In this blog we want to build bridges in many ways: we want to connect people like Non-Muslims and Muslims, Somalis and Non-Somalis, and all the others, through giving them a different picture than they usually get because of generally negative media propaganda.
One of our ways to do that is a series of Interviews with German Muslim women, who made a special journey: they moved from their home country to an “undeveloped” Muslim country, in order to get freedom of religion. This act is called “Hijrah” in Muslim terms- to emigrate to a country, where you can freely practice your religion.
We started this series in German language in order to encourage more Muslims in Germany, to do the same and to show them all the possibilities they have. But since our Interview partner this time emigrated to England, we thought it would be nice, if also English speakers get the possibility to widen their horizon and get an insight in the difficulties, which a Muslima has to face in her own country- only because of her different belief.
So I hope, you enjoy the following Interview with our sister Carina El-Behouti!
I am very happy to introduce you today to a premiere: it’s about an interview with a sister who did not emigrate to a Muslim country (as the previous Interview-partners), but to England. Yes, that works too – because if you stay in non-Muslim countries, you should always choose the “lesser evil”. Smaller evil in the sense that one can freely practice his religion (Islam). This is clearly better guaranteed in England than in Germany
It is also the first time that the interview was mainly oral. The formulation remained with me, but was extended and corrected by Carina, our current protagonist.
Let’s come to Carina. She is a German Muslima and a Psychological Coach by profession and passion. For me, she is a very special person, because she has turned my life upside down by coaching me! With her wonderfully positive nature and her amazingly effective methods, I have been able to develop into a self-assured, grateful person who now knows her strengths and goals much better, alhamduliLlah. May Allah reward her for it abundantly!
The mother of 3 teenage girls has also experienced a lot by herself and lived in different countries, until she finally landed in England a few years ago.
There she started to work from 0 to 100, and now has her own coaching and allergy practice. In addition, she is constantly engaged in training and further education, in order to help more people out of their life’s crises.
Anyone interested in visiting her pages to find out more about her work, will find it here:
Now we’ve put together some information about England as a country of emigration for you, which I hope will be useful for one or the other.
You are welcome to comment, ask questions or just like it.
When and why did you emigrate to England?
In May 2013. I love growth in every way. For me growth means being able to develop freely without being hindered.
In addition, I need a “healthy environment” where everything is possible and I can thrive. Just as a flower can only thrive in good and healthy surroundings.
England was closest to me, where I do not feel my soul constricted. Here there is no such racism as in Germany, alhamduliLlah.
Certainly in places there is also racism. But you do not have to live there! I am respected here for what I am. I am Muslim and have many skills that are greatly honored here, maa shaa Allah. And that motivates, of course.
England is an incentive for me to reach my highest potential. And we have this freedom here as Muslims, alhamdullilah.
How long have you been preparing for your Hijrah?
Psychologically I had prepared myself and my children for a very long time for England, possibly 4 years. I took my kids to a private language school once a week so they playfully learn English. It always made me feel good, because it brought me a step closer to my goal.
I knew that it could be tough in England because I had lived there for 3 months in 2008 with my children. That’s why I wanted to be properly prepared this time inwardly and outwardly.
It is very important that you know what you want to work here. In order to improve my possibilities, it occurred to me suitable to do an apprenticeship in Hijama therapy [Hijama means cupping]. That was possible online, alhamdullilah. Furthermore it was a good possibility to learn English, which at that time I only understood 10%. But you have to face such challenges if you want to take a big step in life. Furthermore I registered myself beforehand for an apprenticeship as an Allergy Therapist and planned to study Islamic Medicine in England. So I planed already, what I will do when I’ll be in England, and that helped me a lot later on.
Walk your way slowly if you want, but always have your goal in mind and work towards it!
For two years I really prepared my departure. Have contacted people in England, obtained all the information and laws about the country, get passports.
In the end I HAD to go then. I did not want to – was really feeling a kind of fear… But then I had to go through. Just booked our tickets and disappeared like nowhere. It will work out somehow. Eyes shut and go for it!
In the end, it was also harder for me to go, since I had just started my practice and had treated sisters with Hijama and other healing methods. Allah had blessed me very much back then. I was doing better financially than ever before and I loved my job and my patients. It was a realtest to go in this situation.
I cried for days and my patients and friends with me. But I had decided. I wanted a better future for my children. And I absolutely could not imagine these in Germany for my children. I wanted to spare my children this rejection and racism. And I wanted them to make something beautiful out of their lives, despite abaya and headscarf and with Islam in their hearts.
How was it for you to emigrate as a woman on your own with children?
It was very, very tough. I arrived there with nothing and suddenly had no apartment available. Then they shipped me every few days in changing hotels, until something would be found for me. That is a long story. The English Muslims wanted to help me to get a council house, so I would have to pay little rent. That was in London, where the rents are insanely high (about 3,500 GBP a month). But somehow that was no life for me and the children – this eternal tinkering, until one has a better life. In Ramadan 2013, I decided to just leave London and make myself and my girls comfortable in Birmingham.
When we settled in Birmingham, we were really happy. Of all the cities I have lived in, I would recommend Birmingham to everyone again.
Which cities can you recommend for new migrants?
Birmingham is very good for the beginning. There is a huge Ummah [Muslim society]- even a German sister club – and there is really everything for Muslims: shops, fitness, Islamic schools, Qur’an classes, etc. It is called “The Mekka of Europe”- very open and international! At Eid [Muslim Festival] there is a huge festival organized by Muslims, to which even people from all over Europe travel to. More than 10.000 Muslims pray together on the ground at Small Heath Park. If you are looking for a strong feeling of unity, it is best to go there. The only downside is the garbage and the rats, who take a tear even from cats.
Nottingham is well-suited for those seeking a high standard of education. Although fewer Muslims live there, and society itself, including the Muslims, consists mainly of academics. It is very clean there and the schools and universities have a very good reputation. Sisters there are highly educated and very intellectual. Unfortunately, I cannot recommend the Islam boarding school for girls, because there is a lot going very wrong and children there rather learn to hate Islam – instead of learning to love it, through their way of extremism.
Leicester is also known for his high Muslim share. Lifestyle is a mix between Birmingham and Nottingham.
Leeds– the suitable city for those, who prefer a big and clean city. There are many Pakistani’s and Arabs, but “Niqabi’s” are much more found in Birmingham.
Bradford is also a good place for Muslims. The nature is beautiful there and there are also many Muslims. It is not as clean as in Leeds, but the rent is very cheap. There I finally ended up.
Which schools can you recommend there – Islamic or state?
Generally, the schools are very well organized. Students are divided into 5 difficulty levels and taught according to their levels. That does not mean that they can not improve to another level!
On the Internet there is an overview of the schools and their quality. Every few years they are checked and evaluated by a committee. The best schools are praised as “outstanding“.
Sadly, Islamic schools are not having it as easy as they used to. Since 2 years, they have to follow the state curriculum, which i.a. strongly propagated the varierity of sexualization (lesbians, gays, etc.). As a parent you just have to be very vigilant and educate your kids. Some Islamic schools also have less qualified teachers. So you have to be well informed about their quality.
State schools vary a lot from the Muslim share. Some even have more Muslims than non-Muslim students, and prayer places and other freedoms are granted to them. One school even organized school vacations to Makkah every year!
Unfortunately, a few schools have recently been closed or radically reclassified, which had a very high Muslim share. Although they were classified as “outstanding,” they were a thorn in the view of the government.
Thankfully, there is also the option of homeschooling here. Whether you homeschool by yourself, or connect with other homeschool parents- it’ s up to you!
How long does a mother have maternity protection? And at what age do children have to go to kindergarten?
There is no kindergarten duty here. From the age of 5, children must go to school or stay at home if the mother applies for homeschooling. I know a German sister, who has never sent her 4 girls to school, but has taught them by herself, in order that they don’t forget their mother tongue. Everything is possible here, alhamduLlilah.
Maternity leave is usually one year, but varies from employer to employer.
How can you avoid forced vaccinations if you are a total opponent of it?
Vaccination is not a duty in England, but is indirectly propagated as such. When I learned that it was not a duty, I refused to have my children vaccinated.
This is not welcome here. However, I have learned to only say that one sentence. “You can not force me!“, Then you are taken out of the vaccine system.
I have even given many of my patients this tip and it works for everyone. Although the fear here is very huge, if someone is against vaccination. Simply be confident, then everything works, in shaa Allah!
Do I have to speak perfect English to get by?
I only spoke a little bit English at the beginning. Honestly, it was very hard for me, without fluent English. That bothered me a lot because I can not do my job as a therapist without good language skills. Of course, you learn that over time. However, I never went to school here, but learned the language from my patients, and the correction came often from my children, who picked up the language so quickly. They speak English for 8 hours a day at school, so that they were far ahead of Mama at some point and smiled more and more about Mami’s English. I can live with it. The main thing is that you keep developing and improving yourself.
On my wall hangs a large self-written picture. “My English is excellent, alhamdullilah.” Such affirmations can do wonders if you read them every day, in shaa Allah!
Do you regret your decision?
No, just the opposite!
I have not regretted my decision to leave Germany for a single minute, alhamduliLlah! For here, as a Muslim, you simply have a more self-determined, free and carefree life than in Germany.
I can develop freely here and that is very important to me personally.
England is not far from Germany. Do you miss anything from your home country?
I had missed my linseed oil, my mustard and quark for a long time. Sometimes I wish, there was German pudding powder here. But khair in shaa Allah. You can not have everything babe, lol.
I have never missed Germany in itself, for that I had too many traumatic experiences.
In England I am even more respected as a German than in Germany. In Germany I am not even regarded as fully fledged Germans. Whereas, as a therapist from Germany I have more chances to win patients, because Germany is regarded as a country of very high quality – not only by the Muslims, but also by the English.
For my children it’s the same: when the teachers at school learned that my children are Germans, they are treated preferentially.
Germany has a very good reputation worldwide, I would say. But you should not live in the country itself. Hahaha!
What tips would you advise your brothers & sisters in Islam when it comes to Hijrah to England?
Be prepared in any case, trust in Allah, and then progress to action!
Do not expect anything from others, just from yourself! That means, take care that you find work there, looking for the best opportunities- it’s in your hands to become succesful!
The standard of living of local Muslims is rather high, so see this as motivation to make the best out of you!
Also, trust in Allah – if you purposely do the Hijrah, He will never let you down!
As I wavered in the end, if I should now dare to take the step, I read a verse in the Qur’an that spurred me on to leave.
And whoever emigrates in the way of Allah, will find some refuge and aid on earth. And whoever leaves his house and emigrates to Allah and His Messenger, and death overtakes him, whose reward falls to Allah; and Allah is forgiving and merciful.
(Sura 4, verse 100)
That was it for me. And it was like a promise from Allah!
And why I was so determined from the beginning to go, was the following verse:
Those who call the angels off while doing themselves wrong (to those) say, “What were you in?” They say, “We were oppressed in the land.” They (the angels) say, “Was not Allah’s earth far, so that you could have emigrated to it?” But those, – their sanctuary will be hell, and (how) evil is the outcome! (4:97)
This evil outcome, hell, really frightened me and I thought, “I have been discriminated against in my country and have suffered every day and my children as well, and in the end I am being punished by Allah and going to hell? “
It was clear to me that I had to go.
We are not even right to complain to Allah when we are in bad shape in Germany. Allah’s earth is big enough – believe me, dear sisters and brothers. And Allah promises to help. Now it’s up to you to break out of the dilemma and go and have a better life. There is nothing better than freedom. And you will find them all over the world, except in Germany. This is my opinion. Be brave!
Wow, do you realize the energy of this woman? If she puts something in her head, then she creates that too – she pulls it through, to the end, maa shaa Allah!
May Allah reward her tremendously for all her efforts and may Allah repay her with the best that she participated in this interview!
I can just recommend her to anyone as a counselor – be it Muslims or non-Muslims. And with her strong willpower, she is a great role model for us: she shows us that as Muslimas we can achieve something, we just have to realize our full potential and take action, in shaa Allah!
I hope you have been as inspired by Carina as I am. If so, like, comment and share 🙂