Remona AlyTuesday 20 October 2015 Pause for Thought, BBC Radio 2
Growing Up In Multi-Faith Britain
“Growing Up In Multi-Faith Britain”: Pause for Thought, BBC Radio 2, Vanessa Feltz Breakfast Show
When I was a little sprig of a thing, one of my favourite stories was called ‘The Great Blueness’ which told of how the world began with no colour in it, but a clever wizard managed to paint the whole world blue, and then proceeded to create the Great Yellowness, and then the Great Redness. Eventually the colours got mixed up and created the world we have now, which could be called the Great Confusion, but for me it’s a colourful palette of difference and diversity.
Just like the story of The Great Blueness, my life has been painted with many different hues and shades: I grew up going to church more than the mosque, I was the only brown girl in my white primary school, and I was deeply influenced by seeing who my dad’s best friends were – among whom were a Jew, a Hindu and a Sikh.
Now my own friends form a kaleidoscope of backgrounds, from Catholic to Muslim, from humanist to wannabe Jedi. Experiencing life and faith through the faith of others, makes my own sense of faith even stronger. All that has made me grow in conviction and confidence as a British, tea loving, Indian Muslim woman.
For me, being of a minority faith has its challenges, but it also has wonderful opportunities. It makes me think more about who I am, and I can recognise and celebrate the differences around me at an even deeper level.
Morgan Freeman who plays the Muslim ‘Azeem’ in ‘Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves’, echoes the Quranic message of diversity when a little girl asks him, “Did God paint you?” and he answers: “Allah loves wondrous varieties”.
The world was never made to be monochrome, and Britain is one of the best examples of colourful diversity. With all its beauty and all its challenges, it’s the most exciting canvas I could ever hope to part of.