Assalamu'alaikum 🙂

Many people asked me to share a story about being a Muslim in Britain. Is it hard to do salah (praying)? Is it hard to find and eat halal food? What about the local culture?

Well, the answer is both hard and easy 🙂

Salah

Being asked about the praying matter, I can only say that it depends on individuals since it has something to do with our desire to do it or not, lol. When there is no will to do it, we will easily say: it is really hard to do!

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Several months ago, in September to be exact, I arrived in England to continue my study. Of course, at the beginning, I was confused where the Qibla direction is. The first attempt that I did was installing some mobile apps that can show me the direction. At that time, I tried to combine several apps to make sure that I face the right direction when I’m praying. Okay, it is easy to do praying at home since I can perform wudu (a ritual of washing (ablution) several parts of our body before praying) well and have a proper place to pray. However, it becomes really hard to do it outside (since I was a newcomer at that time). In the first week, due to an outside activity, I did my prayer on the riverside park with my coat as a mat because I didn’t know more proper place to do it around that area (Muslim needs to do prayer 5 times a day and there is also the prescribed times to do it Fajr—near dawn, Zuhr—just after midday, Asr—late afternoon, Maghrib—just after sunset, and Isha—after dark). I did wudu with a bottle of still water that I brought, fortunately I brought my prayer clothes. The week after, I finally found several mosques around city centre. Alhamdulillah 🙂

In campus, I can do prayer in a more than decent Muslim prayer room. We, Muslim, are well-facilitated by our campus so that it is really easy to pray even we still has a lecture. Sometimes, I just leave the class for a moment to do it in the prayer room because in winter, we don’t have much time since the daytime is shorter 🙂 but in summer, we have a longer daytime which is really convenient to wait until the class is over. Well, I can say that where there’s a will there’s a way, InsyaAllah 🙂

Halal Food

Southampton is one of the cities around UK that has less halal food (compared to other big cities with more Muslim population). However, that is not the reason to prevent me to find halal food 🙂 Before coming here, I have thought about it and prepared some canned sardines from Indonesia and in my first week in the UK, I bought and ate fruits and fish only lol. After being accustomed to the transportation here, I started to visit several places around campus and city centre. Alhamdulillah, I found halal Turkish restaurant near campus and some other halal restaurants 🙂 Okay, I found some restaurants yet I still want to make my own meal :p As recommended by my previous lecturer who has been in the UK before me, I went to a supermarket that provides halal meat as well, and found it! Halal meat and chicken! There is one special section for halal stuff in supermarket, alhamdulillah 🙂 once more, where there’s a will there’s a way 🙂

Local Culture

Well, I’m a student in a multicultural classroom. The way we interact and socialize, of course, is defferent. After several weeks of our study, some of my local friends asked the member of the class to chill out in the university pub. The time suggested was also really late in the evening. I can turn down the first invitation (sorry about it guys :p) but I couldn’t bring myself to do it when another one is coming 😀 so, I tried to explain my condition about being a Muslim 🙂 I am forbidden to drink alcohol and any food contains it. Besides that, I am only allowed to eat halal food (no pork! For other kinds of meat are allowed if halal-slaughtered) 🙂 Fortunately, my friends are really considerate and the next time we are going out, we always choose the convenient time for everyone, and of course, convenient restaurant with halal food or vegetarian meals. Once more! We only need to try 🙂

It is easy or not is just a matter of our will and effort. The good thing about being Muslim in UK, for me, I began to realize that while in Indonesia I was too careless. I feel secure and comfortable with everything supplied, especially food, without having further consideration about the food I consumed, is it halal or not? Are those chicken or beef sold in the market are halal (halal-slaughtered)? Well, I don’t know 🙁 Here, in the UK, I need to be more careful before buying food, even for chocolate, I need to look at the ingredients first. Thanks MUI (Indonesia's top Muslim clerical body) who always try to make sure that Indonesian people eat halal food. I hope that the examination for food and any other things in Indonesia is done regularly so that it can help as on the assurance of halal food we eat 🙂

Wallahu a’lam bishawab