from Delaware Valley
Nasim Hassan - Hockessin, DE.
The winter in Delaware valley is
quite warm. The first snow of this season came after the middle of
January. The temperature continues to come back up again in the forties.
After September 11 incidence, a dialogue has started between people
belonging to various religions. American Muslim Society (AMS) in Delaware
valley had a number of group meetings where Christians, Jews and Muslims
were invited to share ideas. These meetings were held in Islamic Foundation
located in Valley Forge area in Pennsylvania. A large number of people
showed up in these meetings. AMS also distributed books on Islam to the
people of other faiths. Dr. Iqbal Shaikh organized a meeting inviting
people of various religions in Delaware. Hindus, Buddhists, Bahais, and
Sikhs in addition to Jews and Christians attended this meeting. It appears
that average American is interested peace, tolerance, harmony and dialogue
of civilizations instead of clash of civilization as highlighted by Prof.
Huntington. In this meeting the atmosphere was very cordial. The format of
this meeting was very informal. A Sikh, Hindu or a Christian introduced
salient features of his or her religion and then answered questions from the
audience. I believe that such meetings have become necessity so that people
can come face to face with people of other faiths and freely ask questions
to dispel doubts and misgivings.
America professes to be a secular country. However the secularism does not
mean lack of religious activities. Here everyone is free to practice any
religion. Every city across USA has a number of places belonging to various
religions. Perhaps Muslims in this country are most religious people.
Every Friday, the Mosques are full. Sometimes a police officer is hired to
direct the traffic during prayer hours. So far the reaction of average
American to the events in South Asia is almost non-existent. Sometimes it
seems that only Indians and Pakistanis are perhaps the only people
interested in South Asia. Indians and Pakistanis have very good relations
in the Delaware valley. However, it is not true in large cities such as New
York, Houston and Chicago. In the Delaware Valley area, majority of first
generation immigrants are professionals. Gradually, other people doing
businesses have started to trickle in this area. These professionals have
developed good relations over a period of time. After living in the USA, it
looks like that people in South Asia can also live in peace and harmony.
Every person here has his or her own believes and continues daily struggle
Not long ago, average person in the USA knew very little about Pakistan or
Afghanistan. Hardly anyone heard about Muslim holy days. A number of
people thought as if there is only a denominational difference in
religion. Many Christians here consider Roman Catholic, Presbyterian,
Southern Baptist and Anglican as separate religions. These days every
newspaper, radio and television has information about Afghanistan, Pakistan
and India. Most of the people here form their opinion by watching TV
programs. Some TV programs have focussed on Afghanistan of Taliban regime.
If any person watches these programs, then his opinion about Taliban and
Islam becomes highly biased. General public opinion about Pakistan is
positive. If Pakistan did not join the coalition, then negative fall out
would have impacted all Muslims in the USA. The people in other countries
may have a different opinion about Pakistan’s foreign policy but most of
Pakistanis here seem to agree with President Musharraf’s actions in relation
to Afghanistan and India.
Pakistani community is most active in communicating ideas to other faiths.
They are in the forefront of emerging interest concerning participation in
American political process. Indian Muslims are very active in religious
activities. The reason could be that Pakistanis learn very quickly from
Indian community. We hope that South Asia ushers in an era of peace instead
of continued social and political turbulence.
The author lives in Delaware, USA, e-mail: nhassa@ yahoo.com
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