I haven't blogged in a while, and tonight's blog post is a heart-felt one about my father's journey in America and beyond.
Abu came to America in love with my mom, and wanting to live in a free society where he could practice his faith, raise a family and get an education. His first boss later became one of his first hires when he launched his own business a decade after coming to America. Abu would struggle and toil to launch his business, sometimes not coming home until 11 or 12 at night, and rarely before 9. He experienced a string of busts because of a slight language barrier, and also because of his personal sense of duty unto others--not taking the quick buck if it would compromise his integrity. What really drove him was his faith in his Creator. When faced with a major crisis with a major crisis when I was a baby, Abu cooly told a friend: "I'm not worried. I trust God." Within days, the crisis was averted thanks to a miracle. Eventually, he made it in America.
Around then, filial piety kicked in and Abu decided to open the second-ever back office and call center for an American business in Pakistan. The idea made business sense, but until then only in India. Abu worried what was happening in his home country in the early 2000s, and wanted to give people hope that good works and faith together with some elbow grease could make a better world. Abu went on to employ scores of young people in Pakistan to help support his business here at home, making jobs in a country where 54% of the skilled, college-trained labor force was unemployed.
A lot of those young people Abu employed got a chance to earn a living and feel a sense of self-worth many would not have found otherwise in a country that has few job opportunities for their college graduates. Young, urbane, middle class young people in the Muslim World are often listless and seeking out their place in the world, and many become radicalized while seeking out their identity (Check out Foreign Policy for more about that). Abu helped make sure countless young people didn't go that route. For him, it was a matter of honor and principle: provide the opportunity to help improve lives on both sides of world, and through that use one's wealth and talents to repair our world. Abu never outsourced any jobs, and he never fired an employee because their task was made redundant by having a back office in Pakistan. Instead, he was able to hire more employees here in America than he had before.
After a long break, today my father is working on a business model that will find a way to bring people together. I am already proud of how hard he worked to make both the American Dream and the Pakistani Dream a reality. I can't wait to see how he will work to make our would a better place, insha'Allah.
I hadn't thought about Abu's life in terms of the #ImmigrationBan and the hateful rhetoric targeting immigrants today in America. To reflect for a moment: my father is quiet, reflective man. He often told me growing up that to talk too much was a sign of ignorance, and to listen and observe was the sign of true intelligence. My father weathered the financial crash of 2008 with grit and humility. Today, in spite of the political hostility to immigrants and Muslims, he wants to be a job creator again. The other night, Abu said to me: "Americans are at their core good people, and I want to help the world see that." I do too, Dad.