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Issue 6/Volume 1

The Impact of Globalization on British Muslim Identity

Author: Dr Saied Reza Ameli Renani

Publisher: Islamic College for Advanced Studies, London.

Reviewed by Michael Mumisa, Graduate Institute for Theology, University of Birmingham, UK.  Shk. Mumisa also lectures at the Al-Mahdi Institute and is a prolific writer and speaker on Islamic issues.

'Globalization', 'Glocalization', 'Postmodernity', 'Pluralism' and 'Multi-culturalism' are very frightening concepts to the traditional religious establishment. I recall how these concepts were met with strong criticism when they first appeared on the South African Muslim scene. The historical context of South Africa provided fertile grounds and ingredients for the development and popularization of these ideas. The British scene, however, is different and Dr Ameli's book tells a local story and is probably the first British attempt to deal with the identity crisis from the perspective of postmodern philosophy. It brings a much-needed focus upon the process of globalization, too often dominated by consideration of westernisation and Americanisation by examining how British Muslims have reacted to and used that process in their lives and their communities. This is not only a concise history of the development of Muslim identity; it is a thought-provoking analysis of the possibilities for Muslim identity and activity in the future.

Although this book is written as a case study of the Muslim situation in Great Britain, it is long over due for all the Diaspora Muslims in the West. It is an impressively successful attempt to consider the impact of globalisation, as a multidimensional process, in shaping Muslim identity in the West, particularly in Great Britain. Employing the concept of glocalization to good effect, Renani deliberates upon two processes which have more often than not seen as contradictory  - namely, homogenization and heterogenization. A book such as this could hardly be more timely, in particular respect to the global crisis precipitated by the dramatic events in New York, Washington DC, and Western Pennsylvania in the USA in mid-September 2001 and its consequences for 'Western Muslims.' This book is also an excellent example of the manner in which the sociological deployment of the innovative ideas of globalization and postmodern theories can shed much more light on socio-cultural issues than most analytic approaches.