October 16, 2008

Assalamu Alaikum

One thing I love and appreciate about London, amongst the many others, is the opportunity to listen to different languages. Having grown up in a city where everyone speaks English and only English and I only speak English, it’s incredible to be surrounded by this. It's like making up secret codes when we were kids.

I listen to my housemates speak Afrikaans and people on the busses speak whatever languages they speak. Sometimes I don’t even know what they are. I listen to students at the college speaking German, some of my co-workers speaking Polish to each other, other students speaking Spanish or various African languages.

And I love to listen to one of my other colleagues speaks Urdu on the phone. I asked her today why she always says “Hello” in English. She said everyone does, but usually they also follow it by saying, “Assalamu Alaikum” as a further greeting. It means “Peace be with you.”

I told her I thought that was such a beautiful thing to say. It is. It’s amazing, actually, hearing her stories, just how peaceful Muslim people are in general. Islam itself means “peace, submission and obedience.”

The media has managed to create this stereotype around Muslims mainly after 9/11. It’s a shame really. It leaves an air of suspicion, mistrust, sometimes fear, around an entire culture that people just generally misunderstand. In fact, many cultures are so misunderstood and that’s what creates fear and that’s what leads to violence.

The world is so incredibly diverse and it makes me feel very small sometimes. There is so much to learn, so much to see, to do, to understand. It will take a lifetime and many more.

In other news, it has been a very busy few days for me this week. Marc, the editor of Seven Magazine, invited me to be the chief sub-editor for the magazine. I've missed editing and it's a great feeling to be able to do that again.

Besides that, I'm enjoying the fact that it is now Autumn, though it does make me miss the organic fire for red, orange, purple and yellow that sweeps over New York at this time of year.

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