|The old man
winter is slowly walking out from the Delaware valley. This winter has been very
unpredictable. The temperature would go up one day and people would start wearing short
sleeves and within a week there will be a severe snow -storm dashing all hopes of an early
spring. The atmosphere before a snow -storm is very calm. The tiny specs of snow start
flying about in the air. It is difficult to judge whether it is rain or snow as it melts
as soon as it hits the ground. Slowly he the snow flakes grow and become visible. After a
few hours a white sheet covers the trees and roofs and the ground. It looks like as if the
nature is purifying the environments. The snow looks beautiful on the surface but causes a
number of automobile accidents on the roads. The snow- storm follows a certain path.
Sometimes there is a big snow- storm in one area and only few miles away there is only a
few inches of snow.
This winter saw the election of historical proportions. The Muslims and Pakistanis votes were divided. This has been a very close race. The industrial states on the Northeast voted for Gore but American heartland south and west voted for George Bush. Looking at the map, it seemed as if George Bush will win by a big margin. However, population density on the East Coast of the USA is much higher as compared to the West and South. This brings to mind the aftermath of the election. There was no public display or exploitation of masses by the leaders. Although it has been a front-page news but battle was in the courts. Finally when the US Supreme Court decided it was all over without any disruption of public life. One very significant aspect of this election has been the Muslim vote bank in the United States. By all counts majority of Muslims voted for George Bush although they initially welcomed the selection of Joseph Lieberman as a candidate for vice president. Later on in the campaign Gore did not pursue Muslim votes.
On the cultural front, the Pakistanis have been very active in the Delaware Valley. Two major events were held in the city of Philadelphia within an interval of three months. Pakistani film and television stars performed in these two functions. The featured artists included Moin Akhtar, Sajjad Ali, and Nirma for the first event and Reema as the main attraction for second show. I have to admit that Pakistani artists gave an excellent performance. Both of these events were well rehearsed by the artists. The only thing lacking was the preparations by the organizers in Philadelphia area. I believe that this experience will be very valuable in learning.
The Muslims have launched an American Muslim Society (AMS) in the tri-state area to create political awareness. This society includes Muslims from all ethnic backgrounds. Hopefully, this society will emerge as a leading voice representing the Muslims of Delaware Valley. So far the most active Muslims in the Islamic centers are from Pakistan, India and Egypt. The local Muslims have separate Islamic centers. Each Mosque or Islamic center has its own unique character. This largely depends upon the population makeup of the local area. Turkish and Iranian Muslims are not well represented in any of the Islamic Centers. Farther North in New Jersey a large Turkish community runs their own Islamic centers. Certain visionary people are trying to develop a concept of one Muslim Ummah without any racial prejudices. This still remains an ideal to be achieved. The other Islamic activities include the efforts of Tableeghi Jamaat. This Jamaat has been making a slow and steady progress. A number of very committed people spend time and energy to remind Muslims of their religious obligations. Americans in general respect religious people. The US constitution has provided for the complete freedom of religion. In this country, with a few exceptions people do enjoy religious freedom.
Pakistani community in the Delaware valley does not subscribe to any political affiliations in Pakistan. The politics of home country is in the distant past. First generation Pakistanis are trying very hard to impart a sense of cultural and religious values to the next generation. However this is an uphill task. The children raised here have more in common with their American friends as compared to Pakistani kids. By and large, Pakistanis and their families have done very well and continue to make progress
The author lives in Delaware, USA, e-mail: nhassa@ yahoo.com