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This section is completely misplaced, the following has nothing to do with my heritage whatsoever. But I could not find a section for it, and it definitely has a lot to do with my identity, how I have evolved.

USA, My Home:

The US, like most places, has its ups and downs. Overall though, I completely disagree with the approach of vilifying the US. I honestly think that if you feel Islam obliges you to hate the US, then you should not be living here if you have any respect for yourself. Far from it that Islam imply hatred of any nation. Any country is neutral by nature, whether it becomes good or bad is solely a reflection of its people. So if something is evil about the US, if anything, we are to blame for not taking the initiative to rectify what is wrong. I think the solution is to work hard as good people to take over from the bad, as opposed to sitting on the sidelines and complaining at their abuse of power. Besides, as Muslims who have made a pact and accepted the US citizenship, we are obliged to devote ourselves to its well being. This is in accordance with Islam's teachings of patience, compassion, and love for all people. I have chosen the US as a home, and so as a Muslim, I feel I owe it to the land and its people to contribute positively towards their well being.

On a different note, my personal take on the US, and that is solely a matter of taste, is that we have a rather bland culture here; way too materialistic, and really lacking in taste and substance. I feel most people are shallow, self-centered, and very nonintellectual. They tend to be experts at their jobs, and clueless otherwise. On the positive side, Americans have an amazing affinity for hard work, dedication, and a desire to always be best. For the most part, Americans are earnest, good people, who wish no one harm. I think this country is in need of Islam to make up for its shortcomings. It would only then really rise to the level of "civilization" and not just a great economy. I also think it can learn a thing or two from Europe as far as culture goes, and the concept of "joie de vivre" (joy of living).


England, My childhood:

My experience in Manchester, England will forever be deeply engraved in my heart. It was at a very impressionable age, I was 6.5 years old when we moved to England, and we stayed for 5 years. I miss my old Catholic school in our small town of Salford. St. James's was an old fashioned place in a quiet area of this typical English, workers' town. Boys had to wear shorts even in the midst of winter, you had to answer "yes sir" to the headmaster, and sister Carmen used the library as an occasional caning room. My main experience with the small sunny library; however, was as a meeting place, during recess, for my secret Dinosaur society. It started out with just Mark O'Keefe and I, though soon thereafter I excommunicated Mark after he broke his allegiance to me, by telling David Thomas about our secret which he swore over his Guinea pig's life never to share. Ironically, I invited David to replace him, and we have remained good friends ever since.

There were many pubs around the school, a green hill we used to love rolling down on after school, a wheat field that doubled as our battlefield with the kids from the Protestant school down the street, and a marketplace, complete with sweet shops. Of course there was the church too, also called St. James, to which we used to make weekly field trips. I hated going because I was afraid of this huge golden statue of a dismal Jesus on a cross that hung above the alter, it would haunt me at night. I used to refuse kneeling when everyone else did, and the teachers would chastise me for it. My mom told me to just say my own prayers when they were saying theirs.

Generally we had a great time in England, it was a wonderful time during which I developed a passion for reading and travel, thanks primarily to my parents and teachers.

During my European tour of Spring 2000, I had the opportunity to go back to Manchester and revisit my old childhood memories. It felt weird, in a good way.