Photo Information

Hit, Al Anbar, Iraq (July 2, 2005)--Lance Cpl. Sajjd H. Rizvi, a fireteam leader with 1st platoon, Lima Co., 3/25 talks to an Imam outside of a Mosque he cannot enter even though he is a Muslim while on patrol during Operation Sword. (Official USMC Photo by Corporal Ken Melton)

Photo by Cpl. Ken Melton

Shiite Muslim Marine fights the war on terrorism with L Company, 3/25;

20 Sep 2005 | Cpl. Ken Melton 2nd Marine Division

As a young boy growing up in Pakistan, Lance Cpl. Sajjad H. Rizvi, witnessed terrorists killing people of his faith and terrorizing those who wouldn’t comply with their way of life. More than a decade later, with memories of his past weighing heavy on his mind, Rizvi has dedicated himself to bringing terrorists to justice as a United States Marine. Rizvi is a fireteam leader with 1st platoon, L Company, 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, recently participated in Regimental Combat Team 2’s Operation Sword. “I’ve always wanted to be a Marine to help people who were suffering like my people were,” said Rizvi who is a Shia Muslim. “I wanted to be a part of a warrior tradition like those of my religion.” Rizvi was born in the United States, but his family moved to Karachi in the southern part of Pakistan when he was seven. For ten years, he watched religiously-motivated killings and discrimination from members of different faith backgrounds. After graduating from school in Pakistan, he moved back to America and graduated from Westerville South High School in 1998. He joined the Marine Corps in 2003 while attending college at Columbus State University. Soon after, he found out he was deploying. “I saw this as a chance to give back to my country (America) and my religion,” said the 25-year-old. “I believe in this mission and I have no regret about being over here.” As he walks along the streets of Hit and other cities in Iraq, he passes Mosques he cannot enter due to sensitivity concerns. Although he understands the rules, he would love to experience visiting the local holy sites. “I often tell occupants of the home I’m searching that I’m a Muslim and it puts them more at ease,” Rizvi said. Rizvi speaks Urdu, a variation of Arabic, and assists the Marines in operations and is learning how to speak basic Arabic. Being an Islamic Marine has really helped break down barriers between people who want to learn more about the Islamic way of life. “I joined after the 9/11 tragedy and I was never discriminated against because of my nationality or religious background like I had been before,” Rizvi said. “Many people have this misconception that the Muslim community is like what the insurgents portray it as, which is totally untrue. "I often explain to many of my fellow Marines the customs and sayings of other Muslim people so that they can respond in a respectable manner,” he said. Even with Rizvi’s positive experience in the Marine Corps, it has not been without tragedy as he has lost several fellow Marines in battles. He said it reminds him of the slaughter of innocents when he was younger. “I saw some of my brothers die, but I continue to fight not only for them but for my religion,” Rizvi said. “Because, through my actions, I can bring peace between two of the most important things in my life ... my country and my religion.”