In 2007, the Indian-born, Booker Prize-winning author Salman Rushdie established a new high for Asian Muslims living in the UK when he was honored with a knighthood. More recently, Abdul Arain, a nonresident Indian and Cambridge-based grocery-store owner, shot to fame when he was nominated in the Cambridge University chancellor elections. Though he lost, there continues to a lot of hype about the commoner with an MBA from Cambridge.
As a result of British colonial rule over South Asia, millions of Muslims left their homelands and migrated to the UK. But being so far from their own countries has not diminshed the determination of the Asian Muslim community to make their dreams come true.
According to "Mapping the Global Muslim Population", a report by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion and Public Life, the UK has the third-largest Muslim community in Europe, after Germany (4,119,000) and France (3,574,000). The UK Muslims account for 16.8 per cent of all Muslims in Western Europe. In terms of percentage, the UK is ninth, after Belgium (6 per cent), France, Austria and Switzerland (5.7 per cent), The Netherlands (5.5 per cent), Germany (5 per cent), Sweden (4.9 per cent) and Greece (4.7 per cent).
The Kenyan-born Arain, whose family belongs to Jalandhar, has been a resident of Cambridgeshire, where he runs his Al-Amin grocery store on Mill Road, for the last 15 years. Being at the grassoots level, Arain attempted to give Cambridge a chance with help from people belonging to different walks of life.
Naveeda Ikram made headlines when she was appointed Lord Mayor of Bradford by the District Council earlier this year. She is the first Pakistani-origin woman to join the council and the country's first Muslim woman to become Lord Mayor. Lord Mayor Naveeda, who spent her teenage years in Punjab, represents the growing face of Asian Muslims in Britain.
According to a BBC report, Islam is Europe's fastest growing religion, thanks to immigration and above-average birth rates. The world's Muslim population is expected to increase by about 35 per cent in the next 20 years, from 1.6 billion in 2010 to 2.2 billion by 2030, according to a Pew study.
Though personalities like Sir Salman Rushdie still rule the roost, it is the current generation of Asian Muslims who are making Islam more diversified than before. According to a report on population trends, published by ONS in 2001, the majority of British Muslims come from Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.
The diplomatic circle is added to, by the Rt. Hon Sadiq Khan, who was born in London and belongs to a family of Pakistani immigrants. He was first elected as a Member of Parliament from Tooting and is now the Shadow Lord Chancellor. He was also both the first Asian and the first Muslim Cabinet member.
The discussion must also include the likes of Shabana Mahmood, Sayeeda Warsi and Yasmin Qureshi, women who have family roots in Pakistan and have asserted their presence in the field of politics. Warsi and Qureshi, of the Labour Party, are MPs for Birmingham and Bolton South East respectively.
Sayeeda Hussain Warsi, Baroness Warsi, is a British lawyer and politician. An unelected Life Peeress and a member of the Conservative Party, she is the current Chairman of the Conservative Party and a Minister without Portfolio in David Cameron's Cabinet. Her appointment makes the Baroness the first Muslim woman to serve in the Cabinet. Journalist Irene Zubaida Khan, a native of Bangladesh, has also made her presence felt in the UK and around the world with her human rights and social work.
With significant success rates in different fields, Asian Muslims are bringing mainstream people together to achieve a prosperous future for the UK.