The United Kingdom: Everyone’s Cup of Tea
Muslims have had a deeply rooted influence in the United Kingdom - a harmonious relationship that goes back for centuries. With the first Muslims settling in the UK as early as 300 years ago, Islam has become richly intertwined within the British culture. Do not be deceived by its relatively small geographic size, however, as British hospitality is big enough to welcome all backgrounds, with millions of tourists visiting each year. There is an array of Islamic heritage immersed within even small British towns and especially in its larger cities - find yourself in a home away from home wherever you are thanks to the 4.13 million Muslims who call the UK their Thanks to these well-established Muslim communities, the UK hosts approximately 2,131 prayer facilities and an abundance of halal food - you’ll never be short of fulfilling your duty to prayer nor to your stomach.
If you’re looking for a Muslim-friendly holiday, your trusted compass will point you towards the UK. Think of it as an Aladdin's Cave of Wonders - small but with many treasures to offer. In Britain, this presents itself in the wealth of castles, museums, countryside, palaces, renowned food, shopping festivals and much more. What sets the UK apart is that it’s not limited to seasonal travel - there are plenty of events all year round, including the Halal Food Festival and the Notting Hill Carnival. In every region, you will find its own niche, twang and food combined, and with the North and South differing in both climate and culture, you will be sure to get a flavour of a multi-destination halal holiday.
Halal Food in the UK
The UK is a gateway to one of the finest halal food scenes. With many cuisines coming together, there’s no question as to why thousands of tourists travel solely to see what's on offer for their palettes. One can describe the UK as a round-the-world buffet of celebrating a spectrum of halal cuisines around the globe. From sumptuous halal Michelin star restaurants to a quick take away from Ubereats, you’ll have your wish granted with a snap of your fingers. Be sure to try the British staple - fish and chips available in every city!
UK Islamic Heritage
Muslims in the UK have contributed greatly to British society; whether that may be the economy, fashion or banter. Islamic buildings including the London Central Mosque, have been listed as protected buildings, to celebrate Islamic history in the UK, and should be added to your sightseeing agenda on your Islamic travels. With historic stories of English nobles converting to Islam, and Muslim soldiers fighting for Britain in the World War, the influence of British Muslims is deeply rooted in British soil. Trails of Muslim heritage will take you to the areas of history in the UK, making for an inspirational Muslim Holiday.
Muslim culture in the UK is truly representative of the diversity of the Muslim world with the most prominent link tying us together - our faith. Although most British Muslims have their cultural roots in Asia, there is an extremely diverse mix, with a diversity of heritage including the Middle East, Africa and Europe. The inclusivity is unmissable on the streets of the UK, like a Moroccan mosaic, and influence through notable figures can be seen in sports, politics, the arts, economy and healthcare.
Prominent British Muslims
The UK has a number of prominent Muslim MPs, both in the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The success of British Muslims can be seen at its peak with the first Muslim mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. His proud heritage as the son of a bus driver of Pakistani heritage shows regardless of where you come from, you can prosper anywhere.
One of the UK’s most recognisable and best loved athletes, Sir Mo Farah, is a recognised and proud Muslim British Olympian and the most successful British track athlete. From humble beginnings in Somalia, he is now a household name in the UK.
The UK has produced a number of nasheed artists with Sami Yusuf, a British Muslim, being the most popular. He has made a great contribution globally with his heart-touching nasheeds.
Zaha Hadid was a British-Iraqi architect whose contributions to society can be seen all over the world. She was the first woman to be individually awarded by the Royal Institute of British Architects. The UK is also home to 11 Museums featuring Islamic Art, more than any other country in Europe.
Mariah Idrissi is a notable figure in the fashion industry as the first Muslim hijab-wearing model. With Pakistani and Moroccan heritage, Idrissi is symbolic of the pride of British Muslim communities around the UK.
Mosques or where to pray in the UK
There are many beautiful mosques with a rich history in the UK, here are just a few around the country to see.
- Cambridge Central Mosque, London Europe's first eco-friendly mosque with stunning architecture and a serene atmosphere.
- Regent Street Mosque, London Also known as London Central Mosque, a home to history, beautiful architecture, and a peaceful community of Muslims.
- Abdul Quilliam Mosque, Liverpool The oldest mosque in the UK, rich in history, you will be sure to leave here with a mind filled with inspiration and a heart filled with peace.
- Leeds Islamic Central Jamia Mosque, Leeds For those visiting the North of England, the Leeds Central Mosque is a centre for the community to come together.
- Edinburgh Central Mosque, Edinburgh With beautiful architecture and its own renowned cafe, “Mosque Kitchen”, it is on our bucket list.
Sightseeing in the UK
The beauty about the UK is that you can personalise your trip; a city break in Edinburgh, beach getaways in Cornwall, escape to the countryside in the Scottish Highlands or even a road trip to Glasgow. The great variety is visible in the terrain too, whether you're a photographer, a die-hard hiker, or history lover, there is something for everyone. Here are our recommendations.
Stonehenge is still a place of mystery to this day and with a history dating back to 4500 years ago, it is a magical must-see.
There are so many castles around the UK, that you could make a castle crawl of your own. Explore the rich history of the UK through its battlements and fortifications, some dating right back to Medieval times.
The UK takes great pride in its exquisite national parks and stunning scenery of mountains and greenery. The Lake District, Peak District, Scottish Highlands, Snowdonia and Yorkshire Dales are a few of the many areas of natural beauty which you could incorporate into your itinerary. A fun fact for the legend lovers out there: Loch Ness,in the Scottish Highlands is home to the alleged sightings of the Loch Ness Monster.
There are many tourist hotspots in and around London, which attract many tourists each year, including the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace and London Bridge. The cities outside of London are also a must-visit, the Northern cities of Manchester and Leeds are known for the vibrant street art, the ancient streets of York and Durham will take you back in time and lively Birmingham will provide you with world-class curries. Find yourself surrounded by history in Liverpool and Edinburgh, and immerse yourself in the contemporary culture of Bath. There are also many halal hotels to be found in these areas and around the UK.
What to do/see in the UK
It is easy to travel as a Muslim in the UK and there is a lot to see and do to make the most of your halal break.
Brick Lane, London
Brick Lane is representative of just how much influence and inspiration the British Muslim community has to provide, all in one area. Roots of strong Bangladeshi heritage, it is thriving with budding artists, flavoursome curries and colourful street art. Home to the first pop-up stores in the UK, it is a creative centre of British Muslim culture.
Fun Days Out
There are many theme parks and attractions all around the country available for family-friendly days out. Alton Towers, Legoland, Kidzania and arguably one of the best chocolate brands the UK has to offer, Cadburys’ World are just a few fun places to take the family.
Fastest Zip-Line in the World
The UK is home to the fastest zip line in the world, plunging you into the beautiful mountains and coastline of Bethesda, Wales. With speeds of up to 100mph, this is one for the thrillseekers.
Women Only Spas in the UK
There is a long history of single sex leisure facilities in the UK so it is relatively easy to find spas, swimming pools and gyms which have set hours or areas for women-only. Many offer bespoke packages to suit your preferences, and can add an extra layer of relaxation to your halal break in the UK. There are also no restrictions on the wearing of modest swimwear in UK public swimming pools or other public amenities.
Shopping in the UK
Whatever the season, shopping is a popular pastime in the UK, whether it is in a covered mall or an outdoor market. In fact, around 58% of all visits to the UK involve shopping. With modest fashion gaining momentum in both high street and designer brands, we can see why. Add the adventure and magic of shopping to your halal holiday in the UK, with staple British experiences such as Selfridges and Harrods. Faces like Mariah Idrissi on billboards around the UK, emphasises just how much the modest fashion scene caters to the values of a Muslim woman.
Sloane Street and Oxford Street are two of the best areas in London for all things shopping with food nearby - perfect for shopping addicts and food lovers alike. For those avoiding the chill, the UK also boasts a tremendous range of indoor shopping centres and malls, as well as outdoor markets and niche seasonal markets each with their own vibe. It isn’t only the famous London names such as Camden and Shoreditch,most cities, towns and suburbs have their own farmers’ market or local street market.. Most shopping centres in larger UK cities have prayer rooms making for a Muslim-friendly shopping experience.
Travel to the UK for your halal holiday and find yourself evolving with the culture and always trending whatever the season! It is a destination where you’ll leave a piece of your heart behind. As a diverse and thriving country, you’ll always walk away with things on your to-do list for next time. With easy links via the Eurostar, Eurotunnel and flights, find your way to this island of wonders. When you do leave, remember the British saying: “absence makes the heart grow fonder”.