Muslim Women in the UK: Between Integration and Segregation

In the name of Allaah, the Most Merciful, the Bestower of Mercy.

The BBC recently published a news item entitled: Muslim women’s segregation in UK communities must end [1]. This was of course depicted by a symbol of the oppressed, segregated woman – a Muslim woman wearing a face veil!

The BBC article outlined governmental plans to set up a £20m fund to teach English to Muslim women in the UK, arguing that this will reduce segregation and therefore ‘help them resist the lure of extremism.’ [2]

Whilst the push to teach English in the UK to all members of the community – Muslim and non-Muslim – is welcomed, the link between this and susceptibility to extremism is exaggerated, if not distorted to say the least. More than often, radicalised members of the community are young, English-speaking people, born in the UK or Europe who see injustices worldwide as a justification to attack the UK. One of the worst cases of terrorism – the bombings in London on 7th July 2005 – by extremist Muslims in the UK gives prominence to this very fact. The profiles of the bombers were:

  1. Mohammad Sidique Khan – a 30 year old Asian man born and bred in Leeds. He worked as a learning mentor in a local school with English being his first language.
  2. Shehzad Tanweer – a 22 year old man born and bred in Yorkshire. English was his first language.
  3. Germaine Lindsey – a 19 year old revert to Islaam of Jamaican ethnicity. English was his first language.
  4. Hasib Hussain – an 18 year old teenager of Asian ethnicity, born and bred in Leeds, who was studying at Thomas Danby College. Again his first language was English.

The common denominator in all four profiles is clear. They were British born nationals with English being their first language. Further profiles of many radicalised young people will most likely show the same pattern. The point behind this article is not to belittle the importance of the English language for every member of British society, but it certainly highlights the imaginative link between a lack of English and susceptibility to extremism.

Time and time again, we have seen how the Muslim woman, Hijab or Niqab wearing, has been made a symbolic pawn on the political chess board, exploited to further certain political agendas. We have seen the results of this political game in countries such as France, Belgium and other localised bans in parts of Europe. It has resulted in hundreds of Muslim women who choose to cover their modesty due to religious obligation, being restricted in their ability to practise their religion freely.

Whilst there can never be any justification for any act of extremism in any country, it is important for the government to understand the actual causes of terrorism, without confusing an already complex issue. As members of the Muslim faith, and devotees of the Salafi methodology, we have been actively fighting extremism within Muslim communities. We do not do this for any financial or political gain; rather our religion obligates this upon us – the very religion that legislates Muslim women to protect their modesty in their clothing. There is zero link between the two.

From experience with extremist youth, it is safe to conclude that the following factors play a large role in the radicalisation of minority youths within Muslim communities:

  1. Their view of a foreign policy in which the oppression of Muslims in countries such as Palestine and Syria is overlooked or even approved of. It is this that has led to the “us vs. them” mindset, in which non-Muslim countries are seen as perpetrators of crimes against the Muslim Ummah (nation). Due to the democratic nature of these countries, the common citizens are considered responsible for their mass silence against the foreign policies of their governments, and therefore valid targets of reprisals.
  2. Outrage against the actions of Muslim rulers who are deemed to be corrupt and oppressive. It must be noted that Muslim countries bear the brunt of terrorism and extremism more than Western nations; more Muslim lives are destroyed due to the actions of extremists.
  3. Media sensationalism of certain Muslim personalities who are well-known for their extreme views. These personalities then become spokesmen for what the media refers to as the ‘Salafi ideology,’ whereas the scholars of true Salafiyyah – and their efforts against extremism – are not newsworthy.
  4. A lack of Islamic knowledge and understanding on key issues such as Jihad, Khilafah, and obedience to authority and rulers. This is often due to such youth distancing themselves from well-versed, senior Salafi scholars.
  5. A lack of Islamic insight in realising the causes and remedies to the problems affecting the Muslim Ummah.
  6. A zeal and care for the plight of fellow Muslims. This burning passion, emotion and enthusiasm, coupled with a lack of knowledge, eventually causes the youth to rebel in various ways and forms.
  7. Social media influences through Facebook, Twitter and other avenues, wherein the main language of brainwashing is English.
  8. Sometimes – and not always – a lack of career opportunities and too much free time affords these youth to live virtual lives, with ‘nothing better to do’ than to be snared into the traps of foreign extremists.

The great Salafi scholar, Shaykh Muhammad Ibn Saalih Al-Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy upon him) wrote regarding the Muslim youth and their problems [3] mentioning additional causes:

  1. Joblessness
  2. Estrangement between the youth and their elders
  3. Being in contact with corrupt people and keeping their company
  4. Reading and viewing destructive and un-Islamic material in books, magazines, TV and the Internet
  5. The incorrect assumption that Islam imposes restrictions on liberties and suppresses human energy.

Although the above causes were not mentioned as being specific to extremism, they are just as applicable to the issue of modern radicalisation.



[1] BBC News: Muslim Women’s segregation in UK communities must end,

[2] This pretext “typifies [the government’s] continuing poorly researched and baseless approach – suggest[ing] that a lack of English equates to lower resilience to radicalisation among 22% of Muslim women in Britain.” For an excellent research article outlining the conflated nature of this theory, please refer to: ‘Dr. AbdulHaqq Baker; Her Master’s Voice: Lazy, misguided and reckless!’ January 19th 2016.

[3] Muhammad Ibn Saalih Al-Uthaymeen; Youth’s Problems – Issues affecting the youth.

He is a graduate of the Islaamic University of Madeenah, having graduated from the Institute of Arabic Language, and later the Faculty of Sharee'ah in 2010. He currently resides in Nelson, Lancashire and is the Imam of Masijd Sunnah.

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