A Pakistani doctor, currently seeking political asylum in the US, claims he received death threats and was discriminated against at work after he saved a Christian man's life using medicine donated through Zakat.
The doctor, writing anonymously, shares his story in a startling blog in The Guardian. As a young medical graduate fresh out of university, he was working an ER shift one night when a patient came who needed urgent dialysis. “Unattended and disheveled as he was, there was no one with him to get him the medicine he needed. Fearing he might die, I instinctively grabbed the emergency medicine donated via Zakat, an Islamic system of alms-giving, and performed the life-saving hemodialysis,” he writes.
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The doctor was able to save the patient’s life but his own soon became imperiled. “He survived but I immediately faced the wrath of the nurse. She was mad at me because the patient was a Christian and she said Islamic alms are not meant to be used on non-Muslims. But I did not know the patient’s faith, nor did I know that such a law existed.”
Although he promptly replaced the medicine that cost $20, his ordeal had only just begun. “The representative of a conservative Islamic NGO, which was a donor to the clinic, was furious about what I had done. They attributed my lack of knowledge about the alms laws to the fact that I belong to a minority Muslim sect.”
A departmental inquiry took place but the doctor claims he was discriminated against throughout the process. And then he began receiving threatening phone calls and someone even vandalized his car and bike. “I was threatened with death at a medical conference hosted by the chair of the same NGO which had complained about me.”
Fearing for their lives, he and his wife, who is also a doctor, fled to the US in 2015. “We applied for political asylum based on what had happened to us. It took a lot of courage on her part to leave. She had to accept not knowing when she could next visit her family in Pakistan, owing to our asylum status.”
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He hasn’t had it easy there, either. “Life here as an asylum applicant is hard, as I can’t practice medicine. I have a small, part-time job and study the rest of the time. I am working towards obtaining a license to practice medicine here. All this while, I am also deeply troubled by the discrimination of Muslims in America. I personally feel this country is abandoning the very principles it’s based on.”
He went on to say, “The demagogues emerging in this election campaign make me feel that I have no place to seek refuge anymore. My native country is a bedrock of religious fanaticism and presents a certain death for me. Meanwhile my country of asylum is fast enveloping in Islamophobia.”
“Humanity is the core of any religion. I believe no true Muslim can be an extremist. I knowingly went out of my way to help a human in need, without a thought about his religion. I faced backlash that would change my life forever. But, in the name of humanity, I deem that it was all worth it,” he added.
This article originally appeared on Guardian.
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