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America Through the Eyes of a Pakistani Immigrant

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In May of 1986, 18-year-old Ali flew from Karachi, Pakistan to the U.S. to attend the University of Texas in Dallas.  He immediately noticed the differences between first-world America, and his homeland:  the cleanliness of public places, the friendliness of store clerks with customers, and even the freedom to try alcohol, which was forbidden at home.  Ali was pleasantly surprised not to find arranged marriages, widespread corruption and bribery, and severe limits on free speech, all of which were expected at home.  Not all was good in America, though. He also experienced some bullying and prejudice, a new, and ugly experience.  

In college Ali began dating a co-worker from McDonalds who was a Christian.  The two enjoyed talking about everything, including their respective Muslim and Christian faiths.  They grew to love each other, but Judy finally admitted to herself that she couldn’t continue in the relationship because Ali didn’t know Christ, and broke it off.   Heartbroken, Ali spent two weeks studying the Bible she’d given him, especially the book of Romans.  He came to believe what it said about his sin and separation from God, and that Jesus was the only Savior.  He surrendered himself to Him, and saw himself change in his language, desires, treatment of others, and having peace.  Judy waited to see that his faith was genuine, and three years later, they married.  

The longer Ali lived and succeeded in the U.S., the more he came to appreciate the freedoms here, which he believes most Americans take for granted.  The five freedoms he deems most precious are: the freedom to fail, seen in forgiveness for mistakes in school or work, relief from creditors, even the bankruptcy law; the freedom to love - one’s choosing his own mate versus arranged marriage; the freedom of religion, the liberty to seek the truth without persecution, even if it’s different than what one is taught.  “Growing up in a strong Muslim household, I was fully convinced Islam was the only true, final, and complete religion,” he states.  The freedom to build a business or other career is another privilege Ali cites.  “If you had the skills, desire, and willingness to work hard, you had a real opportunity to make a path for yourself.”  Lastly, Ali calls our right to vote, participate in many levels of our government the freedom to self-govern, and one that all Americans should take seriously.  

Ali sees the obvious link between the freedoms America was founded upon and Christian virtues like service, unselfishness, honesty, morality, and brotherhood.  He says he wrote this book to remind all Americans that the U.S. is unique and special, and that each of us should engage in its privileges and preserve its freedoms.  We can do this by voting, volunteering, helping one another, speaking well of it, and respectfully confronting those who seek to tear it down.  “We are far from perfect …. but we must refrain from emulating other cultures and systems.  There is a reason for the long lines outside American consulates around the world -- we are still viewed as the land of opportunity,” he believes.  

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