Remona AlySunday 21 May 2017 Moment of Reflection, BBC Radio 2
A Tale of Orient Britain
There’s an Elizabethan painting that I’ve always been fascinated by – it depicts the Moroccan ambassador to the UK in 1600, Abd el-Ouahed ben Messaoud. Draped in a white robe and sweeping black cloak, he looks boldly, mysteriously, fearlessly at the onlooker, while placing his hand near his heart. It’s said he may have inspired Shakespeare’s Othello.
Growing up as a British Muslim, to Indian parents who immigrated here, my sense of belonging has always been one that is questioned, challenged and intricately shaped by a complex journey of identity.
When I think of the Muslim ambassador in Queen Elizabeth’s court, I realise my relationship with Britain – and those of other British Muslims – goes back even further than I imagined, that all our histories, whoever we are, have entwined and embraced through one path or another, like multiple strands of the same knot.
‘Every story is us’, said Rumi, the Muslim poet and scholar. While some may say I don’t belong here, I say, I am the story of new and old Britain. We are all the stories of our world, for home is where our hearts belong, and hearts belong everywhere.