I WAS in Chicago a couple of weeks ago. While driving down Devon Street, one of the famous business districts, I noticed a magnificent church on the right side of the road. While I was still admiring the magnificence of the church, my wife diverted my attention toward a group of men clad in black suits wearing long beards and felt hats. It was close to sunset on Saturday, and these men of Jewish faith were heading toward a synagogue.
After driving a few blocks, the ethnic mix changed. The street was now bustling with people of Indo-Pakistani origin. The restaurants were crowded. The shops were filled with people busy haggling. It is a typical Indo-Pakistani culture to haggle for prices right down to pennies. It is not as much a matter of saving a few pennies, it is the joy the buyer gets out of negotiating a price and the bragging right that comes with it. I again saw a bunch of men hurrying toward a building. Many of them were clean-shaven. Some of them were wearing short beards, some wearing long beards. Most of them were in regular dress, but some were wearing long shirts. Many had caps on their heads. They were all Muslims. Since it was close to sunset, they were all heading toward a mosque to perform congregational dusk prayer.
Muslims, like others from Third World countries, started coming in droves to the United States in the 1960s. Most of them were either professionals or students. The basic reason for the emigration was economical or educational. However, it was the practice of justice, freedom, equality, tolerance, generosity, hospitality and respect for individuals — the basic Islamic values — which made them feel at home. It is an admirable characteristic of the United States that it has welcomed people of all faiths and races with open arms. They admire the nondiscriminatory character of the Constitution and the separation of church and government that has done wonders and has shown the world how people of different faiths can live in peace and harmony for the betterment of the whole society.