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The Muslim Community

About the Muslim Community in the UK

There are approximately 2 million Muslims in the UK which is about 4% of the UK population. Almost half of the Muslims in the UK reside in London.

71% of Muslims in the UK are under 35 years of age and over 50% are under the age of 25 (the majority of whom were born in the UK)

Almost half the Muslim population in the UK reside in London, that is almost 1 million Muslims.

Particular pockets of Muslims are found in:

  • Tower Hamlets - 71,000 (36% of population of the area)
  • Newham - 59,000 (24%)
  • Blackburn - 27,000 (19%)
  • Bradford - 75,000 (16%)
  • Waltham Forest - 33,000 (15%)
  • Luton - 27,000 (15%)
  • Birmingham - 140,000 (14%)
  • Hackney - 28,000 (14%)
  • Pendle - 12,000 (13%)
  • Slough - 16,000 (13%)
  • Brent - 32,000 (12%)
  • Redbridge - 29,000 (12%)
  • Westminster - 21,000 (12%)
  • Camden - 23,000 (12%)
  • Haringey - 24,000 (11%)

    Three quarters of Muslims (74%) are from an Asian ethnic background, predominantly Pakistani (43%).

    Muslim families are larger than most other groups. The average household size in a Bangladeshi family is 4.7; for Pakistanis this is 4.2; for Indians this is 3.3 and for White families this is only 2.3. Over a third of the Muslim households have over 5 people in them.

    One in ten of London's 250,000 businesses are Asian owned. Pakistanis and Bangladeshis own 2,450 businesses.

    Britain may have well over 10,000 Muslim millionaires with liquid assets of more than £3.6bn. Their wealth will make them among the most sought after customers by Britain's financial services sector.

    The Muslim community contributes over £51bn to Britains GDP and forms the backbone of Britain’s retail and healthcare sectors

    Although Muslims make up just four per cent of the population they consume an estimated 20 per cent of all lamb and mutton produced in Britain.

    Every year, around 20,000 British Muslims travel to Makkah for Hajj

    Muhammed was the second most popular name in the UK (second only to JACK) in 2007 for boys. This is believed to grow to number one over the next few years.

    Overall Muslim Population Growing but Rate Slowing

    The 2001 UK census showed a population of 1.6 million Muslims. In April 2008, the Home Secretary Jacqui Smith announced that HMG estimated the Muslim population at 2 million or 3.3% of the UK population. This represented an increase of 400,000 in seven years. Based on a projected 2011 population of 2.2 million, the rate of increase between 2001 and 2011 is estimated to be 1.4 times the 2001 figure. In overall numbers, the UK Muslim population is rapidly increasing, but its rate of growth is slowly decreasing. Changes to UK visa rules announced in 2008 may slow this rate even more.

    Raw Data: Office of National Statistics

    The following are excerpts from the UK's Office of National Statistics (ONS), all data is from the 2001 UK census unless otherwise noted.

    -- The 2001 Census showed that out of the total UK population of 58.8 million, 1.6 million identify as Muslims. At 3 percent, this is the largest non-Christian religious population. They are a young, tightly clustered, but often disadvantaged community, according to UK social and economic statistics.

    -- People with Muslim backgrounds are most concentrated in London (38% of the total UK Muslim population) and other large urban areas, including the West Midlands (14% of the Muslim population), the North West (13%), and Yorkshire and the Humber (12%). Within these areas, Muslims are highly concentrated spatially. Muslims make up 8% of the population of London overall, but 36% of the Tower Hamlets area and 24%
    of the Newham area population.

    -- More than half of Muslim adults living in England and Wales in 2001 said their religion was important to their self-identity.

    -- Muslims are the second least-likely of all religious groups to have been born in the UK, with the majority being born outside the UK; 46% were born in the UK, 39% were born in Asia (Pakistan - 18%; Bangladesh - 9%; India - 3%), 9% were born in Africa (Somalia - 2%; Kenya - 1%), and 4% were born in Europe outside the UK (Turkey - 3%, former Yugoslavian countries - 1%).

    -- Among 45 to 54-year-olds, 17% described their marital status as divorced, separated or re-married.

    -- Muslims households were the least likely to be homeowners (52%) and are the most likely among all religious groups to be living in accommodation rented from the council or housing association (28%); 4% live rent-free.

    -- 32% of Muslim households live in overcrowded accommodation. Average family size for a Muslim family is
    3.8, which can contribute to overcrowding. 34% of Muslim households contained more than five people. 63% contained at least one dependent child, and 25% contained three or more dependent children.

    -- Unemployment rates were higher for Muslims than any other religion, for both men and women. Muslim male unemployment rate was 13% in 2004, and for women it was 18%.

    -- Muslims between the ages of 16 and 24 had the highest unemployment rates at 28%; 11% of Muslims over the age of 25 were unemployed.

    -- Muslims were most likely to be unavailable or not actively seeking work due to reasons such as disability, being a student, or looking after the family and home. 31% of working-age men were economically inactive, as were 69% of working-age women.

    -- With 34% of Muslims under the age of 16 in 2001, Muslims have the youngest age profile of all the religious groups in Great Britain. Less than one in ten were aged 65 or older.

    -- Muslim men outnumber women 52% to 48%.

    -- Muslims, both male and female, had the highest rates of reported ill health in 2000. Age-standardized rates of "not good" health were 13% for Muslim males and 16% for Muslim females.

    -- Muslims had the highest rates of disability, with 24% of females and 21% of males claiming a disability.

    -- Muslim households were also more likely to contain more than one family, with 19% of all multiple family households Muslim.

    -- 33% of working-age Muslims in Great Britain had no qualifications in 2004, which is the highest rate of any
    religious group. At 12%, they were also the least likely to have degrees or equivalent qualifications.

    -- 371,000 school-aged (5 to 16 years old) Muslim children were in England in 2001, and by 2008 there were seven state-maintained Islamic schools catering to around 2,100 Muslim children.

    -- One-fifth of Muslims were self-employed n 2004.

    -- 37% of Muslim men and over a quarter of Muslim women were working in the distribution, hotel and restaurant industry.

    -- One in seven Muslim men work in the transport and communication industry.

    -- Less than a third of Muslim men work in managerial or professional occupations, and almost one in ten worked as a taxi driver, cab driver or chauffeur in 2004.

    -- Between 16 and 20% of Muslim women work in sales and customer service jobs.

    Raw Data: Post's 2008 Religious Freedom Report and NGOs

    The following are excerpted from Post's International Religious Freedom Report (IRFR) and reports or studies from various Muslim and migration/immigration NGO's. Citations are from the IRFR unless otherwise noted.

    -- The Government estimates the number of mosques in the UK to be around 1,000.

    -- A May 8, 2008, Religious Trends report states that more than 50% of Muslims regularly worship at mosques. (Embassy Comment: Religious Trends is a UK think tank that monitors a wide array of religious issues. Among other things, the 2008 report noted that while 43 million UK residents claimed to be Christians, less than 3 million (7%) regularly worship in churches. End Comment).

    -- The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) reported a decrease in prosecutions over the previous reporting period for religiously-motivated incidents, with only 29 cases classified as religiously-aggravated offenses. Of the 23 cases in which the victim's religious affiliation is known, 17 were Muslim.

    -- In 2006, controversy arose after 100 Islamic private schools turned out to be "little more than places where the Koran is recited," the schools promised to upgrade their instruction and they are due for review in 2010.

    -- According to a poll of 600 Muslim and 800 non-Muslim students at thirty universities throughout the UK conducted by the Centre for Social Cohesion (CSC), as reported ref B, 32 percent of Muslims on UK campuses believe killing in the name of religion is justified, 54 percent wanted a Muslim Party to represent their world view in Parliament, and 40 percent want Muslims in the UK to be under Sharia law.Only 2 percent of non-Muslims felt killing in the name of religion could be justified and none believed it was acceptable for Muslims in the UK to have a religious-based party, or to be under Sharia law. 73 percent of Muslim students are at least occasional participants in Friday services while only 2 percent of non-Muslim students attend any religious service. The poll results also found that 73 percent of Muslim students believe it is possible to be both Muslim and British and a similar number believe their parents are "much more or somewhat more" strict Muslims than they are. In addition only six percent believed that people who leave Islam for another religion should be "punished according to Sharia law" (killed).

    -- According to MWUK, arranged marriages in the Muslim community are creating unusually large population growth in areas where Muslims predominate, since first-generation families tend to have larger numbers of children (based on published research and a comparison of the 1991 and 2001 census). For example, in the eighties the Bradford (city) Council estimated that the Muslim population would reach 130,000 by 2030 and then level off. Now the projection is for 130,000 by 2020 and rising. Bradford is a West Yorkshire industrial city whose 2001 population of 294,000 included an estimated 75,000 Muslims (25%), predominantly of Pakistani origin. Bradford has the largest Muslim population in the UK outside of London, and no single London borough (neighborhood) has as large a Muslim population.

    Timeline of Muslims in Britain

    Date / Period Information




    Offa of Mercia (powerful Anglo-Saxon King) minted coins with Arabic declaration of faith demonstrating diplomatic relations with the Muslim empire. Many Muslims landed at this time in the British Isles as explorers and traders.


    Ballycottin Cross found on Southern coast of Ireland bears Arabic inscription ‘Bismillah’ (in the name of God). This is one of many artefacts of the period which demonstrates Islam’s early interaction with Britain.


    It is generally believed that the first Englishman known for certain to have been a scholar of Arabic was Henry II's tutor, Adelard of Bath who travelled in Syria and Muslim Spain and translated a number of Arabic texts into Latin.


    Despite hostilities during the Crusades, the Muslim leader Saladin fascinated the Knights Templars; particularly his moral character. Many were known to have a fondness for Muslim habits and customs. One such knight, Robert of St. Albans, embraced Islam and later had the honour of marrying the great-granddaughter of Saladin.


    The first English convert to Islam recorded is John Nelson, a 16th century sailor. During the reign of Elizabeth I, there were considerably more Englishmen living in North Africa than living in all the North American colonies. In Algiers alone, there were 5000 English converts and many sailors brought back tales of their compatriots who had ‘turned Turk’.


    The British consul of Egypt (Benjamin Bishop) became a Muslim. By the end of the 17th century, trade with Turkey accounted for one quarter of all England’s overseas commercial activity.


    A Chair of Arabic at the University of Oxford was established and it was known that Charles I collected Arabic and Persian manuscripts. Christian scholars of the era wrote favourably of Islam including Dr Henry Stubbs.


    Document refers to "a sect of Mahomatens" being "discovered here in London".


    British East India Company was formed to cash in on the eastern route spice trade. British control of India resulted in a gradual migration of many classes of Indians to Britain.


    Existence of the first mosque in Britain at 2 Glyn Rhondda Street, Cardiff, recorded in the Register of Religious Sites (now maintained by the Office of National Statistics).


    Queen Victoria became Empress of India and several Indian servants and spouses joined the royal household. Her favourite member of staff was Abdul Karim who gave the Queen lessons in Hindustani and received the title ‘Companion of the Indian Empire’.


    Founding of the Anjuman-I-Islam in London, later renamed the Pan-Islamic Society.


    William Henry Quilliam (Shaikh Abdullah Quilliam) embraced Islam and led a small community in Liverpool. In 1889 the community rented a house, 8 Brougham Terrace, to serve as a prayer hall. He would personally call the adhan - the call to prayer - from one of its upper windows. The community was soon able to purchase the rented property and also 9-12 Brougham Terrace, which became the Liverpool Muslim Institute. Following a visit to Turkey Abdullah Quilliam was given the title 'Sheikh-ul-Islam of the British Isles' by the Sultan. He founded a weekly journal, The Crescent, which was published from 1893 to1908. Quilliam is buried at Brookwood Cemetery, near Shah Jehan Mosque, Woking.


    Establishment of the Shah Jehan Mosque, Woking, with an adjoining student hostel, under the patronage of the Indian Muslim princess, the Begum of Bhopal. It was the base for the journal ‘Muslim India and the Islamic Review', re-named as 'the Islamic Review' in 1921. An early editor was the charismatic Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din, a barrister originally from Lahore.


    Syed Ameer Ali convened a public meeting at the Ritz Hotel for the establishment of the London Mosque Fund for "a mosque in London worthy of the tradition of Islam and worthy of the capital of the British Empire". He was the first Indian to be appointed Privy Councilor and to be given membership of the Judicial Committee, the then Supreme Court of the Raj. On retirement in 1904 he settled in Britain with his English wife; his sons Waris and Tariq subsequently served as trustees on a number of the first mosque projects in London.


    First issue of the journal 'Muslim India & The Islamic Review', later renamed the 'Islamic Review', Woking. The journal was published for sixty years.


    Friday prayers were held under the auspices of the London Mosque Fund, first in Lindsay Hall, Notting Hill Gate, and later at 39 Upper Bedford Place. The venue then shifted to 111 Campden Hill Road, where prayers were conducted till October 1928.


    British Muslim Lord Headley (Al-Haj El-Farooq) wrote to Secretary of State Austen Chamberlain for allocation of state funds for the purchase and construction of a mosque in London "in memory of Muslim soldiers who died fighting for the Empire".


    Marmaduke Pickthall, the son of an Anglican clergyman and distinguished poet and novelist, declared his Islam in dramatic fashion after delivering a talk on ‘Islam and Progress' on 29th November 1917 to the Muslim Literary Society in Notting Hill, West London. Throughout the Great War (1914-1918), and even prior to declaring his faith as a Muslim, he wrote extensively in support of the Ottomans. When a vicious propaganda campaign was launched in 1915 over the massacres of Armenians, Pickthall rose to the challenge and argued that all the blame could not be placed on the Turkish government. At a time when many Indian Muslims in London had been co-opted by the Foreign Office to provide propaganda services in support of Britain's war against Turkey, Pickthall's stand was a most courageous one and of great integrity. When British Muslims were asked to decide whether they were loyal to the Allies (Britain and France) or the Central Powers (Germany and Turkey), Pickthall said he was ready to be a combatant for his country so long as he did not have to fight the Turks. He was conscripted in the last months of the war and became corporal in charge of an influenza isolation hospital. The Foreign Office would have dearly liked to have used his talents as a linguist, but instead decided to regard him as a security risk.


    Formation of the London Nizamiah Mosque Trust Fund by Lord Headly (Al-Haj El-Farooq) ; these funds were subsequently transferred to the London Central Mosque Fund (present day Islamic Cultural Centre in Regents Park).


    A branch of the Western Islamic Association was formed in South Shields by Khalid Sheldrake. In 1936 there was also a sufi zawiya lodge in South Shields at 45 Cuthbert Street. By 1938 the Muslim community was 700 strong.


    Muslim Society of Great Britain, under the presidency of Ismail de Yorke, organised Islamic events at the Portman Rooms, Baker Street.


    Abdullah Yusuf Ali, best known in the English-speaking Muslim world for his monumental translation and commentary of the Holy Qur'an, finally settles in Britain after years as an itinerant educationalist. British Muslims initiate their first political campaign by expressing opposition to the Peel Commission's proposals for the partitioning of Palestine. Yusuf Ali, drawing on his first-hand knowledge of the mandates drawn up by the League of Nations, lectured widely on the injustice in Palestine, at venues in Brighton, Cambridge and London. Yusuf Ali was the only non-ambassadorial trustee of the London Central Mosque Fund, thus representing the British Muslim community.


    Churchill, at a war cabinet meeting on 24th October, authorised allocation of funds for the acquisition of a site for the London mosque.


    East London Mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre opened by the Egyptian Ambassador, Dr Hassan Nahjat Pasha. The Mosque was subsequently managed by the Jamiat Muslimeen.


    King George VI visited the Islamic Cultural Centre - Regents Lodge in Regents Park - for its official opening.


    The British government encouraged immigration from the New Commonwealth. After the Second World War there were severe labour shortages, hence the significant influx of Muslim immigrants to help with the massive task of reconstruction.


    Groups of students from six cities met in Birmingham to form the Federation of the Students Islamic Societies in the UK & Eire (FOSIS). The UK Islamic Mission was also formed this year.


    The Muslim Educational Trust came into being, addressing the needs of Muslim school children, and publishing the landmark 'First Primer of Islam' in April 1969.


    Martin Lings (Abu Bakr Sirajuddin) appointed Keeper of Oriental Manuscripts at the British Museum. The Union of Muslim Organisations (UMO) was formed with Dr Syed Aziz Pasha as General Secretary. Bashir Maan elected the first Muslim councillor in Glasgow


    'Impact International', the authoritative Muslim news magazine, launched in London in May


    Establishment of the Islamic Council of Europe, with headquarters in London and diplomat Salem Azzam appointed Secretary General. The Islamic Foundation, Leicester (subsequently relocated in 1990 to Markfield) was also formed this year with Professor Khurshid Ahmed as its first Director General.


    Opening of the Dar-al-Uloom, Holmcombe Hall, Bury; publication of the 'Draft Prospectus of the Muslim Institute for Research and Planning', by Dr Kalim Siddiqui


    World of Islam festival in London


    Islamic Centre established; Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens) reverted to Islam.


    Current day

    Muslim Britain is young: 800,000 people are aged under 25, the vast majority straddling two cultures. "Art, music, film and other forms of culture are as much part of the daily lives of Muslims as are politics, religion and science," The Muslim community contributes more than £31bn to the economy, and much else besides to our lives. Islam is Britain's second most popular religion. Over 600,000 of Britain's 1.5 million Muslims are active in their faith. Most British Muslims belong to the Sunni tradition of Islam. There are over 600 mosques in the UK and around 60 Muslim schools.

  • Islamic Dates for 2008 / 2009


    Ramadhan starts: 1st September 2008

    Eid ul Fitr: 1st October 2008

    Eid ul Adha: 8th December 2008

    Islamic new year: 30th December 2008

    10th Muharram (Ashura): 9th January 2009

    40th day after Ashura: 18th February 2009

    Islamic Dates for 2009 / 2010


    Ramadhan starts: 22nd August 2009

    Eid ul Fitr: 20th September 2009

    Eid ul Adha: 27th November 2009

    Islamic new year: 20th December 2009

    10th Muharram (Ashura): 30th December 2009

    40th day after Ashura: 8th February 2010

    Islamic Dates for 2010 / 2011


    Ramadhan starts: 11th August 2010

    Eid ul Fitr: 10th September 2010

    Eid ul Adha: 16th November 2010

    Islamic new year: 7th December 2010

    10th Muharram (Ashura): 16th December 2010

    40th day after Ashura: 25th January 2011

    Major Muslim Organisations

    Britains Muslim community has many organisations established to help support and represent the community. The community however is very diverse and no one organisation is able to thoroughly represent the diverse opinion and thought. Some of the most prominent organisations are:

    THE MUSLIM COUNCIL OF BRITAIN (www.mcb.org.uk)

    THE BRTISH MUSLIM FORUM (www.bmf.eu.com)

    MUSLIM ASSOCIATION OF BRITAIN (www.mabonline.net)

    ISLAMIC SOCIETY OF BRITAIN (www.isb.org.uk)

    AL-KHOI FOUNDATION (www.al-khoei.org)



    There are many others from international charities to local community centres.

  • The Muslim Community