Photographs chart time and place for Muslim communities in Britain

Short-listed entries include stunning images of everyday life

An organisation dedicated to archiving the lives of Muslims in the UK has launched a new project that hopes to ‘empower’ Muslims to document their history and representation in the country.

The Everyday Muslim Heritage and Archive Initiative launched its first photography competition earlier this year with the aim of collating a contemporary visual narrative of Muslim communities in Britain.

Short-listed entries were photos taken in the past five years and included a man praying in the park with a supermarket bag beside him, a woman in a headscarf walking to the bus stop in the snow, and a table full of playing cards, coffee cups and prayer beads.

Sadiya Ahmed, who founded the initiative in 2013 to address the “noticeable absence” of a distinctly Muslim narrative from the exhibitions of historical and educational institutions in Britain, says she wants to create a central archive of Muslim lives, arts, education and cultures in the country.

“Photographs are a visual representation of our stories and memories. They provide a snapshot of a particular time, place or event and evidence of both physical and emotional details of a particular moment. They are integral to an archive collection as they are an official record of our existence,” Ms Ahmed told The National.

The theme of the inaugural photography competition was ‘everyday Muslim life’ and entrants were invited to share photos from personal collections and family albums. The purpose, says Ms Ahmed, was to allow the Muslim community to “take ownership” of their stories.

“The focus on collecting the ‘everyday’ images is vital as we want to ensure the collection does not just focus on the great leaders or scholars," Ms Ahmed said.

"Engagement and investment of individuals exists throughout the community and we want to emphasise this with our photographs.”

Updated: November 22nd 2021, 9:02 AM