Britain today is one of the most multi-cultural countries on the planet. This inevitably leads to barriers of understanding different ways of life. Shaan Chaudry, Tanzeel Ali and Haris Bhatti are three friends brought together at university in Sheffield.
They have all experienced the same difficulties when it comes to explaining their religion, cultural differences and way of life to friends that come from completely different backgrounds.
Shaan, Tanzeel and Haris are all Pakistani and Muslim and they talked about how it can be hard to talk about religion and culture to their friends.
Shaan, from Bradford said, “I mainly had white friends growing up, I lived in a pretty white area and the majority of people at my school were white.”
Shaan is an enthusiastic American sports fan and although he feels he has a lot in common with his friends he openly admits he finds it hard talking to his friends about things to do with his religion and culture, “I usually avoid the subject with them, I don’t really bring it up.”
Thinking of any specific things that he could think of Shaan said, “A lot of people don’t understand why we don’t celebrate Christmas, religious holidays that are nothing to do with us, they don’t understand.”
Haris also comes from Bradford, the difference being in the area he grew up, “I grew up in an Asian area, but all my friends were white, I went to a majority white school.”
Haris spends his free time playing football and working out at the gym. He feels that people dont have an understanding of his culture and his religion, “It’s difficult getting the concept across to them, making them relate and see.”
When he was asked if he felt like he couldn’t talk about things because they wouldn’t be understood Haris said, “ Yeah I do, I think its one of those things. When you’re being brought up and its being drilled into you everyday, you can’t explain to someone in one hour, what you have been doing your whole life.”
Tanzeel, known by his friends as ‘Tanni’ is from Sheffield. He said why he was different to the other two lads, “I grew up mostly with Asians, ever since I started Uni I’ve started branching out, for the first 18 years mostly Asians.”
He feels that people don’t understand why he does certain things to do with his culture and religion, “ I’ve had trouble explaining to people why we fast. Why 30 days, Why we cant eat or drink, they don’t really understand that concept. The first thing they think is: Why are you doing it.”
When it comes to women.
Haris went on to raise the subject of taking a girl home, “Taking a white girl home is becoming more acceptable, its just the fact that, its more culture than religion, Pakistani’s obviously want Pakistani’s to stick with Pakistani’s.”
Tanzeel and Shaan said that when it comes to girls it was more awkward on the family side of things, “It would be more family than friends, It depends how your family is at the end of the day.”
The main issue doesn’t come with taking a girl home or having a girlfriend that doesn’t necessarily follow or understand your culture. The problems start when the relationship becomes much more serious, Tanzeel said, “Girlfriends isn’t the issue, its when you want to get married to a white girl, that’s when it becomes a big issue with the family, because you could hide it from your family can‘t you. If you do get married to a girl. If you are following our religion she has to convert, and then you’re basically that guy.”
Haris added, “You’re always labelled as that guy that’s married to the white girl.”
This is a hard situation to explain to friends or girlfriends who don’t have any cultural or religious restrictions, “Its difficult, it breaks things down, it just makes it feel like its not going to go anywhere and kills it off.”
When all the guys were asked if it feels like their religion and culture prevents relationships from getting as serious as they maybe could. There was a resounding, “Definitely.”
Written by Mike Apps