Socialist Worker

1,000 years of Islam in Britain

Ijaz Ibrahim and Arif Sayeed are enthusiastic for this fresh presentation of Islam

Issue No. 1980

Muslims and non-Muslims have often lived together harmoniously  (Pic: Shakir Cadir)

Muslims and non-Muslims have often lived together harmoniously (Pic: Shakir Cadir)


Past and Present: 1,000 years of Islam in Britain,
New Walk Museum, Leicester,
until 23 December

An exhibition in Leicester, launched during the recent Islamic Awareness Week, makes a strong attempt to reveal the truth about Islam.

The Western media has utilised every opportunity to scrutinise Islam and Muslims, often depicting them in a derogatory light, which has inevitably led to mass ignorance about the true meaning of the religion.

Far from being the preserve of “fanatics and terrorists”, Islam is an integral part of many communities in Britain, often resulting in harmonious relations between Muslims and non-Muslims.

The exhibition at the New Walk museum in Leicester brings to light the long history of Islam in the city. Organisers of this exhibition include national Islamic bodies, such as the Islamic Society of Britain, the Muslim Youth Group and the Islamic Foundation.

These organisations have been established to combat Islamophobia, build understanding with various secular groups, and challenge the myths which have in the past resulted in conflict between groups in the community.

These organisations provide invaluable insights into Islam, battling mass ignorance — which is more than necessary in today’s turbulent political and social climates.

The exhibition is split into two rooms. The first incorporates a timeline, which catalogues 55 years of Muslim settlement into Leicester.

It brings to light the true ethnic diversity of the city, with contributions from members of the Leicester community from countries including Turkey, Bosnia, Denmark, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

It also charts the development of various Islamic institutions.

In Leicester these include the Al-Aqsa primary school, an Islamic community school, various mosques in the city and the Islamic Foundation building in Markfield.

The second part of the exhibition includes poignant images, taken by photographer Shakir Cadir, that show mass unity and harmony within all sectors of the Leicester community. It works symbiotically with the dynamic Arabic calligraphy art of Nargis Imran.

A television displaying images of the true cosmopolitan nature of Leicester partners passages read from the Quran. The aesthetic nature of the exhibition is of pure simplicity yet stark effectiveness.

This exhibition provides a vital conduit between Muslims and non-Muslims in Leicester. Anyone who is Muslim or wants to find out about the influence of Islam in Britain, should really make the effort to visit.

The New Walk museum is open from 10am to 5pm Monday to Saturday, and 11am to 5pm on Sunday. Admission is free.


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Sat 10 Dec 2005, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1980
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