This article examines the emergence of new forms of Islam in Britain between the 1990s and the present, and in particular the role played by the New Labour government (1997–2010) in encouraging new expressions of Islam. It charts the development of the Islamic tradition in Britain between the migration of mainly South Asian Muslims in the 1950s and 1960s and the Rushdie affair in the late 1980s, before outlining some of the challenges Muslims in Britain have faced transmitting Islamic traditions in a stable state to younger generations. Against the backdrop of increasing public concern about an inter-generational divide among Muslims and its supposed role in allowing radicalism to flourish, the article explores recent attempts to develop and promote forms of Islam that are “authentically British” and that challenge radical perspectives. Using the case study of the Radical Middle Way initiative, it looks into the uneasy relationship between these newer forms of Islam and the supportive New Labour administration, highlighting weaknesses in literature that focuses on the ‘disciplining’ of Muslims. Finally, it explains how the concept of classical Islamic tradition is utilised in creative ways not anticipated or engaged with by advocates of the “clash of civilisations” thesis.
- SPAIS Centre for the Study of Ethnicity and Citizenship
- British Islam
- New Labour
- Radical Middle Way