Saturday 12 April 2008

Why I Love London

I was born and grew up in this city and unlike all of those that complain about England having gone to the dogs, I love living in this city.

London must be one of the easiest cities in the world to be a Muslim in, or whichever faith you choose to follow. I feel comfortable in my hijab and there are big Muslim communities in the city. Pakistani’s, Bengali’s and Indians in the East, Arabs and Persians towards the West, North and East Africans in the North of course and the Turkish towards the South. This is without counting the growing number of Indonesian, English and Caribbean Muslims spaced out across the city.

Its also a good place to be a woman of colour – the diversity of this city is such that whatever you look like: Hijabi, Punk, Hasidic, Rastafarian, City Gent, Hare Krishna devotee, Sloane Ranger, you don’t stand out all that much.

With the mix of communities come the different villages. As those who live here know, London isn’t a city really, but a series of villages which have collided with each other. China Town in the middle, Brick Lane (little Bangladesh) and Green Street (Little Pakistan) to the east and Southall (Little Punjab) and Wembley (Little India) to the West. Brixton and Peckham for a taste of the Caribbean. The sizzling South American contingent is based mostly in Kensington and the Lebanese dominate Edgware Road. Greeks in Wood Green
The American’s and French have taken over Kensington and Chelsea and the East-enders have all moved eastwards to where London meets Essex, their “locals” following in their tracks. Canning Town struggling back to its feet (if Uncle Ken and the Labour government manage to stay in at the next election) and bohemian Camden sliding into decline. Elegant Hampstead, flashy Knightsbridge and intellectual Bloomsbury lift the mix (well its prices anyway). No, I’m wrong, London isn’t a city, its a little cosmos, a whole world.

Regency House and Canning Town

I love the mix of old and new, St Paul’s Cathedral, the Gherkin and the Wheel all in one skyline. Walking through the city you wander between the old Tower of London, slick glass buildings, elegant Regency houses, 1950’s tower blocks and tall Victorian town houses.

It’s a city with such great strength of spirit. The 7/7 attacks happened in London on a Thursday and the city was back on its feet and back to work on the same tube system on Monday. No whinging, no shutting the place down, two-finger salute to the perpetrators and back to business. The Blitz Spirit was alive and well and I felt so proud that Monday.

Notting Hill Carnival, the biggest in Europe, the Visakhi Mela, Eid in the Square, St Andrew’s day parade, Chinese New Year in the city, the Olympics heading our way in 2012. Now, no-one knows how to party like London when it’s in the mood.

The city of my childhood; walking down to Green Street Market with my mum where the traders wouldn’t let you touch and the West Ham Football Club supporters marching by in their Doc Martins and bald heads in the 80’s. Going to Oxford Circus nine to a car to see the Christmas lights, getting your pictures taken by the lions in Trafalgar Square, seeing Ginger the mummified man in the British Museum and getting into Tower of London free as under fives because we were such midgets (we were 8, 7 and 5)

Green Street Market

Yes it’s dirty at times, expensive, feels rude to outsiders and also slightly mental, but even if I travelled the world, I probably would still end up in colourful, manic, amazing London.

“London's Muslim population of 607,083 people is probably the most diverse anywhere in the world, besides Mecca” (What the maps don't show – The Guardian Friday 21 January 2005)


  1. Dear Happy Muslim Mother

    Lovely to read your inspirational piece about the Capital. I left London 2 years ago tired, anxious and paranoid...but having read your excellent piece, I'm tempted to return and renew my faith. What's that old saying? "Once a Londoner, always a Londoner".

    Keep up the excellent writing.
    Helen C

  2. i heart london

  3. Never been to London. Hubby loves it there though. Insha Allah I will visit his family there soon.

    ma'a salaamah,


  4. Assalam-alaikam all,

    Helen C
    I noticed its always the real Londoners that leave and then start yearning to come back.

    I heart London too, or is it obvious?

    Sister ha,
    I think you'd like London, its nice just to blend in and chill sometimes.

  5. aslamu alakum sis
    i really love this post a post so close to my own heart and roots!!!I am born and bred , east Londoner mate!!!! could you tell?? lol alhamduillah i didn't realise you have east end roots too.....i was there not to long ago , i must say i do miss it for all its diversty and colour , i mean the peep's what makes a land is the peep's, did you know it is the most diverse city in the world culturally? yes our London and the borough of Newham is the most in the UK subhan Allah. Looking through your post brought back memories old and new, i do miss London so much for so many reasons. I remember the the footie matchs West Ham , i use to listen to the roar of the crowd whenthey scored from my back garden when i was young. i even remember there tune iam forever blowning Street totaly rocks, they wanted to make queens market into an asda store and a inshops centre type shopping arena, alhamduilah they had too much protest against as its the only place i know in London where you can find every food type, peep's come from Bristol just to get Goats meat from the butchers there subhan post sis warmed my heart that's for sure :)

  6. This has got to be one of your best entries, uplifting and positive! I have to agree, sometimes people are rude and miserable but there are people who give their seat to you on the tube and hold doors open. There is no place like London!

  7. Assalam-alaikam

    Sister Rainbow,
    Hey I remember the roar from the stadium, OMG you're from my manor then. I know about the whole Asda business because of my job I get the updates from the Council and the traders - they're still battling.

    You must be gorgeous for egtting a seat so often. I got offered a seat three times in eight and a half months of working and commuting on the tube during my pregnancy - although, I did get lots of help when I fainted once (thats a whole other story).

  8. Assalamu alaykum dear ukhti,
    i am not a Londoner but I live here since about 10 years. Yes, it's a great city, very different than any others. That's what attract many to come!?
    Rainbow- I think I know you! Better, I am sure i know you.
    Great blog sis, keep it up!!

  9. Assalamualikum,

    Nice post sis.Visiting your blog for the first time.


  10. Nice sharing and I like that very much and here I want to share a link online Social community named as green konnection where you can find the Muslims or meet them at one point. So do visit the link and join it.

  11. assalamu'alaikum..
    i am so happy can found this blog..^^
    for ummi, i want to be your sister..
    do you want???