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Conversation with Lauren Booth – New Muslims, Islamophobia & being called ‘Tony Blair’s Sister-in-Law’
Channel: Fatima Barkatulla
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are below him in a shape Ani regime Bismillahi Rahmani Raheem Alhamdulillah wa Salatu was Salam ala rasulillah dear brothers and sisters Assalamu alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh and welcome to another lm feed podcast episode. I'm your host Fatima Baraka to LA. And as usual, I've got a guest with me now today. The guest is someone who I'm really excited to talk to. I'm so excited that I'm gonna have to like,
become very mindful because there's so many things I'd love to talk to her about. My guest is sister Lauren booth. Lauren booth is a journalist, political activist. And I read that recently in an article that she is one of Britain's highest profile converts to Islam. Mashallah sister Lauren has been Muslim for nearly 10 years now. Mashallah, yes. And she's recently published her fantastic memoir, finding peace in the Holy Land, a British memoir.
She's currently preparing to roll out her one woman show accidental Muslim, all over the UK.
And, most importantly, she's our sister in Islam. Mashallah. So welcome. Lauren does Nico walaikum salam rahmatullah wa barakatu and Salaam Alaikum to all of your listeners, and big love to my my sister or star the Fatima. But I have to say, you know what, I've had a long day to day in rehearsals, which is beautiful. But what I one mistake I forgot these are filmed now. So there you go real face on Yeah.
You have no washer on your face
for coming all this way. And
so 10 years?
How does it feel? It feels like there should be a big anniversary party and hamdulillah. It feels beautiful, much many realizations and a need to revisit the basics, I realized that I find that this is my second set of five years. And again, I'm thinking right now you have to go back and make sure you actually know what the dean is. Don't just presume that you're learning as you go along. Because you're learning mistakes. It's a bit like driving a car. You know, when you've been driving 10 years? If you were to sit the exam if you haven't checked your memory, you haven't done the BNA, you haven't indicated
it? Yes. So so that's where that's where I feel like Illinois Well, you know, actually still remember that GPU event, the global peace and unity event when you stood up on that stage and with your daughter and
it was just so heartfelt the way and very public you know, the way you kind of spoke of your love for Muslim culture and Muslims and, and then how you had come to accept Islam and, and it was a big deal, like everyone was talking about it.
And it just doesn't feel like it's been so long but Mashallah, like, what if you saw my daughter who's so little there, and now she's, you know, nearly 19 and going to university, we tell our symbol of all the years that have gone by so Pamela, so, can you share with us like some of the lessons that you'd say that those 10 years have taught you? I mean, for example, if there's an if there's a new Muslim today,
you know, if you could tell, actually, if you could tell yourself some advice, you know, now, looking back, what would that advice be?
So Bismillah R Rahman r Rahim. I think the first thing is that that you know, don't jump into trying to be the perfect Muslim right away. Because there were so many decisions I made because you know, it's when you come to Islam, you make decisions based on really wanting to please Allah. So I don't really want to advise my younger self, don't make those decisions, but they do send you into a spiral of difficulties, but Allah will reward you so so when I look back, I did things like I left I left TV shows don't want to be on TV can't can't do that. haram Haram, but I did it out of love for Allah. So I know that he that he loves me and he will reward me for that. But it sent me he sent me
down a confusion of what should your career be then? And starting from scratch, which has other difficulties. So
I think the main thing if you if you're thinking of coming to Islam, or you've just taken your Shahada is you know, breathe, just ask Allah and don't make the halaal Haram. So don't make what is find out what is okay. And stay with that. And don't Don't, don't be so harsh on yourself. Slowly, slowly. Actually, remember Jeff abderrahim green talking about this once and he was talking about how
When he embraced Islam,
like he said things that work that are actually Hello, he was just like, against like he refused to play tennis with his mom, for example, something as like, innocuous as that, you know? And do you think it's something like this desire, this desire to leave behind the past that causes the new Muslims to kind of, I think that extra mile, I think, actually, personally, I think it's a propulsion into a new future, where and, and you read about these amazing people and you get it, and you just want to be close to Allah. And that means you can't live in the modern age. So I so I think there are elements of confusion and elements of a genuine EClass a male except our sincerity. And
then the first stumbling steps like I love that the AIG didn't play tennis with his mom, and said that was wrong. And, and a lack of back that, you know, people reaching out, and really giving good advice. And I you know, I think I think honestly, that the mainstream Muslim community, perhaps needs to understand that while new Muslims seem very judgy
try it, try it, try and know that they love us so much. Because the other thing I will say, sister is, I've never since felt as close to allies I did trying to please Him that hard and making those mistakes. So part of me, fought for all the kind of here and now oneness that I have now. And and slightly, you know, getting more confident and thinking this is right, this is wrong. And I understand what that means. Now, that was that that was I believe that was the feeling. But I was going about it the wrong way. So quite how to come full circle without making a mess of things that haven't worked out. Anybody know, out there in Sharla?
Do you not think that that's life, I mean, like, even when we were growing up, right? When we say first fell in love, we first do something, anything, we kind of go a bit too far first, or we, we jump in and we try things out, and we and then slowly but surely we it's like you're kind of navigating your way you're and then eventually you you do come to you know, that sort of middle ground.
I do think that sometimes with new Muslims, like, there's this tendency for that kind of initial part, when they first embrace Islam, for everyone to be excited inundate them with too much information, or wanting to tell them their version of Islam, or their kind of group, you know,
idiosyncrasies and, you know, those kind of things end up getting highlighted to a lot of new Muslims. And I guess, when I meet new Muslims, I tend to advise them,
like you said, you know, give yourself space, give yourself time, develop your relationship with Allah. But there's also something else or star there. And that is that heritage Muslims that then put a lot of pressure on new Muslims to do things they would never do. So for example, I was living with a family and they said, Oh, you you don't do birthdays anymore. So your children don't do birthdays. So I had an eight and 10 year old who just accepted Islam, no birthdays, no Christmas. And we had no eat because we had no family. So they had nothing. All right. And then we found out that the family that have told us this, we're having birthdays and Christmas, and we're like what
the Hang on a minute, you've just put us into this really hard monastery, but you're actually having a life of ease. It's not fair.
But also, it's not the right order of doing things. You know what I mean? Like, we have this concept in seeking knowledge of the rich, Phil, which means learning things, letting knowledge in stages, you know, so there's certain things that are more important than other things. So for example, you know, the fundamentals, things like your relationship with a law, those kind of things. They're the most important thing, establishing the prayer,
when we start talking about those kind of cultural things, first, like you said, it can be very premature, it can be very, too much too soon. And also, it's not giving the person's space and time to understand
which path they'd like to take, you know,
in that journey. So yeah, just for highlighting that.
Is there anything else that you would looking back, say that you've learned, that really stands out?
Get on some good courses, find out you know, just just keep learning just just I went on the IRA course, which was a real
Blessing about the the Islamic education research Academy it was it was basically a 101 for new converts, although nicely retreats, just brilliant. If anybody's listening to that go on the new Muslim retreat. I went twice. I went after I'd been Muslim for about six months. And then two years later I went, you know what I want to go back again, Never be afraid of going back to the beginning of you know, whether it's relearning Al Fatiha, just just have that, you know, put that try and put that humility in your heart, you know, what is the meaning of kulu Allahu Ahad? You know, who is Allah? How is Allah? What is he? And what, you know, and what does he want from us? And, and always,
you know, even if you stay in that your whole life, that's okay. I remember that there was a course that we used to run, or an IRA was called, and we met there. Yeah, I think that's how I that's how we met. And you knew my little girls, I've just realized Yeah.
To wedding, it was one of the sisters from my era. And we were at the wedding. We were sitting at the same table. Do you remember? And yes, we just, we were just talking. And I feel like this is like a continuation of that discussion, because we started off certain things there. And ever since I've been thinking, you know, I'd love to ask Lauren more about this or that, you know, so.
Yeah, so that is how we met. And for people who don't know, the new Muslim retreat is a, I would say, a long weekend,
usually in a nice hotel with a nice surrounding, run by the Islamic education research Academy,
where you literally are taken away from your everyday life, and you get to meet other new Muslims, and people who've been Muslim for a long time. People have different stages. And
what do you what would you say it gives you that kind of being able to just get away and
you know, I mean, just to sit and be taught by someone like Hamza sources, and to, to and abdur-rahim Green, people who live in this, you know, real reality context, but and make and make it so easy to understand. I think because, because often classes and lessons they they filled, they're filled with beautiful Arabic phrases that you're nowhere close to. So So this is
where you are, yeah, and who you are and who and it's without judgment. And it's, and it's, and it's culturally friendly. You know, often we talk about diversity in this country, and that's good. And we talk about being culturally aware, but are we as a community actually culturally sensitive to English? Scottish? Irish Muslims? No, we're really not.
Yeah, I mean, I mean, it's a blind spot. It's, I think it's a blind spot at the end of the day. And it's
it's kind of
it should be easy for people to just fit in. That was one of the first places that that me and my daughter actually went, Oh, we can be us. You know, we can be a version of us, oh, this is nice. And it was kind of like getting in a warm bath and going, Oh, I feel comfortable. And the rest of the time you're bit wearing a hair shirt. I think the only time I've ever felt something similar to that is when I was living in Egypt. And I was constantly I was living with Egyptian families and just with foreigners, basically all the time, like students from all over the world. And I'd been with them for so long. And then one day, a British SR turned up, you know, and just being able to talk
British to basically speak normally, and somebody who understood and there's just that it was an amazing feeling.
So, but I think for most of us, like heritage, I like that phrase, by the way, heritage Muslims.
We've never experienced that, you know, we've we take for granted that we've got a community, we've got that kind of we've got family as well, you know, and things like that. And I do remember you saying once that I think you said one of your daughters were saying that
that she'd she'd want to marry into a Muslim family heritage Muslim family because
why? Why was that? Well, she stills my eldest still says that because she's like, it's too lonely otherwise, you know, and that sad that her life experience as a Muslim has been one that we've been lonely. And I think that's something really important because if someone with the level of
street recognition that people know you by sight, but you're still spending most of your time alone, I think I think that really says a lot and she wants to have the big family experience for a bit.
That's interesting because um, I've got relatives who, who have who married you know, in
Bush, white English converts. And
I think they have a similar experience in the sense that
they have a different expectation from family, culturally as Asians, you know, really involved with each other in family and like you said, you know, you don't have this concept of when you get to the age of 16, you're off on your own, you know, yeah, we don't have that concept. It's like,
it's like, you're constantly attached to your parents, you know, you're supposed to be. And so if you're used to that, if you marry, you know, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with marrying outside of your culture, you know, but I can see that there's a different cultural expectation from but but but at the same time, we have this wonderful new culture, I love the way that Allah to Allah, Allah has allowed us to be tribes and nations to get to know one another. Like, for example,
Yorkshire, Pakistani heritage, Muslims never existed before in humanity, brand new
village and community of people. Now arguably, the the, the young people of that Yorkshire Muslim culture have more in common with a Yorkshire Muslim girl, than with the grandparents who might still Harken somewhere else. So there aren't though, you know, there are interchanges and Venn diagrams of beauty and collaboration and unity. It's really interesting, what you said about you know, your daughter wanting to marry
from somebody who's of a Muslim background, who was born into a Muslim family, how have you gotten old enough?
Are you trying to? This could be good, come on. Yeah, we'll
talk about later.
What it made me think about was that, you know, like, my dad, when we used to get proposals, like, you know, when we were teenagers, from people back home, right, from back home, as in India, right. And I remember my dad said, something quite poignant. You know, he really said to us, well, you know, what, you're British, you were brought up here. And he had the philosophy that we had more in common with an English person, or, you know, like a convert or somebody who was born and brought up here, regardless of their cultural background, then we did with our own, you know, Indian family members or, you know, distant relatives, whatever, back in India. Right. So, and that's something
that a lot of
Asian families struggle with. That's a very mature
immigrant immigrant attitudes to the home community, right to the original community that that is a mature viewpoint. Yeah, it is. And it's a forward thinking, and that's why he was able to embrace Yes, myself and my siblings, considering people from other backgrounds. And that's something like you said, it's not something that's common, but I'm hoping that it's gonna become more common, as people realize that I think it's growing, it's ridiculous to expect your child to marry who is 1000 miles away from where you grew up, to marry somebody from the exact same village, you know, to find somebody compatible from the exact same village that you
that you grew up in here in the UK, you know, like, they both are the chances of that, right. So I think, hopefully, as time goes by the, the Asian Muslim community and other, you know, people of other Heritage's will come to realize that you know, what, we traveled 1000s of miles away from home, and this is home now. Yeah, and our children actually have more in common with a vest, or invest in here, even if they're from other backgrounds, but they've grown up in the UK, they have a common culture, which is British Muslim culture, right.
And we have more in common and more that kind of, would make us more can make us combat compatible, then, you know, that count. So hopefully, that attitude as it changes, and I think I do think is something that's probably a problem for going to be a problem for one generation. You know, because I can see already my children up, have a different
they don't, they don't feel those boundaries as much, you know, they see Muslims as Muslims. And what I've seen is that the Congress and or the new Muslims in my family, who are our relatives, they actually really enjoy
being part of the culture, you know, they don't feel
or at least they don't say that they feel you know, that they have to, they actually want to be different almost, you know, they want to be different from their family from before and they've embraced aspects of of
Asian life, I guess.
But at the same time, we've tried to give them space to,
you know, be themselves, like you said, you know, you don't have to change a name for example, you know, those kinds of things in the past.
You know, people gave new Muslims the impression that they forgot to change the name the goal. You know, what I want to our dear listeners is the minute you meet somebody who is a European Muslim, don't say and what's your Muslim name? My Muslim name is Lauren. My Muslim name is john. My Muslim name is Pete unless the name has a terrible meaning or something, right? Which is the main reason why people why the prophets of Allah Salaam changed anyone's names.
It's fine, you know, the Sahaba themselves never changed their names when they became Muslim, right, unless they had had a bad meaning. So yeah, so I think that probably is also one thing that plays into that thing that you were saying of, you know, new Muslims sometimes being made to feel that they've got to leave everything behind. Because your name is like the most fundamental thing about you right? And can you imagine if I went to my mom and said and said, my name Leila deja now she just go yet never gonna happen. By the way, your mom is hilarious. He is hilarious. Because I've been reading your memoir. And I just love the way you ended up deciding to deal with her little
digs. You know,
tell us a bit about your mom, I love May Allah bless my mom. And that's something else I'd say to my 10 year ago, self is like, just get on with your mom start now. We didn't have a good relationship for a lot of my life. And then, you know, by the grace of Allah, Allah taught me through the Quran, you're not being a daughter yet sorted out and the Prophet peace be upon him. When he said about mothers? I was I was like, a stab in the heart. How long have I got to sort this out? And now by the grace of God, we're so so close. But she says hilarious things like the other day. I'm staying. I'm staying with her while I rehearse for my play for a whole month. So it's like, okay, how's it going
to be? How's it going to be? And we've got a delivery came to the house should Oh, there was a delivery for you today. I said I was there sure. Is it a bomb? I went, Oh my God when your mom's an islamophobe. But you love her anyway, she's like, Yeah, but is it a bomb? I'm like, Oh, yeah. And we laugh about it. And one of the moments that I think really
clinched it for my mom, was when she said something really quite outrageous about Oh, something was going on in central London, that could have been a terror attack. Remember you right, and we were both really upset. I was upset by the sound like I'm literally on my way there. And quick as a flash, because my mom is Sparky. She said, Oh, I see your friends have started without you.
And I looked at the screen of the television and I just said to myself Sabbath Sabbath. What would the Prophet peace be upon him want you to do? And be kind? And so I thought, be yourself. Your mum wants her daughter. That's all she wants. So I turned around said, Mom, there's only one thing I can say. Should What? said give me five That was fast. And at that moment, something in her melted. And there was another moment actually where which when she melted. And because I took this time, that time I took advice directly from the court. And she, for example, English parents have this thing of No, no, don't do anything for us. I don't need your help you go and do your own life. And it's
become a cultural norm, which is really sad. And so when I go and do shopping, she's like, well, how much do I owe you? 250? I'm, like, really pleased mom. Don't she's like, oh, I'll pay you back or on never get you to do it again. And yeah, and this one time, I said, I'm not going to take your money. She said, Just give me one good reason why not? And I thought just go to the Quran is the answer to everything. And I said, because you gave birth to me in pain, and I can never repay you. Oh, and she just went, Oh, all right, then.
She No, I don't think
parents get to hear that. And I think that's what it was. I don't think she's probably ever heard that from any of our children before.
But that's the way to think about the code and as as really like giving advice and the words and take it from that. And that's miraculous when when actually embeds and you say something and it's like, I want to use this here. I hope it's the right. It's the right meaning because it's goodness in it and bingo, watch what happens. In fact, sometimes when you're lost for words, that is Those are the words that you need. So much for sharing that. What do you think it was about your mom that she was
making those kinds of jokes like, feels like
she's trying to provoke you, or
or trying to turn you back? Would you say you know, she said one day she
I said my wife, she said, Oh, will you stop being pious? You know, and I'm like, I can't. He's a Catholic, right? No, she's she's, you know, she sometimes says, I don't believe in God. And sometimes she does. And but when I stay with her, after a few days, she starts saying, thanks be to God. And the other day, I was just screwing in a light bulb orange said, You know what, Sarah, when I look at you, and I'm like, I think and I'm like, wait for it. She said, when I look at you, I think, thank you, God.
That's brilliant. You know, she literally says, Oh, hamdu Lillah Allahu Akbar in English, because I'm doing something good for her. So. So these little things are really important. But she provoking me. She's, she wants said to me, You know what I just missed. I just miss my mate, the heavy drinking, smoking, swearing Sarah. And I'm like, Wow, she's not going back.
Sorry, mom. So I tried to have kind of, you know, a little bit of fun with her with it within, you know, yeah, not those parameters. Yeah, I think
the thing is, you're experiencing that in a very, like, Stark way. But that is something that young people people experienced with their parents, isn't it? Like, even like, not being from a from a not changing, you know, your, your religion or, you know, your, your theology. Just growing up, you become different, and your parents kind of have to accept certain things. You know, that's very interesting. Don't we always die a little bit as parents when our kids change? Yeah, there's always a nostalgia for the stage that they've left behind. When they're six you remember when they used to go and they're there they're really wanted mommy or Wally and they don't send now this, I really
would like that, or, or get it me. And, and you always have this because they, they every year, there's a new child comes into your life until they move away from you. So So yeah, I gave that now, because I because when I came back, I was in Egypt for a few years without my parents. And when I came back, I had completely different views on certain things to them. And I just remember coming home and my mom was like, I was dressed differently as well. I had different expectations and different boundaries, you know, in terms of things that we would normally do. And so I think it took them time to adjust as well. And you know, the sort of jokes that your mom's making. My mom would
sometimes make jokes, you know, like, Oh, yeah, you know, our children are teaching us now. You know, like she would really like and sometimes she would say to me, you know, lighten up
so I can see that it is part of that whole child and definitely my daughter Alex is teaching me now You Mashallah you notice since she was little Mashallah, and now I take it because actually ilme wise, she she does more study than I do. And she achieves very ficky I'm not a picky person, I'm a kind of heart and soul sort of, I get this on the spirit of it, and I, you know, and I want the, the overview of it, and she's like, what, actually, the ecology is, there's this and I went there, and I'm like, Oh, that's interesting. And she's like, for this particular in this in this you know, context right now. It's, I've read that it's this and she always checks her sources. Otherwise, you
know, I've said to her, don't say, I, it's this site, I believe it's this I'm going to check because, you know, because we know nothing. We haven't done that. But Mashallah, that's it's exciting to learn from the young one, they have knowledge. Oh, I love it. Yeah, I love it continue inshallah. Mashallah. So I've been reading your memoir. And
I would describe it as a swashbuckling adventure. Myself, just sort of adamantly nobody know who he is. I mean, like, it's, it's an emotional roller, it was an emotional roller coaster reading it. There were times when it was hilarious. You know, like, I didn't realize you'd been in the jungle, right? Like, I haven't, I don't really watch. I'm a celebrity. But I've seen clips of it and stuff. And I, and I didn't realize what what made you at that stage of your life. Agree to doing that. So just to describe to your international viewers, there is a there is a show where some really genuinely famous people, some middle ranking loan people in some completely unknown people, like Who
on earth is that and why? Why are we paying them kind of people, that was me get put in dropped into the Australian jungle for a minimum of two weeks, maximum of a month. And they have to do challenges in order to get food. And yeah, and to win little treats. And then at the end, somebody gets crowned king or queen of the jungle. So I went into the show. I mean, the question really isn't Why did you go in? It's, why wouldn't that person go in? Because, you know, I was very much from a thrill seeking background, but at that stage in my life, this is 2006 I just am a collector of experiences. You know, it's like my life is a title that I could Yeah, that from the book. It's not
So much thrill seeking now is like, Oh, that's interesting. Why is that come my way? How can you say notice how you put yourself in US seeking and also putting yourself into situations in order to have certain experiences, if that really came across? Hmm. And then to watch them and then to go cool. That's interesting. How do people so of course, I'd go, I mean, my main fear going into the jungle was of bungee jumping, I woke my husband up at the time, and I said two weeks before I was due to go in, I can't bungee jump. And he said, No, no, you should be scared of the spiders and the bugs they're going to get you to eat and be with. I said, No, they're going to get me to bungee jump. He
said, they've never had a bungee jump in the show. I did three.
Three, terrifying one was from a helicopter. And but I love that challenge. And I loved the fact that you had to do it for other people. So you bungee jumped into a bungee jumped into the jungle. And that was a real test of mettle, who are you when it comes to it? And then the other times, I had to bungee jump to get meals for people in camp and it's like, okay, I want everybody to eat tonight. And I love that feeling of are you who you think you are? All right, because I've always been a bit gobby. Alright, which means nap. Right? I think you should do this. And Let's all stand together and Matt, ban the man the barricades. But when it comes to it, would you do it? And at those certain
points by the grace of Allah alone, and did it? So I want to know that I'm that person, I guess. I'm sure there's an easy way. Don't you think a lot of people on that show? Try doing it to get famous? Did you want to get famous? No, no, but that point, you know, as soon as I got in the helicopter went meet Jason, I wanted to meet Jason Donovan. I didn't know he was gonna be on to be honest. It was just a great, great adventure. Because before that, as you know, from the book, I'd spent a month in the Australian jungle. And yeah, I mean, I had many other adventures too. But sometimes when you're that kind of person, right? Who's constantly seeking experiences and adventures?
Do you not feel that
you sometimes have to hold yourself back and say, You know what?
There's other areas of my life that are going to suffer because of this.
That the real question is, should you be thinking like this sister, Lauren? I'm trying to say in the nicest way.
Because to be honest, I'm quite an adventure seeker, too, right? Like, I've been away from home since I was 16. I've been to Jerusalem. Yeah, here, there everywhere. Like without my parents without? I was like that. Yeah. Even
if it wasn't for my husband,
who rains me in, you know, there are times when I'll just I want to experience there's something about the world and life and people and
like, I want to do astronomy, and I want to do Islamic Studies. You know, I want to do calligraphy, I want to have an art exhibition. I am that sort of person. And sometimes I need that voice that says to me,
You know, like, calm down. Take it easy. Right now in front of you. There's some things that need attention.
What would you say about I would say pray for my sister.
Now I'm doing a play. What is that about? It's gonna be great. There were parts in your memoir. First of all, tell us what is the difference between a memoir and an I love autobiographies? Great question. Okay. So start at 10, no conferring difference between autobiography. And a memoir is, number one, an autobiography should be by somebody who you know by one name. They're that famous. So who do you know who's famous enough to have one name? Oprah, Oprah. Thank goodness. She didn't say Madonna.
Oprah Yeah. Oprah or Obama, or, you know,
Beckham. So they have one name and you go, oh, there's their autobiography. I just want to know what they ate for breakfast and what they were and if there's a story with it, I'm buying it out, I'm buying in. And also an autobiography is a chronological order of events. I was born, I went here and I went here. And it's all interesting because they're famous. Now a memoir, is usually a group of thoughts and theories grouped together by theme.
So so my memoir was it's a spiritual adventure story. Yes, there's been a sort of things happening and things being chased. But what was actually the through line, and how on earth did I wake up in a mosque as a Muslim when i when i never planned it for long work, but
and then that's why I said it was an emotional rollercoaster because
There were times when I laughed out loud. Jason Donovan for example, and some of the other and Imran Khan. Like That was crazy that whole which bit with him his brother in law, the whole you being on the campaign trail and then just crazy things happening tell us tell us about that. Han yeah by yeah so
gosh what year 2012 I think it was when he was arranging convoys Do you remember to Waziristan to protest drone strikes and then he invited me to come along and some a lot of other much more important international people to come and, you know, be a voice for with I don't like a voice for people it's so patronizing a voice with the people of Waziristan to represent that, that that that displacement of the world and their plight,
but we ended up getting lost in what's known as a red zone. And I remember in a Taliban zone basically, and we had to turn the lights off in the car and it was midnight and I said to the driver, why we turn the lights off. He said if we get seen you're in big trouble. So give me the phone. Give me the phone. Iran. Brother Imran I stopped Allah. You've left me alone. The Reza had a sister Lauren. Allah is with us and allies with me. You better you're meant to be with me. Oh, which was so car.
Oh, yeah. And then eventually we made it into an army base. We there in the, in your capacity as a journalist? Yeah. Yeah, both as a journalist and as an activist, because what's happened in Waziristan is absolute shame on humanity amongst the many other shames but we shouldn't forget that three quarters of the people of that region are displaced. And that drone attacks now. Don't you don't even have to Donald Trump's administration don't have to list who's died in them. Now, once upon a time, not long ago, little as two years ago, a drone attack you had to say, you know, Sammy, eight, hamidah 12. You had to list them now? You don't even know. So anyway, so Well, you've just
reminded me that it's unfair of me to say that you're an adventure and thrill seeker, you've really gone to places and shown a lot of care for real causes, you know, isn't I don't think you're driven by merely by this sense of adventure. You know, it's very, it comes across in your memoir, but
apart from looking for meaning, I think you're looking to be useful. And
yeah, Would you say that's correct? I'd say I'd say definitely, I'd say insha Allah to that, you know, I can't bear it, there is a there is an opening that I think children who've had difficult upbringings have. And I see it as an opening for empathy. So if you have a final time, and everything ticks along, and you hit 1920, and you know, everything's been fine in your family, often, you will have big internal challenges.
And I think for kids who have struggled and had issues in their homes, when they're children, they will still have challenges. But the opening to care for others is just there. So So what are the kind of issues that you are? I mean, you know, as soon as I went to Palestine, oh, well, growing up growing up, both, both my parents are alcoholics. And, you know, my best friend's mom was a drug dealer, and they had a better life than we did because they had toilet paper. And we didn't. And, you know, as my dad said, we're not poor, we're broke. And I said, We are poor, we wash our hair and fairly liquid and we use we used to use newspapers, toilet paper, and he said, Yeah, and what, what
newspaper Do you use when you go to the bathroom? And I said, it's the guardian. He said, See? That's a toilet paper of aspiration. That's just dad was brilliant. You know, I can see where you get your humor from.
But can you like for people listening and watching, you know, they may not be able to identify with what that means? Being in growing up in a home with alcoholic parents. And linking that to poverty? Like, can you give us a little bit of a? If you don't mind? Can you give us a bit of an insight? Well, I mean, I think what's really important to note is that there are more than 3 million children in the United Kingdom right now today, living with one or both alcoholic parents just think about that. millions of homes. What does that mean? It means instability. You don't know the mood of the person when you get home from school. You know, you somebody might want to slap you smack you scream
at you or have spent all the money on alcohol and there's nothing for dinner, tough go to bed. There's no lights, we had no lights skin in the house, and it's a scary environment. It's scary genuinely because it's so random, predictable.
There's no there's no stability like, with with alcohol proven. The number one indicator of domestic violence is what? alcohol. So when a parent
sorry, because I'm really ignorant about this topic like a parent who's an alcoholic, when they come out of that drunkenness, do they come out of drunkenness, alcohol in times when in life. So they're either like when they sober up and they they realize what's happening going on in the house, but then they're hugely stressed because bills have got out of control, and the place is a mess. And they've got to deal with that. So so it's a bit more, so they drink more. It's like, Oh, I can't do this cover the aim.
Wow. So growing up with that, does that make you want to stay away from home?
You know, like I said, How do you make your peace with that? How do you make it make peace with that? You know, there's a comedian called Billy Connolly. And I remember seeing him interviewed by Michael Parkinson, sorry, if your international audience but this is very Anglo centric, centric, okay, you can Google it.
And he anyway, he, he said, he admitted to not admitted, but he said that he'd had sexual abuse as a young boy. And the interviewer said, how terribly sick? No, it's alright. Because as soon as I left home, I decided the rest of my life is going to be amazing. And it's like, and it's that thing of like, who once you get out? If If all if God gives you that characteristic, if Allah gives you the characteristics, now you're responsible, and it's like a relief. But does there come a time when then your parents now that you're older, they're probably different people?
What the thing that they're the later challenges to come to a place of forgiveness? Do they say sorry? No, I have to, you know, forgive them. They don't have to say sorry. They may never say sorry. They haven't. What I'm trying to get at is do they feel like you know, as a parent, you feel guilty about loads of things, right? Even if you're not an alcoholic, right? Everything you feel guilty about, like, Oh, I didn't do this the best for my children. I didn't do that could have done that better. If only this was just me, right? But imagine, like if you're an alcoholic, and at some point, you're going to be sober. And you can look back and think, Oh, my God, my demand mind in this
universe. Other things. Imagine if something is so big, you can never deal with it. The question is, what is the mercy of the child on that parent? My mom's 81. Now do I really want to make her say sorry, for what she had to cope with? She would she has wiped out. She's She's literally the conversation never age when you go through it. I tried for 20 years and just made her miserable. And now it's like she says, and dinner was ready at seven every night. And it was like, yeah, Mom, you're the best. you the best mom ever.
Now I can see I can see that a husband? Why you do that? I can see under percent. Because wouldn't we, you know, want our children when they grow up? To forget about
the things that we did the probably things that we are quite ashamed of, or,
you know, we don't want to mention them, because we don't want that memory to be there. We kind of wish that hope that, you know, being the resilient kids that they all would just say they will. And the other thing is that then what's the other side is to be this person who's eaten up with If only you'd have done this, this would have happened and Islam really helped me with that by the grace of Allah because you don't have if it was meant to happen. And I don't have that sense of resentment, that Yeah, and there can't be a but there's only what are you doing now? You know, that's beautiful, which is not gonna hurt. I mean,
I was asking you simply like, just thinking about it as a parent, like, you know, and I guess our generation like we are a bit more like that, you know, willing to apologize and I don't know I do young people very unforgiving now. And I think that's, that's really, yeah, that's a big topic. We'll come back to that and inshallah, so what made you cry? What made you laugh? Okay, so the laughing was the Jason Donovan. And just the just the craziness of the the types of the people who you've met and the situations that you found yourself in
the moments that really touched me were your moments with your father, on his deathbed. Like that chapter. That chapter was beautiful, that what I love about your memoir is, there's this action, there's craziness, there's, you know, like almost chaos, and then there's calm
and in the middle of all of that, there's you
It feels very clear that a Lost Planet Allah has taken you all around the world to bring you to him. And that's how that's how I read your memoir.
But that moment with you and your father, I felt like it was like a culmination of that was a gift, I have to say that was one of the Allies given so many great gifts and, and you can't count them, just the fact I'm breathing here today and healthy and no major diseases. You know, thank you, Allah, thank you. Shukr. Allah is a miracle in many ways. But when my dad and I hadn't spoken for two years before that, exactly, so in that context, that, that, that meeting that led to that and to get and to get a call and say, Come and see him and say goodbye on his deathbed. And, you know, my my ex husband saying saying beautifully, may Allah bless him for this, you're only there for one
reason, you're only there for one reason, don't make it about the past. Don't Don't make it a you know, don't make like, Oh, it's lovely to see you. One reason tauheed just, that's it. I was given you this, it's a gift. And and to sit and hold my dad's hand and you know, to recite Al Fatiha and for him to say that so beautiful, and you're full of light. And for him to feel that, you know, an Irish guy, you know, a man of Irish Catholic descent. Who would, who would express you know, real suspicion and, and nervousness about what he thought Islam was, you know, the set of rules is domination of women, all of these ideas, and to when it came down to it for me to hold his hand and
recite sort of fat here and just say, how many gods are there Dad? And he looked at me and he said, Come on, there's only there's no god but God.
Laila, hell, Allah. And then what about the prophets, you know, so let Solomon and Adam they're all prophets. And Jesus said, Listen, kid, Jesus was a prophet, we know that he's not God. And you say, thank you on that. And then to have a dream of after he died, of him being bathed by three moms in a big palace, was such a gift, and hamdulillah and just to be there, and to give him that love, and, and to really I, you know, in my culture in the, in the English Heritage culture, we don't talk about death. The big, the big, unknown, the big unspoken, you know, we talk about, oh, we'll have a big wake afterwards, and we'll have a big party, we'll all drink to your mate, we'll drink to your
memory, we'll get drunk. And remember, it's like, What even is that? And then, you know, the moment of death being or let's play music, so you can remember me? What? No, I said to my dad, and it was a hardest thing. I've had to say, I'm here because I love you. And I'm here because you're leaving. He said, I'm I said, Yeah, let's talk about God. That's what we should be doing. shala that's what Allah gave me the right to do the chance to do. And that was beautiful. That was really moving. Another part of the memoir that was moving was
that moment when you were in a house in Gaza.
When you realize all the suffering and difficulty that this family had been through, and was going through, and you were praying, and you just you were just overwhelmed by this, by the realization that it was possible for human beings to be so kind and be so giving, whilst they were in such a state of suffering. just describe that, to us just had these moments, time and time again, in both the West Bank and Gaza.
where for example, I was by the grace of Allah was besieged in Gaza, just four months, but it was enough of a taste when suddenly you find yourself somewhere in the world. And both of the exits into other territory, say your your passport is worthless. Now, you might as well throw it away. And you haven't seen your kids for sick your kids for six weeks. And you think that's it, and to have that experience, and then people asking in their poverty, in their pain, with their, you know, there was a lady I met, may Allah bless her. A name escapes me for now. But she had such an oar in her face. She hadn't seen her son for three years. She went out to a funeral when he was six years old. And
soldiers wouldn't let her go home to the West Bank. They drove her and threw her into Gaza Strip, and she was crying for me who I hadn't seen my kids for six weeks, and praying and I thought, wow, I said, What about you should No, no, it's okay. It's with a love but you are you okay? But where does that come from? Where does that what is the source of that compassion?
And when I was crying, and what you're talking about is Bay, its hannu which got
destroyed. And this family's living in basically a gay marriage. And the children are traumatized and they've got white phosphorus on them and I'm crying. And she's like, are you okay? It's like, part of me wanted to scream when you stop being nice.
You know, what is wrong with you? And in one house I did actually burst out Why are you fasting? What is wrong with your people? What is wrong with it? Why are you so compassionate? Why you? Literally you've lost your mind. And the mother said,
I said, Why are you fasting? Should I fast in Ramadan to remember the poor, she had no furniture, she had no money. She had no heating. But she was fasting because her neighbor was poorer than her. That's love. And she gave me the food from her kids. Because I was a visitor, I'm like, wow, if this is the way life can be, if this is the love that can exist in this realm, between human beings, what is the source? subpanel. So Pamela, which brings me to the end of your memoir, where I think that was the other part that really touched me, was when you said, it was like, I don't know, if I'm characterizing this right, you'll you'll let me know. I felt like in parts of the memoir, you were
talking to your people. Okay. And what I what I mean by your people, is your nation your, you know, all of like the prophets, Allah Selim, he had a tribe he had, he was sent to, initially he was sent to a particular nation, and to his own family, to his own people, right? The Arabs, and or the Croatian and Arabs. And then obviously, his message was wider than that. But there is always this thing. And there, you know, in the Quran, that the messengers were sent to their people, right. And I felt in the last line in your book, one of the last lines where you said
that your message to people to the reader is, you know, just take some time to yourself, just be peaceful. Think about God, think about
this world and the intelligence behind all of this. And you say, then just read the Quran with your heart open just once. I just found that so touching, and I just felt like she's speaking to her nation to her people. I don't know if I'd characterize that right. But what would you say about that?
I would say that, what is the point of a book, if if it's, you know, memoir, if it and you know, something, and you don't pass it on to people, there was nothing else of important at all, in that book, except go and read the Quran. That was the only line that matter that matters in the whole book. You can you can burn the rest of it, throw it away, I don't care. And I felt like everything was leading up to that moment. Because you have to build trust. And I think one of the things that I meant humanizing aspect as well. understanding where is this person coming from? Because it's so easy, I think, for people to caricature you, you know, like non Muslims. I mean, like, islamophobes
to caricature you and be like, Oh, yeah, she's the, you know, just like they did with Yvonne Ridley right. They say they call it what they say Stockholm Syndrome, may say, so it's very easy to kind of
especially people from you know, treating them as a mental illness, right, the right like likes happening.
And treat people who embrace Islam from an English background English Heritage background as traitors, right. But what you've done in the book, it feels like say, No, no, let me tell you what really happened. So when you wrote it, what did you have a particular person or people in mind that you were hoping would read it? That? Yeah, that's a really good question. It would have been, I was speaking to myself at 25. Yep, I was speaking to that, that girl with a little bit of fame, or a little bit of money, who's in the west end with a little bit of wrong attention, but knows that God is there that knows, knows in every fiber, as most people do they have, they have a sense that maybe
it takes the loss of someone, or, or something really painful to happen, or something really beautiful to happen, you know, a certain rose that makes you cry, like, why am I crying? It's a flower. Because Because it's that kind of connection or a view in a mountain something, looking at the sea and feeling how small you are. Right? We all are blessed with those moments. And what do you do with that? Do you allow it to just be done? By so as I'm speaking Dahlia, I was I was saying, You know what? Stop now, look around for that thing. Wow. That's beautiful. That just reminded me about this interview that I did today. You know, the first question that I was asked by a blogger today,
who's meant to be really right on Yeah, I want to cover the story of your show was I use Sunni or Shia? I said, I don't do that. I don't answer questions like that. I'm not I'm not into that sectarianism. And he said, Yeah, but I used to kneel shear and I'm like, that's really weird that you that you want to start an interview with that. Why is that the first
First question from a non Muslim. Why did you get out from reading your memoir? Why do you think you've read out of the blue? Just first question, trying to provoke you trying to provoke trying to get a headline. I said, I'm Muslim lady, hello, Mama, Allah. He says you're nondenominational. I said, maybe it's between me and God. What's it to you? And he said to you, and then he said, bye. And then he did. And then he did the classic saying, and by the way, I hear that that his job is not in Quran I said, Wow, I love it. I love it. When non Muslims know more about the deen than I do. I must be an idiot. may happen. Tell me you're reading. I was invited on LBC. Right, unbelievable by
this lady, journalist when the whole Boris niqab thing was going on right letterbox thing. And she introduced me as and Fatima Baraka, you know, Fatima vaca Tula, a
Muslim scholar. Right? And she goes, Well, Fatima, the niqab isn't in the Quran at all anyway, right?
I thought you'd invited me to tell you what, yeah.
You could have said, and you just tell me which which version of the you know, of the translation? Have you read? Have you read? Exactly.
No, where did you get that information? We need to do that. Do you think she got a bit embarrassed in the middle? Because she said, Well, you are the scholar? I mean, they should be referring to her a bit further, I realized that it was quite you know that that happens to us all the time. To be honest, you know, you get invited on for one little issue, not interested in you, as a person really, to be told what Islam says about something. That's it? And you're like, well, don't you think? Don't you think that this is a brilliant thing? Or status is to say, which sources are you taking that from? And I think it's right to bounce it back? Or that you especially have rights to do
that? Maybe not so much. But definitely, yeah. Can you just tell me which sources you're taking that from? Oh, it says in the Daily Mail? Yeah. Well, that's funny. The Daily Mail isn't isn't a you know, ilam institution, as far as I know, because they've literally
In the kind of echo chamber of the of the media world, it just keeps being regurgitated. The same lines keep getting regurgitated. And this is the simplest thing that that I would say as well. Well, this was never actually a massive discussion point until the colonials from France and Britain were in North Africa, and went into India, and wanted to take the hijab from the women trying to discourage it. And that and what you're saying is basically every woman since the time of the Prophet until now, millions and millions and millions of Muslims were completely wrong. And we've just didn't know the religion of it, though. Silly people. And the other thing is suffering, whether
it's in the Quran or not. What's it to you? Like? Do you believe in the Quran?
I like being in the Koran.
And it's quite hilarious. Yeah, like what we saw in the Quran, okay, well, what if it was? Well, the Quran is, you know, what would you say? As if it to being in the Quran would make a difference to your accepting expect acceptance of it, right. So yeah, there's a lot of that going on.
I don't know what to call it, mu splaining.
Which brings us to the topic of Islamophobia.
before that, I want to talk to you about something that when I put the word out, you know, I'm going to be speaking to Lauren booth. As you can imagine, some people they sent me some messages, you know, ask her about this, ask her about that. So I'm gonna ask you, Hey, come on come. And it's up to you. Okay, how are you?
So dude is still get annoyed when people call you.
When people introduce you as Tony Blair's sister in law
it's a scam.
Okay, so I see it now as an ego check. It's just an ego check. It's like, it's like who was I remember earlier you did used to say, Oh, yeah, I have to be introduced, like my irritating thing is that it's a bit irrelevant. It's like Tony Blair is no longer in power and he's no longer a world figure he has, he has been a world figure. And I am sitting sister, half sister to his wife to somebody who used to be in power. So don't don't get me on. Don't speak to me that's if that's it's a total irrelevance. to either you've got the important things to say knowledge to share and the skills to share in which case asked me about those and introduce the skills or don't have that
person present. So I think in that way, but from the Muslim community, I'm a bit more forgiving, and, and and more embarrassed. On the one hand, don't you guys know me
No, don't don't we love each other. I might not, you know, even if you just say Lauren booth a sister from down the road, I don't think you get you get introduced like that now, right?
everywhere all the time, but I will I make sure that I can forgive it because it's like, wow look one of our world leaders a family member and
it's simple. It's a simple thing and it's the house of fair our own and it's, it's something that that people love. And if it can, can raise their mind, you know, a little bit than that, then that's good.
Yeah, I think it's also you know, like Muslims, they're always looking for symbolic
things that symbolize a lost power. Okay.
Bear with me, okay.
You embracing Islam, I think. And I can just empathize because obviously, I heard it on the, you know, like, just from people when the GPU and all that. I think what it symbolized for a lot of Muslims, whether you wanted it to symbolize that or not,
was that this person who had become a, you know, a symbol of kind of
Islamophobia, or attacking Muslim countries and everything that was kind of hurting Muslims, right? at the time.
Somebody from his own family and his own, you know, relatives had seen the truth of Islam. So I think there was just something amazingly powerful in that I can completely understand why it would be so irritating to constantly be introduced with somebody else's name in your profile, right. But at the same time, I hope you can appreciate that. Muslims are always looking for symbols, they're always looking for the signs of Allah, you know, the plan of Allah. Right.
And I think that's probably where that came. And then, you know, I don't mind any of that. What What does concern me is when we get get so kind of concerned with some with this minor celebrity, that just being a sister in Islam is lesser than that, than being related to, you know, someone who, you know, really has ordered the mass unit, we've been part of a movement of countries which murdered on mass Muslims. I mean, that that really galls me, you know, when I'm when I'm in places abroad, and someone come and go, Oh, do you know Tony Blair, what's his like? A well, actually yet? he's a he's a murderer. What what? Well, yeah, Iraq, Afghanistan. You know, those hilarious I read in a
newspaper article, some, somebody asked you about
Tony Blair, and you said, Well, we were on two different buses. And his was going to Tel Aviv.
is heading to Tel Aviv.
So another question people ask me, well, this is a question that I want to ask you. So has your sister read your memoir? Do you think? Yes, yeah. With her lawyers? Of course she has.
Let's see. She said, I will get my lawyers look through it. And I was like,
It's not their story. Of course, you know, in the clearest way, it's not a song. Sure you wanted. I don't know, I get the feeling. If I was to write a memoir, I would want my brothers and sisters to read it. They would be secret messages in there for them. You know what I just wanted them to feel loved. That's it. My duty in that book was to give as much. So do you think you wanted them to read that chapter about your father? I feel like something that would have been nice for them as well, I guess. And in the sense that there was peace, there was no because because they they, you know Sheree was there when my dad died. And that was a beautiful thing, because he loved her very much.
And she got to share that with him. So that was her moment. This was not her moment. So I didn't. In fact, I debated whether to put it in at all. So people weren't hurt by it. Like, what is this weird moment that was had, you know what I mean, but it was in my life. And it was something beautiful. So I put it in you have every right to work but with the with the Blair's when I was young. I just wanted to remember how lovely they'd been to that 16 year old geeky girl from the bad, bad home, and they give me you know, free rein in their fridge, which is like
Never say no.
So yeah, so so she's ready in that capacity.
And nothing was wrong. So there you go. There
Now, you know, but you know, one of the one of the big things about doing a memoir was, how can I do this without backbiting? Because, yeah, you said that in the intro when you was giving an intro to your memoir, you know, go through it, go through it, and put love in, and then still be true to the story that is like something that people don't do any more. Right? We do we do as Muslims, we Muslims in total, you know, that's what we should be doing. But I mean, when somebody writes an autobiography, or in a memoir is about dishing the dirt on, you know, all the big names that they've come across in life. And, and I think that was beautiful about the memoir, you know, because it is
an offering to Allah. I feel Yeah. And when you're offering something to Allah, the reason why I say some offering to Allah was
it was such a powerful piece of that as well, right. shala inshallah, inshallah. And I think we do need to start thinking about more creative ways of doing that. Right. And which is what you're doing, I shall speak about my play, we will be using art using nasheeds. Right, using poetry, music. And I really believe in that, and, you know, there's a severe lack of funding for that kind of thing. But, you know, I feel like your book was an offering to a lot as a piece of that, as well as you know, your story. And so in a way, it had to be free from all of that fighting. Because anything I like sets the pure, my mum, when she read it, said, I ate it, and it's upset me and I thought, Oh,
my gosh, burn a lot. And I was thought, oh, I've done all of this. And I've made my mom and happy and I prayed so hard. I said, Allah, what am I going to do? Because with my mom is dissatisfied with me because of the book. Why didn't she like, because she didn't want to be reminded of some of the moments in our childhood. Yeah, it wasn't anything specific necessarily written about her. It was just like, I don't want to live in that moment. And then one day, I went round, and she said, Hello, darling, how are you? And she had spoken to me for about a month. And it was like, everything was normal. And I thought, well, maybe she's lost her memory.
And then it's because mom's can read your mind. So I sit there go, thank you. Thank you a lot, not for me losing a memory but you know, she doesn't mind she doesn't. She's forgotten about it. And maybe that's okay. And so I'm speaking to a lot and then she looked at me, she said, I haven't forgotten. I remember it all, but I love you anyway. And it's okay. And I was like, oh, Ally's amazing you know, and so come to terms with it. Yeah. Sure. No, she's not even hurt by it. So that's really good. Okay, somebody asked me this Okay, so I'm gonna ask you
obviously like you might not know this directly, but you might have an idea
Do you think Mr. Blair regrets what he did
I think that people who are in that position self justify one of the things you learn as an actor I trained as an actor by the way is that nobody sets out to do to go nobody wakes up one and goes I really want to be a horrible person and I hope I bombed loads of people and and destroy you know, a nation's that would be really great. It's a drip drip of decisions, which you self justify. And it's called mission creep. And so I believe that that he started off with okay I you know, we we buy into this intelligence and then it became Mom I'm not really sure about that usually big guys big guys big guys ashore. big guys ashore. Yeah, guys in the military sub. Yeah, big guys ashore. Okay. Oh,
no, I'm here now. Yeah, it's definitely the right thing because I can't live with it otherwise. And I think that's, that's my humanity, my understanding of humanity is that's what happens, but we're like, well,
so when it comes to Islam in Europe, you know, I like listening to
what kind of podcasts you like listening to, by the way.
So I really like shake Yes. accardi I love anything by the yaqeen Institute, awesome nurse, shake Sulayman from the States. They tuner stuff is really good as well. So real mixed bag, Max. Yeah. And Ed Miliband as well for politics and how to be cheerful and looking on the outside and bringing people together. We've got answers. So I like I like answer orientated materials. Wow, that's really positive stuff. I also like to listen to the dark side of things as
I don't know why I think some of it is quite intellectually stimulating. But also it's kind of interesting to see what people you know are thinking and what the people who are seen as intellectuals, you know, what they're thinking and one of the things that
I've noticed people on the so called intellectual dark web, talk about a lot is
Islam in Europe, right? And then you can just get this sense that they feel
just as nature said, you know, that atheism and people moving away from Christianity would be like pulling the rug from under
the European civilization. And yeah, they and yet they forced it. And yet they've made it happen in in Korea. Yeah. Which is weird. They don't want to let it go. You see, when you when you listen to that compensation, it's almost like, No, no, no, we like a theism or we like,
although there is a movement now of people who are more kind of like, let's bring back our Christian heritage without fully believing in it, you know, types, right? But there is this idea that you know what, we might have made a big mistake, right? Because Because I am without God, there's a void, that human beings have a need to fill. And guess what they fear is filling that void.
Is it jelly tots?
So they are petrified, even though they put put on like a, you know, I can't
know what's really important to say here is this. I know, Muslims that I have ever met personally, okay, want to see the decline of Christianity in Christian lands? Because Because, because the people who believe are believers, and they're being guided by a lot of goodness in that book in their book, and
to take that to have that, to see the church is empty, it actually hurts us. And we'd rather people had God in their life, yes, then not have God in their life. But what these people are talking about is they're doing the math, right, in terms of Muslim population growth, and they're saying things like, well look, even if immigration was to end, right. No, zero, the immigration now, right from now onwards.
The fact that Muslims have larger families,
than the average population means that within 50 years or so, you know, Muslims are going to be a much more significant
chunk of the European population. And they, what they're trying to say is, what they fear is that that means that the entire face of Europe is going to change, do you really want to open this box? Because I've got a lot of thoughts on this, please. So, which is why there are multiple ways in which Muslims are being made unwelcome in Europe, let's just stay in Britain for a bit. So let's look at various curriculums, whether it is sex education, or whether it is to do with behavior in schools, whether it has to do with the, you know, the laissez faire attitude towards, oh, it's just drink and drugs, don't worry about it. And if you raise it, you know, you're you're an extremist,
these extremist groups of parents want to speak to the teachers and have a say over their child's education, oh, bunch of extremists. And then it's not enough that your children are uncomfortable in mainstream education, and you can't raise it. Because as many people who have issues with their particular school or with one thing said when my daughter or my son, you know, but you get to raise it. We don't without being seen as bullies, as as impacting negatively as as being phobic in some way about whatever the issue is, and that that takes the voice of the parents away. So number one, so kids in state school problematic for people of faith. Number two, I know, let's look at
That could be a hotbed of extremism. No one's ever found any extremism so far, but could be alright, so we need to put some checks and balances on what they're going to do with homeschooling is make sure let's have the state curriculum in the homes where you can't homeschool. So to me, what I see very clearly, on many fronts, is making a hostile environment for Muslims in Europe, whether it is what you can't wear hijab, in, in state buildings in France, or whether it is an approach to education, and eventually and Allah knows best. Our job and our niqab in the public space is constantly debated are they allowed it should be used to allow to wear that by the way, you know
what I mean? And that gradual drip, drip until people pressure you know, our pressure until until they're ready to ban it and making a hostile environment. So we just leave by ourselves. Now that's one tactic. Now here's the other tactic for the numeracy gamers. All right. So Muslims are going to be by
birth, the largest population in 2016, let's say in Europe, what kind of Muslims? Will they be? Right? How do we make them into the drinking dancing, go into lap dancing, don't care about their faith kind of Muslims, that we will, that that the that, that a toxic minority of racist one will see as acceptable.
And unfortunately, that toxicity goes to the highest levels, including Boris Johnson.
But I don't think it's going to work.
You know, well, actually, I'm sorry to say that I don't mean to talk over you. But hang on before you before you say that. I want to ask you this. How many Muslim families do you know who have a plan B?
Let's go to Turkey. Talking about going to Qatar? What are you familiar? Should we go back to Malaysia? How many going back conversations? How many getting out conversations? How many second home conversations? How many? Can we afford to move abroad conversations? Have you had directly in your circle? before? We didn't say it's not working? It's difficult to say? I feel like I have heard those conversations. Yeah. I've probably thought about those things myself. Right.
perhaps, I feel that it's
I think one of the things that gives me hope and strength is knowing about these kind of characters in the ground. You know, my father in law used to say, when you open up the Quran, it's like you're reading the newspaper. He didn't mean that in a disrespectful way. What he meant was all the good, the bad, and the ugly characters of the world that keep you know, history keeps repeating itself, right. That you read about in the newspapers, right. There in the Quran. You know, the Abuja halls, the Abuja hubs, the, the guy who knew that Islam was the truth, but he still didn't want it for this for economic reasons, the person who has a hatred towards people who are you know, like, of another
race of people or another culture, the people who worship status, the people, you know, so every character, every kind of
type of person is there. And I feel like a lot of the things that the types of attacks that we get, are things that Allah tells us, you know, the prophet SAW sent him God. He's called a liar who's called the Medina and you know, he said about
Islam being a mental illness, right? The Prophet Solomon was literally called imagine a poet. He was called, right, so Oh, yeah, this Islam, it's brainwashing. It sounds good, but it's right. So all of that stuff, and what Boris Johnson just did, you know, mocking a lot talks about the sort of mafia and he says, when the Muslims would walk past, they would make faces funny faces mocking them, right? It's upon Allah. Right? So
all of that is in the Quran. And so the thing that kind of makes me feel that it's not going to work, is that the way that las panatela has
The Deen right, the way he's designed it, is to preserve certain things. And when people are not on the dean, then those things are not as preserved in that civilization. Right. So I don't know if you've heard of the five underlying acid of the Sharia, which are the five underlying what you could call the the intents and purposes of the Sharia, right?
That scholars have derived. And those five things are preservation of religion. So the way that Islam is designed, it preserves its self preserving, right? And we see that in the fact that we don't take it lightly when people take the Mickey out of our messenger, right? We don't take it lightly, that somebody tells us what's in the Koran, right? There's certain aspects of the deen that preserve it self preserving, and then preservation of life. So, you know, the Islamic injunctions, they, they are a deterrent. Right. So things like, you know, the the Islamic laws, they are a deterrent to certain crimes, right. But that's not the case in places where those deterrents don't
exist. Preservation of intellect by, you know, things like alcohol not being allowed, right. So the person's intellect to the alcohol is preserved, preservation of lineage. So by prohibiting, you know,
relations outside of marriage. People know who their father is people who didn't know what their family is, and that creates a strong society. And lastly, preservation of wealth. So this idea that the rich keep getting richer and exploiting the poor you know,
Islam doesn't want that. And it helps the money to spread and be spread amongst people. So I've just like really given a basic outline, but the way Islam is designed, is preserving when Muslims are applying it, right. And so that's why I don't feel very worried about, you know,
the types of attacks that we're seeing. Right. I feel like we are a vibrant community. I feel proud of the Muslim community, you know, whenever I see young people, and that's the thing, we are a young community, you know, the majority of Muslims.
Or the majority of young people, especially in a generation two are going to be Muslims. And we're seeing we see talent we see,
you know, people,
just with a drive with passion, you know, passionate about their Deen and yet being able to live in a modern society. And so I think all of that is my little. My little explanation. You know, all of that gives me a lot of hope. Perhaps I'm overly optimistic. But I think as a Muslim, you should be, you know, should be looking for the positives and the positive signs that are there. No, no, no, we have we have a great generation coming through. That's absolutely correct. I do see great signs, for people who are compassionate to others and passionate about their Deen, who, who straddle the two worlds with comfort, on the one hand, the the the the parental way of life and expectations, but the
expectations of society and are confident enough to say, we we live, we're expected to live within the laws of this society, which is right, but we want the laws to represent and protect our rights to and that that is a positive way forward. So yeah, so what I wanted to ask you about that issue was, how do we make it the process? smooth and easy and positive? Because there are people with genuine fears? Right? I wrote an article in The Times and a lady contacted me, she wrote a long letter, right? And she said, and, you know, it was an old lady, an older lady. And she said to me, You know, I read your article. And I think, you know, it's all very well, you know, that you've that
people like you live in this country. And but, you know, can you empathize with me, and she was giving me this image of how it is for her, right? She said, I've seen my neighborhood change, beyond recognition. People around me Don't speak my language.
I feel like my whole culture, culture and my country, the things that were comforting and normal for me, are going right. And I wrote a very, I tried to write a very compassionate message back to her. I said to her, look, you know, I actually really empathize with what you're saying, because, you know what, Lauren, I can actually see that perspective. You know, I know that we like to dismiss people as being bigots. And no, because that could have been my grandmother.
In Wembley, what would? How would she have a nice experience as an elderly white woman? Right now? Exactly. She pushed and shoved and ignored? You know, we
see, sometimes we don't, we're not we're not conscious of how other people how it is for them, you know, how, how are they experiencing? what we think is no, right.
And I don't think as Muslims were meant to be an A nation who are just worried about rights. You know, we're supposed to be responsible, we're supposed to care. You know, we're supposed to care about how our neighbors are experiencing us. It's not about well, you colonialism, our lands. And that's really my kind of talk. And I sorry, I said I was just thinking about the the the Prophet peace be upon him.
Of course, the lady used to throw rubbish on him. And when she when she didn't do it, one day, he checked on her. Now, I'm wondering if you're men, because we can't ask women to do this, because it's really dangerous times. But if you're men, and you've got racist neighbors, how hard How would you? What if their car broke down? would you go?
Or would you go? Can I help you fix that? And when they said, Go away, and the next time would you go? Can you help me fix that? You know, would you get your nuts? I mean, that's the level we need to be getting to. I know it's a hard ask. I know it's a hard ask but wow. And Allah to Allah says, You're kind to them and then the one who hated you can become better than your best friend. So So I but I feel an urge to tell me what you think about this. What's needed is a lot more empathy, a lot more. Reaching out. You know, it's not good enough that Muslims we have ghettos. It's really not good.
You know, it's not good enough that
because we see people are so different to us, we are willing to kind of ignore them. I mean, the opportunities for connection are all around us. And what I said to this lady was, you know, I'm, I'm really sorry that you've experienced Muslims in this way, you know, because the things that she was telling me, and I said to her, and you're right, that people should have reached out better to you. And we as Muslims, we do need to do that better in the UK, you know, but I said to her, I would like you to consider something, right. And I gave her an image of Britain, you know, change is always difficult. Change is difficult. And that's probably what you're feeling, you know, the changing face
of Britain. But perhaps the future will be even nicer. And I gave her an image of, you know, like, people in my family who,
you know, English, an English convert and a, an Asian person who are married, and they have a child, who's half English, half Indian. And I gave her that image, you know, like, isn't that the future of Britain? Right? And she was she melted. I'm telling you, I actually, I was really shocked, because her reply after that was, thank you, you've made me feel so much better. And it was such a simple thing. She needed somebody to a acknowledge. And that's why I'm hearing when I hear like, you know, sometimes quite racist sounding people, say things like, you know, look what they're doing, though, Birmingham has become like Afghanistan and stuff like that. What they're really doing is that it's
kind of a cry for help. It's like, interesting, my neighborhood is changing. And I don't know how I fit into this new neighborhood. Nobody's making an effort to reach out to me and make me fit in. And are we pushing people to the parameters? Are we doing or what what are we doing to stop them being on the parameters? I think that's the question. We may not be responsible for that because usually economic Yeah, and and it's socio political. But But what are we doing to make sure people are brought in? If we do, yeah, I've been saying since I came to Islam, if you you're in an area, and you've got this big mosque with a center, and you're only doing that for Muslims, you're doing the
wrong thing. And what half the week it's empty, there are single moms who need that space. There are moms with disabilities, disabled kids, there were the elderly, what are you doing? Because it's not right. Yeah. So so your message to the Muslim community would be? What do we need to do more of open up your spaces to everybody in the community?
Otherwise, we will literally, absolutely most empty mosques are empty between prayers. And, you know, other times beautiful spaces, that we're doing some there are some lovely initiatives where when there was flooding, the mosques were open martial law, when it was freezing cold nights, but it was hard. And I've done a few. I'm sure you're a part of this calling around and going, are you opening your mosque? You know, a week, we can't heat it overnight? Why not? Oh, we're gonna need guards over. What we haven't got young people and that, you know, helped. It's to make sure everybody's comfortable and nobody's, come on. I think Grenfell was beautifully. Well, it was a
tragedy, but it was beautifully symbolic, what the mosques in that area did at that time, and the churches, you know, opened up and really, really, again, we have some amazing young people, and they'll be better than we were, inshallah. And so lastly, learn if you could, sorry, I should call you sister Lauren, you like being called sister Lauren. Thank you. I like it.
Yeah, of course, you know, Muslims. Absolutely. So lastly, I'd like to ask you about your show. You're about to roll this out. What is it? It's called accidental Muslim accidentally missed accidentally Muslim? Is it a manifestation of your like a bringing to life of your memoir.
So accidentally Muslim, is taken from my memoir. And it is an effort to use a creative space, theatrical space for the narratives of the Muslims that I have met on my journey, and to give access to a little taste of how one person was changed by those experiences by meeting these people. And although it's based on my life, it's a story for this age. It's a story of this moment. It's a story of celebrity. It's a story of loss of story of joy, a story of power with poverty and riches, and a story of those light bulb moments when you go Huh, what was that and then you pile out again and you just crack on and and have your your next fill of whatever your nafs tells you. And then you stop
again. And it's beautifully crafted by the grace of Allah because I have an amazing team. co writers David
Rector and and most of the team, by the way that we brought on board for this are not Muslims, they but they believe in this project and, and that the time is right for a different narrative about our community in this faith to be to go into the entertainment spaces. And I think this is the time if you're creative, right? We can't keep saying why are we just being seen in one way on TV or film? But are we being creative enough and getting our scripts out there and getting our stories are? Are they? Are they classy enough? Are they high caliber enough? You know, just keep producing, have that confidence group together?
Because when I'm finding by the grace of Allah is, and this, this is my IRA? Right? Um, I know, I'm playing I'm playing 12 parts over 40 years.
And, yeah, and to face so it's to face 12 characters, 12 characters and 40 years are covered in a one hour show. I play all the characters. And but yeah, so it's a huge undertaking. I'm really enjoying the process, I wouldn't have done it unless I had trained as an actor. And I wouldn't have done it without the great team behind me by the grace of Allah. And I have to everyday question myself, is this for our hero is this universe this we are here this is for your nerves. But by the grace of Allah, there's always a point in rehearsals when I cry. And it's like, oh, this is the moment, this is what it's about. And everybody in the room says, This is the moment including our
Christian stage manager, Tom, who's amazing, and is a real blessing to us, who said, that's the moment and it's from the Koran. He's like, that's what matters in this Allahu Akbar. So yes, I hope you'll support it. It's going to be an Edinburgh from the 31st of August to 31st of July to the 26th of August. And by the way, his breaking news
we've just been confirmed as having a London run later in the year. Okay. And this is bringing sections of the Quran quarter and to the stage in a in an in a way that isn't preaching is an access moment.
To to the theatrical spaces and beauty to come in and creativity and challenge, share our stories. So who should come to your event? Everybody should we bring? Who should we bring? Bring your neighbors bring your mom's bring your best friend's moms bring your college mates bring everybody who likes a good show. Right? And it's a family entertainment. There's no swearing, there's nothing rude in it. You know, it's over 12 because there's some there's serious content in it. There are a couple of clips from Iraq. And there is some talk about Palestine that that may be hard for children if you if you if you you know want to keep them away from that but otherwise, you know, if you love
a good story, if you like a good laugh and you want a good cry and you love your faith, and you have friends a lot of Muslims come
Jazakallah Heron, Lauren, now we can go on that date that we have, yes, planning on going on. So my stomach is rumbling law. I'm going to wrap up just like a hand and thank you for listening and watching the listeners and viewers. Please do subscribe to the infeed podcast,
YouTube channel, please subscribe to us on iTunes. Mashallah, we are one of the top podcasts in the Islamic space on iTunes. But we want you to write some comments, you know, give us some five stars inshallah that will all help and spread the word spread the word to your family, your friends, because these kind of conversations I think you'll agree, are not conversations that are really easy to find on the internet at the moment and Alhamdulillah we've had the blessing of having guests like sister Lauren, and we'd like that to reach more and more people. Do share it with your family and friends. With that, I will finish subhanak Aloma will be handing a Chateau La ilaha illa Anta stock
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