Guests on the "Building for the Future" Radio show on Radio Dawn 107.6FM generally get asked a "special question" at the end of the interview. The question is simply:
What do you think is the best thing about living in the UK?
The reason for asking it is an an antidote to the tendency that we all have to discuss what is wrong with the UK, rather the many things that are right.
Below are comments from guests who appeared on the show in 2007. BFTF hopes that you also find their words to be full of wisdom food for thought.
Rizwan Hussein (Muslim Youth Hotline) - 2007
The Weather. Everyone moans and complains about the weather, the weather being this and the weather being that. But at the end of the day, if the weather was always sunny and bright, we wouldn’t be living in the UK would we? Because that is what makes the UK what it is really, the mundane, raining all the time and cold weather
Celia Stevens (Bramley Apples) - 2007
Whether it is day or night you can walk out of your front door, look up and, in the night time you see the stars, in the daytime you see the blue sky. If you can’t open your eyes in the morning, open your window and listen to the birds. We live in a very beautiful country. Who could not just sit on a rock and watch the sea. What more wonderful thing can you do than to sit under an apple tree?
Tazeen Shah (Engaging Faith) - 2007
The social mobility aspect of the UK that really appeals to me. As a Muslim, if you don’t come from a priviledged family, if you come from a working class background – as long as you have a good education and you have a commitment, belief in yourself and dedication to try and succeed – you can succeed. You will be confronted by racism and everything else but it is up to you to try and combat that. So I would like to urge Muslim sisters and brothers out there that don’t give up, keep trying, set yourself a goal and go for it.
Ade Williams (Eco Teams) - 2007
The diversity of the countryside we live in. My background is very much looking at the countryside in the earth sciences and it is just fascinating that you can just go to some parts of the UK that are very flat, very open and have a character all of their own – and then you can go to other parts that are very hilly and mountainous and have a completely different view point again. I like that diversity. That’s the real character, for me, of the green England and the dry stone walls and that sort of thing.
Sajid Mohammed (Himmah)
This country had offered so much to people. We should not look at ourselves as citizens, not immigrants, we were once also citizens of the commonwealth as well and we are only collecting what was duly ours in the first place. We were citizens, we were invited etc. There are some absolutely incredibly good things about this country – the sense of fair play, the sense of helping the underdog, we always supported Frank Bruno, even though we knew he didn’t have a good chance of winning anything! The sense of the rule of law, even though at times, I have to say, there have been some problems in this country, especially by some people with an agenda of deep racism – but that’s not everyone. And theres a welcoming sense of people here, there is the infrastructure here – if you get ill you can go to hospital, free schooling – which has always been a feature of traditional Islamic civilisation. And the sense of the rule of law, that no matter where you are, or who you are, you could get a fair trial. Now I know that, with the laws that have been passed recently, there has been a degrading of social liberty and social freedom. But it is for us to remind the people of this country, as well as being people of this country, that freedom is an intrinsic right for all humans and it is worth more when times are difficult than when times are easy. We should never, ever give up our freedoms
Alisa Bashir (Asian Young Achiever of the Year) - 2007
That it is a multicultural society. I love that , in comparison to other countries there are lots of different religions, different cultures and the fact that we can tolerate each other and get along.
Professor Peter Usherwood (Neighbourhood Watch) - 2007
I was born in a very poor working class community and my father was a baker, a master baker. He worked for a company and he used to get up at 4.30 every single morning of his life until he retired. We weren’t well off, we were really quite poor, but through hard work I managed to get to University. And then I got married as soon as I graduated from University and I slipped back into a very poor environment. I went with my wife to Glasgow University and lived in a very poor part of Glasgow. We shared an apartment with drug addicts and with prostitutes. We had a small child at the time and it was extremely unpleasant and two murders took place in apartments nearby. Since that time, things have improved. I’m a research scientist an have been to most parts of the world, including many Islamic countries. I’ve had lots and lots of students – hundreds. Lots of people working with me and many of my friends come from Muslim parts of the world. So I have a very good knowledge of what goes on in many different parts of the world and the way people behave in those parts of the world and the character of those people. And I always come back to Great Britain with one thought in my mind, one word in my mind and that word is tolerance.
This country is a tolerant country, believe me, and it is quite a remarkable country in this respect.
Imran Akram (Muslim Writers Award) -2007
I was born and bred in the UK. I absolutely love the United Kingdom. I know there are issues around government, politics, foreign policy and that kind of stuff but, you know, generally I think the UK is probably the best place to live in the world. You have more opportunity here to do things than you probably would in a lot of the Islamic countries. What I really like is, and I know this may sound sad, but the manners of people when it comes to things like queuing. You go to Pakistan or the middle East and there is no such thing as queues and the strongest will win. Here (in the UK) they have a system in place, they appreciate queuing, they know what’s going to happen and it all comes back down to respect. There are things, obviously, which upset people about the UK but overall the manners of people, they are the most tolerant people in the world. They don’t like complaining; they’ll sit in a restaurant and eat something awful but not complain. They just won’t go back there again. These are the kind of things that only Britain could do, I guess.
Julia Hawkins (Ethical Trading Initiative) – 2007
When my friends are complaining about things in this country, the commuting or the weather, I think that we are just so lucky to live in this country. Generally speaking, we have water, most of us have enough food, enough clothes. We are not in fear of our lives. We can vote, we can put governments in and we can kick them out – and that is actually quite rare in the world so I feel incredibly lucky to have been born in this country, to be living in this country - and I have lived in countries where you don’t necessarily have the same freedoms - and I think that (living in the UK) is something to be really happy about.
Yashrib Shah (Muslim Hands) – 2007
I think it is a state of gratitude, do you see the glass as being half full or half empty. The Prophet (PBUH) was always optimistic
I have been abroad and I have been into Muslim Lands and one thing that is extraordinary for those that have done that is the freedom you have to worship in the UK, which is bizarre because I have visited Muslim countries and I have felt oppressed actually and almost fearful of worshipping and being myself whilst here I can walk around wearing my prayer hat, having a beard and, I kid you not, if you have never experienced what I am talking about, maybe not so much in Pakistan, but if you go to parts of the Middle East as I have you will find there seems to be even an open opposition to Muslims studying, anything to do with Islam, they see you as a threat and I praise Allah that we have a country here (the UK) where there is a freedom to worship. I find it far easier to practice Islam in this country than in many of my travels to Muslim lands so I am very appreciative of that. I am also appreciative of the conservatism that we have in the UK, which is very different to that of mainland Europe, although many people may argue that that is being corroded and that it is maybe on the way out with the new generations which are coming possibly, I hope not, being a very conservative country which hold to high moral values. I am very well aware that they are deteriorating with the new generations but I really like talking to old English people because they have so much in common in terms of morality and they actually look at the newer generations like we do, from a very moral viewpoint. I agree with your comments in your email about queuing – In England people queue. I have not been on Hajj yet but I have heard stories about people just shoving past and, you know, the sabr(patience) is not even there and people are not having this good etiquette. You know, generally speaking, the British people are a fantastic bunch.
Konnie Lloyd (Notts Refugee Forum) -2007
I have to say that, when I am marching in London, protesting about the war in Iraq and saying some pretty rude things about our government – and I am a member of the Labour Party so I think I can do that with a great deal of force – I think we are able to protest here, we are surrounded by Police but they are there to protect us and to keep things in order, and are often quite pleasant about it. I think that in many other countries, to open your mouth and protest you will be beaten up by the Police and I am glad that we are still able to protest and are not beaten up for it, although I know that civil liberties have been impinged upon in the last few years. I think that is very important.
Mohammed Patel (Consumer Direct / Trading Standards) - 2007
The variety of food, in our family we do try to experiment with different types of food and we have just had a traditional English roast chicken meal with roast potatoes. To have that variety, that we may not have had in the subcontinent, is one of the things that I am very pleased with.