The love and compassion within the Muslim community in Cambridge was the main reason for Frehya Ashraf to reconnect with her faith, Cambridge News reported.
The 20-year-old Muslim woman didn’t start following the teachings of Islam until she moved to England from Sargodha, in Pakistan, ten years ago.
“When I was growing up I wasn’t really into Islam,” Frehya explains.
“But now the feeling I have is very different. Now I read books, I go to the mosque. I feel I’m coming onto the right path.”
The young Muslim lived in Manchester for 10 years before moving a year ago to Cambridge. Yet, her experience was not so positive.
“They’d say things like ‘fresh off the boat’ and other insults, and my accent was one of the reasons I was bullied at school,” she says. “I was excited to move here and see a different culture but the reality is hard.
“For my parents, these comments are normal. They tell us to just ignore them and pretend it’s not happening.”
Now, she lives with her cousins and wider family who opened her mind to other possibilities.
“They taught me things I didn’t know about before,” she says. “The feelings I have towards my religion are different.”
She believes that the Muslim community of Cambridge and the wider community have made her feel so welcome that she’s felt inspired to get more involved.
“I’m so moved,” she says. “I want this to be my culture. I’ve not had that before.”
Estimates in 2009 suggested a total of about 2.4 million Muslims over the UK. According to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, the number of Muslims in Britain could now be around 3 million.
According to Environment Journal, Cambridge is home to around 8000 Muslims, including students, who hail from around 60 nations.