Ealing is the third largest borough in London and is home to over 50,000 Muslims that reside there. Like elsewhere in the UK, Islamophobia has risen substantially in the area over the past two years. According to the Met Police statistics, there were over 1400 reported incidents of racist or religious hate crimes in the Borough in that period, with the largest group of victims coming from a Muslim background.
Outreach Ealing are a recently established Muslim Community organisation that is dedicated to tackling Islamophobia through building mutual and civic engagement in Ealing and West London.
For Islamophobia Awareness Month, Outreach Ealing wanted to arrange an event that would practically highlight the rich and fascinating history of Muslims living in London for over a hundred years (although Muslim heritage goes back to the 700s), to as many of the local community leaders as possible. To achieve this objective, a sightseeing bus tour of London was organised in conjunction with Muslim History Tours and their founder AbdulMaalik Tailor, Britain’s first professionally qualified Muslim tour guide.
The event held on Saturday 17th November 2018,was attended by over 50 people including local councillors, head teachers, charity workers, business entrepreneurs, community leaders and MP for Ealing Central and Acton – Rupa Huq.
The tour commenced with Tea, Coffee and pastries at the Double Tree Hilton Hotel followed by the tour group boarding the vintage London Routemaster red bus.
Live commentary provided by AbdulMaalik Tailor revealed some of the early Muslim residents of Ealing include Abdullah Yusuf Ali (1920), whose translation of the Qur’an into English is one of the most widely known and used in the English-speaking world and Haji Muhammad Dollie (1906), founder of the first mosque in London. The site of the first mosque in 1895 was one of our first stops on the tour, on route to which Mend presented the results of their latest ComRes poll on Islamophobia.
The tour continued to East London Mosque where the tour attendees were shown a short presentation about the origins of the mosque and had a chance to visit the viewing gallery and observe people praying Dhuhr.
The tour stopped for lunch at St Paul’s Cathedral, Sir Christopher Wren’s was the first to introduce domes to England.
The bus then passed by Trafalgar Square, which commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar, a British naval victory in the Napoleonic Wars with France and Spain that took place on 21 October 1805 off the coast of Cape Trafalgar. However not many people realise that Trafalgar is derived from the Arabic words Taraf al-Ghaar, which means ‘Edge of the Cave’.
The tour concluded with a visit to Bloomsbury and the site of the first Pakistani Embassy and to the home of Sheikh William Henry Quilliam, an English convert to Islam that founded the first mosque in the UK in Liverpool.
All the attendees agreed that tour had been both enjoyable and enlightening and looked forward to engaging with Outreach Ealing on future projects and wish to have another sightseeing bus tour with Muslim History Tours.