Home Community King Charles and his relationship with Islam

King Charles and his relationship with Islam

Last week, the country received the devastating news of the Queen’s death. This left Charles to become the next ruler of the British Monarchy.

This will not only affect British citizens, as King Charles also inherits rulership over 54 commonwealth countries.

King Charles is someone we are all familiar with as he has been an active member of the Royal family for 73 years. He’s made headlines for many reasons; his previous relationship with the late Diana, his cultural and political values and his service to the country.

He’s also made headlines for his open interest in Islam. It is uncontroversial to say that he is the most knowledgeable of all English monarchs about Islam.

Let’s take a look at Charles’s affiliation with Islam over his life.

King Charles and Islam

In 2010, Charles stood up in Parliament and gave a speech regarding Islam and the environment.

“The Islamic world is the custodian of one of the greatest treasuries of accumulated wisdom and spiritual knowledge available to humanity. It is both Islam’s noble heritage and a priceless gift to the rest of the world.

And yet, so often, that wisdom is now obscured by the dominant drive towards Western materialism – the feeling that to be truly “modern” you have to ape the West.”

“The inconvenient truth is that we share this planet with the rest of creation for a very good reason – and that is, we cannot exist on our own without the intricately balanced web of life around us. Islam has always taught this and to ignore that lesson is to default on our contract with Creation.”

Amongst this speech, there are many other occasions where Charles has taken inspiration from Islamic texts and culture in his own life. Some are as follows;

  • One of his gardens at Highgrove is modelled on a Turkish carpet.
  • He is well read in Sufi doctrine
  • He set up the School of Traditional Arts near Regents Park that teaches traditional Islamic arts at the master’s level
  • He is patron of the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, where he has sponsored a Young Muslim Leadership Programme.
  • In the nineties, he floated the idea that his title as King should be changed from ‘Defender of the Faith’ to ‘Defender of Faith’ to encapsulate multifaith Britain in the twenty-first century.

He has also been a longstanding advocate of bridging the gap between Muslims and modern society, stating there is a big ‘misunderstanding’ between communities.

In a 1993 speech at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, he stated,

“If there is much misunderstanding in the West about the nature of Islam, there is also much ignorance about the debt our own culture and civilisation owe to the Islamic world.

It is a failure which stems, I think, from the straightjacket of history which we have inherited.”

Britain’s Prince Charles, front, and his wife the Duchess of Cornwall Camilla, front right, visit the tomb of Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi, in the central Turkish city of Konya on November 26, 2007 [Burhan Ozbilici/Pool/Reuters]

What does this mean for British Muslims?

It’s great to have the head of the monarch have a basic interest and understanding of Islam. Not only may this strengthen interfaith relationships, but it’s comforting to know the ruler of the country has a basic understanding of who and what Muslims stand for. We feel seen.

However, we must take this information with a pinch of salt. Ultimately, the monarchy serves as soft power, and there are higher forces at play that dictate how things go.

Yahya Birt, a British American writer and academic, shared his opinions on his social media.

‘My final plea is that British Muslims don’t rush in with the photo ops and excitement at a new monarch and at the very least take a conscientious pause to ponder what the implications really are in terms of natural justice and fairness.

‘And Allah knows best.’

Previous articleCitizenship; from a right to a privilege, IRR report shows
Next articleUnusual Mosques: The Islamic Religious & Cultural Centre in Ljubljana