‘Making the Mosque a Social Hub’? Mosque Outreach and Ethical Aspiration Amid British Austerity
This paper explores an emerging trend among British mosques towards community outreach. Based on participant observation and interviews, it argues that the growing interest in outreach stems from a particular understanding of how to live a ‘good life’ as a British Muslim: to care for others and to make the mosque a place that welcomes non-Muslims. I suggest that the increasing interest in community outreach is not simply a defensive response to anti-Muslim prejudice, but inspired by a rich con-ceptualisation of an Islamic genealogy of hospitality and virtue and motivated by growing need. However, Muslim voluntarism may reinforce the ideological distinction between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Muslims, contributing to the discursive construction of British Muslim citizenship as conditional. Moreover, while acts of outreach and charity help to mitigate increasing poverty and destitution in the UK, these individualistic, small-scale responses to inequality may actually depoliticise the nature of poverty and structural injustice.