Algerian immigrant shares his story

Mr. Saddi provides his perspective to theology classes


Photo submitted

On Feb. 27, Mr. Mahdi Saddi spoke to Mr. Matt Cannaday’s theology classes.

Katie Darragh, Reporter

Theology teacher Matt Cannaday welcomed his friend Mr. Mahdi Saddi on Feb. 27 to speak to his classes about his life journey to America and his religion of Islam. 

Saddi is originally from a small town in Algeria that looks much like the south of Europe. He grew up in a two-bedroom house with seven brothers and seven sisters and had a family farm just a half mile down the road. In Algeria, he attended university where he earned a masters in geology and engineering. 

His brother tried for 12 years to win a green card, which allows for immigration to the United States, in an online lottery. One day, he entered Saddi in the lottery for fun, and Saddi won. 

“America was the last country I would think to go to. To be honest it was very far, and I heard all sorts of bad stuff because a lot of Europeans think that people are crazy in America,” said Saddi. 

However, after some encouragement from his brother, he journeyed to America, and arrived on Nov. 23, 2016. On his first day in America, he only knew a friend of a friend from university in Algeria, and while he spoke three languages, none of them was English.

Desperate for a job, he managed to convince Amazon to give him a low paying job so that he could get on his feet. Now he works as an assistant manager at Amazon. 

“He is like the actual the American dream,” said Cannaday. “He started off at the lowest of the low of this place, and now he’s the assistant manager after just three years.” 

Although he has developed a life for himself here, Saddi visits home two or three months each year to help his family on the farm. Because a lot of people who leave Algeria to go to America do not return, he promised his dad that he would try to make it back for a few weeks every year. 

On the topic of Islam, Saddi explained the traditional greeting of asalamakum in which means “peace be upon you,” and also spent time introducing Adhan or “the call to prayer.” The Islamic call to prayer is recited from the mosque to announce each of the five daily ritual prayers. According to Saddi, back home he hears the Adhan all throughout his city five times a day. 

Saddi tries to pray five times a day in order to follow the Islamic practice and tries to visit the mosque at least once a day. However, he admits that because of work and obligations he is only able to make it a few times a week. 

When he goes to the mosque, he follows the ritual of cleaning his ears, hands, feet, hands and face before he enters into a clean space to pray. If he is praying outside of the mosque, he washes and finds a clean place facing the city of Mecca in order to pray.

He also explained other religious practices such as Ramadan and Halal. Ramadan is a month in which Muslims observe strict fasting practices by not eating or drinking from sunrise to sunset. Halal is the proper way to prepare meat, according to the Quran. The law states that Muslims are not allowed to eat unclean animals such as scavengers or pigs and must refrain from alcohol.  

When asked by Cannaday what it’s like to be a Muslim in America, Saddi said, “it’s a challenge.” 

According to Saddi, when he came here he was a bit scared because of the way the media portrays Americans, and he was nervous about what might happen if he were to practice his faith. However, after he met caring people such as the Cannaday family, he found a lot of love here as well. 

“Craziness is everywhere. In my country there are bad people, crazy people, and there are some here, too. There are a ton of nice people and people that make my day hard,” said Saddi.

At the end of the day, according to Saddi,  “We are the same you and me. I could be a Christian and you could be a Muslim. While we might practice in different ways, a lot of our beliefs are the same.

“We have a lot of layover actually. Now don’t get me wrong, we cannot say that we do the same thing. It is important to recognize that there are differences because then we can talk about it.”