Question: On the lighter side… I know you don’t necessarily reflect all liberal Muslims here or anywhere else, but I’m curious about the similarities between your typical daily life and those of "native" citizens. What is your overall opinion of American entertainment? (good, bad, immoral, stupid, funny?) –Skippy
Answer: At a daily level we have a lot of power outages in Karachi (Pakistan) that I regularly tease my family about since we don’t have any here in Texas. When my father (being a law abiding citizen) filed taxes in Karachi he was offered a "deal" by the clerk at the local IRS. It’s never happened to me here when I pay my taxes. The ‘natives’ live under a dictator (even if he is benign), and I live under an elected official (who does not seem very benign). Yes there are indeed major differences in the quality of life. Undeniably, life is easier and fairer in USA.
Favorite non-news shows are ‘The Sopranos’ and ‘Rome’ (both HBO). As a Muslim I find it very hard to watch any news channel. Fox News and CNN repulse me – simply because I am unable to watch the oppression of the Palestinians and hear the news anchor tell me that its the Palestinians that are actually the oppressors; the carnage in Iraq is extremely saddening too. My wife is Shia and she finds the news coming from there extremely distressing. To her its like bombs going off in the Vatican. As a sensible religious person how do you digest that? Aside from this I watch Discovery and History channel avidly. The history channel is where I learned the West is fascinated by the second World War. Believe me, I never thought twice about Hitler or anyone else before coming to the USA.
Yes, I do think some of the shows are immoral (but funny too). Just take the series "Friends". It’s not something that I want my children to watch simply because I do not want them to pick up signals that its okay to live together before marriage and sleep around with everyone in your apartment turn by turn just for fun. If others want to do it, its fine, but it’s not something that I would advocate for my kids.
Hobbies – I like reading history. It’s a habit I’ve picked up from my father. I would highly encourage you to read "Crusades through Arab Eyes" by Maalouf and "Rubicon: The Triumph and Tragedy of the Roman Republic" by Tom Holland if you ever get a chance. "Crusades through Arab Eyes" was amazing because it’s my own history and I got to know who Saladin was. "Rubicon" was fabulous because it taught me how amazing the Roman empire was and what it means to be a democracy. Caesar and his ego, contrary to popular myth, was the reason Rome fell! I know its a cliché to say this, but there are many parallels between Rome and Washington which makes the book all the more interesting.
That was fun and easy :) On to the next one …