Fieldwork in Religion, Vol 9, No 2 (2014)

“It’s a bit cool and awesome” Using Liverpool’s Muslim Heritage to Help Muslim Pupils Learn how to “Translate” their Faith in the Liverpool of Today

Tom Wilson
Issued Date: 3 Aug 2015

Abstract


Contrary to the stereotype of conflict between Christians and Muslims, St Aidan’s Church of England Primary School in inner-city Liverpool is a place where as one pupil said, “We are all united together,” arguably a remarkable achievement for an Anglican school with approximately two-thirds Muslim pupils. This article is based on my ethnographic fieldwork with Muslim pupils in St Aidan’s and examines the role of education and the Muslim heritage of Liverpool in shaping the identity of Liverpudlian Muslims today. The article comprises of four main sections. First, it briefly describes the context of St Aidan’s and the nature of my fieldwork there. Second, it discusses the idea of hospitality as translation. In the third, main, section, the article evaluates how the theory of hospitality as translation was realized in the life of the school, focusing on an RE lesson that I taught in St Aidan’s which outlined the history of Abdullah Quilliam’s “Muslim Institute,” which ran from 1889 to 1908 and housed the United Kingdom’s first registered mosque. Having outlined the content of the lesson, the article then critically evaluates student responses and argues that education concerning Muslim heritage is crucial for their identity formation as Muslims. The title for this article is a quote of a Muslim pupil’s reaction to learning about the existence of the Muslim Institute and typifies the positive response and growth in confidence of their identity as Liverpudlian Muslims. Finally, the article argues that Christian hospitality provides a distinctive framework within which the process of Muslim identity formation can be facilitated and that fieldwork can be combined successfully to form a theological enquiry.

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DOI: 10.1558/firn.v9i2.13437

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