It’s been a while since my latest publication on The Jakarta Post. I remember my last contact was to inform my editor that I will go to UK for study. She encouraged me to write my experience here. But a long the way I have not got the chance to do so.
Until one day, my friend Alia Karenina invited me to come to Hijup.com gathering in London. I thought this will be an interesting piece to write. She’s also really funny as a host of the event 😀
Read about Hijup.com and their plan of expansion to London here.
The event brought me to think about being a Muslim minority is not necessarily made your community support each other, sometimes it could be challenging. Because they wanted to showcase their diversity and overthink of what others think of them, especially after terrorist attack. It was an individual struggle for fame sometimes. Not a collective effort to change the negative perspective of Islam.
London is a mix of the paradox, love-hate relationship. The participants in the discussion told that London was so diverse that they easily forgot the tension. Even the city considered to be more ‘Islamic’ than most Muslim countries. This was felt different in other European countries, especially after Paris incident. Despite the negative tendency, these women with hijab (muslim women headscarf) thought that the challenge came from inside the Muslim community itself. “The unhealthy competition,” she said. At some point, they kind of admire Muslim fashion community in Indonesia, in hoping for similar support inside the community to grow together in Muslim fashion and bloggers.
After living for around 6 months in London, I don’t feel any challenge of being a Muslim here. I don’t know whether that is because I don’t wear a hijab. It is quite easy to find mosque in London, you can even see a big one near Baker Street. I can pray in my campus, UCL. Halal food is also easy, just go to Arabic supermarket and available in various restaurants around Hyde Park. If you’re confuse, just go vegetarian. I also just had a conversation with my lecturer that it doesn’t matter really if you don’t want to meet up in a pub, for example, there are a lot of places to meet anyway (not applicable for me though, i’m ok with pub). Even if you want to do a research about Islam, the lecturer will find expert and support system for you to do that.
Perhaps she’s right, Muslims created a “war” inside themselves. Judging other way of life, praying, fashion, food, and everything. When you are put as a minority, you want people to look at you differently or trying to hard to blend in. They forgot that being an ambassador of a religion basically need one thing: kindness. It is easy to get lost in a contest to reach influence, even just on Instagram.