Changing challenges between generations in the Shia Muslim community - Ifty Ali
My Uncle came here in 1953 from one part of Pakistan, one village, one family, that’s how a [Shia] community started building up in Edinburgh [from that village]. Everybody came over as single men, my dad came here in 1963. [The Shia community was closely tied to Pakistani culture and language. Ifty and other people in the second generation spoke English as their first language - not Urdu or Arabic - and their cultural identity was more Scottish than their elders. Ifty’s parents were wary of parts of British society, especially those which could lead their children away from Islam, like alcohol or dating, and sheltered their children from them].
Imam Ali Islam, one of the things he says is ‘don’t bring your child up in the times that you were brought up’. Meaning every generation lives in a different time because society evolves: my mother and father's generation, they were economic migrants, they came here with nothing but the clothes on their back, up to such a point that they were really not interested in setting up societies etc. They just wanted to keep their head above water, just keep going and have a home and food on the dinner table, my dad would work 15 hours 365 days of the year in his shop. For our generation, we definitely did have an identity crisis, we were in-between, because our parents didn’t really understand the culture that they’d come into. We class ourselves as being a lost generation. We’ve not had the proper education from a religious aspect. We’ve grown, got married, had children and are thinking about the future generation. The Scottish Ahlul Bayt Society formed out of this history and this challenge.
I think society has come a long way. I think it embraces diversity more than back in the 70s and 80s. [However] the children that are growing up in this society now… have now grown up under the focus of Islamic terrorism. The kids have added pressure, especially girls that wear the Hijab. The reason I’m positive is that lies are always uncovered and the truth always prevails. As a religion we have nothing to hide, we’re just being portrayed in a certain kind of way. It’s a bit like saying with Christians, that because of the actions of the Klu Klux Klan that all Christians are racist and want to hurt black people. Here we have a certain ideology that the media and the government has chosen to focus on. [This is the challenge for the third generation].