We came back to Las Vegas to meet up with a familiar face we made friends with last year. The story about Amanullah Naqshabandi was one of the most popular stories on our site last year and we wanted to meet up with him again and see how he was doing.
According to Islam, Muslims are prohibited to gamble and Amanullah is active at his mosque and works at the MGM Grand Casino. Now it’s incredibly easy to point a finger at this guy and slam him for this seeming hypocrisy without understanding his story. But as we discussed last year, his situation isn’t as black and white as it seems. Take a worthwhile moment to read last year’s story if you’re not familiar with him.
Amanullah just came home from an exhausting day of work and welcomed us into his home that is ornamented in precious Afghan art work and furniture
Inside Amanullah’s home I noticed vivid photographs taken at various points in his life hanging around the living room. Sometimes to better appreciate a man, you have to understand the journey he took to make him the man he is today.
Amanullah grew up in Kabul, Afghanistan. He went back to Afghanistan in 2003 to find out his childhood home had been completely destroyed by a bomb during the Afghan war there.
Age 9. "This picture was taken with one of those really old fashioned cameras you had to cover with a large curtain," he said. He paused for a moment and smiled. I asked him what he misses about life back then that doesn't exist in Afghanistan now. "I felt so free. You could go outside and play and there was nobody trying to hurt you or ask where you were going."
Age 15. Amanullah said he was a good student in school. A member in our crew started speaking Pashto, a language popular in parts of Pakistan, with him and Amanullah immediately drew him in with a handshake. Amanullah grew up speaking Farsi but learned the Pashto from one of his friends he grew up with that spoke it. When Amanullah finished school, he was about to take a job in Russia. This was around the time the Soviets were invading Afghanistan and Amanullah's friend strongly advised him not to take the job because he could be killed there. He didn't and Amanullah realizes he could have died if it weren't for his friend's advice. Everytime he speaks or hears Pashto, he's reminded of his friend.
(Far Right) One of his first photos of him coming to America. Looks like a baller in those bellbottoms. My dad wore similar outfits in photos he took when he came here to the U.S. too. What's up with immigrant dads looking badass in their old photos. I hope my future kids will look at pictures of me in my 20s and be like "WOW DAD! You look so cool in your 90s cartoon tshirts and Puma sneakers!"
Amanullah sporting his beachwear on a hot summer day. This photo was taken in the 1980s so any fashion faux pauxs he made in this decade are forgivable.
Photo from the early 1990s of King Amanullah showcasing his throne alongside his beautiful wife and children. Either that or the Sears Portrait Studio he went to is pretty awesome.
Amanullah likes to be a little goofy at times so when he and his wife visited Afghanistan in 2003, she put on a burqah as a joke and they took this silly pic together. Why do I have a feeling someone is going to take this photo seriously and post it on a right-wing blog...
Amanullah said he struggles everyday in working in a place he’s morally opposed to and makes no excuses whatsoever for it. But he came to this country as an unskilled laborer and took a casino job because it was steady income to support his family. In recent years he’s tried to look for alternative jobs, but the job market is tough in Nevada. To make matters worse, Amanullah is 60 years old and has heart problems.
“I have seven stents inside my heart,” he said. “I need insurance otherwise something could happen to me. Who is going to want to hire someone at my age and health?”
As I had mentioned last year, it’s incredibly easy to bash this guy if you don’t know him for being Muslim and working in a casino. But doing so is unfair and downright foolish. You don’t think he already knows its wrong?
Amanullah gets off the couch and stares into a series of mirrors in his living room. I asked him the same question I poised at him last year – with all the stress and guilt he has about his job, what does he do to comfort himself? His stare into the mirror turns into a smile as he points to the sky.
“I stand before Allah and leave everything for him to judge,” he said. “I am here because of his destiny and all I can do is make best of my situation.”