Books and Documents

Islam and the West (19 May 2020 NewAgeIslam.Com)

English, Muslim, Pakistani: Half-Muslim, Half-English

By Huma Qureshi


29 Mar 2020


My six-year-old son is learning about fractions. He sits next to me at the dining table, and draws a bat, then colours half of it green. “The word half is used when something is split into two equal parts,” he explains. I nod, go back to my laptop.



Huma Qureshi with her sons Jude Birch, 2, Sina Birch, 4 and Suffian Birch, 6, at their home in London. Photograph: Antonio Olmos/The Observer



Then he looks up at me and says, “I’ve got two halves. I’m half-Muslim, half-English. Right?” He looks at me expectantly, waiting for me to confirm whether his calculation is correct and my heart sort of breaks a little, to hear him refer to himself as pieces of a whole.


“Not quite,” I say. “Some of your family is Pakistani, because I am, and some of your family is English, because Dada is. And you are fully Muslim.”


I am startled by his interpretation. My husband converted to Islam before marrying me. I say, “What do you mean? Of course, he’s Muslim!”


I don’t really know what to say because where do I begin? Do I tell him that his dad became Muslim because he had a spiritual epiphany? Or do I tell him we fell in love but that to be together, his dad had to become Muslim first? I remind him that his dad is Muslim. I tell him he fasts for Ramadan, that sometimes we say namaz [ritual prayers] even if we don’t do it as often as we should. My son looks at me through narrowed eyes, unconvinced. “You rarely pray, Mama,” he says, dryly. In that instant I feel terribly ashamed while also quietly impressed at his accurate use of an adverb.


I was warned that this sort of confusion might happen in a mixed marriage. When I told my moderately religious family that I had met someone who was neither Pakistani nor (at least not then) Muslim, and that we wanted to get married once he had converted, they understandably had a lot of questions. One of those questions was: how would we raise our kids to know that they were Muslim, to know their Pakistani side and where they came from? Race and religion are often rightly seen as two separate things but they are also closely entwined. I was reminded I’d need to make a concerted effort to teach my future children about their Pakistani origins and their religion, because their sense of identity would not be a given. Because otherwise my half-Pakistani, Muslim kids might risk being lost.


I send a WhatsApp message to a friend of mine who, like me, has three boys and also happens to be Muslim and Pakistani. I tell her how I think I’m probably messing my kids up. “I’m not sure I’m doing this right,” I text. “Hey,” she says. “We all feel like that. You’re doing great.”


I don’t know if I am though. Sometimes I worry someone will say they told me so. I hastily download an Islamic app for children, full of animations of cute characters with big brown eyes. It feels important to prove I am making an effort. It holds the boys’ interest for 10 minutes. I remember how, when I was growing up, I wasn’t always sure if I was praying because I wanted to or had been reminded to. I know that there are certain habits I will need to teach them, like how to pray in Arabic. I worry that if I push too much, perhaps they’ll grow up resenting both their religion and me. Then I wonder sadly if maybe that’s normal anyway, part of their teenage years to come.


Sometimes when I look at my children, I hear that same question repeating itself in my head: how will I raise you to know that you are Muslim, to know your Pakistani side?


I think about what I love most from my Pakistani upbringing: the sense of warmth and liveliness translated into kitchen tables spilling with an overabundance of food, surrounded by far too many people talking too loudly and at the same time, and I realise this is what our own home is like anyway. I think of the values of faith I hold most dear; honesty, love, kindness, generosity. I realise our children are lucky enough to be surrounded by all this too. I would want to pass these values on, regardless. None of this is exclusive to one sort of identity over another. So this, I conclude, is how they will learn who they are: from seeing it, living it, breathing it, rather than telling them who they are supposed to be.


Over the last six years, I have learnt that motherhood comes with many expectations. Some of those expectations I have put upon myself, unnecessarily. So now I watch my children being themselves, and I allow myself to consider the possibility that maybe I am doing great after all.


Original Headline: English, Muslim, Pakistani ... how I tell my kids about their identities


Source: The Guardian, UK


URL:  https://newageislam.com/islam-and-the-west/huma-qureshi/english,-muslim,-pakistani--half-muslim,-half-english/d/121894


  • Hats Off,
    How many times do I have to tell you that CAIR is not a religious organization. It is an organization that fights for the civil rights of American Muslims. American Hindus, Jews, Blacks, Italians etc have similar organizations.
    I, just like other Democrats,  may support Ilhan, Sarsour and Tlaib on some left-liiberal political issues, but I do not even know what their religious inclinations are. Ilhan and Tlaib come across as being more secular than anything else and they fought valiantly for the presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders, a Jew. Sarsour may be a traditionalist but she too has been active in the women's rights movement.
    I am against countries being Islamic or Hindutva. I have never supported any Islamist country.
    You are trying to catch at straws. You want me to be an MB because it suits your hate agenda. Your despicable nitpicking and defamatory tactics are disgusting.

    By Ghulam Faruki - 5/24/2020 1:06:36 PM

  • Aayina,
    Although any pressure on the spouse to convert is a sin, individuals make their own decisions and if they are adults and mentally competent, their decisions have to be respected. Sanghi mullas and Muslim mullas think they have unlimited powers to interfere in other people's affairs.
    Maldivians must have read CAA but what they are doing is wrong. Israeli Muslims were born in Palestine and were citizens long before many Israelis arrived from Europe. While Progressive Muslims and Progressive Hindus want to keep religion out of these considerations, the BJP/RSS cabal have Maldivian mentality.

    By Ghulam Faruki - 5/24/2020 12:46:58 PM

  • You cannot become Maldive citizen in 21st century unlesss you are Muslims this is the 21st century Muslims country. even in Isarel you can become if you are Muslims, hypocrites Muslims live all over the world to blame western world, Israel and India.
    By Aayina - 5/24/2020 3:33:51 AM

  • CAIR is just a muslim brotherhood front. and you are a CAIR stooge. so you prove that you lie. and by now you are very good at it.
    you support other brotherhood stooges like ilhan, sarsour and tlaib. this exposes your fake moderatism. you keep harping about islamophobia when each and every muslim majority nation has written kuffar discrimination into their national constitutions. while every week one or two pious rapes of white girls keep cropping up, you only see doctors and other journalists and all kinds of wonderful delusions.
    if around 56 countries can be proudly islamic you weep about a hindutva country.
    your hypocrisy, pretended love for others and fake tolerance is by now shot full of holes.
    you think by using the word zionists instead of jews and hindutva instead of hinduism will hood wink jews and hindus.
    you aren't fooling anybody. go tell it to the birds. you are as intolerant as they come. except that you wear a mask of moderatism. that is your ploy for being the thin edge of the wedge of islamism. you are just a robot who is programmed to make politically correct noises.

    By hats off! - 5/24/2020 2:54:34 AM

  • Salwar Jihad is real and many girls and wedlock children are made Muslims, there are hardly any killed, Bollywood is full of this salwar jihad.
    By Aayina - 5/24/2020 1:57:39 AM

  • Aayena,
    Love Jihad is not just a word. It is a deadly hate attack that has killled many young and innocent Muslims. Your hatefulness has made you both blind and dumb.

    By Ghulam Faruki - 5/23/2020 11:29:37 PM

  • Doesn like the word Love Jihad, is very offended to muslims  let's give the phrase coined by Punjabi Muslims it show pathetic mind of Muslims,.
    "Jedo salwar nal hi kam Ho sakta he ta phir talvar di ki jarurat he"
    Even Hindu are better in this use much better word "love" in their complain again in coversion, but sick Muslims see sex toy conversion,  go fix your Muslims first than compliment about love Jihad, Seeing a woman Starts below Waist and Finish before the neck, no respect to her dignity while doing love jihad too. Shameless twsiter of essence of issue of love jihad, to asking unessary Question to hide your own people crime.

    By Aayina - 5/23/2020 5:20:33 PM

  • Hats Off,
    Give us an example of my lying or shut up.
    You lied again. I have never even once supported the Muslim Brotherhood. When will you stop lying? Are all hatemongers liars?

    By Ghulam Faruki - 5/22/2020 1:00:07 PM

  • Aayena,
    Muslim pressure on spouse to convert is bad, almost as bad as your love jihad which is violent and has killed many young Muslim men.

    By Ghulam Faruki - 5/22/2020 12:57:14 PM

  • you think you are the only one who speaks the "truth". your truths are mostly half truths. most of your statements are dishonest politically correct nonsense with which you deflect every wile thing that happens in the name of islam and immediately start ranting and raving "what about this?" what about that".
    and you think you are a hotshot peace maker. you are just a wiley crocodile tear-jerker.
    you have no shame in supporting the infamous treacherous muslim brotherhood front CAIR while you feel free to criticize RSS.
    that is because are a dishonest "moderate" whose aim is not interfaith but insidious islamism. don't think people cannot see through your hollow assertions. you expect everyone to start automatically start applauding your pontification which is almost always directed against the idol worshipers and polytheists.
    this is born of your contempt for all who disagree with you. you think the world would be a good place if every one was just your clone. you cannot tolerate dissent or criticism or difference of opinion. you honey coat your intolerance in inane one liners because if you wrote any more your lies will burst forth.
    go home wimp!

    By hats off! - 5/22/2020 4:28:03 AM

  • Hats Off lies blatantly and deliberately. He has been telling lies about me for a long time but whenever he is asked to produce evidence, he disappears like the coward that he is.
    By Ghulam Faruki - 5/21/2020 11:26:38 PM

  • Muslims attitude is If wife gets converted than its we'll and good or Just make kids Muslims as long as generation Muslim from this Kufir Women, Indian actors are prime example, nearly each of them, one who faked it he was about to convert for his wife but not did convert and made fool out of everybody.
    It's called love Jihad.

    By Aayina - 5/21/2020 11:03:51 PM

  • you are just a facilitator of discrimination, supremacism and exclusion. your shining a black light simply highleights your selective criticism and soft islamism.
    you are neither fooling the momeen nor the kuffar by your sophistrty, denialism, whataboutery, and fake moderation. so go ahead and just make a fool of yourself.
    go home quack! get back to where you once belonged. fallen between two stools.

    By hats off! - 5/21/2020 5:46:51 PM

  • Stupid comments from Hats Off and Aayina. The fact that Muslims want their non-Muslim spouses to convert is well known and I have criticized that custom several times. My comment here is true and I posted it as a shining light but that would of course be totally lost on these two closed-minded hate merchants!
    By Ghulam Faruki - 5/21/2020 11:33:01 AM

  • Yes very true, neither converts but kids are made Muslims mostly in 99% case, or If it is Muslim men than suddenly his heart get charged by Muslimism, like playboy Imran khan.

    New version of Muslims men enjoy everything of western world, go to pub, have sex with girls, produce so called love child, like Imran khan did with Sita white than at the end Balme everything to western world, and free scoiety and we moderate Muslims will protect by even mocking more to western world and free society, so new generation can get inspiration that moderate mulla will hide our bad morals.

    By Aayina - 5/20/2020 11:49:28 PM

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