Rob Asghar, a Pakistani-American writer and political commentator, presented a lecture on his personal experience of being a Muslim-American in today’s modern world. The lecture was held Nov. 16 at 8pm in room 2303 of McCormack Hall. Ashgar has published essays in over thirty newspapers worldwide including the Wall Street Journal and Japan Times. He also serves as an University Fellow at the University of Southern California. Changing from religion to religion, Ashgar’s story is much more than a stereotype.
“Before leaving this room, I guarantee I’ll change my religion again,” Ashgar says sarcastically. His honesty, experience, and sense of humor gave him individuality. Born in San Jose, California, Ashgar grew up wanting to be an all-American. “Many people inspire to be great, I simply inspire to be normal. I wanted to blend in,” he exclaims. To grasp his all-American goal, risks were taken.
Ashgar’s parents were strong believers of the Muslim faith. They hopped their son would one day find himself, they never expected for him to find Christianity. Although Islam and Christianity have much in common, they are severe rivals. Ashgar’s father was furious with his son’s decision, so much so that Ashgar feared the family would perhaps disown him. Refusing to change his newly found religion, tension remained. He mentions, “Learn how to be a disappointment to those closest to you; that way, you can take chances and refrain from micromanaging your mistakes.” Ashgar wanted to be in control of his own life. He was in control and loved it.
Due to recent events such as Sept. 11, 2001 and the war in Iraq, most Americans view Muslim-Americans as the enemy. Innocent or not, Muslims feel the struggle to belong. Ashgar mentions the abundant amount of pressure Muslims must abide by to be true followers of their religion. The many do’s and don’ts of the religion forced Ashgar into despising what he was once so familiar with. “I had to find my own level of proper conduct.”
His changing of religions officially set the tone of his relationship with his family. Although he made the decision on his own, his parents were sincere and forgiving. Ashgar was their son, they could never send him away or ban him from the family. He became tired of the battle of who’s way is the best, he simply wanted to be accepted, without confrontation.
Ashgar concluded by relating the bond between Ashgar and his parents to the bond between Muslims and Americans in today’s world. One day, the ice will be broken. As a negative correspondence arises, a positive friendship will be made. We should all be accepted, whether we read the Quran or the Bible or worship Allah or Jesus. The Muslims are here to stay just as the American pride.