Scotland’s Muslim Communities
13.45 – 15.45
Chair: Hugh Goddard, The Alwaleed Centre, The University of Edinburgh
Sponsored by the British Association for Islamic Studies
Scottish Muslims and the 2011 Census: An Integration Success Story?
Khadijah Elshayyal, The Alwaleed Centre, University of Edinburgh
It has often been suggested that the experiences of Muslims in Scotland are, on the whole, better than their counterparts in England. Using data from the 2001 and 2011 Censuses to present the first comprehensive, statistically grounded picture of the Scottish Muslim population, this paper argues that the evidence goes some way to supporting the notion that Scottish Muslims are ‘doing well’, according to a number of measures – including high levels of education, and a more independent employment profile. But it also suggests that some degree of caution should be exercised in making this assertion – inequalities persist in some areas such as high rates of self-reported bad health among the elderly and certain ethnicities are more likely to reside in areas with high levels of deprivation. Future projections of the demographic profile of Scotland’s Muslims indicate that while Muslims will continue to represent significant proportions of young people in certain parts of Glasgow and Dundee, the number of Muslims aged 65 and above is likely to double by 2021. Both of these features present specific challenges to policy makers and the third sector, demonstrating that integration of Muslims in Scotland is very much a work in progress rather than a mission accomplished.
Muslims in Scotland: The Making of Community in a Post-9/11 World
Stefano Bonino, University of Birmingham
This paper discusses the key findings of my recently published scholarly monograph Muslims in Scotland: The Making of Community in a Post-9/11 World. It argues that the experience of being a Muslim in n Scotland today is shaped by the global and national post-9/11 shift in public attitudes towards Muslims, and is infused by the particular social, cultural and political Scottish ways of dealing with minorities, diversity and integration. In this respect, the paper explores the settlement and development of Muslim communities in Scotland, highlighting the ongoing changes in their structure and the move towards a Scottish experience of being Muslim. This experience combines a sense of civic and social belonging to Scotland with a religious commitment to Islam and has ramifications on a series of aspects of everyday Muslim life (identity, community, integration, and discrimination) that are explored in the paper.
Negotiating Faith and Space in Contexts of Death and Diaspora: Muslim Funerary Practices in Scotland
Alistair Hunter, The Alwaleed Centre, University of Edinburgh
Despite a hitherto youthful demographic profile, a growing number of Scotland’s Muslims have reached retirement age and this ageing trend is set to accelerate in the next decades. As a consequence, mortality rates are also rising. These new trends provoke some rather unprecedented questions in the domain of funerary practice. One question concerns the locus of burial and memorialisation. Previously the norm was to repatriate the dead, but in recent years there has been a trend towards burial in Scotland. This has necessitated the allocation of additional cemetery space for Muslims, and this spatial claims-making has occasionally provoked planning disputes and opposition from local communities. For those making Scotland their final resting place, a second issue concerns the geography of the grave/body itself and its regulation under a non-Islamic jurisdiction. Particular considerations here include orientation towards Mecca, shroud or coffin burial, and the inviolability of the grave space. A third concern is sociological, focusing on the changing role of women in funerary practices. Drawing on interviews with imams, Muslim undertakers, mosque groups, officials of national Islam councils, municipal officials and cemetery managers, this paper will explore the varied and sometimes conflicting responses which Scotland’s Muslim communities give to these questions.