A Tale of Two Worlds

As a little bit of background on me, prior to moving to London I worked in a global role in a large company, which means that I worked at the company’s headquarters where I interacted with teams around the world and worked with people who were also far from home like myself. I now work in our London office on a local level. Though the job is still demanding, it does allow me more time than I had in my previous position to focus on my personal life.

Being in a local office is different also in how people interact with each other – friendly at work but as most of the people have lived here their whole lives, they have a very separate existence outside of work. This is good as I have been trying to dig into my studies and trying to meet other Muslims and reverts.

A few weeks ago I went to a work meeting where I ran into so many friends and colleagues that I have lost touch with since I converted or since I moved to London. And while I absolutely do not want to go back to my old job or my old life (that is a whole other story), it was great to catch up my old friends. I have to say I felt like myself again.

I miss my friends a lot, but they primarily socialise around alcohol and everything that goes with that. And they don’t quite understand why I am not dating a nice single banker that I met at my local pub or some bar now that I am in London.

I don’t really have any friends here in London yet, but I really love my Tajweed classes and plan to start taking Arabic in the Autumn. And I am starting to meet people.

Bottom line, it feels very strange to have these two worlds that don’t really connect with each other.

I understand why many Muslims spend most or all of their time in their Muslim community. But I don’t really have that community yet, and with my family, work life and most of my friends being non-Muslim, I have to (and want to) be in this other world too, though following the straight path. And I will keep striving to find my own Muslim community.

It just feels a little schizophrenic to be honest.Β Do any of you ever feel the same way? How do you manage it?

17 responses

  1. Assalam aleikoum sister, I am feeling exactly the same. I am working at the City and my colleagues are non-muslims. They curse and backbite a lot. I keep on saying Astaghfirullah all day long. Alhamdulillah there are a couple of practising Muslims at my work but they are male and not working in the same department. We just salaam each other and sometimes we bump into each other as we are allowed to use the First Aid room for our prayers. In the other hand, I am living in a “Muslim area” in London so once I come off the tube station, it is as you said a different world. Living in this area helps me to keep my head on my shoulders. I don’t really like all that materialistic, superficial and arrogant side of the City. But Alhamdulillah I have a job, I can wear my hijaab and pray at work. i just pray that Allah will always keep me on the straight path

  2. Selam Aleykum Californiahijab:)

    This may be a bit of a tangent to the topic at hand but it just came to me. A few years ago a female friend from London had come over here to NY on holiday to visit her sister and we all had a night on the town in NY city……having never been to London or the UK i asked her to compare the stress level in people in the general public. I was surprised to hear her say that New Yorkers handle stress better or perhaps have less stress to cope with? I’m sure you can see a difference in California and London for sure.

    Dealing with the everyday stress of life we all develop coping skills…..some better than others but i feel it is another test marker …..just like the so many temptations constantly bombarding us on a daily basis….. wether it’s on tv……internet….at work…even on the streets…..coping and getting thru them is a prayer answered in itself. A scholar in Islam had once told me that avoiding temptation and coping with adversity is a prayer in itself. So thinking of all those drinking parties that i avoided….including the prom in high school…..i just embrace my duas just a bit more.

    • Salam Yusuf! Good to hear from you always!

      I do think thinking about this in the context of stress and stress management is quite interesting – as it is a form of stress in a way.

      And I like the idea that coping is a form of prayer.

      But I hope I can be more grateful and embrace the fact that I bridge two worlds, rather than feel out of sorts in both. Insha Allah.

      πŸ™‚

  3. The work place can be a hard place to adjust to for a Muslims so I feel you. I think the best place to look for a Muslim community is at the local mosque, you can some great people there =)

    • Salam Shajahan. I did a big push when I first moved here visiting different Mosques, but I have to say I have not spent as much time once things at work got busier and I started taking Tajweed classes on the weekend. But I think you are right. I think I need to go back to exploring my neighbourhood Mosques more. Any suggestions on which one I should try?

      • W. Salams hello hope you are well. Depends on where you live in London. The nearest mosque to you would be the easiest because you would have a chance of going there more often and meeting regular mosque attenders. I don’t know where u are from so it’s hard for me to recommend a particular mosque. But in sha Allah you can even build a good community here online. I interact with a lot different types of Muslims online and alhamdulilla it’s really helpful =)

  4. Maybe I would feel that way if i had a “circle” of muslim friends vs. a circle of non-muslim friends, but I don’t really hang out with friends in groups that much so maybe that is a factor. I am as far as I know the only muslim at my workplace, and my family is non-muslim. In terms of muslim activities I’m on my own most of the time, though I go to muslim events, halakas, prayers, etc at times or get together with individual muslim friends. I’ve had both muslim and non-muslim friends, but when I hang out with friends I usually would just go out with an individual. Based on your previous posts (and maybe this has changed since then), I wonder if part of it is if your workplace or some friends/family do not know you are muslim? I could see this starting to feel like leading two different identities and I have known other sisters who tried to do this (out of fear of repercussions at work or other reasons) and it put a lot of stress on them. I think to some extent this is something that wearing hijab freed me of, because I knew a lot of sisters who were anxious about people finding out they were muslim, and hadn’t made that transition yet in their whole lives, so they kept facing the choice to “appear” as muslim or blend in (by this I mean sisters who wanted to wear the hijab full time, but weren’t currently doing so… not necessarily new converts). While it won’t necessarily stop you from getting invited out drinking (surprisingly) it does fill in the gaps for some people and probably put you more at ease. My family still rolls their eyes when going out to dinner comes up and I say I don’t want to eat at a pub, and I’ve had coworkers argue with me about why I don’t drink πŸ˜› lol. But on the whole, being able to be yourself wherever you are is a good thing, and easier.

  5. Salam Alaykum Sis, I like your blog, thanks for sharing your stories. I’m anticipating this kind of stress… soon my husband and I will be moving back to US, we are currently working here in middle east. I’m revert also, and all my friends that I know that lives in the US are all non-Muslim, and this kind of feeling of two worlds in the workplace will definitely happen, I’m anticipating it now and preparing myself how to deal with this. Thanks for sharing your story here, somehow it helps me and gives me an idea how to deal with this kind of situation. I like that idea, this kind of struggle is a prayer itself. Alhamdullilah! All the best to your blog!

  6. Assalamualaikum. Glad I stumbled on your blog and found another sister. I love to stay connected with other muslimah in the blogosphere.

  7. you are doing well…Alhumdulilah… i wish i could go to tajweed classes. and it seems you found a bunch of nice muslims on wordpress. nice!

  8. It is really hard to bridge those two worlds.I always feel like I have a double life when I go to pray on my lunch breaks, or when people talk about their weekends and my main plans are to attend Islamic things! I aim to find a balance between not compromising my deen and not shutting myself off from others either.

    • Salam – thank you for visiting and posting. I know! It is so odd. On a Monday people talk about the parties and such, where as I have spent the weekend studying tajweed. And I am certainly not perfect – just such a different priority in my life now. Alhamdulilah.

      I am sure we will both get used to the balance in time, insha Allah.

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