Being a Muslim in Britain

December 11, 2013 2:18 pm

Hello. My name is Aneesa and I’m a Muslim. I wanted to try typing that line out. Yes, definitely sounds like I’m in some sort of shameful Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. I was hesitant at first to write this article, in fear of coming across as a “Qur’an basher”. I did, however, remind myself that I’m a finalist now and all hope of maintaining a super-composed, super-cool image faded not long after freshers’ week when I attempted to hurl a Qur’an at a guy’s head for having the audacity to play tonsil tennis with a girl in the middle of Fusion’s dance floor.

muslim in britain

Bad jokes aside and in case the reader now has an idea of me in their head – no, I’m not Indian/Pakistani/Afghan/[insert Eastern country here] and I don’t wear a headscarf. Hopefully we’ve done away with some misconceptions that, if we’re all reasonably honest, you may have had. My mum’s Irish – and a white one at that. Not sure if this makes the article all the more sensational, but here’s to hoping. I have my own mind, as do an awful lot of Muslims. At the age of 21, I’m independent enough to have investigated this religion, and have read the Qur’an to check that there was no rule that went something like, “Thou shalt blast some sense into the world by annihilating those that wilt not believe”. Had this been the case, I could have understood the need for concern. There was no such sentence. There were lots of stories about prophets and, in terms of applying Islam to everyday life, a lot of the Qur’an focused on the individual person and on us battling our own demons. Nothing is said about running out guns blazing in some sort of attempt to save humankind. This is not The Avengers.

For some, the lack of such violence may prove disappointing. Everyone needs a scapegoat. At one point it was the Irish, at another point the Blacks. I’m pretty sure Sikhs, Hindus, Christians, Protestants, Dogs, Cats, have also had their turn at one point or another. It just so happens that, since 9/11, Islam is the only one we now need. A lot of people need to be able to simply point a finger at a clearly defined enemy, as complexity just won’t do. Extremists are going out waving a bomb here, wafting a machete there, and screaming in the name of Allah. I’m no expert, but slaughtering the innocent isn’t the most efficient way into getting people to read the Qur’an. I don’t know whose name they are yelling murder in but it isn’t the God who myself and many other

uk muslims

There are good Muslims, there are bad Muslims and then there are the ones who should consider re-labelling their faith altogether, as most Muslims will probably have more in common with Reverend Pope round the corner than with this tribe of terrorists. Those who espouse the idea that their actions are motivated by a higher being should be the very ones praying that He/She/It doesn’t exist at all. To those who don’t wish to speak about their religion, don’t. Unless the person seems genuinely interested, or wants to challenge preconceived ideas, you do not have to discuss it at all. It is not your role to act as a global ambassador for you religion, or to convince people that you’re not senile. Let them think it because, in my experience, those people soon move on.Muslims have been following for years. If I wasn’t repulsed, I’d be inclined to compare notes, as clearly one of us has interpreted something wrong along the way. Unfortunately, terrorists seem to represent a whole and so Islam gets a good beating in the press. Some elements of society really should spare us reading in between the lines and just come out and say, “not only did the little criminal [swear/steal/assassinate/murder/bomb/fight/beat up], but on top of that folks, they’re also Muslim – I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried”. It’s as though the religion naturally explains the crime. It doesn’t. The person paid lip-service to some religion passed down to them through their family whilst committing a crime. Shame, because it’s leaving the rest of us with a brush, desperately trying to sweep up the embarrassment. A fundamental message of the Qur’an is one of peace, a message that is conveniently overlooked in the media. I think we can all agree that human actions are motivated by the need to eventually arrive at some sort of happiness and peace. Some of us look for peace in the form of family and friends, or money, perhaps Botox, a boob job, a career with an adequate job title, or, indeed, believing that this world is governed by something other than ourselves. With any of the above, it is that person’s right to search for peace in whatever area they believe it to be in and the last thing they should be offering to anybody else is an apology.

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