Thursday, July 19, 2012

Islamic Tartan Launched
Azeem Ibrahim is a Scot. He is in fact more Scottish than St Andrew having been born in Glasgow. Ibrahim's name does not feature much in our local media yet he is a regular name in listings of contemporary global thinkers. The latest news from this extraordinary young man is his launch of an Islamic Tartan.

What a bold and innovative approach to Dr Ibrahim's dream of: "the perfect symbol of the future generation in particular, for the younger, educated Muslims caught between two cultures — East and West, traditional and modern. Instead of conflict, the tartan represents a tightly woven blend of tradition and heritage. By bringing together the strands of two cultures, a symbol is created of something more meaningful than assimilation or accommodation. The tartan represents the new fabric of society, where Muslim Scots with a sense of history and a commitment to the future of Scotland have become an integral part of the New Scotland."

The Scottish Islamic Tartan is intended to weave the diverse Muslim identity into the fabric of Scotland and provide an enduring symbol of the deep connection between the two cultures. Dr Azeem Ibrahim, who just last week launched the Scotland Institute think tank, consulted leading tartan designers and Islamic scholars to produce a unique design based on the following:
- Blue to represent the Scottish Flag
- Green to represent the colour of Islam
- Five white lines represent the five pillars of Islam
- Six gold lines the six articles of faith
- Black square pattern represents the Holy Kabah.

Dr Ibrahim has stated that  part of his intention is to "  interest, challenge and provoke discussion among people who have Scotland’s interests at heart." That has certainly begun online with Amanullah De Sondy asking Which Islam does this tartan represent? Is it a Sunni Islamic tartan? Does it represent other denominations, such as the Ahmadiyyas or the variety of Shi’ia colors? If this tartan is to strengthen diaspora Muslim identity then which Islamic civilization does it represent? It is wonderful to see Scottish Muslims being proud of their Scottish identity, but let’s not take steps backward to strengthen those age-old generalizations. Islam and Muslims are not a monolith and so weaving everything ‘Islamic’ and ‘Muslim’ into one tartan may ultimately cause more harm than good.(reference)

The official site for the new Tartan includes references to the history of Islam and Scotland. The relationship between the cultures goes back as far as the early Middle Ages with the first signs of Muslim settlement in Scotland traced to the 18th and 19th century seafarers from India.

Although I carry my ancient Scottish heritage in my Father's surname I do not share Dr Ibrahim's immediate connection to place. However, at last I may have found a  Tartan that I can wear as well as my usual Caledonian Tartan. So it's off to  one of the local suppliers now to see about getting a Kilt done in this new and exciting tartan!!
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