Although Islam is generally thought of as being a recent arrival in the United Kingdom, there has been contact between Britons and Muslims for many centuries. An early example would be the decision of Offa, the eighth-century King of Mercia (one of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms existing at that time), to have coins minted with an Islamic inscription on them - copies of coins issued by the near-contemporary Muslim ruler Al-Mansur. It is thought that they were minted to facilitate trade with the expanding Islamic empire in Spain.
The first large group of Muslims in Britain arrived about 300 years ago. They were sailors recruited in India to work for the East India Company, and so it's not surprising that the first Muslim communities were found in port towns. Ships cooks came too, many of them from Sylhet in what is now Bangladesh. There are records of Sylhetis working in London restaurants as early as 1873.
The first Muslim community which permanently settled in the United Kingdom consisted of Yemeni sailors who arrived in ports such as Swansea, Liverpool and South Shields shortly after 1900. Later some of them migrated to inland cities like Birmingham and Sheffield where there are 23,819 Muslims.
Mosques also appeared in British seaports at this time; the first mosque in Britain is recorded as having been at 2 Glyn Rhondda Street, Cardiff, in 1860. From the 1950s, with large immigration to Britain from the former colonies of Britain, especially the Indian subcontinent and East Africa, large Muslim populations developed in many British towns and cities.
In England 40% of Muslims live in London, where they make up 8.5% of the population. There are also large numbers of Muslims in Birmingham, Manchester, Bradford, Luton, Slough, Leicester and the mill towns of Northern England. In Scotland there are significant Muslim populations in Glasgow (17667, 3.1%), East Renfrewshire (1897, 2.1%), Dundee (2846, 2.0%) and Edinburgh (6801, 1.5%). In Wales most Muslims live in Cardiff (11261, 3,7%), but there are also significant numbers in Newport (3492, 2.6%) and Swansea (2167, 1.0%). Muslims are concentrated in urban areas, where they make up 3.3% of the population; In rural areas the proportion of the population is less than 0.1%.
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