Book Review: My Story as a Muslim Immigrant in America
Autobiography by: Dr. Basheer Ahmed
Reviewed by: Mike Ghouse
This book is a fascinating account of being a Muslim Immigrant in America. The author is a Psychiatrist with a successful history of teaching, practicing, guiding and counseling men and women of all hues from the United Kingdom to the United States over a span of 50 years.
Additionally has the vast experience of establishing two major Muslim Institutions in Texas – The Muslim Community Center, the Iqra Center and developing the Institute of Medieval and Post Medieval studies. He speaks in Churches, Synagogues and Temples and public gathering about the human emphasis on Islam that most Muslims can relate to.
As you start reading the biography of Dr. Basheer Ahmed, it resonates with your own experience, and every now and then you may feel that this is your story as well. That is the quality of a good book; it connects with you and prompts you to tell your own story. I urge you to get a copy and experience it yourselves.
He writes, “When I pray, even for five minutes, I try to completely forget about the world around me and go deep into myself, where I feel the closeness with God.” Most of us struggle to accomplish that immersion and connection, but when we do, he adds, “Without the spiritual component, the rituals are meaningless. Performing rituals means we must also change our behavior in order to obey God’s commandments.”
He sees the many challenges Muslims face in America and offers solutions. One of the dilemmas is dealing with hypocrisy. “The Muslims are particularly frustrated when the media fails to call out terrorist acts carried out by non-Muslims. The Orlando Muslim shooter who shot 49 people in the nightclub and the Las Vegas shooter shot 58 people, both were supposedly suffering from mental illness. The Muslim shooter was labeled a terrorist but the other was never referred to the Christian terrorist.” Dr. Ahmed further writes, “When I attend interfaith meetings, I have to explain that terrorists are a minority.”
Foreign policy is another challenge for Muslims, “They regard US interventions as terrorist acts against innocent people (In the Middle East).
Dr. Ahmed’s story is the story of an ultimate immigrant, who has lived his American dream! Everything that you have dreamt of doing, he has done it. He moved from his birthplace in Hyderabad, India to Pakistan where he studied Medicine, then on to London, United Kingdom and finally after practicing in several different cities he called Arlington, Texas his home.
His mother has been an influential figure in his life and he has rightfully dedicated this book to her, “To my mother, who was a source of inspiration and the great influence on my profession, my character, and my ideas.”
His universality comes through his experiences, the first such experience was in Karachi where “immigrants from all over India were speaking different languages, wearing different costumes and eating foods unknown to him. That enriching experience followed him all the way into Arlington where there is more diversity exists.
Dr. Ahmed’s exemplary life has blended the Subcontinentian and American cultures well. He is a role model for immigrants. He fits in both the Desi environment and American society like a custom glove. He wrote this book to motivate others to contribute in a positive way to the world to work for justice, security and peace for all people. He encourages readers to embrace a life of service for the benefit of our common humanity.
Indeed our organization, the Center for Pluralism has recognized him twice for his inclusive service to humanity – the first time around we called him “Lone Ranger” as he worked hard in establishing the Muslim Community Center that most people thought that it was impossible with its lofty goals. He kept at it, and finally, the Muslim Community Center has become an example to Americans about serving humanity. MCC is an organization that American Muslims can be proud of, he was once again recognized as “Pluralist of the year” as he valued every human being and opened the Al-Shifa Clinic to serve all the indigent members of the society regardless of their faith or ethnicity. He is driven by service to humanity, the most important value of Islam.
I urge you to get a copy of the book and check it out, it reflects what you wanted to do in life. It is priced a modest $15.99 and worth reading and gifting your friends. Book is available on Amazon – https://www.amazon.com/Story-Muslim-Immigrant-America-Psychiatry/dp/1619618400/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1514055175&sr=8-1&keywords=my+story+as+a+muslim+immigrant+in+america
Dr. Mike Ghouse
President, Center for Pluralism