chapter  5
The Pattern Of Islamic Reform In Britain: The Deobandis Between Intra-muslim Sectarianism And Engagement With Wider Society
ByJONATHAN BIRT, PHILIP LEWIS
Pages 30

The great historian of Islam in India, William Cantwell Smith, remarked that the ulama, the guardians of Islam’s religious disciplines, appeared rather late in the process of Indian Islamization, which, historically, was gradual, even in the areas of military conquest, and whose pioneers were more often than not traders and mystics. 1 This does not hold true for the Muslims of Britain, three-quarters of whom are of South Asian heritage, where some ulama arrived with the fi rst waves of mass migration in the 1960s. For this simple reason, it is better to understand the process of Islamic reform as deeply coloured by its Sub-Continental origins, even if it is now shaped by the British context.