They: What Muslims and Non-Muslims Get Wrong About Each Other is a powerful and inspiring new book from Manzoor. In it, he intricately weaves together history, reportage and memoir to paint a vivid and often moving portrait of Britain as never before. Tackling “otherness” and notions of belonging, as well as the myth of British identity, Manzoor searches for the roots of division, explores how Islam is a more tolerant and progressive faith than commonly assumed, and embarks on a journey for a more positive future.

Having grown up in a working-class Pakistani Muslim family in Luton, Manzoor was raised to believe that they were different, that they would never accept him. They were white people. In today’s deeply divided Britain, where right-wing populist and xenophobic rhetoric reigns over tolerance and misinformation spreads faster than fact, we are often told that the they are Muslims.

“Empathy is the weapon against division.”

Journalist Sarfraz Manzoor’s honest yet optimistic reflections are at its centre: his thoughts on his parents and siblings, his Scottish wife Bridget and his children.

This subtle book, which the author is happy to recommend, comprises a broad cross-section of interviews with British Pakistanis and their fellow citizens and is enriched by his reflections on parenthood.

The Muslims Manzoor talks about are, in their vast majority, British of Pakistani origin.

A profoundly intimate journey around identity, on who we are and wish to be: evocative, timely, robust, superb—a must-read for anyone who wants to understand why multiculturalism seems to have failed so many Muslims.

Sarfraz Manzoor grew up in a working-class Pakistani Muslim family in Luton – where he was raised to understand that they were different, they had an alien culture, and they would never accept him. They were white people.

In today’s deeply divided Britain, we are often told they are different, have different cultures and values, and never accept this country. This time they are Muslims.

Weaving together history, reportage and memoir, Sarfraz Manzoor journeys around Britain in search of the roots of this division – from the fear that Islam promotes brutality to the suspicion that Muslims wish to live segregated lives to the belief that Islam is fundamentally misogynistic.

THEY are also Manzoor’s search for a more positive future. We hear stories from the Islamic history of faith more tolerant and progressive than commonly assumed, and levels of hope from across the country show how we might bridge the chasm of mutual mistrust.

THEY are at once fiercely urgent, resolutely hopeful and profoundly personal. It is the story of modern, Muslim Britain as it has never been told.

“These are stories of positivity and hope.

Not in a naive way, but because this stuff matters.”

This is a wonderfully written book. I highly recommend it. It is an inspiring book and a must-read for anyone who wants to understand, really understand what it is like to be a Muslim growing up today.

They: What Muslims and Non-Muslims Get Wrong About Each Other Kindle Edition

by Sarfraz Manzoor 

Author(s)

  • Sunita Sehmi

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