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The American Dream & My Muslim Identity

Updated: Jan 13, 2020

Toddler Ash Malik

On a chilly and freezing evening of December 1989, my parents migrated from Pakistan to the land of opportunity when their plane landed at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York. At that moment, our Muslim family had been offered a better and serene life full of opportunities in the United States of America.

Settled in Virginia since, from kindergarten up to George Mason University and being the eldest of four, I went through all kinds of vicissitudes of life where I experienced highs and lows of different emotional, cultural, political, economic and social norms. Upon reaching adulthood, one and one thought only kept hammering my brain, “what is the reason to my existence?”

As a Muslim family, my parents might have faced rigorous situations assimilating in an entirely different cultural landscape, but for me, the tougher situations were different. The religious and cultural identities sometimes were a blessing in disguise but proved to be an impediment too.

In exploration of my reason to exist, I had completed my educational career, was earning bread and butter without any restraints, and all the worldly trappings had already been revealed to me, yet the staggering question of “what is the reason to my existence” hung over my head. Then, I convincingly embarked on the real quest for its answer. When I reached to the skirmishes of my reason to exist, there was an epiphany of serving the underprivileged, voicing for those who can’t be heard or are ignored, and especially for raising awareness of women empowerment and gender equality.

As a catalytic harbinger of change, I began working with conviction for the cause of women rising and as a proponent for their basic human rights, social justice and even the fundamental needs of daily life regardless of their location in the world. Their participation in any big scheme of things, especially in the Muslim world, South Asia and Middle East is still a far-fetched idea.

For becoming a vanguard of “The Rising Women” project of an organization whose name means values, IKDAR, I came across its ideological leader who championed the human development discourse, the renowned sportsman cum philanthropist cum Prime Minister of Pakistan, none other than, Dr. Imran Khan. The idea of rising women is quite cobbled with the philosophy of catalyst philanthropy and social enterprise like all other sustainable human development projects, products and services of IKDAR - Imran Khan Developmental Academic Research.

My raison d'être began with Socrates’ famous saying, “know thyself” then I came to know my cause of human development when I learned of the United Nations Global Agenda of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and further gained utmost knowledge through IKDAR’s slogan of “vision and action together” in order to achieve concrete and solid results in the area of human development.

I have faith in that kind of Muslim American story of life which I carry.

"In the end, I came to know I know nothing." ~Socrates

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