I was born in Nigeria.
My parents are from Pakistan and by the time I moved to Australia, I had already lived in three continents and four countries. I’ve been privileged to experience many types of cultures all the while maintaining a strong Pakistani culture at home.
The worlds I’ve grown up in have shaped the person I’ve become. They are also a stark comparison to the one my mum grew up in. For example, my mum grew up in a time where gender roles were pretty well set. She got married, had kids and moved away from everything she knew at a very young age. Her sole reliance was her husband and her faith in God!
Sometimes my mum will say ‘I see you working so hard, it would be nice to see you [managing] a home, like I do’ and it’ll remind me how differently we grew up. While it’s a necessary occupation, being a full time home maker would drive me crazy. I’m way too hyperactive.
Coming to Australia has definitely made me question my identity. My appearance betrays my Pakistani ethnicity and while my family have roots in Pakistan, I’ve lived most of my life in Australia. Managing expectations and figuring out what’s true for me has been a challenge. The one constant in my life has been my faith identity. It reinforces the value of a human soul above distinctions like gender, culture and political affiliation.
Growing up Muslim in Australia definitely comes with its challenges but I can’t stop feeling lucky for the opportunities it has presented to really figure out who I am. Through the lens of my faith, I’ve been able to shape an identity that works. And while I’m aware of the many labels I unwittingly carry I am very comfortable with and grateful for my identity as an Australian Muslim.