Sunday, October 08, 2006

Greetings from Birmingham!

Salaams all!

I know it’s been a long time since I’ve sent anything out, so here’s my first update from Birmingham. I’m studying at the Al-Mahdi Institute here & for the first semester, the classes that I have are: Arabic, Theology, Logic, History of Islamic Law and Hadith Reading. I really enjoy what I am learning & it is inspiring to finally meet Muslim scholars who think on the same wavelength that I do. They come from various backgrounds but most of them have studied in Iran and have combined their interests with degrees from UK universities. We are only about 10 students in the first year class which allows us to have intimate discussions. Although we’ve only had a month of classes, I think my teachers already recognize me as the student who asks the most questions in class!

I live in a house with 7 very interesting women whom I really like and most of us share rooms. My room mate is a Sunni from London of Bengali origin. Most of the other girls are from the UK too while one is from Tanzania & one from Pakistan. Three of the girls are Syeds (descendants of the Prophet). Since we are all from such different religious & cultural backgrounds, we work hard to create a harmonious atmosphere at home.

My neighborhood is primarily South Asian and I really enjoy having halal food & Asian groceries so easily accessible. The women in my neighborhood dress up pretty conservatively, so many times I end up wearing a black abaya over my clothes in order to avoid stares from people. Sometimes I feel like I’m back in Dubai & forget I’m living in the UK because I hardly ever interact with Birmingham natives, which I do find disturbing.

I miss DC a lot more than I expected. None of my house or class mates are particularly political and on many issues regarding the United States, I get really defensive. For example one of the senior students here once asked me bluntly, “How do you feel about belonging to a country that is responsible for so many deaths worldwide?!”

Ramadhan has been interesting – the Khoja mosque that I attend is very traditional and very split on several issues, so I haven’t really found my niche within the community yet. Other than that, I’m just trying to adapt to my new life and trying very hard not to get influenced by the Birmingham accent!

I hope you all are doing well & are enjoying the spiritual goodies of this blessed month. Laters!