Voices of Modern Islam
A collection of interviews with over 100 British Muslims to provide insight into what it means to be a Muslim in today’s culture, and to inform any misguided opinions about Islam. Explores the Holy Texts, the essence of the religion, the different types of Islam and addresses controversial topics such as extremism and Islamophobia.
An extract from Voices of Modern Islam - What it Means to be Muslim Today
My parents weren’t born in Britain. They came from Pakistan and moved here when they were teenagers. I don’t speak their language properly, and when I visit Pakistan, I am instantly spotted as being different to the natives. Although people see me as a Muslim, they put me into a different category - like that of a tourist. I don’t have a problem with this because, after all, I am British. I was born here and this is where I have become rooted through school, friends and now university. I have adapted to being Muslim in a non-Muslim country.
Islam asks for Muslims to obey the law of the land wherever they live but surely this must include respecting the culture of this country too? I have lots of female friends and do not see the harm of giving any of them a lift in my car, provided they are able to put up with my singing! I love to have the stereo on in the car and sing. I go to pubs with friends where we watch football or rugby matches. They drink alcohol and I drink Pepsi, and there is never any pressure on me to do otherwise. My friends respect me for who I am. I also go to nightclubs with friends because I love music – not to chat up girls and have sex. Dining out with non-Muslim friends isn’t a problem either. They can eat anything they like as far as I am concerned. They know what I can and can’t eat. That doesn’t stop friendly camaraderie occurring amongst the group – for example if I’m out in town with friends one of them might ask who wants a bacon roll and nod at everybody before reaching me and saying, “Oh, sorry, Zebi. You’re not allowed one!”.
Restrictions according to one’s religion don’t have to be viewed negatively. You can adapt your lifestyle to that of your country without becoming assimilated and going against the values of your religion. You must trust yourself, and as a young person, you must ask your parents to trust you, too, and never betray them. It is perfectly possible to be a fully integrated Muslim in Britain without shunning non-Muslims and fearing their lifestyle.
It is perfectly possible to respect others who, in turn, will respect that Muslims don’t drink alcohol or eat pork, pray five times daily and do Ramadan every year. Life needs to be about welcoming people into your life not trying to keep them out. I really feel they will be far more of this in the next few generations of Muslims in Britain. There will be less emphasis on the culture and traditions of our grandparents and ancestors and more on what is important in our lives in the here and now.