Sunday 28 August 2011

To Ali, my Muslim Friend

When you migrate to another country, you need to learn some new tricks pretty quick. I had to learn some, on personal experience.

Sydney Harbour [1]
If you moved alone, the first thing you must realize is that you are, indeed, alone: you have no friends or family. Nobody knows you or cares much about you; and, let' be fair, it's not their fault.

Understanding this won't make things any easier for you: if you need help, you won't take it personally when other people refuse to help you, but understanding that won't get you any help, either.

And although I like to see myself as a self-reliant bloke, you know, the lone-wolf kinda guy, the day came when I needed help.

Let's not mince words here: some ten years ago, I was broke, days from being evicted from the place I rented. And I had nowhere to go. If I paid the utilities, I had nothing left to buy food. If I bought food, I'd had nowhere to keep it. Where would I leave my stuff?

Sydney is a beautiful city, but at times, that is not enough.

To make a long story short, the only guy who helped me was a Shiite Muslim born in Lebanon. Not the Australian Government through its social security agency, nor the University where I was studying, or Christian-inspired charities. Not my friends (whom I can't blame: they had their own problems) or my family overseas (whom I felt ashamed to trouble with my problems).

Ali did.

I am not a religious man. I am agnostic about God's existence. I, however, don't believe in hell or heaven or other supernatural things. Further, I believe all religions are rather irrational.

But I also learned this: it's not religion, nationality, skin colour, age or gender that makes a decent person, decent.

My friend, Ali, is a good, decent man. Whatever else he is, this is what matters to me. And even though I pride myself on having repaid my friend the money he lent me, there is something I can't repay: his having had faith in me.

Thank you Ali.

For those who might share the idea that the real side of the Muslim communities deserves to be represented, if not in the mainstream media, at least among individual users, to have a look at the website of My Fellow Americans.

Image Credit:
[1] Sydney Harbour shot taken from the air, by Rodney Haywood. Wikipedia


  1. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story.

  2. @rvm,

    Not at all: thank you for your kind comment.

    There is an organization, named My Fellow Americans, that currently is trying to raise awareness on the public that Muslims are not as depicted in the media.

    This comes from their website:

    "Most Americans have never met an American Muslim. Many only know Muslims through the way they are portrayed in the media. American Muslims are so often vilified as 'the other' that it is possible not to recognize that most were born in the U.S. Or that those who immigrated here came seeking the same freedoms and opportunities that have always attracted people to America."