The first large group of Muslims in Britain arrived about 300 years ago. They were sailors recruited in India to work for the East India Company, and so it's not surprising that the first Muslim communities were found in port towns. Ships' cooks came too, many of them from Sylhet in what is now Bangladesh. There are records of Sylhetis working in London restaurants as early as 1873.
The first Muslim community which permanently settled in the United Kingdom consisted of Yemeni sailors who arrived in ports such as Swansea, Liverpool and South Shields shortly after 1900. Later some of them migrated to inland cities like Birmingham and Sheffield where there are 23,819 Muslims.
Mosques also appeared in British seaports at this time; The first mosque in Britain is recorded as having been at 2 Glyn Rhondda Street, Cardiff, in 1860. From the 1950s, with large immigration to Britain from the former colonies of Britain, large Muslim populations developed in several British towns, and cities.
In England 40% of Muslims live in London, where they make up 8.5% of the population. There are also large numbers of Muslims in Birmingham, Manchester, Bradford, Luton, Slough, Leicester and the mill towns of Northern England. In Scotland there are significant Muslim populations in Glasgow (17667, 3.1%), East Renfrewshire (1897, 2.1%), Dundee (2846, 2.0%) and Edinburgh (6801, 1.5%). In Wales most Muslims live in Cardiff (11261, 3,7%), but there are also significant numbers in Newport (3492, 2.6%) and Swansea (2167, 1.0%). Muslims are concentrated in urban areas, where they make up 3.3% of the population; In rural areas the proportion of the population is less than 0.1%.
The local authorities with a Muslim population greater than 10% are:
* London Borough of Tower Hamlets 36.4% 71,389
* London Borough of Newham 24.3% 59,293
* Blackburn with Darwen 19.4% 26,674
* Bradford 16.1% 75,188
* London Borough of Waltham Forest 15.1% 32,902
* Luton 14.6% 26,963
* Birmingham 14.3% 139,771
* London Borough of Hackney 13.8% 27,908
* Pendle 13.4% 11,988
* Slough 13.4% 15,897
* London Borough of Brent 12.3% 32,290
* London Borough of Redbridge 11.9% 28,487
* City of Westminster 11.8% 21,346
* London Borough of Camden 11.6% 22,906
* London Borough of Haringey 11.3% 24,371
* Oldham 11.1% 24,039
* Leicester 11.0% 30,885
* London Borough of Ealing 10.3% 31,033
* Kirklees 10.1% 39,312
The Savile Town area of Dewsbury is often seen as the Muslim centre of the country, being "some 97-100% Muslim" and having the largest Islamic seminary in the country with the Markazi mosque, one of the largest purpose-built mosque in Europe. It is also one of the most orthodox centers of Muslim learning in the West. Most large cities have one area that is a majority Muslim even if the rest of the city has a fairly small Muslims population; see, for example, Harehills in Leeds.
Pakistani Kashmiris from the Mirpur district (part of Pakistan Administered Kashmir, Northern Pakistan) were the first South Asian Muslim community which settled in Britain permanently. The first of them arrived in Birmingham and Bradford in the late 1930s. Immigration from around the district of Mirpur grew from the late 1950s onwards. It was accompanied by immigration from other parts of Pakistan, mainly the north of the Punjab and the area around Attock in the North-West Frontier Province province of Pakistan.
People of Pakistani ethnic background are particularly strong in the West Midlands, West Yorkshire, Lancashire/ Greater Manchester and industrial towns in South East England like Luton, Slough and Oxford. There are also many Muslims from the Sylhet region of Bangladesh and from the Gujerat region of India living in Britain. The Sylhetis, (who speak a dialect of Bengali) are concentrated in Tower Hamlets, London. However, they also possess significant communities in Luton, Birmingham, Manchester, Oldham, Hyde, Bradford, Keighley and Sunderland. There are large numbers of Gujerati Muslims in Dewsbury, Blackburn, Bolton and Preston.
Apart from these peoples, a considerable portion of South Asian Muslims trace their origins back to South Asian communities in East Africa that either simply moved or were forced out due to anti-Indian activities of African revolutionaries in countries such as Uganda and Zanzibar.
There are also communities of Somali, Nigerian and other Subsaharan African peoples, especially in London as well as Bosnian and Albanian Muslims from Kosovo in Britain. Since the Iraq War, there has been an increase in the number of Kurds in Britain. Again, they may be concentrated in certain areas, such as the Ravensthorpe area of Dewsbury.
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) is an unincorporated association founded in 1997 with the following aims:
1. To promote co-operation, consensus and unity on Muslim affairs in the UK.
2. To encourage and strengthen all existing efforts being made for the benefit of the Muslim community.
3. To work for a more enlightened appreciation of Islam and Muslims in the wider society.
4. To establish a position for the Muslim community within British society that is fair and based on due rights.
5. To work for the eradication of disadvantages and forms of discrimination faced by Muslims.
6. To foster better community relations and work for the good of society as a whole.
7. It was inaugurated on 23 November at Brent Town Hall.
As an umbrella organisation it unites many national, regional, local and specialist organisations and institutions from different ethnic and sectarian backgrounds within UK Islamic society. The Muslim Council of Britain has condemned the war in Iraq. It also condemns terrorism by Muslims and non-Muslims alike.