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Meet your neighbor: Ahmed Atiya

Evan Mays • Jun 17, 2018 at 4:53 PM

The next time you are driving on West Market Street, pay attention to the businesses you’re passing by. Nestled tightly next to Medi Home Care is Val-U-Pharmacy, owned and operated by Ahmed Atiya. If you blink, you might miss the pharmacy’s tiny building, but, according to Ahmed, its size doesn’t prevent it from being quite popular. 

“I know all of my customers by name,” Atiya said. “And I think that’s important. Business is going very well.”

Atiya’s pharmacy opened its doors in 1989, and since then it has been home to a steady stream of customers. 

“Everyone has been so nice and supportive,” Ahmed said. “Johnson City really is one of the best areas in this region.”

When asked if he, as a Muslim man, has ever faced any opposition, he reiterated that he has never encountered anyone in the region who in any way made him feel not at home. 

But Atiya did say that he would like to clear up some misconceptions about his religion. 

“The most important thing in Islam is how you treat your friends and neighbors,” Atiya said.

Atiya explained that in Islam, there are three questions one must ask themselves before doing something: Does this make me closer to God? Does this benefit me as a person? Does this benefit the people around me? Atiya said that if you cannot answer yes to all three questions, then it is not accepted within Islam.

“So, when you see terrorists killing people, know that they do not represent Islam. Obviously, what they are does not benefit them, their relationship with God or anyone around them. So, what they are doing is not Islam,” Atiya said. 

Atiya also said that within the Quran it says that if you kill one person, God will judge you as if you’ve killed the whole world. And if you save one person, God will treat you as if you saved the whole world. 

Another subject Atiya wished to clear up was the rights of women in Islam. 

“Some people think that women are not respected within Islam, but that isn’t true. There is an entire book within the Quran — one of the longest — dedicated to the rights of women within Islam. Islamic women are more respected than women in any other culture,” Atiya said. 

Atiya made it clear that family is one of the most important things in his life. His wife, Maha, and he raised two impressive children. 

Their kids recently graduated from the University of Tennessee. Their daughter, Sara, plans on moving to Kentucky to work in emergency medicine. Their son, Seif, plans on working in Memphis. 

As he spoke of his wife and children, a wide smile appeared on his face, reaching from ear to ear.

Atiya said that now that his children have grown up, it is time to pay back to the community that has been so welcoming to him. 

“I love to help people, and I get to do that everyday with my pharmacy,” Atiya said.

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