Mark Bryant

Mark Bryant

Development Officer for the Centre for the Study of Islam in the UK , Cardiff University and lead academic producer for 'Muslims in Britain' course.

Location Cardiff, Wales


  • @MeesamAbbas welcome to the course. Your interest in the content is commendable and it will be interesting to other learners to hear a youth perspective on the various issues covered.

  • Welcome aboard @Shabana we hope the course will be of benefit to your practice and look forward to hearing your experiences in the field through the conversations

  • Welcome @IsaacMyers we hope the course will be of use to you with your work in pastoral support for students. We all know recent time have put a particular strain on the mental health of our learners.

  • That is an interesting observation @SobiaAsim I wonder if other learners have come across this situation

  • Hi, @SobiaAsim welcome to the course from the other side of the world. I am sure your insights into your practice in New Zealand will be an interesting addition to the discussions.

  • @TayyebTahir thank you - that makes sense and I understand you reasons for doing so

  • Thank you for your insight @Tayyeb. I was wondering if referring to "patients by their names even when talking about them in their absence" did not cause any issues with confidentiality.

  • Hi Lauren, it sounds as if this course may be of help in your important work of supporting Afgan refugees. As with many first-generation immigrants, language is a barrier to communicating with health providers and also a barrier to finding out what help is available in the first instance. Thank you for highlighting this important issue.

  • @LorraineThomas The University of Edinburgh has put together an FL MOOC "The Sharia and Islamic Law: An Introduction" that starts early next month.

  • @LorraineThomas (cont'd...)

    Sahar (Assistant Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Wales) is supported in her right to wear what she chooses by Holly Willoughby in contrast to Dr Taj Hargey. This exchange puts into question the popular idea that it is Muslim men who force women to wear such clothing.

    It is true that...

  • Hi @LorraineThomas. Re your statement "the vast majority wear black clothes". What do you base this on? The picture for this step shows an old lady who I photographed in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. I hope this image demonstrates that a range of colours can be "acceptable".

    The Wikipedia article on the Hijab (head scarf) is replete with images showing a riot of,...

  • @GrahamWright Chain migration refers to the process by which immigrants from a particular town or village follow other individuals from the same same location "back home" to the new area of settlement.

  • @BENROBERTS to be fair you didn't indicate "in the past 20 years" in your comment. I think this highlights an issue when using statistics as one can draw the line wherever makes one's point.

  • @BENROBERTS I think you might find that the IRA are, by far, "responsible for the majority of terrorism committed In the uk" according to the link you sent. Therefore people might argue that Irish Nationalism has presented "a greater threat and perpetrator of terror in the uk"

  • @MikWisniewski Thank you for your comment. Although it may be somewhat dated, you may the following piece of research useful in terms of empirical data regarding the media's portrayal of Muslims as alluded to in the video for this section:

  • Hi Lorraine. Yes it does include water. Basically it is 'Nil by mouth' to use the medical jargon. Pregnant women are not expected to fast.

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  • @BeeGreene Happy to help! The Qur'an as we know it today has not been modernised. It is written in Classical Arabic, which is perfectly understandable to contemporary speakers of modern Arabic. Indeed, it was fascinating for me to watch my wife reading the Birmingham Qur'an manuscript, which was carbon dated between 568 and 645AD - she had no problem...

  • @MikWisniewski Quite correct - thank you for pointing it out! I'll make sure that that's changed

  • @RebeccaMahmood You really need to cite sources for claims such as this in a social science based course. Also I am not sure of the relevance of your statement to this section or indeed the course.

  • Thank you for your reply Graham your input has been noted.

  • @MikWisniewski You've hit the nail on the head! These are exactly the questions that make more social science based research in this area necessary

  • Can I please request that you keep to the topic of the course as otherwise threads become confusing. Similarly, in keeping with FutureLearn's Code of Conduct, please ensure that posts are in the language of the course, or at the very least provide translations.

  • @NicolaJames You ask some very good questions, and indeed academics in our field are asking similar ones. I know that one of our PhD students' thesis is entitled "Understanding and Explaining the Economic Inactivity of Muslim Women"; unfortunately, as she has only recently finished, it will not be available for public consumption for a little while. You might...

  • @NicolaJames I can't speak for other courses. From the outset, this course has aimed to show learners an academic social science approach. It is unfortunate that you feel that the course does not encourage debate; to the contrary, it does, but such debate would need to work within the framework of an evidence based approach. Within that framework, arguments...

  • @NicolaJames On a personal note. As an add on to my previous comment.

    I have no idea to what extent "luck" played a part in Ayesha's journey thus far. What I do know is that an incredible amount of hard work and dedication was involved. She has secured a prestigious PhD scholarship in a highly competitive field and produces some groundbreaking work....

  • @NicolaJames I would urge you embrace the great opportunity presented in this course to engage more usefully with real Muslims living in the UK. It appears, when you are presented with evidence, in the form of testimony, you seem to dismiss it as an exception but offer no evidence as to why. Ayesha's replies to you form a fascinating insight into the life of...

  • @GrahamWright As stated in the description, the video is exploring the Qur'an and its "significance to Muslims". As such, it is of course "partisan" in that it is an exploration of the Muslim viewpoint - the "Muslims believe that..." part can be taken for granted considering the context. Similarly, "the portrayal of Muhammad as an all around good guy" is a...

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  • @TonyMay Re:Your comment - "when I raise "Islam" people invariably respond with "Muslims"." I would remind you, once again, that this is a course that deals with Muslims in Britain and their lived experiences. It is not a course on theology; it does not deal with "Islam", or indeed the truth or worthiness of any religious tradition. It also does not look...

  • @TonyMay I would remind you that when you signed up for this course you agreed to abide to the code of conduct. By doing so I would point out that you did indeed accept the courses restrictions. Esposing views that are regarded as extreme fall within the code and such comments will be deleted as per the code you agreed to.

  • @LorraineThomas Hi Lorraine, so glad I was able to clear this up. It's great that you are undertaking this course - hopefully you will continue to gain from it!

  • @TonyMay Thank you for the clarification. I'm not sure that a quote from a Victorian Prime Minister calling the Qur'an an "accursed book" means that people in the 21st century would not regard this as an extreme religious view (and therefore in conflict with the Code of Conduct), especially considering contemporary, more enlightened sensibilities around this...

  • Hi @LorraineThomas I hope I didn't give the impression that I was making any claims about who is or isn't a "good" Muslim in my comment - that's not really what we're here to do on this course. As sociologists of religion, we wouldn't want to (or even cannot) really make these kinds of judgements - and indeed, many Muslims would say that such judgment is...

  • Tony please explain what you mean by the "-------- book" - so other learners can understand your meaning

  • Welcome Fayette. Your story sounds fascinating. I hope you will enjoy the social science focused course and am sure other learners will benefit from your engagement.

  • Hi Sara - I am glad you found the talk interesting. Here is the link for anyone who would like to see it.

  • Mazz B comments are removed by futurelearn moderators if the breech the code of conduct you agreed to when signing onto the course.

  • Hi Nicola. I think the point here is that Muslims can indeed be described as a 'distinct' group that have some particular social policy needs. Facilities for daily prayers could be described as such a need. This is in line with other distinct groups eg other religions and LBGT community.

  • @TonyMay I would ask you to remember this course's Code of Conduct when dealing with other learners. Your usage of the phrase "Aspergers like literalism" is insensitive and quite probably offensive to both your fellow learners and people on the Autism spectrum.

    You are quite right to point out the inconsistency in 1.19 - thank you for that, I will make...

  • Hi Mik. Recitation is not one of the five pillars; as you will see from the next section (1.13-1.21) they are: Declaration of faith, Prayer, Fasting, Alms giving and Pilgrimage. The ability to recite Qur'anic verses in Arabic e.g. during prayers does not require an understanding of the language. Around the world (including in the UK) there are Muslims who...

  • Hi Mik. An ability to speak Arabic has never been a precursor of adherence to the faith. Bear in mind the vast majority of Muslims throughout the world do not and never have spoken Arabic. Muslims will generally speak the language of their country. So Indonesians (largest Muslim population at over 200 million) speak indonesian as their official language...

  • Hi John. The Hajj takes place in the last month of the Islamic year. The feast of Eid Al-Adha marks the end of the Hajj. You must only complete the Hajj if you are physically and financially able. Umrah, also known as the lesser Hajj, can be undertaken any time of the year and incorporates some of the activities of the Hajj but is not one of the five pillars...

  • Hi Tony. I am sorry you feel the course is not covering the aspects of this topic you want to study. Step 1.4 lays out clearly the evidence based Social Science basis for the course as well as giving pointers to those who specialize in some of the areas you outline in your comment. You have given a statistic reporting to measure people's concerns that show...

  • Hi Ursula. The Pickthall translation is well established and respected. It appeals to some for its somewhat archaic yet poetic English. The Abdel Haleem version is often praised for it ease of reading. Due to the challenges adequately bringing across the original most scholars would look at a range of "Translations" much as Lesley Hazleton does in the her...

  • Hi Tony, You ask a good question. Firstly, as you will see throughout this course, the correct translation for Allah is God. Allah is merely the Arabic word for God so if you talk to Arab Christians they will refer to God as Allah when speaking Arabic. Allah is in fact a contraction of al Ilah (cf Elah in the Hebrew Bible) which simply means the Deity.


  • Euis. As an social science based course it is important to avoid putting forward a particular theological claim as being a 'Truth'. For example rather than 'Muhammad is.....' we would say 'For Muslims Muhammad.....' or 'We believe Muhammad......'

  • Thank you for the clarification Ursula. I agree with you absolutely and you make an important point. In order to better understand one another we need to be able to engage in a dialogue where we respect our differences and do not impose our views on each other. The co-learning aspect of these courses is indeed most 'affective' when individuals try to avoid...

  • Hi Ursula. When you say "Participants" are you referring to Atallah in this video or other Learners?

    If it is the latter then the comments of learners do not represent the course but merely their own opinions and would need fall within FutureLearn's Guidelines.

    If you are referring to the former then I would reiterate my point that this video (1.7) is...

  • Hi Ursula, welcome to the course. In the description for the video it states "Atallah Fitzgibbon explores what the Prophet means to Muslims". Indeed the first week sets out the "Basic Beliefs" generally held by Muslims in Britain. I find it interesting that course materials that outline what a group of people believe would be seen as "indoctrination". How...

  • Hi Tony if you would like more information on Zakat Giving in the UK I recommend the National Zakat Foundation website

  • Hi Tony and welcome to the course. For the benefit of other learners please bear in mind that it is good scholarly practice to reference the source of any quotes by individuals or excerpts from their written work.

  • Mark Bryant made a comment

    Hi Rebecca - many thanks for your feedback - I think this is an excellent idea and one I think we will implement in the future.

  • Welcome to course everyone - we hope you enjoy the next four weeks with us.

  • Hi @EwenRennie South east is indeed the general direction of Mecca from the UK. However the question was: What direction do Muslims face while praying? and that direction would differ according to where they were. So from Sydney, Australia it is just north of due west. It varies slightly in the UK so in here in Cardiff it is 116 degrees whilst in Aberdeen it...

  • Thank you @VivienneC you are absolutely correct @JanetBrinsmead did not mention "Asian women" . Many thanks for pointing out my error. I meant to say "Immigrant" women to reflect @JanetBrinsmead's point. Your reply accurately explains the lack of immigrant women's voices in the piece (with the exception of the female student of course).

    [I have not...

  • So glad you are enjoying it @MaryMaxfield

  • Many thanks for your feedback @WinnieRice . It is so good to hear when someone is gaining so much from this opportunity.

  • Hi @SaraM Sorry I couldn't tell you if it is from a particular book. Whilst I understand your desire for help in writing a literature review 'with ease' for your PhD may I respectfully remind you that that this is not the primary purpose of this course.

  • @SaraM This article was penned by Professor Gilliat-Ray and is based on her extensive knowledge of this field. I have given you link to her book in a previous post.

  • @SaraM Echoing @AyeshaKhan, the Islam UK Centre has been at the forefront of "inter-disciplinary research on many different subjects connected to the lives of Muslims in Britain" for over a decade now and , to my knowledge, the only university based research centre specialising in the lives of Muslims living in Britain.

  • Hi @SaraM This course is the culmination of many years of research by academics working for the Islam UK Centre as well as drawing from some of most respected academics within the field of British Muslim Studies. This course was designed to be accessible to a wide audience and so does not go into as much detail as some learners might like. As such it needs to...

  • Hi @SaraM . For more, in depth coverage than this course can offer on these issues I would point you to:

    You might also want to think about the MA we offer through the...

  • Hi @VivienneC . I am not sure I agree. This course, as the title suggests, deals with Muslims living in Britain, and I therefore it is correct for me to use figures that pertain to the area covered by the course.

  • Hi @VivienneC I agree! For me, this points to the importance of this field of study. By developing a better understanding of the lives of others we are better placed to identify challenges they face and ways in which to help to tackle them.

  • I think this is an interesting question @JennyB. One might want to think about ways in which social media is impacting how Muslims see themselves. Historically, the idea of of a Muslim Ummah has taken on many forms and interpretations.

  • Dear @SaraM. Educators and mentors are only required to work on the "Live" week of this course We are currently working on WEEK 3: COMMUNITIES. This is why you might not receive answers to you questions pertaining to non-active weeks. The articles you are asking for references for were written by the Reflections Network and are generic in nature. We have had...

  • Hi @KathleenWalker I am glad you have found the article useful in contextualizing the current situation thank you for your testimony.

  • I am glad you are making the most of the top class academic talks we are able to share with you. on the course @JanetBrinsmead. We are so lucky to have, over the years, heard from some of the top thinkers in the field.

  • Hi @ShiranWZ of course we should remember that the title of the course is "Muslims in Britain: Changes and Challenges" - the example you give makes a good argument that the challenges that face British Muslims can be very different from those facing Muslims in other countries. So a Muslim in Britain could be criticized for choosing to wear a head covering whereas...

  • Hi @ShiranWZ . You make an excellent point and your question is valid. As has been mentioned before all the participants who gave so generously of their time for these videos were self selecting. Aslo one needs to be wary in assumeing people's faith by the wearing or not of a head scarf. However without a doubt the vast majority of the women in this course are...

  • Hi @ShiranWZ, the dress codes you speak of are a hotly debated subject. However it is important is that the debate is formed around accurate information and balance. For example the dress code in Saudi Arabia does not require women to cover their faces (Niqab). Also there are female Muslim voices who dispute the idea that they have no say in their decision of what...

  • Indeed @ZiaA It is bears thinking about what people need to have or develop a healthy sense of self worth within a society.

  • @ZiaA I agree @Abdul-AzimAhmed's points are pertinent. It is interesting to note that whilst much is made about a "Overcrowded Britain"the UK only ranks 53rd in population density:

  • @JanetBrinsmead - Thank you fro your comment you bring up some very interesting questions about this piece. On your final point. You make a good point about the absence of any Asian women's voices. We will see how the immigration patterns of Muslims coming to Britain meant that initially the immigration of Muslim women ware rare in the early years. The...

  • Hi Shelia - I wonder to what extent the perceived "Happiness" of those in the film is an indication of the purpose of the film and on how media has changed over time. When one looks at evidence such as this film it is important to contextualise the material when trying to build a full picture of the situation.

  • Indeed a a fascinating and under acknowledged figure @MalihaI

  • Thank you for sharing the link @SamuelBartlett

  • hi @JennyB. unfortunately we have have had mixed results in getting the Pathe News Website to work on all platforms. This is a pity and is the reason we do not link to it from this course. If Anyone is having difficulty accessing he videos on the website I would suggest they contact the site directly and let them know of the problems - this will hopefully lead...

  • @OlRappaport I would applaud your call for caution. It is important to be careful with coming to any conclusions based on any single piece of "evidence"

  • @ZiaA / @MalihaI So glad you are enjoying the course

  • @SamuelBartlett I agree. The point of this article is to underline that there were links between Britain and Isalm before more recent migration patterns.

  • Hi Samuuel - to my knowledge your first paragraph is spot on. The word Allah is used by many Arabic speaking Christians when referring to God. A more complete translation of Allah Akba is : The God (or Daeity) is greater. As you say - greater than anything else.

  • @OlRappaport I am not clear what your are asking. When you ask "Does that mean that we aren't considering the Ahmadiyya on this course? " I am unclear what the "that" in your question refers to.

    Academically we take no position on who or who is not a Muslim. As we will see in later in the course Britain is the home to a remarkable diversity of Muslims from...

  • You are most welcome to the course Ol

  • Hi Kathleen. To my knowledge the belief is that the Suhuf given to Abraham has been lost to history.

  • Hi Ismaili - what you say is true however the introduction of this step only says "Recitation has a particular significance for Muslims"

  • Thank you for adding the links @AbdelHalimHafez. Unfortunately I cannot get the first one to open. I word of caution regarding translations as they differ a great deal and can only really be looked at as 'interpretations'. I would highly recommend listening to the Lesley Hazelton linked in the "SEE ALSO" section of this step.

  • Hi Kathleen. To add to @AbdelHalimHafez 's excellent explanation. When muslims have completed their prayers they turn their head to each shoulder and greet the two angels who they believe are there, one writing down your good deeds and the other your bad deeds.

  • Hi Gail - I think Hasnan means "Fasting"

  • Mark Bryant replied to [Learner left FutureLearn]

    Hi Robin - this course takes a sociological look at Muslims Living in Britain. During the course learners are introduced to how the lives of Muslims living in the UK are impacted by factors such as: the history of Muslims living in the UK and the historical influence of Islam in the UK. Also diversity, settlement patterns, demographics, local media depictions...

  • Hi Tooba - welcome to the course. The 'Where in the world' section is entirely voluntary and if you do not feel comfortable revealing your location there is no compulsion to do so. The section is designed as a bit of fun where learners can get a feeling of the diverse makeup of their fellow learners and how global the course is.

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  • Not surprisingly not everyone shares your view Andrew.

    for example

    Amnesty International said Tuesday's ECJ rulings were "disappointing" and "opened a backdoor to... prejudice".


    The Church of England has condemned a "troubling" European Court of Justice ruling which allows employers to ban their...

  • Dear Andrew. Once again we are sorry this course has not met your expectations. We have presented evidence that Muslims living in the UK based on a body of academic work that has been through the same peer reviewed regious as in any other academic field.

    In Step 1.4 you read: "We of course acknowledge the impact and seriousness of questions around extremism...

  • Both Britain and the US derive wealth from oil and other fossil fuels and are both looking for further deposits. Neither state appears to have any plans to leave the carbon in the grounds. In addition, most of the carbon extracted from the middle east has been burned in the West. However, I do not think that this is an argument that environmental groups within...

  • Hi Gill.

    Officially I am off topic here and would not usually be commenting on areas of the course not currently 'Live' but as this is my area of interest I hoped learners might indulge me.

    However I will bring it back to Wudu I promise.

    Research has shown that many people (not exclusivity Muslims) do, to some degree, indeed 'pick and choose' what...

  • Most welcome Michel

  • Hi Michel. The answer for your question is really what this course is about. The course outlines how the "Changes and Challenges" of Muslims living in Britain today can be viewed in terms of an interplay between a specific set of distinct interconnected circumstances such as:

    The historical story of Muslins and Britain. Particular Settlement patterns,...

  • Dear Collin

    I am glad to have enjoyed the MOOC.

    You make a good point as to how much a depth one can go into in a course that is aimed at as wide a learner base and accessible to all and of such short duration. The truth is it can only ever be an introduction that would barely scratch the surface of this field.

    However the material presented is based...