The other day, a friend of mine shared a bit of his story. His father was a devout man who held his faith deeply. The nation where he lived made it very difficult to practice his faith as he believed God called him so, with pain and difficulty, leaving behind family, friends, job, and roots, moved to another country where he believed he would be able to faithfully practice his faith. He put down new roots and raised a family, trying to be faithful and to build a good life. Jump forward a generation and my friend, another faithful man, was trying to live out his understanding of his faith which didn't quite fit into the majority opinion of his homeland found himself in the US attending college. It was a new world with a broad mix of religions and opinions about faith. More important though, it was a place with an expressed commitment to freedom of religion. Each individual could practice his or her faith (or lack thereof) in a way that was most faithful to the deep commitments of their hearts. My friend and his new wife decided, this was the kind of place they could truly be faithful to their understanding of God's yearnings for them. It was the kind of place they wanted to raise their children. They stayed in the US and became citizens here, working, putting down roots, raising a family, and living out their faith in freedom.
Can you think of a story that more characterizes the American dream? Can you think of a story that is more consonant with the commitments that gave birth to this nation and continue to shape our culture as a people? I can't. This strikes me as the quintessential American story. It just happens that Mukhtar is Muslim. His father left India for Saudi Arabia to find a pace where he could live his Muslim faith without difficulty. Mukhtar left Saudi Arabia to find a place where he could live out his faith in a way that was authentic to his understanding of God's yearnings for him... he came to the land of freedom of religion so he could faithfully live as a Muslim, next door to Catholics, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Protestants, Mormons, Atheists, and a hundred other commitments, all learning from one another, struggling with one another, and even disagreeing with one another... in freedom.