Sherjeel Hassan describes his journey in coming to America from Pakistan. Navigating between a religious mother and an opinionated father, Sherjeel reaches out to future generations by recommending a ‘balance’ through life, society and faith. This story was recorded in partnership with MALA and StoryCorps.
“I never saw America—never like in the movies or anything. I just thought it would be a snow-globe type of place, just houses scattered around. I came here and it’s like a big city, it was overwhelming, and let alone adjusting to new societal norms, learning a new language. I didn’t know a lick of English. I only knew, “Hey, where’s the bathroom?” You know?
My mom is more towards the religious side, and my dad is more like, you know, he’s in a happy zone, but he’s also very opinionated. And that’s where we kind of clash heads at times. Because I say something, and they say, “No, it’s not like that.” We just go back and forth over this dinner table about how things really are.
There’s either you’re not religious at all, or you’re religious beyond belief. And I’m just in that middle. I’m not going to say that I pray five times a day because that’d be a lie, but I try to pray at every opportunity I get, you know, I try to read the Qur’an as often as I can, I try to just brush up on my history, my religious history as often as a I can.
What is religion? It’s justice right? How to treat everybody, how to live your life that way you don’t hurt yourself or you don’t hurt the people around you. It’s guidance really, right? So in that way I practice religion all the time.
I’m not happy with what’s going on, and that’s something we have to deal with. I mean, depending on our politics, there’s so much corruption going on like everywhere. America is not perfect, you know? The sooner we eradicate, the faster we’ll be on the road to recovery to take care a lot of social issues, a lot of economic issues that we’re dealing right now in America. We need to stop sending troops overseas. That’s what I’m going to say.
If you’re listening future generation, create balance in your life. Don’t gravitate towards one thing, just keep a nice, healthy balance that way you can be the best person you can be. And just really work on your flaws or something, your weakness. I guess for me it would be mathematics but it’s too late for me now. I missed that opportunity. Just really work on yourself and just be the best person you can be for yourself, and your neighbors, your family, your friends, everybody.”