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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 November 2005, 17:55 GMT
What do young Muslims think? The teacher
What do British Muslim youth really think? In the latest in our series of people in genuine contact with younger generations of Muslims in the UK, a teacher tells her story.

I begin in the Name of God Most Gracious Most Merciful.

My name is Saaraa Rahman. I am 23 years old, born and brought up in London. I am thus Muslim British/British Muslim, however you please.

I thoroughly love living in London. It is my home. I have always tried to relay my position as a Muslim and never impose it.

My father, mother and sisters are all distinctly Muslim and the family business is within five minutes' walk of both Liverpool St and Aldgate East station, near to one of the 7 July bombs.

Should I be blessed with children, I want to bring them up in this country. And so, I have a personal interest in not letting my identity become a negative and untrue description in tomorrow's chip paper.

After the bombs exploded, I watched the faces on television - people running around in terror, people in pain, people searching in vain.

Then, I felt a seed grow within me. Now, I'm not sure what this feeling is. I don't want to describe it as anger or hatred; those emotions once planted are capable of manifesting themselves as ugly faces. But I feel like I'm on this window ledge, almost at the edge, and God willing I won't be tipped over.

Changed world

On 11 September 2001, the world did change.

In the eyes of some, I was no longer just someone who had submitted to Allah. Now, "my sort" were capable of bombing and maiming - that's me, all five foot of me
Pictured: Anti-Muslim abuse recently spray-painted on a subway in Archway, N London
Not only did people lose their lives but the world opened it eyes. Suddenly, the inward struggles of being a Muslim, living in a Non Muslim world, needed to be explained to wider society.

Suddenly, you weren't just a person who was different among all the differences of this diverse existence.

Suddenly your breed is the only one which is alien. Back then, for someone like me, born and bred British Muslim, the difference was I was a Muslim.

In the eyes of some, I was no longer just someone who had submitted to Allah. Now, "my sort" were capable of bombing and maiming. That's me, all five foot of me, always looked upon as short stuff, now suddenly capable of the worst.

When your faith teaches you that it is God that gives life and it is only He that should be able to take it, then the feeling of being looked at in that way cannot be explained. The closest word is heartbreaking.

Personal struggle

Then there is that word that is tossed around like pancakes: jihad.

I can confine myself at home I can choose to only ever associate with Muslims but I have not enjoyed freedom and company in Britain to develop into a recluse
Well I believe that I have to go along that path of struggle now. No, not with guns, bombs or abuse of any power that I think I have.

Rather, I have to use every ounce of patience, resilience, strength and artillery of wide-plastered smiles that I have in my armoury. This is my jihad, my struggle: to replace misconceptions with the truth, one person at a time.

If those people who did these things were Muslim, then they don't speak for me.

They are not part of the religion that I have agreed to be an embodiment of.

Whenever anyone has an issue with Muslims and Islam, I think this: 'Look to the people not the rel igion'. Why? Because God and His Book are flawless. It is us who are imperfect.

So this seed is growing within me, a seed that at the moment is unsettled.

It's a plant that can grow into a flower or an ugly weed.

I can either confine myself at home - never use public transport again and stick to my car. I can choose to only ever associate with Muslims and avoid places where I might face confrontation.

But I have not enjoyed freedom and company in Britain to develop into a recluse.

By God, I have been given the blessing of religion and the freedom to enjoy and absorb being British.

I am a qualified primary school teacher and work with Muslim children. And every day of my working life, I try to teach my children how to be people, how to be good to everybody.

Every role or responsibility that I take by choice in my life, I take it because I want to do something constructive, do something active for my society.

I want this seed to blossom. So I will not apologise for being Muslim.

And I pray that people will give me and my faith a chance to make a difference.

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