Being an Asian Muslim growing up in Hackney, north east London, is
not easy. The pressure applied by Asian parents is enormous. My
parents are strict Muslims so I have been raised in an environment
in which I am very involved in my religion. But external forces
make it difficult to apply all the morals of Islam.
I have lived in Hackney my whole life and the majority of my
friends are Muslims whom I have met through the mosque. All live
nearby. I feel that my friends and I do not have suitable role
models to look up to and instead admire flashy older boys who have
all obtained money easily through illegal ways. It seems that they
try to lead their lives as much as possible in the same way as
these criminals. But this contradicts all the morals of my Muslim
If it hadn’t been for my parents – who have made a huge effort on
my behalf – I would also be in the same situation as most of my
friends. I attended a local primary school but when it came to
secondary school my parents could not find a suitable one in the
area – the highest pass rate in any of the schools being 25 per
cent. So my parents found a grammar school in Enfield which I took
a test for and passed. I have attended this school for just over
six years including the 6th form and have achieved good results in
my GCSEs and AS levels. My school friends are more interested in
making something of their lives and are much more into education
which has encouraged me to try harder. I have seen a completely
different way of earning respect and that is to make something of
your life by means of educating yourself as much as possible.
As for racism, I do not feel that it exists a great deal. But
people can sometimes be racist indirectly towards you without
knowing it. Being a Muslim can also sometimes be difficult in an
environment of non-Muslims, such as during the month of Ramadan.
Non-Muslims will be eating and you will not. Because of this there
are many Muslims in the UK who do not fast at Ramadan – they don’t
want to be “the odd one out”.