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Muslim Women in Britain c. 1890 to 1948: Historical Grounding for Modern Debates


Debates about ‘British Islam’, disconnections between Muslim and British values and divided loyalties are common in modern Britain. Such debates can be shaped by similar discussions in the earliest British Muslim communities. Historians describe how, in environments that viewed them with suspicion, early Muslims adapted their faith to align with British sensibilities. The history of these early British Muslims is being recovered but little is known about the women (usually converts) in these communities. This research will use archival material, to examine writings by, about and for British Muslim women during the period 1890 to 1948. The practical, theological and philosophical negotiations that took place around gender roles, female leadership, veiling and interfaith relations will be examined. By uncovering historical responses to issues that remain topical in British Muslim communities today and then collaborating with modern community stakeholders for knowledge exchange, this research will provide historical grounding to shape current debates about Islam in British society.

Jessie (Ameena) Davidson



  1. To examine what information was provided to women through theological and social discussions about Islamic rulings on women and gender roles published during the period 1890 to 1948
  2. To inform modern debates in Britain about Muslim attitudes to women and gender roles through collaborative knowledge exchange with community stakeholders: the Muslim Museum UK, The Herbert Museum and Art Gallery and Muslim Women’s Network


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