Here are the answers to some of the things people frequently ask about New Horizons in British Islam:

Is there a need for a project like this? Collapse/Expand

The debate around Islam has become very difficult in Britain. In tandem with the growth in anti-Muslim sentiment, there has been an increasing sense of victimhood and closed attitudes developing among some Muslims. These Muslims have forgotten important aspects of our tradition: how deep, how wide and flexible it is. We believe that working together with other groups and partners will help improve our understanding of what Islam means to us today, and promote the understanding of non-Muslims living alongside us in Britain.

What do you mean by ‘British Islam’? Collapse/Expand

There is only one Islam, as it is a universal and global faith. But Muslim traditions have evolved in line with different contexts, and the practical application of Islam should be rooted in local ‘urf' (customs). When we talk of a ‘British Islam’ it is shorthand for the nuances of a British approach to Islam.

Doesn’t every Muslim view Islam in the same way? Collapse/Expand

Islam can be interpreted as conservative, exclusive and full of anger. But it can also be open and inclusive, infused with love, mercy, kindness and generosity. It can be interpreted in a way that is aligned with fundamental British values, without sacrificing tradition or Islamic values. Islam has a place in modern Britain, because Britain is our home.

Is this a business? Collapse/Expand

No. We are a charity registered in England and Wales. Charities are established for public and community benefit and not for the benefit of trustees. Any money raised from grants or donations, or any income generated, is used exclusively to further the objectives of the charity.

Do you represent the views of all British Muslims? Collapse/Expand

No. But we think there are many people out there who see an Islam that is at home in this country – they may already feel this, but sometimes fear that others will criticise them for feeling this way. We want to connect with those people and help others to see this more harmonious way of living Islam.

Is this a new movement in Islam? Collapse/Expand

We strive to understand Islam in a way that is embedded in our time and place and help educate people around this understanding. This has always been the pursuit of Muslims, so on that level our work is nothing new. Terms such as: 'islah' (reform), 'tajdid' (renewal), 'ihya' (revival) and 'ijtihad' (juristic reasoning) are not new to our tradition, far from it – they are key ideas in a forward-looking vision of Islam.

What do you mean by ‘New Horizons’? Collapse/Expand

It’s about addressing issues of the day from the heart of our tradition. Tradition says opinions will evolve based on time and location. That’s where looking towards ‘new horizons’ becomes very important. We can look back at the past, while moving ahead towards greater equality and acceptance of difference.

Can you tell us what you think about the idea of ‘community’? Collapse/Expand

Community is important to us. It’s about togetherness and solidarity, it’s about the people you live with. The notion of ‘community’ is a diverse one and is not just about other Muslims – it includes your neighbour, your local shopkeeper, friends made on the school run and at work and many others. In the Charter of Medina, the Prophet described all the people in Medina, as one Ummah, one communi-ty, regardless of their faith.

What authority do you have to speak about all this? Collapse/Expand

We do not pretend to be theologians or jurists (fuqaha) in the Islamic tradition. But we do work with theologians and experts and often refer to scholarly works to ground our arguments. Our team is accomplished in diverse fields such as law, social science and religious studies. Being theologically literate and having backgrounds in social and political sciences helps to facilitate discussion and exploration of different issues, in collaboration with experts. As individual Muslims, we assert our right to hold a view, to read our faith and practice it, using the intellect that God has provided and for which we will be accountable to him alone. We hold the right to manifest our own ideas and passions based on decades of work in the sector.

How are you funded? Collapse/Expand

We are a charity and that means we publish and submit our accounts to the Charity Commission. We strive to be wholly transparent about our income. The trustees founded the organisation with their own money, going on to receive donations and grants from a wide range of sources including individuals, businesses, charities and statutory agencies. Our funders include: the Aziz Foundation, the British Council, the Church Urban Fund, Coventry University, Global Dialogue, the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and the Open Society Foundation.

Are you trying to reform Islam? Collapse/Expand

Every religion has its own way of dealing with the tensions created by calls for change and adaptation. We want to help the process of reform and contextualisation, as a continuous evolution of Islam through its own tools, such as 'islah' (reform) and 'ijtihad' (fresh thinking/juristic reasoning). That is such a huge endeavour that our role in it is a limited, humble contribution.

Do you want to change Islam? Collapse/Expand

The notion of reform (islah) is rooted in Islam itself. The Prophet Muhammad(s) came to reform religion and the lives of people in the 7th Century CE. He also taught that the revival and reform of Islam would be a continuous process. Our pursuit is to seek meaning in Islam in our time and place. We believe Islam can be relevant at all times and all places. The object is not to change Islam, but to ask questions about how our understanding may change through the passage of time. This work is motivated by a deep love for our faith, our community, our nation and the citizens of this country.

Is this really about counter-terrorism? Collapse/Expand

No. We believe it is vital to work against violence and harmful extremism in any society. But our work is rooted in a concern for how Islamic thought should be understood in the modern world, on its own terms. Our work is about promoting the integrity and contextualisation of Islamic thought and the positive integration of individuals into a strong and healthy society.

What are your hopes for the future? Collapse/Expand

For the future of this country and the future of Muslims in this country, we need to find a way for people to get along together and understand each other better. Sadly, social divides seem to be on the increase and we all need to work much harder to heal these divisions. Misunderstandings about what Islam means and stands for (both among Muslims and people of other beliefs) have come to be an obstacle in the way that we view each other. We need to get serious about really understanding our faith and making it relevant to our lives.

Is this just about the UK? Collapse/Expand

The British bit of our name refers to our anchor point; we began in, and are rooted in, the UK. But the issues and debates we are concerned with have relevance in many different parts of the world, including the US and other parts of Europe. We want to work with friends and partners to have a reach far beyond the UK.