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Author Topic: We should all depend on the kindness of strangers  (Read 1621 times)
BrKhalid
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« on: May 27, 2009 05:31 AM »


Asalaamu Alaikum  bro

An interesting contrast between life in Northern California and Abu Dhabi.

PS Out of interest do sisters think other sisters are weird if they randomly smile at them in passing?  bro



We should all depend on the kindness of strangers
Tala al Ramahi

In less than a month, it will have been two years since I left Northern California to adopt this country as my home, once again. And yet, 23 months after my arrival at Abu Dhabi airport, what I still long for more than that American state’s famous In N’ Out burgers is ... its strangers: those men, women and children who I would walk past during my strolls through town, the bikers I crossed paths with on our 8,180-acre campus, the people on public transport, whether they were student commuters on our campus shuttle or friendly off-campus neighbours taking the CalTrain to San Francisco. I did not know any of their names, but their kindness created a sense of community that somehow made my adopted home have a heart.



Despite being a long way from Abu Dhabi, an 18-hour plane ride away to be exact, the strangers I met during my time in “the Golden State” were friendly, cheerful, thankful and helpful. I remember the first time I tried to hurl my bike onto our campus shuttle’s bike rack: I failed miserably (it’s not as easy as you imagine, trust me). But before this new commuter could even attempt to figure out how to latch one piece of transport on to another, a pair of hands grabbed my bike’s body and swiftly attached it to the bike rack. “There you go, hon,” she said before hopping on the bus after me.


My mother, who was planning to travel to Boston a few years ago without my father, was initially hesitant about the trip because my youngest brother was less than two years old at the time. She couldn’t imagine the inconvenience of having to carry a stroller up and down massive flights of stairs to get to the subway for three weeks.


But she came back describing it as the “easiest” trip of her life because people around her never let her carry the stroller on her own. There was always someone there to help.


I can recall numerous instances of similar random acts of kindness during my three years away as well. In Abu Dhabi, unfortunately, this hasn’t been my experience. Upon my arrival, for instance, I was used to smiling at strangers, a habit I picked up when I was in Palo Alto, California because it was just what you did when you locked eyes with someone as you walked or biked past.


Such acts can make your day more bearable and more joyful. Try it one day and I think you’ll understand.


But despite one of Prophet Mohammed’s most revered sayings: “smiling at your brother is a form of charity,” any attempt on my part to smile at people here is rarely reciprocated. Instead, my smile is mistaken as a proposition by many men and just plain weird by most women.


According to a study published in 2001, people who perform random acts of kindness experience what is known as a “helper’s high”, a rush of euphoria followed by a longer period of calm. According to the study’s author, Allan Luks, providing help even in its most basic forms, “enhances feelings of joyfulness, emotional resilience and vigour, and can reduce an unhealthy sense of isolation”.


All it takes is propping a door open for a woman pushing a stroller or stopping and helping someone who is obviously lost. Volunteer in the country’s numerous organisations if you really want to take that high to another level.


We can all definitely work on being more thankful but somehow, “thank you” is not a phrase uttered here very often even when there is nothing easier to say.


A college friend of mine had a target of performing at least one random act of kindness per day, whether it was tipping the barista at our on-campus coffee shop or even donating $400 of unclaimed money she found walking to class one day to a local charity.


The results of the study really ring true when I recall my own experiences in northern California. I never felt alone. Maybe it is about time we create that sense of community by adopting our own targets for kind acts each day.


Pass a smile along. Or at least, reciprocate when poor souls, like myself, attempt to.



http://www.thenational.ae/article/20090527/OPINION/705269926/1080


Say: "O ye my servants who believe! Fear your Lord, good is (the reward) for those who do good in this world. Spacious is God's earth! those who patiently persevere will truly receive a reward without measure!" [39:10]
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« Reply #1 on: May 27, 2009 06:07 AM »

ws,

I think it's a weird cultural thing. Like in the US if you walk by someone and look at them and don't do anything like say hi or smile it's considered rude. In the Middle East if you walk by and stare at someone it's normal!! If you actually go to them and talk to them or do something you're considered rude or weird. Remember Zaid Shakir's comments about when he came back to the US and at a grocery store someone said go ahead you only have a few items and he was like !!?? where am i !!?? I will say that in the Middle East if people know you somewhat in the least manner they will go to extremes to help you with whatever you need, invite you over, host you anything you want. It's true Middle Eastern hospitality, but if you're a stranger then it doesn't work.
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« Reply #2 on: May 27, 2009 09:31 AM »

salam


But I thought that's how society functions in general.

I'm always finding myself listening to little old ladies reminisce about their youth on buses, or being complimented on my girls by random strangers, or women asking me where I buy my hijab/outfit from as they're holidaying/moving to the middle east somewhere.

Alhumdulillah, I think if you expect people to be nice they usually are, acts of kindness are usually done without a second thought.

I think I might move to northern California tho, it sounds lovely, whats the weather like there???  Cheesy


Wassalaam

And when My servants question thee concerning Me, then surely I am nigh. I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he crieth unto Me. So let them hear My call and let them trust in Me, in order that they may be led aright. Surah 2  Verse 186
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« Reply #3 on: May 27, 2009 09:57 AM »

Salam alaikum

This is interesting...

I am one of those who smiles Wink  I dont get offended if the sisters/women don't smile back though, its ok.  If I say Salam and they dont greet back, then I get a tad grrrrrr Roll Eyes  On campus, only the really ice-queen sisters never smiled.  At work now, everyone I smile at, smiles back, yayyy:) 

I dont know about smiling at men tho...esp in the Middle East, I would guess it is not a good idea.  Smile all you want at the sisters, Muslim or non-Muslim!  And at the bros if you're a bro.

Its a great mood-lifter is a stanger smiles at you! 

Salam
S. purplehijabisis
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