Monday, 26 November 2012

Am I Muslim?

This post has been sitting in the drafts folder for over a month. I often find it tricky to discuss religion, ethnicity and cultural norms.
Here it is now, released in the wild.

Yesterday, the girls' school celebrated Eid. All children were to come in their Eid clothes or special clothes. The girls made Eid cards at school, and designed henna patterns.
How open-minded is that? I think it was a really cool idea. It was lovely for the girls to see their special feast recognised and celebrated outside our home.

The school itself is pretty ethnically-diverse, with possibly a fifth of its pupils descending from an ethnic minority. I wonder, do my daughters fall into this statistic? No simple answer to this question...

At the dinner table, the following conversation ensued - (BabelDad was still out at work):
BK2: "Zareen and Aliyah are muslim. I am not muslim."
BK1, emphatically: "Yes you are!"
BK2: "No, I am not Muslim, like Olivia"
BK1: "Yes you are!"
BK2: "No, I am not"
Me: "Why do you think you are not Muslim?"
BK2: "Because Muslims pray (joins her hands up), and go to the mosque"
Me, mulling this over: "Some Muslims do and some don't. I don't. Papy (my dad) prays and goes to the mosque."
BK1: "See, you are Muslim"
BK2: "Ok, I am Muslim"

BK1 and BK2 undoubtedly notice the differences between our family and those of the Muslim kids in their school. Most of their Muslim little friends are of pakistani origin.
I personally do not feel closer to the Pakistani culture than I do to the British one. Weirdly, I have to admit I probably relate more easily to the latter. After all, I've been living in Europe for the last fourteen years, twelve of which I've been sharing with a European bloke.

Wow! This multilingual/multicultural family affair brings up quite a lot of questions and (self-)questionings...