September 27, 2022

Probably the most intimate encounter that Junayd ul Islam had with the British royal household was when the late Queen Elizabeth II visited the hospital the place he had simply been born.

“I’m typically reminded of this by my mom,” Junayd, who’s now an undergraduate pupil in Pure Sciences at College Faculty London, informed Al Jazeera.

“Nothing might have ready my somewhat-confused mom for this go to by the queen to commemorate the monarch’s golden jubilee,” he mentioned.

The royal household has been an everyday fixture of British society, and the nation’s 2.5 million Muslims are usually not proof against their affect.

“Regardless of who you’re or what you do, one can find the British monarchy getting into your consciousness,” Junayd added whereas considering the latest passing of Queen Elizabeth II.

The loss of life of the nation’s longest-reigning sovereign has elicited widespread curiosity however combined reactions from the inhabitants.

Elizabeth inherited the crown in 1952 after the loss of life of her father, King George VI, and oversaw the accelerated unravelling of the British empire abroad.

Throughout her time period as nominal head of state, 15 prime ministers took cost of the UK, and she or he is usually described within the common media as “the rock round which fashionable Britain was constructed”.

Colonial legacy

Whereas some see the royal household as an important anchor round which the nation coalesces by means of affluent in addition to powerful instances, others discover it to be an outdated relic of self-importance and a reminder of Britain’s horrific colonial previous.

“The colonial legacy that the (late queen) represented has had a permanent affect whereas she instantly benefitted from that very same legacy,” Aqsa Ahmed, who research historical past at London’s College of Oriental and African Research and works within the schooling sector, informed Al Jazeera.

Aqsa believes that the “queen lived a particularly privileged life compared to many of the nation and even the world”.

Shaahid Ashraff, who research medication at College Faculty London and traces his household’s origins to the previously colonised Sri Lanka, finds an ambivalence within the perspective of his household in the direction of the British empire.

“There isn’t any vital ardour for or towards the British empire,” Shaahid informed Al Jazeera.

Though he provides that there’s a sentiment of satisfaction connected to Sri Lanka gaining independence from Britain.

On a extra private degree, Shaahid finds the occasion of the queen’s loss of life to be emotionally inconsequential.

“Emotionally, this doesn’t have an effect on me an excessive amount of. Nonetheless, I perceive the historic significance of the occasion,” Aqsa mirrored Shaahid’s sentiment.

“From a social perspective, whereas the occasion is intriguing, I by no means idolised the queen,” Aqsa added. “To me, personally, she by no means actually represented something.”

The Duchess of Cambridge
The Princess of Wales meets representatives from the Muslim Ladies’s Council [File: Chris Jackson/Reuters]

Interfaith unity

For Zara Mohammed, the secretary normal of the Muslim Council of Britain, one of many nation’s largest and strongest organisations for Muslims, the late queen was consultant of devotion to public service and interfaith unity.

“Her Majesty’s reign noticed extraordinary change in our nation. Over seven many years (of her reign), the UK has seen itself reworked right into a multicultural and multi-faith society,” Zara mentioned in a press release.

Nonetheless, the anti-Muslim prejudice in Britain has seen a surge, with a latest survey by the College of Birmingham describing the nation’s giant Muslim inhabitants as one of many “least favored” inhabitants teams.

“About 25.9 p.c of the British public really feel unfavourable in the direction of Muslims (with 9.9 p.c feeling ‘very unfavourable’),” the survey, carried out final 12 months, revealed.

For a lot of British Muslims, together with Shaahid Ashraff, the nation stays a haven for freely practising Islam.

“In comparison with my experiences in different Western nations, together with the vast majority of mainland Europe and Australia, I’ve discovered Britain to be most secure to observe my faith,” Shaahid mentioned. “I might not hesitate to tug out a prayer mat in a public park.”

When requested concerning the new King Charles III affirming the vitality of the Christian religion throughout his reign, Shaahid and Junayd agree that it’ll not dent Britain’s dedication in the direction of embracing spiritual variety.

“The brand new king has proven a formidable curiosity in Islam and openness to be taught,” Junaid mentioned. “The accountability additionally falls upon us to open the drawbridge and embrace him with open arms.”

‘Outdated nature’

Whereas describing Queen Elizabeth II’s late husband Philip as explicitly “racist”, Aqsa Ahmed, nevertheless, mentioned that the controversy surrounding Megan Markle, a non-white lady who married one of many queen’s grandchildren, Prince Harry, was an instance of the outdated nature of the British monarchy.

“The hysteria surrounding the wedding of a non-white lady into the royal household is itself a press release on the establishment’s outdated nature,” he mentioned.

Inside the British Muslim group, there appears to be a widespread consensus of admiration on the difficulty of the late Princess Diana, the previous spouse of the present king.

“The one manner that the monarchy did characteristic in our house was in adoration for Princess Diana,” Karim Shah, an Emmy-award-winning filmmaker, informed Al Jazeera.

Diana is usually seen as a tragic determine who tried to problem the strict norms of the royal household.

Each Aqsa Ahmed and Shaahid Ashraf recall their households’ optimistic impressions of the late princess, who died in a automobile accident in 1997.

“Inside my household, I keep in mind a whole lot of critique directed in the direction of the late queen for the way she dealt with [the events surrounding Diana]”, Aqsa recalled.

Because the nation entered a sustained interval of mourning, the Muslim communities additionally remained delicate and conscious of the final emotions surrounding the occasion.

“Now could be the time to supply condolences and search for what unites us moderately than divides us,” Junayd mentioned.

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