This year Ramadan begins on the 27 May and continues until the 25 June. This sacred month in the Islamic calendar is when the Quran or Koran (the holy book of Islam) was revealed for the first time to Prophet Muhammad by Allah.
The UK is home to just over three million Muslims. Our Britit post today is a celebration of five British Muslims who are making a huge impact in the UK.
Sadiq Khan – Mayor of London
London is one of the great cities of the world, and prides itself on its diversity and tolerance. So it was quite fitting that Londoners elected a Muslim mayor. Sadiq Khan was elected to the position last May, having previously been a Labour MP (Member of Parliament) for eleven years. We profiled Sadiq Khan on this blog last year just after his election.
Mo Farah – multiple Olympic gold medallist
Mo Farah is the most successful British athlete ever, with four Olympic gold medals and five World Championship golds at 5,000m and 10,000m. He was born in Somalia, but moved to Britain at the age of eight. He started to have success after teaming up with coach Alberto Salazar in Portland, Oregon. Winning the gold medal in the 10,000m in the London Olympics on what has become known as ‘Super Saturday’ turned Mo into a national hero. He completed the double by winning the 5,000m, then successfully defended both titles in Rio de Janeiro last year. At the beginning of 2017, he was knighted, so is now Sir Mo Farah. This year will be his last as a track competitor. What better way to finish than to win gold again in front of his adoring fans in London at the World Championships?
Zayn Malik – pop singer
Every generation of teenagers has one boyband (or more) which becomes the subject of fan worship. This generation has One Direction, who shot to fame after appearing on the X-Factor in 2010. One member of the band was Zayn Malik, born in Bradford (another city well-known for its Asian population) to a Pakistani father and English mother. One Direction sold millions of albums across the world, notably in the USA, which is often a difficult market for British groups to crack. However, in 2015, Zayn decided to quit the band to go solo. His first album and single continued the success he had with 1D, reaching number one on both sides of the Atlantic.
Fatima Manji – news presenter
Most people around the world know the BBC, but not so many have heard of Channel 4. This channel has never been afraid to try something different, so it was no surprise that they were the first to have a newsreader in Muslim dress. Fatima Manji, from Peterborough, wears a hijab (headscarf) while appearing on Channel 4 News, a job she has done since March 2016. Last year, former Sun editor Kelvin McKenzie wrote a controversial column claiming it was inappropriate for Fatima to present the news of the Nice terrorist attack. She replied, stating that she “would not be deterred” and has continued doing an excellent presenting role.
Saffiyah Khan – anti-EDL protestor
Birmingham, like London, has a reputation as a modern, diverse city. It has had a sizeable Muslim community for many years. So when the far-right Islamophobic English Defence League (EDL) turned up in the city for a rally last month, people of all faiths, as well as the leaders of all three major parties on the city council, made it very clear that the EDL were not welcome in Birmingham. One picture from the rally caught the nation’s attention: a young Muslim woman, named Saffiyah Khan, who had moved to defend a hijab-wearing woman surrounded by protesters, smiling in the face of the angry EDL leader. It went viral on social media, with local MP Jess Phillips tweeting “Who looks like they have power here, the real Brummy* on the left or the EDL who migrated for the day to our city and failed to assimilate”. With just one picture, Saffiyah Khan became the face of resistance against intolerance and division. She now hopes to be able to use her new-found fame to “fight against racism on the streets of the UK”.
*Note: Brummy (also Brummie): informal term for a person from the city of Birmingham.
To find out more about Ramandan or British Muslims, ‘The Muslim Council of Britain’ has lots of useful articles.