96Extract from the book "Up from Shi'ism" (Part 2)
- Oct 2, 2010by Farhad Amirebrahimi... Living in a Muslim country, part of our education curriculum was three hours of religious studies per week. We were taught about the lives of the Prophets, such as Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad (upon them all be peace), and the twelve Shia Imams, who are considered Prophet Muhammad’s successors. We were taught what great men they were: men of truth, wisdom, patience, and sacrifice. Men who spent their entire lives in pleasing Allah and serving humanity. But three hours of religious study a week were not enough to keep me on the straight path.
As a young man fascinated with American movies and technology, I prayed long and hard to come to America , the land where dreams came true! Finally, after overcoming many obstacles, I joined my older brother, who was studying in California , in September 1977.
I was only sixteen years old. At first everything seemed new and interesting. Here I was finally in the land of freedom, equality, and justice. However, what I learned in my U.S. history class changed my perception of America completely. My high school history teacher, teaching from a state-approved textbook, shattered my ideas about freedom, equality, and justice in America . He told us all about the elite white Christian ruling class and the disenfranchised minorities. Despite some improvements in the past few decades, thanks to the civil rights movement, the power and wealth of the country remained in the hands of a few.
I also noticed a clear lack of knowledge and understanding of the rest of the world and other cultures among my peers and the public in general. Over time I realized that many of the things I had learned in Iran about America from the movies, magazines, and people who had vacationed there were not entirely accurate. Moreover, I realized that living in California , having a blonde girlfriend, getting my driver’s license, and going to parties did not bring true happiness and contentment.
I felt lonely and purposeless. At one point it even seemed logical to end my life and see if there was a better life after this. I was in a bind. After many months of pondering and soul searching, I finally decided that with the limited time I have on this earth I should make a positive difference in people’s lives. So I planned to become a doctor, join the United Nations, and serve humanity. This goal gave my life a meaningful purpose and directed all my actions...
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