Growing up as a Muslim, I can say that we were reared differently from other girls in different religions. I can say that our upbringing is very conservative, as we had different beliefs. There are three main differences I noticed compared to those who have different religions: Muslim women act, talk and dress up differently.
When I had the chance to study in UK, I really did not know what to expect. Moving in to UK, I know I had to make some adjustments. As a Muslim, I am to advise to follow rules that I know will clash with western women as they are brought up in a modern way and believe in equality. We are taught to obey our parents, from the moment we are born. In fact, we marry whomever they want for us, then serve and obey our husband.
I experienced racism many times. I was badly stared and smirked at. Some people found me weird, and there are times where I feel like they still do. I am not accepted in some groups, usually joining Muslim groups around the area. Sometimes, I was tempted to lie and go against my beliefs just to fit in!
One time, I was with my Muslim friends eating in a café and I noticed some people were uneasy because we were also there. The staff approached us and we were told that other guests would occupy our table. We knew that was just a lie. People keep their space as if I was going to attack them, and I can say that as a Muslim in the UK, it’s hurtful and difficult.
I have also been told that what I believe in is wrong, and that was one of the most hurtful things I’ve heard since I moved. But, it’s a good thing that my faith is intact. Despite the judgment, I am not giving up on my dreams. I am confident in my own skin. I am not going to give up the teachings I have learned just to fit in because everything Muslim women are told to do ultimately benefits women.
Being a Muslim in the UK may be difficult at times, but through guidance in my beliefs and the right crowd, I believe I’ll be able to live a great life.