The last UK census undertaken in 2011 showed that Black Muslims made up 10.1% of the British Muslim population, not counting Muslims of mixed Black heritage. The British Black Muslim reality is whispered in hushed tones: it is the Jamaican converts frequenting inner-city mosques, the Nigerian doctors administering your prescriptions, Somali working mothers who nurse the aged in recession-hit care homes. We navigate a precipice few would want to tiptoe in 21st century Britain: the two-pronged realities of unbridled Islamophobia and established racism.
Black British Muslims possess our own distinctive heritage spanning centuries of blood, nobility and disenfranchisement. When Elizabeth I wrote of the need to control the number of ‘blackmoores’ brought into her realm, she was speaking of the many Black interpreters, musicians, servants and sailors who inhabited major English cities in the 1600s. This was a multi-ethnic and certainly multi-faith populace, hailing from what we now know as Ghana, Guinea and North Africa’s much-debated Moors who entertained King James IV’s Scottish court. Somali seamen could even be found serving in the Royal Navy or clustered in 19th century Cardiff and Liverpool. I was born in London to parents who had previously sought education and employment in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Egypt and India.Full article