Where Do I Belong? The Dilemma of a Mixed-Race Muslim

By somayya | February 27, 2008
Libya map and UK map blendedMarch 2008

Where Do I Belong?

The Dilemma of a Mixed-Race Muslim

by Somayya Gefori

I am a mixed race Muslim, which sounds simple in itself, but I can often find myself thinking, ‘Where do I really belong?’ I am Libyan on my father’s side, and English on my mother’s side. Oh, how much easier it must be to just be one race! You know right away where you belong, and there’s nobody around you saying, ‘But Libya is better!’ and vice-versa.

Libya

I have visited Libya and found I enjoyed it very much, as I wasn’t targeted for how I dressed, or what I believed in. The simple fact was everybody else was also a Muslim, so I didn’t stand out like a sore thumb, the way I do in England, my full-time home.

An Incident in England

In England I have been verbally abused many times, and even physically attacked. I have decided it must be because of the way I dress, with a scarf and coat. I had never uttered a word to these people, and then suddenly a barrage of abuse comes my way.

The most recent attack was in early October 2007. I was shopping with my mother and was several paces behind her, lagging because I had just an operation a few weeks before to remove a burst appendix. Suddenly, a smoothie cup came flying my way, and although it didn’t hit me, it was pretty obvious that I was the intended target. I was walking slowly, which would have made it even easier to hit me with something.

I turned around to see who had hit me, and there were two men in a car. The passenger had thrown the cup and was now swearing and acting very threateningly. They even turned around the car and followed me, all the while shouting and swearing. I quickly ran into a nearby shop, sobbing.

Luckily, outside the shop were two witnesses who saw the whole thing, and had even written down the registration of the dark-blue BMW. I reported this incident to the police and it has since been dealt with. The perpetrator was fined fifty pounds.

Proud of My Mixed Roots

Of course, I could easily have avoided being involved in such terrible attacks if I stopped wearing my Islamic dress, and wore the same clothes outside as everyone else – jeans, a top and a jacket. Nobody would have looked twice at me. I would have blended in, but I am stronger than that.

I know that a lot of people would love it if hijab-wearing women didn’t exist. Somehow they feel threatened by it, but this is my religious conviction.

Or, I could just leave this country, and go to Libya, couldn’t I? I will not do any such thing. Since I am mixed race, and hold two passports, I can decide to live in Libya or Great Britain, and right now I choose to stay in Britain. Despite the small minority of trouble-makers, I do love this country. When it comes to it and I am married, I even want my children to grow up in Britain, inshallah. After all, I have managed to grow up here and keep my religion, and be proud of my mixed roots!

Where Do We Belong?

I have a few mixed-race friends and we have often spoke about this very topic, where do we belong? I think I feel like I belong in one part more than the other, but that is really only to do with my religion and how it has affected me living in a non-Muslim country. There are pros and cons to both nationalities. I have come to the conclusion that I will just be proud of being both, no matter what anyone says. I don’t only belong in Libya or only England, I belong in both places at the same time, my roots are in two countries, and that’s the way it is!

29 Responses to “Where Do I Belong? The Dilemma of a Mixed-Race Muslim”

  1. Somayya Says:
    February 21st, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    Thank you so much for all the great comments! I do read all of them, even I dont always post back on here. Thank you for reading, and hopefully we will get some new articles up soon. My editor has disappeared, so I have decided to take everything into my own hands, inshallah that goes well!

  2. Spoonfed Says:
    March 23rd, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    This is a great article, I can’t wait for your next one. It is true that it can be difficult be mixed race when you’re young and finding it hard to fit in, but when you’re older it’s a real thrill to come from such a varied cultural background

  3. Kristy_S Says:
    June 1st, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    I am a reverted Muslima. I said Shahada in 2007. I am a white brunette.. But does it really matter what I am? I am just a Muslim, irrespective of my ethnicity. Allah made me, Allah made all of us, and that is all that counts. I love other cultures and all that.. but I don’t wish to get trapped up in the whole “Your’e white, so you must be Christian, or you have to be a certain way” deal. I am just me. That is it. Ma’Salaama.

  4. Somayya Says:
    June 3rd, 2009 at 7:18 pm

    Kristy, of course it doesnt matter where you are from, but we live in a world where people MAKE ethnicity such an important thing, when it really doesnt matter where you are from. It doesnt make you superior, nor inferior to anyone else. I wrote this article because as a mixed-race person I have grown up with two cultures, two nationalities, two languages, that are all a part of me. Its not just something I like, or a lagnuage that I learnt, its actually all part of me. Unless you are mixed-race yourself, you cant really understand what its like. Its totally different to just being one race and appreciating another nationality’s cuisine or something. And people do try and get you to choose between your nationalities when mixed race, and take it seriously if you say your prefer one over the other….. I just say I am both and love both equally, but that answer doesnt satisfy some people lol. Some people just want to put you in a box, metaphorically, and they cant if you are mixed.

  5. Kazzy.xx Says:
    June 28th, 2009 at 5:52 pm

    Hi, i read your article and i think it is good. There is no need 2 worry about being more than 1 race. Yes i think you should think yourself as muslim but remember, its good to be more than one race. I am two different races, between english and jamaican but i think i belong more to english because i only live with my mum and she is english so i feel more comfortable being british, i also have a half bro but he is a different colour to me and i got a lot of questions asked about me and him but i ignor them so overall i think you should stick to being muslim.xxx.

  6. Sadiq Abdallah Says:
    August 26th, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    i’ve just read your story and felt sorry about your encounter with prejudiced racists. but remember, Allah said when you believe in him, his messengers, his angels, his scriptures, the lastday, the hell, the paradise, then Allah will put you through trials and tribulations to test your faith (iman). don’t be discouraged Allah loves those who are patient. (INNALLAH MA’ASSABRIN QURAN). forget about your mixed race. with the feeling that you are a muslim is enough to overcome your sorrows and worries. let the Quran be your companion always, i assure you all your worries, fear and sorrow will disappear. keep on with your good work. may Allah help and unite the muslim ummah amen.

  7. Sakina Says:
    November 4th, 2010 at 8:37 am

    Sister Somayya. I am a tv producer for an Islamic channel. I am working on a documentary about inter-racial marriages within the Muslim community. I would very much like to chat to you about your experience as a mixed-race. I would really appreciate if you can get in touch with me. Thanks.

  8. adheim Says:
    March 10th, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    asalam wa alykume
    I sorry to hear about the racism in Britain amy Allah protect our muslim sisters every where form it ameen .

    (1) Among the signs of Allah are our different colours and languages and Allah created us in different tribes that we may know one another .
    (2) Even the Messenger of Allah ask for the hand of an Arab woman nor a black slave who was muslim and they got married . So who are we to oppose or look down on any action like , ( even though the marriage ended in divorce and the woman ended up marring the prophet sa lu wa sulim herself
    (3) Even the prophets of Allah like Musa who married a black woman and the ignorant jews , rebuked him that
    It is ok to be different in my country there are many ppl of different races and religions . Since starting to practice islam it has made me different from many of my friends and family but i realized that it is the same for muslims form other races and backgrounds they differ from the peers because of the deen . And what separates us form our own race is what binds us together i have found that my muslim brothers and sister of different races are closer to me than the non-muslim ppl of my own because of Islam . Remember that .. we are all muslims . … we may speak different languages and have different colours but ……… we are one Ummah . tring to hold on the the rope of Allah ( the sunnah ) and not be divided.
    Finially i just have to say that U all live in with racist , stupid ppl . U should not think about them too much . Where i come form ( Trinidad , small Caribbean island we are all different but we get along . I have muslim , hindu , christian family , african , indian , white and we all sit down and eat together . And this is normal here . 30 % of our population is Mixed , there are ppl here who are part french , african ,chinese indian and syrian in one , some ppl who I cant even tell which race they belong . Here mix ppl are considered attractive . Your bro and you should come down sometime i assure many many many many ppl will like U It may change the way you persive your self , and here we dont care about mixed ppl . U would just b a normal trini . We have had christian presidents , Prime ministers , hundu primine ministers er have even had a muslim presedent . And it was really not a big deal that he was muslim everyone accepted rather he was judged by is education and character . Dont get me wrong there are many racist ppl here . And there are ppl who would not like u cause u are muslim even in government but we get along , we intermarry most ppl here have parents with different religions and some different races .,My dad was muslim and my mom was hindu she converted when she married my dad , SO u may live with small minded ppl but U seem kool , for all U mixed muslims , U are all just muslim Allah is not going to question U about your tribe on the say of judgment just your deeds , don’t think about these stupid ppl

  9. Aziza Says:
    April 12th, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    What a beautiful article, may Allah reward you for your strength in persisting to be proud of your faith no matter what happens. Allah gave us the hijab and modest clothing for our benefit, to protect us and keep us safe.
    It’s like, “Hey we aren’t like other girls. We aren’t here to fulfill your desires and be mere objects for fun. We have a goal and we will never stop striving for that goal.”
    Inshallah, I want to adopt this dress as soon as possible. Right now, I am unable for various reasons. But may Allah guide us all to obey His commands to the best of our abilities and forgive us for our shortcomings. May He give us all the strength to proudly wear hijab and stand firm on His straight path NO MATTER WHAT! The end will, Inshallah, be soooo worth the effort! 🙂

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