“The Art of Integration” by the esteemed UK photographer Peter Sanders has pleasantly come to my attention at the start of this journey as a self-titled “British Hijabi” blogger. I declare as a matter of fact to be a Muslim who is British and a British who is Muslim. Therefore, it was a delight this week when a friend gave me the book that visually captured my very affirmation!
Peter Sander’s lens have flashed the thread of the Muslim contribution to the essential fabric of British life, and simultaneously corrects the stereotypical perceptions of Islam in his snaps. For example, the clichéd notion of oppressed Muslim women is countered by the British
buisness women, the female duo rap artists and Ayesha Queshi OBE Olympics 2012 bid to highlight a few. Moreover, the historical settlement of Islam in Britain is featured from the opening of the first mosque in Liverpool 1889 to the early British Muslims and interesting fact of the Polo game being introduced by Indian Muslims to Britain in the 1850’s certainly makes this book a content rich resource of “Islam in our green and pleasant land”.
Since pictures are said to speak a thousand words than certainly Peter Sanders work speaks reams of clarity for Islam in our British Island. The pictures depict the integration of Muslims, who work and study like other British counterparts. British Muslims are your teachers to artists, architects to scientists, entertainers to students, speakers to writers, and every other cornerstone key to British society. Significantly, these images showcase Muslims beyond their Muslim feature and inclusive of their personality’s, aspirations and beings. For instance, Yasmin the Waitrose cashier who dreams of becoming a fashion designer and Suzanne, the Irish patriarch who is also a surgeon and mother. Interestingly, Sanders also captures the essence of the multicultural Britain of today as the depicted Muslims form a variety of races, ethnicities and class backgrounds. The clear message being that Muslims cannot be brushed with one stroke; they are people with diverse traits, dreams and dictums!
It may seem strange to capture a book of essentially regular people, but with sensational headlines and extreme persons constantly harking the front page it makes a welcome change that the majority also get a portrayal. It is therefore not surprising that “The Art of Integration” exhibition saw a demand that swelled to an opening in more than 64 cities, in 30 countries worldwide.
Importantly, Sanders also captures the heart of the reality for second and third generation offspring from settlers in Britain who do consider themselves as British. Therefore, this certification “the art of integration” is much of a fact for people with my ethnic background, who grew up with Britain as their home and all things British in speech, mannerisms and lifestyle.
Personally, I would buy this book and place it on my bookshelf as a proud momentum of “…the outstanding contribution that Britain’s Muslims have made to the richness and diversity of our national culture” (Prince Charles HRH, excerpt from the “The Art of Integration”). I also encourage you to collect the book for yourself, children or friends as this is an exceptional pictorial focus on the age of British Islam.
“The Art of Integration” is a straightforward visual rendering with no special effects, just the brush strokes of the ordinary Muslims of Britain speaking for themselves.
The pictures below highlight the essence of the charming profiles from Peter Sander’s, “The Art of Integration” collection: