Negotiating Islam. Dialogues between Liberalism and Islamic Theologies in 21st Century Britain

Jones, Stephen. 2010. Negotiating Islam. Dialogues between Liberalism and Islamic Theologies in 21st Century Britain. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

The recent intense focus upon Islam in the UK comes at a time when the religion is in
a state of flux, with the traditions followed by older generations slowly giving way to
new forms of religious expression. New interpretations are very gradually emerging at
precisely the same time as suspicions are on the increase about Islam undermining
national identity and respect for the liberal democratic division between public and
private spheres. Against this tense backdrop, this thesis seeks to explore debates about
religious interpretation and the relationship between Islam and liberalism that are
ongoing among Britain’s Muslims. It draws upon data collected from a variety of new
initiatives (focusing upon three in particular) that are involved in disseminating Islamic
knowledge and discussing Islamic norms. Using this data, it examines the arguments of
a wide variety of Islamic scholars, clerics and activists and highlights some of the ways
in which Islam is being related to the British context.

Of particular concern in the thesis are the implications these debates have for liberal
traditions in the UK. It considers the effects of conventions of public discourse that
seek to stifle the expression of religious ideas upon the possible future flourishing of
British society and politics. The thesis argues against liberal political philosophies that
aim to restrict public speech so that only “public” or “secular” reasons are offered in
political debates, arguing that to do this is to risk mutual isolation between the UK’s
many religious and secular moral traditions. It uses debates among Muslims in the UK
on subjects such as national identity, political participation and civil and Islamic law to
illustrate and give weight to this argument.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)


islam, liberalism, theology, britain, rawls

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



19 February 2010

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

30 Jan 2012 18:06

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 08:26


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