October marks the start of Black History Month in the UK, which is celebrated by many British Muslims.
“It’s important for people of different faiths and ethnic groups to acknowledge and be involved in BHM,” Zainab Dahir, a Muslim Somali novelist from London, told Al Arabiya News.
She says she has celebrated BHM with her family for many years and sees it not just as an opportunity to showcase black culture but also to represent the Muslim community.
For many British Muslims, October is a fruitful time, consisting of Eid celebrations as well as BHM.
Black History Month
“I celebrate Eid with my Muslim family and embrace BHM and all that it entails,” said Dahir.
BHM is a month of recognition of the individuals and events that have shaped black history. Its origins date back to 1987 in the UK but has become an international celebration.
For Ayan Mahamoud, BHM gives many British Muslims the opportunity to celebrate not only black history but their own culture and the part their community has played within the black struggle in the UK.
“We do it because as British Muslim Somali people, we’ve been in the UK for a long time and it’s natural for us,” she said.
“We’re part of the black struggle in the UK.”
Mahamoud is managing director of the Kayd Organisation, which hosts the Somali Festival, a week of events in London to promote Somali cultural and literary heritage during BHM.
“All those discriminations faced by black people, Muslims are now facing,” she said.
However, for many British Muslims, there is a disconnect that hinders them from celebrating BHM.
“Some British Muslims and Asians will celebrate black history but because many don’t consider themselves black, they don’t think it right to celebrate or acknowledge the event,” said a spokesperson for Black History Month magazine.
“It can be difficult to engage different communities within BHM events but we believe an increase in participation can be reached.”
Dahir said some Muslims might not celebrate BHM because “black history in the UK has existed for longer” than Muslim and Arab communities in the country.
Award-winning author Nadifa Mohamed said the disconnect may come from some people seeing BHM as an “anti-white thing.”
She added: “I used to work in a library, and it would amaze me how only black people would show an interest in the black history section.”SHOW MORE