CAIRO – British Muslims are organizing a four-day conference to celebrate `Eid Al-Fitr which marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, offering Muslims an opportunity for an expected 4,500 attendees to discuss the issues pertinent to them in contemporary Britain.
"British Muslims are a broad range of people, they're not just interested in one thing,” Dilwar Hussain, one of the organizers of the Islamic Society of Britain event, told the Guardian.
“They have diverse interests and they shouldn't be stereotyped as extreme or non-extreme, passive or moderate.”
Hussain was talking at the Living Islam festival which began on Thursday at Lincolnshire Showground and continues over the weekend.
Run for the fifth time, the topics being covered ranges from sectarianism in the UK and tackling extremism to Saturday's opportunity to "have a frank and honest conversation about sex and relationships" and Sunday's segment on how to "spice up your marriage".
Hussain said the topics reflect "Muslim table talk, what people ordinarily discuss in their homes," adding that the wide range of topics should not be a surprise.
"It's true to some extent that we don't publicly talk about these things and what we are saying is actually, these things should be talked about," he added.
Along with discussions, the festival included an entertainment tent, a Glastonbury-style big top, featured rapping, beatboxing and comedy on Thursday night.
Moreover, there are a huge range of activities, including supervised scout activities, bouncy castles and rock-climbing to distract the children while parents attend to more serious matters.
Britain is home to a sizable Muslim minority of nearly 2.7 million.
The four-day festival has won the praise from a wide range of attendees who included Muslim leaders and non-Muslim speakers such as former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.
At the event, Williams gave a talk entitled "What do British values look like and is there room for Muslims?"
“The setting-up therefore of British values against any kind of values, whether Muslim or Christian, just won't do," he said.
He told the Guardian Living Islam was "a very important event. I've thought for a long time that voices of young professional Muslims aren't heard enough."
Nadia Ishtiaq, a young professional Muslim from London, said Williams' words resonated with her. She and her husband were camping with their two daughters for the first time after chancing upon details of the event online.
“It's really diverse, I love that," the 31-year-old, who works in accounts said, referring to her liking the fact that Christians like Williams were speaking, as well as Muslims from different strands of Islam.
"Sometimes Muslims can be quite cliquey. As British Muslims, we do try to get involved with our neighbours. Muslims shouldn't make themselves exclusive, we are an inclusive faith."
Ajmal Masroor, the imam of TV fame, including "Make me a Muslim", said the event was helping to create "positive citizens of this country".
Explaining what people could expect from his seminar on love, sex and relationships on Saturday, he said it would be "everything about sex you want to know from a Muslim perspective.”
“According to Islam, sexual experience is a heavenly glimpse of what's to come. Most of us want it to last forever, but if it did you would be in heaven [already]."
The festival has also won praise for allowing Muslims a chance to enjoy themselves while keeping their identity.
"We thought it was a good thing for them [the children] to be in an Islamic environment so they can see their religion as something positive," Mary MacIntyre, a 42-year-old teaching assistant from London, said.
"You can still enjoy yourself as a Muslim. They can come here and be proud of their identity."