Most helpful positive review
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
an excellent, important book
on 16 June 2014
This is a very important book. Islam in Britain is varied in terms of the schools and traditions followed. It cannot be reduced to a monolithic entity. And yet there is remarkably little understanding in the wider British public about how varied the traditions and schools of Islam in Britain are. This means that there is not a realistic appreciation of the beliefs and ideas of many Muslim organisations and institutions, and how they relate to modern secular liberal British values.
The strength of this book is that it both highlights how many Muslims reconcile their faith with modernity, and how they do so as individuals. But it also does not pretend that the ideas and beliefs of all forms of Islam as practiced in Britain are aligned with secular notions of equality, tolerance and pluralism. As Britain becomes more liberal and secular, there is no real sign that specifically illiberal traditions and institutions of Islam are responding by reconciling themselves with prevailing British values of individual rights, secularism, female equality and tolerance. And this may have consequences for issues of cohesion, trust, and security for society as a whole.
Moving beyond inter-faith platitudes is important to achieve an understanding of Islam in Britain today, beyond defensiveness and white washing. It is only by acknowledging these issues that a real dialogue and discussion can take place. Innes Bowen's book is important for this reason. It should not only be read by the public at large, it should be read by journalists, editors, politicians and people in the public sector who would benefit from appreciating the ideas and beliefs of the varied schools of Islam in modern British society.
The style of the book is engaging, mixing research and personal stories to give the book real insight, bringing the issues it raises to life excellently.