Mosques are being encouraged to draw inspiration from church choirs as part of a drive to develop a distinctively English brand of Islam led by the former Conservative Party chairman Baroness Warsi.
Muslim devotional verse and music could be adapted to sound similar to hymns sung in parish churches, drawing from the centuries-old traditions of English choral music, it has been suggested.
The idea is among a series of proposals being discussed at a very English tea party in Surrey hosted by Lady Warsi and organised by the think-tank British Future.
The peer, who was the first Muslim woman to sit in Cabinet, has also suggested building mosques without minarets to make them look more like quintessentially English places of worship as much as any village church.
She is calling on architects and designers to come up with new styles for Islamic places of prayer to blend in closely to their surroundings.
The event is being held at the Woking Peace Garden, where Muslim soldiers who died in the two world wars are buried.
A local school choir has been invited to sing Muslim hymns in English, presented in the English choral style.
Baroness Warsi said: Recent polls have indicated that ethnic minority communities in England have tended to feel a much stronger association with Britishness than Englishness.
Post-Brexit this question becomes more urgent.
An inclusive sense of national identity can bond us together.
How we use the physical spaces that we all share can help do that – whether it’s a new mosque that blends into its local surroundings or a peace garden in Woking.”
Dr Avaes Mohammad of British Future added: We have a British Islam, one that most Muslims here identify with, but with the union now looking more fragile and Englishness growing in importance, we may need an English Islam too.
An inclusive national identity can help bring us together as a society.
For that to happen, Englishness will need to feel open to ethnic and faith minorities.
Understanding our shared history can help.
Islam didn’t arrive in England with South Asian migrants after the war – its heritage here goes back much further.
It includes the Victorian converts who opened England’s first mosques and the 400,000 Muslims who fought for Britain in the First World War.
Knowing that, for Muslims and non-Muslims alike, can help us understand the multi-ethnic, multi-faith country that we live in today.
News Source TelegraphNews