According to a database of British Islam, however, only two out of 1,700 mosques in Britain follow modernist interpretations of the Koran
. It’s not the same elsewhere in the West. In a 2011 survey
of Islam in the United States, 56 per cent of mosques described themselves as following an interpretation of Islam adapted to modern circumstances
. This has not happened in Britain.
So which Islamic schools of thought run Britain’s mosques today? The influence of Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi movement is often cited. But the Wahhabis — or Salafis as they prefer to be called — control just 6 per cent of mosques
. The largest single group
— the one which arguably gives Islam in Britain much of its character — is the Deobandi
. It controls around 45 per cent of Britain’s mosques and nearly all the UK-based training of Islamic scholars
. What most Deobandi scholars have in common is a conservative interpretation of Islamic law:
television and music for the purposes of entertainment, for example, are frowned upon if not banned. Women are advised not to emerge from their homes any more than is necessary.
For all its ferocity, the debate about British Islam does not seem to have developed much over the years. Successive governments have sought to boot out foreign imams and deny visas to radical clerics as if they were dealing with a contagion. It is, perhaps, time to stop blaming foreigners.
Illiberal Islam is thoroughly British these days.