I went off to ISNA in Chicago with Aftab Malik and Zeshan Zafar. Not having been to the USA before, I was quite apprehensive at the prospect of being hassled by Immigration, Customs, the Department of Homeland Security, FBI, CIA , Department of Justice, Secret Service and the American people. Having read about the USA and watched films about its treatment of Muslims, however, I was pleasantly surprised. Although the flight was not particularly great, it seemed like the journey would never end and the food was terrible, the American flight attendants were pleasant and helpful. There was a funny incident when boarding the plane when we were talking about something and suddenly Zeshan said “you know Sidi JIHAD …” my heart sank! Luckily no one took any notice.
Upon arrival on US soil in Atlanta [we needed to catch a connecting flight to Chicago] we did not face any undue attention. The lady at the immigration control, although stern faced, was quite pleasant once we got talking to her and we found this to be the pattern throughout our visit. We were really surprised at how nice and friendly the American people are, really welcoming to strangers and travellers even three brown-skinned, bearded men like us. Alhamdulillah.
After about 23 hours of travelling we finally arrived in Chicago, tired but in good spirits. We were met in the hotel by the friendly and welcoming faces of Zakariyya, Nizam, Fawzi and Fadwa, jazak-Allah khairun for the Pizza Chicago-style, hmmmmmm.