily, travel and photography expenses that are born entirely from its owner's pocket. Insha'Allah it will remain rigorously independent.