Living In Harmony

People of South Asian origin are predominately from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, East Africa and Sri Lanka. Other areas include Nepal and the semiindependent state of Bhutan.
The south Asians can be divided into two main categories:-
1. Asians from East Africa (originally from the sub continent) are more westernised, this includes Hindus,Sikhs and Muslims.
2. Asians from the sub continents includes Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs. These people may not speak English fluently.
Pakistan is an Islamic state which means nearly all the Pakistanis are Muslims.Approximately 85 per cent of the Indian population is Hindu, some one tenth is Muslim and the rest consists of Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Jains, Jews and Parees.
Bangladesh is approximately 98 per cent Bengali in origin. Approximately 85 per cent of the population is Muslim but there are also Hindus, Buddhists and Christians.
Approximately 70 per cent of the Sri Lankan population is Buddhist (Sinhalese ethnic group), the rest being Hindus, Muslims and Christians from the ethnic groups of Sinhalese, Tamils and people from European descent.
In general, the predominant South Asians are Muslims from Pakistan and Bangladesh, Sikhs mainly originating from the Punjab(India),a majority of Hindus and Christians are from the region of Gujarat.Sikhs are synonymous with the geographical area of Punjab (India).

The national language of Pakistan is Urdu. The other languages are Sindhi, Pashto and Punjabi. Pakistan itself is over three times larger than the United Kingdom and stretches from the Arabian Sea to the former Soviet Union border. The name Pakistan derives from the Urdu words" Pak" meaning pure and "Istan" meaning land, translating to "land of the pure". Pakistans population is approximately 112million.

Some 15major languages and 544 dialects are spoken throughout the country, including the
most commonly used Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi and Gujarati. English is widely spoken and is often used as the language of the Government. India is about the same size as Europe with about 13 times the land area of the U.K. and about 13times the population (770 million).
NOTE: India and Pakistan each have a state called Punjab since the original Punjab region was divided on independence in 1947.

Bangladesh gained its independence from Pakistan in 1971 following a civil war. The name Bangladesh means "land of the Bengali people". The country shares a border with the Indian state of West Bengal whose people are Bengali's.
Bengali is the major language. Bangladesh is less than two thirds the size of the U.K. but has more than twice the people, making it one of the mostly densely populated countries in the world.
Of the groups who settled in Britain, the main languages are Urdu,Gujarati,Punjabi, Hindi, Bengali (and the Sylheti dialect). Others include Tamil and Malayalam.

The main religions are Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Jainism, Buddhism, Christianity, as well as Islmaili, Parees and others. (for further information on these religions see Religions and Philosophical backgrounds.)

The South Asian Family is, in general, a joint or extended family, Daughters leave home on marriage and live in the home of their husband.The joint family traditionally lives together and the decisions are taken by the head of the family in consultation with all the members. One important difference compared with the European traditions is the role of the individual member, for whom family responsibilities are more important than individual wishes. This can sometimes
produce a different outlook from that of a society which emphasises individual development, such as Britain. South Asian families living in Britain are however, more likely to split up than those in their homeland and the joint family may not always be so wide. Members of the same
family may live separately but they still act jointly on certain issues.

There is a well established Somali community in Cardiff, this community now numbers in excess of 6,000 and was first established when Cardiff was a thriving seaport. Somalia, a country in the Horn of Africa, has been occupied by Somalis for over 1,000 years. More than 95 per cent of the Somali population is composed of a single ethnic group. The Somalis are united by a common
language, culture and Islamic religion. There are approximately six to seven million Somalis. Four million live within the border of Somalia, some two million in Ethiopia's Ogaden desert, some 240,000 in Kenya, and some 100,000 in Djibouti. Somalis are traditionally nomadic, pastoral people. Under European and Ethiopian colonisation the Somalis were divided under British, Italian, French and Ethiopian administrations, each seeking power for economic or strategic reasons. In 1960, British and Italian Somalia became independent, Joining together as the new Somali Republic. Since 1969 political repression accompanied by tribal and clan persecutions culminated
into civil war ( 1988 ) which resulted in the country's disintegration. The former Northern Region broke away and formed the Republic of Somaliland. The rest of the country, though divided into mini fiefdoms is now referred to as Somalia. Presently the North of Somalia is relatively settled, but fighting continues to erupt in the south.

There are approximately 60,000 Somalis in Britain, who tend to be either the established Somali community of sailors and their families or the more recent asylum seekers and refugees ( many of whom have arrived in Britain from refugee camps).

Most Somalis are Muslims. See reference under Islam below.

Somali is the national language and the first language of the majority of the population.
There are other distinctive dialects. Somalis may also speak English, Arabic, French and
Italian. Until 1972 the Somali language had no official written form.

A Somali name will consist of a first name, followed by their fathers name, then that of the Grandfather. Usually, a Somali is known by the combination of these three names. The
naming system is the same for both genders. Traditionally, women retain their own names
on marriage although in Britain a Somali woman may take her husbands family (grandfathers name) on marriage.

The social structure is composed of tribes, clans and sub clans that branch out into
patrilineal lineage. The main clans comprise:

The Isaq, who live in the north
The Dir, in the north-west
The Darod, in the north-east and southwest
The Hawiye, on the east central coast
The Digil and Rahanwein on the south hinterland

The clan family system is the basis of Somali society. It provides individual security, but
for society as a whole it is an unstable system, characterised at all levels by shifting
allegiances. Somalis identify more immediately with the clans into which each clan family is subdivided, eg the Isaq ( Isaag) contains clans such as the Habarawal, Habarjeclo and Haber Gerhais.

The man is traditionally the head of the family, taking major decisions and with main financial responsibilities, whereas the wife is the nucleus of the family and given great respect. Financial pressures have, however, brought many women (and even children) into the labour market resulting in a shift in responsibilities. Many Somali women who are recent refugees tend to work outside the home. In Somalia, respect and status are gained through age and therefore Somali parents tend to have unquestioned authority over their children. Families who do not take
responsibility for their children are not considered good members of society. In Britain, the breakdown of some families, coupled with differences in social structure have contributed to detrimental changes in some Somali children's behaviour.

See reference under Islam.

See reference under Islam.

See reference under Islam.

Additionally, the following should be noted when dealing with the Somali community:
To gesture with ones finger as a way of beckoning or asking someone to come to you can be offensive to a Somali. In Somalia this gesture is used only for dogs and not for humans. Some of the Somali community who are recent refugees and asylum seekers may speak little English and may need an interpreter. A Somali male may become aggressive or extremely embarrassed if confronted by the police in front of a Somali woman as it may be viewed as losing face. Recent refugees and asylum seekers may be afraid of the police because of the torture and treatment some have received from the police in Somalia. Somali people tend to try and sort minor incidents out within their own community.

Somali women may wear the Islamic dress (hijab- without the veil ), the traditional Somali dress or modest western-style dress and cover their head with a scarf. Most Somali men tend to wear western-style dress.

Khat (pronounced Cat) is a plant based drug imported fresh in bundles, mainly from Kenya, Ethiopia and the Yemen. It is currently legal unless in resin form. Somalis are the main consumers of Khat. Khat is normally chewed, acting as a stimulant. Khat is used for socialising, predominantly among Somali men. There is concern that Khat is contributing towards mental health problems among the Somali refugees, especially when compounded with social and economic deprivation that some Somalis are facing in Britain.

Islam- " submission to the will of god" - is the name given to the religion preached by
the Prophet Muhammad about 1,400 years ago, Muhammad preached that there is only
one God (Allah) and that he, Muhammad, was God's messenger. Those who believe in
one God and accept Muhammad as His messenger are called Muslims. Within Islam (as within Christianity) there are different branches, the two main branches are Sunnis and Shi'ites.
Today there are about two million Muslims in Britain. The main communities are based in the inner-city areas. Within Britain Muslims mostly originate from, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, East Africa, The Middle East, Sudan, Egypt, Somalia, North Africa and Kurdistan. They mainly speak Punjabi, Urdu, Bengali with some Pashto, Farsi, Arabic, Kurdish and Somali.

After birth the new born is washed and the Imam (local prayer leader) recites sacred words over the baby. All males are circumcised.

The Muslim naming system varies considerably, all Muslims have a personal name. Muslims names are usually constructed of Arabic words e.g. Mohammed Akbar (religious names) Choudhury
(hereditary), the personal name may come first or second. Other examples of religious names that can also be personal names are Akbar, Amin, Aziz, Mohammed, Allah and Ullah. Examples of hereditary names are Bhatti, Khan and Shah. The traditional polite way to address a Muslim is by his personal and religious name. A Muslim should not be addressed by his religious name only,
especially if this name is one of the most sacred name such as Mohammed or Allah. Hereditary names are clan or regional names so when taking a Muslims name it is important to record the full name so as not to miss any parts. The female names are usually made up of a personal name and a religious name e.g. Amina Ayesha, Fatima and Fauzia . The second name is known as the title name examples are - Begum, Bibi, Khanum and Khatoon. Female Muslims do not traditionally have any name equivalent to the British surname but some do take the husbands name after marriage. In Britain Muslims use their hereditary name as the family name and this is adopted by the family e.g. If Mohammed Rahman Khan married Amina Bibi she may call herself Amilia Bibi Khan.
Many Muslims in Britain have ceased to use their title name and/ or their religious name
and may only use their personal name and family name. It is advisable to check how they wished to be addressed.

Marriage is encouraged by Islam and in certain communities arranged marriages are common. The Muslim man may take up to four wives although in Britain only one is allowed. The Muslim wedding can take place anywhere although a registrar must be present.

Divorce is met with disapproval although, on grounds of adultery, incompatibility, impotence or willful neglect to maintain ones family are accepted.

A dying Muslim should be turned to face Makkah (Mecca). The body is washed and
covered with a white sheet and buried as soon as possible. Muslim graves are raised
between 4 and 12 inches to prevent people walking or sitting on them.

Islam is not just a religion but a complete way of life. Muslims believe the Qur'an (holy book written in Arabic) is the word of God, spoken to Muhammad by the Angel Gabriel. The Qur'an has been the guiding light for the Muslims all over the world for the 1,400 years and been translated into many languages.
The five basic duties are: -
Shahadah - declaration of ones faith;
"There is no God but Allah and Muhammad
is his Prophet"
Salah - five compulsory daily prayers ( at dawn, at noon, in the afternoon, in the
evening and at nightfall). Prayers are said in the direction of the holy city Makkah (Mecca).
to charity.
- 2.5 per cent of wealth is given Sawm - fasting during the month of Ramadan (the ninth lunar month). Muslims should abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and sexual intercourse from dawn
to sunset. Fasting is obligatory to all Muslims from puberty. Exceptions include nursing mothers, those who are pregnant or menstruating, the sick and Muslims travelling long distances. Days missed should be made up at a later stage Hajj - every Muslim adult who is physically, financially or legally able must make at least one pilgrimage to Mecca. Muslims believe that God sent many
prophets throughout history including the Old Testament prophets and Jesus. All prophets preached faith in one God, life after death and one moral code. Muslims believe Muhammad was the last of the prophets and the perfect model of how people are to live. To say or do anything which shows lack of respect to God, to the Prophet Muhammad, or to any of the prophets is considered blasphemous and deeply hurtful to Muslims.

Muslim families are traditionally extended or joint families living together or in close proximity of each other. Within Islam men and women are treated as equals except greater emphasis is placed on the women to be a wife and a mother. The man has a responsibility to provide financially. Muslim women are allowed the right to an education and career. Muslim women also have the right to independent ownership of property and income, this right does not change with

The Qur'an forbids the eating of pork or any pork products. Any utensils or containers which have touched pork are considered unclean. Muslims may eat meat which is halal (permitted) and has been slaughtered by the law of Islam, also kosher meat slaughtered the same way in certain
circumstances. Alcohol, food or drink which contains alcohol is forbidden.

Inside a Muslims home you are likely to see a copy of the Qur' an sometimes covered with
a white cloth, pictures of Macca and quotes from the Qur'an around the walls. Many Muslim women may feel uncomfortable in mixed company and tend to avoid being in a room with a man who is not a relative. If you need to speak to a Muslim woman it is better if family members (including children) or relatives are present, it is more appropriate if another women is present (police officer or social worker and ideally someone who can speak the language). If questions of a sexual nature need to be asked these are better carried out by a female officer. Do not shake
hands with a Muslim woman unless a handshake is offered. It is polite to accept refreshments if offered.

You are expected to remove your shoes, a typical Mosque has a mihrab that points towards Makkah, a pulpit for teaching and a lectern for the Qur'an. Some Mosques have a minaret which is a tower for calling the faithful to prayer. Friday midday is the busiest time as all male Muslims must congregate at the Mosques for prayer. Outside of the prayer room there will be running water for people to wash before prayer, there may be separate entrances for men and women.
Muslim men tend to cover their heads for prayer, women should cover their head, arms and legs. Within some Mosques there may be a school to teach young scholars to learn and read the Qur'an.

Islam teaches modesty in dress. the minimum part of a man to be covered is from the navel to the knees, for women from their head to their feet (exposing only their hands and face). Muslim men mostly wear western dress. Most Muslim women in Britain tend to dress according to their country of origin. Women from Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh wear Shalwar Kameez and cover their heads. Women from the Arabian Gulf may wear black cloaks covering themselves completely and a veil covering all or part of the face (hijab). Iranian and some Somali women may wear the same but without the veil. Muslim women from other countries may wear modest western dress with long sleeves and cover their heads.

Eid ul-Adha - This is the festival marking the final stage of the pilgrimage to Macca, it lasts
for the maximum of three days and is celebrated with communal prayers and the exchanging of gifts. The special feature is the sacrifice of an animal in commemoration of the story of Abraham and his son Ismail (Isaac). Eid al Fitr means the festival of breaking the fast and it immediately follows the end of Ramadam. It is a family and community celebration and weather permitting
communal prayers are said outside in the open. After prayers parties and the exchange of gifts takes place.

Modesty is extremely important, Muslims prefer to be treated by persons of the same sex as them. Post mortems are permitted if legally required.

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