am the child of immigrants. Technically I am an immigrant myself, having arrived in Canada at the age of four, but having been so young, I don’t remember much about life before. The majority of my life has been spent on North American soil, with 13 years in public school and a few more for postsecondary studies. Time feels like it has flown, but the older I get, the more in awe I am of the immense risk that my parents took in order to come to a new country, seeking better opportunities.

My parents gave up and sold everything that they had built up over the years—well-paying jobs, a house, and a comfortable lifestyle—leaving their stable and comfortable life behind to start fresh in a new country, with absolutely no guarantee that anything was going to work out. This is a common storyline for immigrants, but the true weight of their sacrifices cannot ever be truly appreciated. I honestly wonder whether I would be capable of doing something as momentous as what they did. So that’s how I came to call Canada my home.

I am reminded of a Hadith in Sahih al-Bukhari where the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) said, “Be in this world as if you were a stranger or a traveler” (1). The imagery evoked here is one of temporariness and transience, yet we, as humans, are beings of habit and are rarely fond of change. It is easy for us to get comfortable in one place, settle down with a usual routine, and in some ways, become stagnant.

However, we have to remember to keep on striving in all aspects of our lives. My parents’ journey to Canada reminds me that sometimes we have to make big sacrifices to cash in big rewards. For example, if someone has the goal to become a doctor, they will have to strive in that path in order to achieve it. Perhaps that entails not going out with their friends as often in order to study for the MCAT. The same concept applies to Muslims seeking the goal of Paradise. There are sacrifices and limitations that we impose upon ourselves in order to reach our goal and to please Allah. Sometimes it may be difficult, but it is important to keep our end goal in mind. 

We all see the world from a different set of eyes, with different lenses applied based on the beliefs and values that we cherish. These lenses can be derived from cultural practices, religious beliefs, or societal customs, and each individual decides how to prioritize them. As a child of immigrants, my outlook on life is balanced between two different cultures and societies, each with unique norms, which has made me critically evaluate and deeply consider my personal values to define my own beliefs. This has allowed me to expand the limits of my understanding, made possible only because of a decision that my parents made 20 years ago.

I am infinitely grateful for the many opportunities that I have had here. Because of the multitude of sacrifices that my parents have made, I have had the chance to experience a whole other way of life. Even something as simple as seeing snow is an experience I otherwise would not have had. Growing up here has greatly shaped my perspectives on life and religion, a point of reflection I may not have ever experienced otherwise. It is a reminder that in our journey home to our Lord, we have to remember to remain focused and dedicated to our path, while continually striving to be better.

  1. Hadith, (pp. Sahih Bukhari, Book 81, Hadith Number 5).