Exploring Sports and Culture

This DBI Sports and Culture Collection contains a sample of sites and platforms that serve and advocate for British Muslims in various artistic and sporting interests. It includes writing groups and awards, cultural festivals such as MACFEST – International Festival, Festival, Muslim, a rapidly expanding arts and cultural festival to showcase Muslim creatives and bridging communities created by Manchester-based author  Qaisra Shahraz in 2017.  Since then, it has hosted over 80 events with schools, colleges and universities across the UK and has gone international in an increasing number of countries. It was originally formed in the aftermath of the Manchester Arena terrorist attacks to address Islamophobia and bring Muslim and non-Muslim communities to celebrate the diversity and the richness of Muslim heritage. 

Screenshot: Macfest

Equally impressive are the cultural initiatives that British Muslims have pioneered. The Muslim Writers Awards, established in the mid-2000s,  is a platform that encourages the literary and creative capacity of young British Muslims through workshops and an annual competition. Another notable initiative is the Muslim Litfest, which hosts festivals across the UK at different times and locations to foster a culture of reading and learning.

These initiatives, along with the increasing expression of creative cultural endeavours, reflect  the reinvention of tradition and the hybrid manifestations of Islamically infused forms of art, music, material culture, theatre, architecture, poetry, literature, and humour by Muslim millennials and Gen Z youth cohorts.

Over the last few years, British Muslims have developed several sports-based initiatives that aim to encourage people to become more physically active and pursue leisure-based activities.  The Muslim Hikers – Championing Diversity Outdoors is a subscription-based hiking group founded by Haroon Mota, which takes groups of Muslims to climb in various locations across the UK.  Another comparable project aimed at Muslim females is Muslim Women Adventure & Hiking | The Wanderlust Women.

Other organisations such as  Nujum Sports | Empowering Muslim Athletes: Mental Health, Education, Faith, and Community have also emerged to support Muslim athletes in sports through its connections with sporting institutions. It also provides training opportunities, workshops,  counselling and mental health support. Set by Amira Patel in 2020 to encourage Muslim women to hike and experience outdoor pursuits. This is in addition to individuals from British communities such as charity fundraisers Afruz Miah, and Akke Rahman, both from Oldham-the former has run from Oldham to London during Ramadan while fasting, while the latter became the first British Muslim to climb Mount Everest.  Both have inspired others to become physically active and set up Muslim-led sports groups.

This archive collection is a work in progress. We intend to expand our analysis and content tagging in due course, connecting different aspects of the project. We will make further inroads into collecting and drilling down on content as Digital British Islam progresses.