Mar 26, 2015

Young, Irish and Muslim

Five Trinity students reflect on what it's like to be young and Muslim in Ireland today.


Saima Khan

I’ve been living in Ireland for nearly 10 years. These 10 years has made me who I am today. I’m pretty sure if I hadn’t stepped on Irish soil or any other soil other than Saudi or Pakistani soil, I wouldn’t be who I am today. Why? Because coming to a place where everyone had a different culture, different religious beliefs, or as I later learned, some with no religious beliefs, had turned my life 180 degrees.


I was at that point of my life where the choices that were made by my family and myself would change the course of our lives forever and affect our character. In the then foreign land, we held our culture, our values and beliefs instead of letting them go. And that choice has defined how me and my family live in Ireland today. Being a muslim and having strong South Asian culture in Ireland, has it pros and cons. For example I can’t buy all the tempting jellies that I see in my local shops because they have pork gelatine in it. Or the fact that I can’t buy the gorgeous looking gravies because the meat isn’t halal. It’s alway the vegetarian option no matter which restaurant you walk into (unless of course if it’s a restaurant with halal food). The pros of being a Muslim in Ireland is that I’m more aware of being a Muslim than I would be in a Muslim country because the contrast between leading a religious life to non religious life is quite stark. One has to choose which life to lead with all willingness.

“I’m pretty sure if I hadn’t stepped on Irish soil or any other soil other than Saudi or Pakistani soil, I wouldn’t be who I am today.”

Another positive thing about being a Muslim in Ireland is that it’s easy to practice my religion. The majority of Irish people have positive attitudes when it come to accepting other people’s beliefs and I applaud them because it takes strength and understanding to accept other people’s differences positively. Of course, all is not sparkly all the time. As a human, I do get emotional when fingers are pointed towards my way of life and religion (due to crimes of terrorists like ISIS,Paris attackers etc). I do feel anger when someone criticizes Islam for things that aren’t part of islamic teachings. It is quite frustrating when people ignore what a good muslim has to say and instead rely on sources like media for their information (which of course is their loss in the end) .

However, the very nature of being a Muslim prevents me and millions of other muslims from putting our anger/frustration into action. Why? Because Islam is a religion that’s teaches us to be peaceful. Our daily, greeting “Asalamualikum” means “may peace be upon you”. While we can blame others for the bad in our society, the real perpetrators hide behind the identities of innocents. We all need to educate ourselves through authentic sources and identify the common evil between us, which is anyone seeking to cause disruption in the peace between religious and non-religious people.



Nuur Muhammad


Hi, Peace be upon you all! I’m Nuur, a senior freshman in Medicine. I am a proud Malaysian and am studying in Trinity on a Malaysian Government Scholarship. Upon finishing my studies, I plan to continue practicing medicine and go into research.

I categorise myself as a casual reader. Right now, I’m trying to finish “The Science Delusion” by Rupert Sheldrake. It’s a great book, go read it! Apart from Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, I keep a blog which I regularly update. You’re welcome to read and subscribe to my humble blog,, where I write mostly about my interesting, fabulous and fun-filled life.I run (or rather try to run) a mile every weekend, and am currently working on toning my abs and thighs.I consider myself as an independent person. I value freedom a lot. When I was 16, I was sent to a boarding school against my wishes. And I’ve been living away from my family ever since. Ireland is obviously the furthest so far.

I was born a Muslim but made a conscious decision to be a practicing Muslim at 19 when I started questioning my religion. My faith in God and in the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad define my perspective of life and death, of this world and hereafter, of good and bad. I am not the perfect Muslim. And I don’t try to be one, because nobody is perfect. Even after being a Muslim for 21 years, I am still learning about my religion. The learning curve never ends.When it comes to my faith in Islam, I think that a lot of people are confused about difference between religion and culture. There is an undeniable correlation between the two, but distinguishing these two different elements are crucial in my journey of discovering my faith. To put it into words, Islam is such a strong inseparable element in the cultural and family setting I grew up in that I take the religious rituals as meaningless cultural acts with no spiritual reasons behind them.

“I think people are scared about things they have no idea or, at least, bad ideas about. Islam is the most misunderstood religion in the world.”

Right now, I live in a predominantly Irish white community. I ride on the Luas everyday to school. Because of the hijab I wear, it’s pretty obvious to people that I’m a Muslim. Do I get stares? Yes ,of course. Do I feel prejudiced? Not really. I think people are scared about things they have no idea or, at least, bad ideas about. And let’s face it, Islam is the most misunderstood religion in the world. The majority of people get information about Islam from CNN, Fox News, Sky News, BBC, media who very rarely portray good perceptions about Islam. So, of course, people are scared and confused about this religion that is commonly related to “terrorism”, “jihad” and other negative connotations.

Naturally, I feel sad about this, of course, as it makes it harder to interact with people when they have such negative perceptions on your “Muslim” outlook. But really I don’t blame them because it is not really their fault. I just wish they would have looked more into what they are being fed by the media rather than just accepting the news as the truth.

Having said that, I think we should give more credit to people. They can judge with their own eyes and minds what is right and what is not. With recent conflicts lead by extremist groups in the name of Islam, it is pretty clear to me that these are political-driven acts, not motivated by religion at all. It is a power play. In fact it is against the teachings of the beloved Prophet Muhammad.

“Muslims should react to prejudce as Muslims, by showing good character, being patient and striving to serve good to people.”

To be honest, I am not as worried about the non-Muslims’ reactions as to the Muslims’ reactions to the current happenings. Yes, they are going to make it harder for us to go through the airport security. Yes, people will look at us in sceptical way. Yes, there are going to be growing number of Muslim-haters everywhere. So what? Doesn’t matter what happens, the haters are going to hate. What is more important is how we react to these challenges. As someone who identify himself or herself as a believer in the one true God and in the teachings of the blessed Prophet Muhammad, Muslims should reacts as Muslims, by showing good character, being patient and striving to serve good to people.

To those people who have questions about Islam, or are curious about anything on Islam, I’ll just say this: don’t ask me, don’t ask Muslims who you meet on the street, don’t ask Google. What you should do is go straight to the source of it all, in this case: the Quran, that is what Islam is based upon, that is what Islam is all about. Go and read it yourself.

And I’ll tell you this, if you open it and you find in it anything that is wrong, unreasonable, illogical, then close it, put it back and don’t ever open it again



Salman Tariq


Being Young, Irish & Muslim to be is a both a blessing and a constant daily challenge.

It’s a blessing in that I’m growing up in a country that respects me and my religion, especially compared to others. I live in Blanchardstown and study in Trinity, and I’m lucky to have my local mosque in Blanchardstown, Talbot street mosque and even a prayer room in trinity.

It’s a blessing because the Irish people are so friendly and welcoming. On the other hand, racism is an issue that I still sometimes face. With happenings such as 9/11, and more recently, the shootings in Paris, there are those who are ignorant and call mislabel me as a ‘terrorist’ just because of my religion, and not based on who I am or what I truly believe in. Thankfully it’s never been more than the rare insults from across the road.

“There are those who are ignorant and call mislabel me as a ‘terrorist’ just because of my religion.”

But truth be told, it also tends to get really hard. Mainly because as a Muslim I do not drink. It is quite tough often being the only one in your circle of friends who doesn’t drink, meaning I can’t socialize to the same extent as the others, but at the end of the day I feel proud that I don’t and still can socialize and have fun all the same.

When I compare living in Ireland as a young Muslim, compared to those young Muslims who live in other western countries, I realize how much better I have it. I have found Irish people more accepting and feel there was more prejudice in the UK when I travelled there. I like to travel, and there’s nowhere like Ireland for getting around with as little unnecessary hassle as possible. I don’t feel unfairly treated, targeted or being regarded as suspicious.

Despite the ups and downs, I consider Ireland to be my home, and have a positive outlook for myself and other young Irish Muslims that things will only get even better.


Siti Bazil


ASSALAMUALAIKUM (Peace Be Upon To You All). My name is Siti Atikah Ahmad Bazil (Call me Atikah!). I am currently studying Medicine. During my free time, I love cooking Malaysian dishes (like Nasi Lemak) and reading. ( Currently I’m loving Bad Science by Ben Goldacre,)  But on top of all, I am a Muslim.

Being a born Muslim is difficult from a revert Muslim (at least in my opinion). I never knew much about Islam when I was child. I watched lots of struggles from Muslims in the Middle East, and it was when I was 14 years old that I became terribly sad with Islam.

I was contemplating the hardships that were befalling Muslims back then, conflicts that still do affect us today. I couldn’t digest why Allah gave us all these trials. I didn’t realize the answer. The question was always there with me, following me wherever I go and in whatever I would do.

In the end I felt Allah gave these trials to Muslims because, like many, I (born Muslim) was just being Muslim by name/ wearing the Muslim ‘uniform’. Certainly, truly committing to Islam is more than that. I wanted to find proof so that I could be confident in Islam, to truly believe that my God is no other deity but Allah and Muhammad is His Final Messenger. I don’t want to blindly follow what my parents believe. I want to be sure myself cause it’s about my life. Alhamdulillah (Thanks to God) I found the answer, it’s in The Quran. I am not quoting verses that made me firm with my belief, as this 500-word section is too short to write about. What can I conclude from my understanding and knowledge of Islam? I personally think that Muslims are inflicted with many trials and tribulations because Muslims don’t really read, understand, contemplate and apply The Quran as it should be (Allah stated about contemplating verses of the Quran, in lots of its chapters).

“I don’t want to blindly follow what my parents believe.”

My entry to TCD was definitely by Allah’s help. After the IB results, I did not have any university offer. I read about TCD being the best in Ireland thus the entry must be tough but after I went for the Ireland Universities Medical Consortium (IUMC) interview, I was put on a waiting list with ten other students. It was so sad to be in an insecure position. Witnessing the first student admission to TCD while seeing the other students being offered other universities made me so anxious.

However, it was Ramadhan (I have better hope than other months). I was asking Him specifically to help me get into TCD in almost every prayer and to grant it if it was best for me. No words could describe my feelings as I was finally offered Medicine, even while lots of my friends (comparing their academic performances) were more than eligible to be admitted.

Until today, I am still improving myself to become a better Muslim; to show to Allah how grateful I am to be a Muslim. I hope that one day, people will realize that Muslims are not perfect, but we are trying our best to better our life day by day before we die InShaAllah.


Abdul Mohamed


I first moved to Ireland from Saudi Arabia in 2001, when I was 6 years old, and growing up in Ireland has really permanently molded who I am.

The first thing that comes to mind is how welcomed I’ve become to Irish society. Right from primary school up till university I’ve really found myself included every step of the way, despite the differences that existed. I guess what really helps is the diverse and multicultural country Ireland is becoming; With so many people from so many different backgrounds I suppose we’re all the same in one crucial way: we’re all different.

Racism comes to mind as an issue that might face Irish Muslims, but it’s an issue I’ve thankfully rarely come across. Perhaps it’s that I’m not that identifiable as a Muslim by the way I dress or the way I look, while other Muslims might be if they grew a beard or wore a headscarf. What always warms my heart is the genuine interest and curiosity I encounter from people of all ages and walks of life regarding Islam. The genuine curiosity and interest from people who ask questions like “Why do you pray 5 times a day?” and “How do you cope with fasting for a full month” is a truly nice thing to hear, especially in the place of judgments and prejudice.

“Growing up in Ireland has really permanently molded who I am.”

It’s mostly great really, but it’s not without it’s challenges. A big part of the culture here inevitably involves alcohol, and as a Muslim, I don’t drink. Now this really wasn’t so bad until I got to university, and then it really hit me. Pre-drinks at a mate’s? – Not really an option. Few pints at the Pavillion after a long day of lectures or labs? I’ve gotta pass on that. And it’s not not being able to drink that’s the issue, it’s that you end up missing out a lot on socializing with your class on an ‘outside college’ basis. Sure there are plenty of things to do that don’t necessarily involve alcohol, like seeing a movie or going for dinner, but a major part of a young Irish person does.

Speaking of food, I am a big fan of eating out and trying new places around Dublin to have a meal with friends, and that brings me to my next biggest challenge in being young, Irish and Muslim. Another aspect of my religion is that with regards to meat, I eat halal only. Halal is Arabic for permissible, and it works almost identically the same way as Kosher does for Jews. While there are halal butchers around, the majority of restaurants don’t serve halal meat in their dishes. That means major headaches when trying to choose a restaurant that serves halal with the right tastes that everyone is looking for. Either that, or the visiting the same place that sells halal food time and time again, until you’re sick of it. Having said that, with more and more Muslims coming to Ireland (a good amount of them being Muslim international students from countries like Kuwait, Bahrain and Malaysia), more and more restaurants are becoming halal-friendly, which is great news for me, and other young Irish Muslims alike.

Photos by Niall McCabe and Tomasz Szykulski for The University Times
Illustration by Ciannat Khan for The University Times

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