Lessons on tolerance while living in America
By Memoona Ghani, Engage Minnesota
Before coming to USA, I always thought that America is all about bikinis and the Hollywood lifestyle, and that parents and kids both always want to get away from each other, i.e. kids to be of 18 so either they can leave the house or parents can kick them out. I was under the impression that most kids were not interested in getting higher education while parents were also not willing to sacrifice for their children’s higher education or careers. I thought that all the children wanted to work at McDonalds or Burger King when they grow up and that parents were okay with this.
However, I was wrong. Those were stereotypes I learned about fellow Americans and the United States from across the seas. In reflection, that is all what was available.
Living amongst fellow Americans, I came to a humble realization that human beings want the same things in the life, and that parents in America love their kids the same way as I saw in a Muslim country and that they want their kids to excel in life and education. I met children who did not wish to leave their families upon turning 18, and I found that not every parent asks their child to leave the house.
I experienced that the majority of Americans, regardless of their faith, acknowledge modesty and practice it. What changed my perception? It’s the living amongst and talking to people from a different place – America – that enlightened me and increased my knowledge. That- my friends, is the key to tolerance, love and respect for human beings and humanity.
My name is Memoona Ghani. I graduated from the University of St. Thomas with a Masters degree in Software Systems. I am working as a Business Analyst at the University of Minnesota and live in Maple Grove. I volunteer with several activities within the local community in an effort to show gratitude for the blessings of God, plus to give back to the community I live in. I am also from Pakistan. While it may be enough to introduce myself as a Muslim, it seems important to share my ethnicity as well just to help you appreciate the richness and diversity of the Muslim community in order to break the stereotype that Islam belongs to Arabia.
Islam is the force that drives all the good in my life, and I choose to practice it the way it was intended, outside of the influence of people with special interests and agendas.
What many may not realize is that doing things for the sake of Allah (God) has made it really easy for me to follow the law of the land. I express my views and by the same token I listen and respect others’. The fact that human life, love and respect for humans comes first in fulfilling my religious duties makes me unable to comprehend the hate people have towards others and I simply cannot justify saying a mean word to others.
I am well aware that I’ll be accountable in front of Allah (God) for all my deeds – good or bad – and this feeling drives me to be a better Muslim, which in turn makes me a better human being and a better citizen.
I know if I hurt somebody or create corruption or chaos in the land, oppress others or infringe upon their rights, or walk with arrogance in the land of God that I’ll be not spared easily. The court of God is bigger than the courts of this world. Even if the world can forego the mistakes of a person, God is watching. But at the same time the good that one does has immense rewards. That’s how practicing my religion is truly an inspiration for me towards living a good life as a responsible citizen of this country and the world.
Memoona Ghani works as a Business Analyst at the University of Minnesota. She did her Masters in Software Systems from University of St. Thomas. She lives in Maple Grove.
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