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Film - Brit Muslim

Film - Brit Muslim

Issue 77 February 2011

Review by Nadiya Takolia

“To be a British Muslim- A Muslim who lives in Britain” - simply and beautifully put. Except that for many Brits, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, it is not so simple. Questions about British Muslims- their identity, meaning and purpose are something we encounter on a daily basis; 9/11, 7/7, hijab, niqab, faith school, Islamist, moderate, radical. This is the overwhelmingly stereotypical dialogue that we confront in the media and our conversations with our colleagues and friends.

 Brit Muslim goes beyond this rhetoric and explores the many dimensions of what is a very diverse and dynamic British Muslim community; who they are, how they got here and their role in society. I myself was surprised to learn that British encounters with Islam go as far back as the eighth Century, a mere 150 or so years after the death of the Prophet. With this historical perspective, Brit Muslims goes on to tackle topics such as settlement, multiculturalism, economics and the arts. In doing so, it provides an informative socio-historical analysis of Muslims in Britain.

 Although factually fascinating and incredibly informative- for example, you learn that British Muslims collectively have £20bn in consumer power (how many pairs of shoes is that…) - the documentary lacks on the side of creativity; this is not made for easy Sunday afternoon viewing. The documentary does however, work as an educational tool for anyone interested in the sociological dimensions of Britain’s minority Muslim community, the history, key political issues and its many contributions to British society.

 On another note, the British Muslim population is overwhelmingly young- half are under the age of 25. I was therefore surprised to find that throughout the documentary, young Muslim’s voices were under-represented- something that as an under-25 Muslim, I personally found unappealing. Instead, speaking on our behalf, we find a predominantly male, middle-aged, bearded demography (clones of my father, if I may say), particularly in the first half, and I was relieved when I got to hear the opinion of women and young people on what it means to them to be British and Muslim. The future of Britain’s Muslim community is to be found at the heart of engaging in dialogue with the youth, which is something I feel would have enriched the documentary and offered valuable insight; a missed opportunity.

 Despite these shortcomings, Brit Muslim does do a good job in shedding light on what is the second largest minority and religious community in the UK beyond what is commonly portrayed and encountered, and exemplifies the very positive and somewhat normal contributions Muslims can and have made to British society. In doing so, it informs a much needed broadening of the term‘British Muslims’, something that many could potentially learn from.

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1 Comment



11 Feb 11, 17:44

True..Being a Muslim in Britain puts you always on the recieving end. I can only pray for all of British Muslims..I hope they will keep on showing patience and ask help and patience from Allah :)

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