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7th July, 2005 – Feelings of a Muslim Londoner

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I was travelling from upstate New York to Long Island when I heard about the London bombings. At the time, the news didn’t mean anything. I assumed it was just one bomb in some remote area of London. But of course, no area of London can be called remote. It wasn’t until I came near a TV that I saw the full magnitude of what had happened. Four separate bombs had gone off in different areas of Central London, all very congested and highly populated areas. Even then, seeing it on the TV screen whilst I was sitting thousands of miles away on holiday, I could not comprehend the full scope and magnitude of the situation. I could not understand what was to come. Or how the fate of Muslims was to change so drastically.

I watched CNN and FOX News with contempt…as they were focusing on was how America could be affected, nothing on the where, what and how. Switching to BBC World News, I finally found something substantial to watch. Still, I did not fully comprehend the profound effects and ramifications of the bombing that were to come in British society. Perhaps it was due to my lack of understanding or the distance between London and New York. My parents were worried, not just because members of my family work in Central London, but also because I was due to start my degree at university that year right in the centre of London and I would have to travel on the Tube daily. Naturally, their feelings were understandable.

That day came and went and I began my first day at university with excitement, stress, and the joy of making new friends. It wasn’t until 7th July, 2006 came around that I truly felt the magnitude of the previous year’s events. I watched the memorial for the 56 people who died that day…and it was then that the tears flowed. I cried. I wept. The tears gushed for the people who had died. For their families who were suffering without them. But most of all, for the Muslims and for what was to come. I knew that it was going to be an uphill struggle for us all from now on.

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So how do I feel 5 years on? I’m not quite sure. Yes, it has been an uphill struggle for Muslims in the West. But has it been as tough as I thought it would? No. But then that’s relative. How do I feel about 7/7 now? I still feel the horror and the shock when I go to Russell Square and Edgware Road. And it’s not like there isn’t something to remind me at the Tube stations either. I feel like my beautiful hometown has been tarnished…like someone broke it. But not just that, I feel like the Muslim community in London has become divided as a result of it all. And it hurts.

I just wish I could find the glue for it.

I pray that Allah (swt) reunites us all and gives us all hidayah. May Allah (swt) bestow His Mercy on us all. Ameen.

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Bushra is a recent Computer Science grad from King's College London and is currently shaking off her newly wedded status. Aside from writing for MM, she vents on her blog: http://bushrabinthashmat.blogspot.com/ Currently working for a global IT firm, she is pursuing various studies, both Islamic and career-related. Due to circumstances beyond her control, she is living the lifestyle of a nomad, jumping from place to place, packing and unpacking and visiting family at the same time. She is an accredited Software Tester. Nevertheless, this won't take her away from writing about Islam and life in general. Amongst all the working, writing and family commitments, she somehow manages to fulfill one of her other, slightly devilish (so to speak!) passions - baking desserts!

15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. PakistaniMD

    July 7, 2010 at 3:04 PM

    This article is definitely heart-felt; what happened on 7/7 was horrendous.

    Though, I do have question: why do you say that you feel that “Muslim community in London has become divided as a result of it all. And it hurts.”? I was under the impression that such a barbaric act would unite English Muslims to work harder and be better citizens of their home nations.

    • Bushra

      July 7, 2010 at 5:36 PM

      In an ideal world, it would bring Muslims together. But in reality, it has done quite the opposite. The moderate Muslims have tried to separate themselves from the so-called extremists. Extremists being in this context being those who wear beards and hijab/jilbab/niqab, because they’re the ones that supposedly represent extreme Islam, which is not the case. Eventually, what has happened is that the media is using the moderate Muslims as the ‘voice of Muslims’ and the ‘extremists’ are being shunned in general. Hence the divide.

      • elham

        July 7, 2010 at 6:49 PM

        As alamualaikum,

        Sister Bushra,Jazakilahu Khairan for your post. It makes it more clearer from a muslim perspective on the event for me,since I had arrived after 2005 and live some distance from London( I was to study there but for some reasons couldn’t) .
        I’d like to know who these ‘moderates’ or ‘extremists’ are supposed to be as I have, perhaps naively, not seen it in that light.If you could give an idea.

        • Bushra

          July 8, 2010 at 4:24 AM

          It’s unfortunate, but that’s what I find. It’s like it was post-9/11. Some women took off their hijabs and men shaved off their beards because they were afraid of looking ‘too Muslim’, whereas other people went in the other direction and grew a beard or began wearing hijab. These two types of people disagree with each other as to whether we should express our faith so openly after such a horrific event concerning Muslims all over. This has caused a divide amongst Muslims who, for example, openly express their wish to pray in the workplace, as opposed to those people who want to keep it all a secret.

          • elham

            July 8, 2010 at 5:13 AM

            SubhanAllah, I didn’t see the transitions that took place within the community so it looked more like some wanted to just practice and others didn’t and not an internal conflict. Seems like its the Muslims who need to talk to each other and have a dialogue-come to an understanding between themselves- before they speak to Non-Muslims about the deen.

            Jazakill Allahu Khairan for the explanation.

      • Maiiino

        July 7, 2010 at 11:30 PM

        I think “moderate” and “extreme” are just silly terms to put. It just divides the people and watch the moderate and extreme become a sect. You are right, but I just dislike the fact that Islam is diving more people everyday when it should be uniting, and this is all human error. Wearing niqab and having a beard is definitely not extreme. Niqab is debatable, and a beard for males is obligatory. Why is it extreme? Sad! :(

  2. Pingback: Indigo Jo Blogs — London bombings: fifth anniversary post

  3. Nasar

    July 8, 2010 at 4:55 AM

    May Allah reward you for your intentions for this post. However I would like to say that it is a wonder why Muslims feel they need to comment on the anniversary of tragic events that were committed by fellow Muslims. Certainly the loss of life is sad in any event similar to this. But why the heart felt apology? or the desier to show a sympathetic view? 7/7 and 9/11 are turning more and more into what Norman Finkelstine calls the “Holocaust Industry”.

    • Bushra

      July 8, 2010 at 5:33 AM

      I didn’t really intend to show a sympathetic view. My intention, as with most writers, was to let my feelings out on the entire event. I’m a hardcore Londoner, I know the ins and outs of London…if somebody mentions Edgware Road or Russell Square to me, I could tell them the different Tube routes, bus routes, walking routes, both quick and scenic, landmarks, good places to eat, how to get to other parts of London, etc.

      Having such a close attachment to a place that has shared so many life-changing experiences with me, I had to simply show what went through my mind when I found out, when it really sunk in and why it affected me so much and still does today. I am a Muslim first, but I am a Londoner too, and to take that out of me would be a travesty. Therefore, it is necessary to show how Muslims feel when a place is attacked, because we, too, are human.

      • Nasar

        July 8, 2010 at 10:33 AM

        I can understand you link with London I have the same link with Manchester. I point was that every year on various blogs Muslims write about 7/7 or 9/11 around the date of its anniversary. As a reader the posts come across as more of a political point, similarly like your last statement, “because we, too, are human”, sister no one is doubting you are human or don’t have emotions, and you reaction shows a deeper in security about being Muslim in Britain.

        Similar statements like, “I am a Muslim first, but I am a Londoner too” show a sense of insecurity. these type of phrases are not just shown in your post but in many blog posts by Muslims of all sects or backgrounds. My point in all of this is that why feel the need to re-define yourself or re-establish the “Muslim” position every time an attack happens or the anniversary of a tragic event comes along?

        • Bushra

          July 8, 2010 at 6:22 PM

          I don’t see how saying that Muslims are human is being political. I do believe that a lot of people, Muslims and otherwise, are under the impression that whatever happened does not concern us. Do we not watch the news? Are we not affected by it emotionally in the same way other people are? Are we not the same as our next door neighbours?

          I have no insecurities about being a Muslim in Britain. If anything, I feel slightly insecure for wearing hijab and jilbab when I go to places like Pakistan because of the condescension over there. The reason I stated that I am Muslim first, and then a Londoner is because I wanted to remind myself as well as others that although we may feel an attachment or patriotism to our place of birth or nationality, it is important to remember that our loyalties still lie to Allah (swt) and His Messenger (saw) first and foremost.

          The reason Muslims post on 7/7 is for the same reason the Guardian, the Telegraph, the Independent and countless other newspapers do. Because it’s a significant event in the history of this country and it has impacted everyone, Muslims as well as other members of the public. It is unfair to state that Muslims feel they have to establish their position on the anniversary of a tragic event. And IF it is the case that every Muslim has something to say, then don’t the Jews, the Germans and the Brits have something to say about the Holocaust when its anniversary comes around?

          So Brother Nasar, I would prefer it very much so if you didn’t go around making assumptions about my intentions for writing this post or for having something to say. If anything, people write to let out their thoughts and feelings. The above post is a manifestation of my feelings 5 years ago…when I was just a teenager.

  4. Zayna

    July 9, 2010 at 11:35 AM

    Your article could have been my sentiments word for word except the date would have change to 9/11. I agree, it tore apart the Muslim community in the States as well.. liberal/moderate Muslims to this day take it upon themselves to make it clear that we are “different” and the extermists are whole different story. I think as a New Yorker, born and raised, I think that 9/11 is my own personal tragedy at many different levels. My City will never be the same, our lives, those who saw what happend, and saw the chaos, will never forget the fear, the grief we all felt as it will always be forever etched our hearts. Then there’s the Muslim connection to it, was I mad when I found out who did it, yes, did I sympathize with them, no and I never will.

    I don’t think comment Muslims are humans is in any way making a political statement, or showing insecurity. I think it shows that we got hurt too, to me, I am a NYker through, and through, this is my home, this where I am from and I will stand next to any a Christian, Hindu, Jew, Sikh to honor those who perished on that day. Its our common tragedy.

    May you find peace within Sister Bushra, insha Allah.

  5. abu Abdullah

    July 10, 2010 at 8:54 AM

    i abhor attack on any civilians including 7/7. however a ludicrous diversion narrative or conspiracy theory is this?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uWOxLC7w2g4

    Allahul musta’an.

  6. anti-ziocon

    July 13, 2010 at 9:48 PM

    As salaamu alaykum:

    I believe that part of what this sister is trying to imply, at least to a certain extent when referring to “moderates,” are Muslims that were/are against the 7-7 bombings, or any other bombings or operations that intentionally target non-combatants, believing that these acts are very much haraam, unIslamic, totally going against the Shari’ah, the Qur’an and Sunnah of the Prophet (saws). Other examples are the Madrid bombings, the Bali bombings, the Mumbai bombings, the recent Uganda bombings, etc. In all of these bombings, people not guilty of any crimes against Muslims are all intentionally targeted, allegedly by Muslims, as a way to “pay” for what other, non-Muslim combatants actually have done to Muslims.

    The “extremist” Muslims by contrast, are the Muslims that support these despicable, haraam, unIslamic acts, many times twisting various ayahs in the Qur’an, using baatil “fatwas,” or justifying these acts as OK or “halaal” only because the non-Muslims are “also” doing these evil acts, etc. I don’t live in the UK, but there are apparently a very small minority of Muslims that do totally support the 7-7 bombings (and other acts like this), and at times very openly, such as the group sometimes referred to as the “Mojos,” or the Muhajiroon (their former name) or groups very similar to them, and they will often post videos on YouTube, and visit the various online forums, etc. (I don’t know any of these brothers/sisters personally, but all you have to do is visit the various blogs, forums, or video sites – it’s not like these things are a big secret)

    And unfortunately, many times when Muslims (the “non-extremists”) come out against these acts or operations, and of course citing evidence from the Qur’an and Sunnah showing how unIslamic they are, then of course the “extremists” will likely label you as a “traitor,” a “sell-out,” a “munafiq,” etc.

    And yes, as an example, for instance, you may be called many of these things by the “extremists” just by saying that what the so-called “underwear bomber” allegedly tried to do, was totally, unequivocally, 100% against Islam, and the Shari’ah in every single way, and that this alleged act didn’t help the cause of Islam, or help the oppressed Muslims in the Ummah in any way, etc.

    Of course it has to be said that when non-Muslims use the word “moderate” or “extremist” in the context of Muslims, then obviously there is a whole different meaning all together, not necessarily at all related to what Muslims will likely perceive these words to mean. Anyway, just my 2 cents. Sorry for the long post.

  7. Greengrass3

    July 30, 2010 at 5:28 PM

    Salaam Sr Bushra

    Thank you for sharing this article, I felt a distinct empathy with your eloquent and hearfelt comments.

    I too studied in London and worked their subsequently for a period. Indeed, as a regular visitor, I still consider it a second home.

    It was with some alarm I read your words expressing the view of ‘moderate’ Muslims feeling those who dress in a more overtly Islamic way as being perceived as ‘extremists’ since the July bombings.

    Such was my concern I asked my London based friends and siblings, two married and working in London, three others all students at LSE, SOAS and Imperial College in London, if what you describe was akin to their experiences in the capital.

    Whilst I am loath to use the definitions of ‘moderate’ and ‘extremist’ utilised in your comments on a general basis, I do so here for the sake of context regarding your article. In this context my siblings and I are related to or have friendships with Muslims whose attire, again using the definition in your comments, could be deemed as representing ‘extremists’ and ‘moderates.’ I realise this is a schism you feel has emerged and not necessarily your view.

    None of us have before or after the bombings heard any such inappropriate sentiments towards fellow Muslims who choose to dress in an overtly Islamic way.

    I am sad that you have experienced this. But, wanted to share with you my contrasting experience of Muslim discourse in London or indeed outside the city.

    I live outside London and am used to seeing many women wearing headscarves and niqabs (and outside of the Islamophobic anti-burkha debate hitting us all) on the whole I think Muslims have a range of emotions re those who wear headscarves/niqabs which can include; it’s superfluous to requirements, it’s an appropriate dress code to emulate or live and let live. No doubt many more derivations.

    I appreciate what you write is your experience but wanted to add the spectrum of attitudes from Muslims on this topic as with all issues is really diverse and difficult to refer to in an absolute and definitive way.

    Thank you again for sharing your personal experiences and emotions.

    Jzk

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