In fact it was a welcoming and, as promised on the flier, multicultural vibe - no mean feat in the UK's compartmentalised music scene. The Islamic aspect was far from glossed over, although I might have developed a different first impression had I turned up during the recitation of the Qur'an by Dr Hayrettin Ozturk!
But rather than being oppressive this aspect created some interesting 'cultural exchange', for example hearing from Hassan Erajji, an apparently infinitely-talented Moroccan musician, who shared the personal meaning of a song about immigration and his life in the UK, which has challenged his preconceptions of finding riches in foreign lands.
I would applaud Hassan, and many of the other acts, who took the trouble to describe the meaning behind lyrics - a level of understanding and communication which is often sadly missing from 'world' music. In this way the festival benefitted from its religious flavour - the musicians were actually trying to communicate something - and it was this need for emotional communication that linked the many varied styles of music.
In terms of the music - I can categorically say I've never been to an event with so many different styles, not to mention instruments, on display: from ouds (Arabic guitars) to rapping and from Uzbekistani folk tunes to Bosnian nasheed (praise songs). The sets were also short and sweet which kept the event feeling particularly lively and stimulating; a pleasant way to pass a rainy remembrance day afternoon.
In short I would recommend the festival to anyone interested in world music, in its broadest sense, or in the Muslim faith. One final recommendation, if you intend to go, don't eat beforehand... after a bargainous plate of food from 'around the Muslim world' I felt like a python who'd swallowed a cow!