Do Not Fear The Stranger

I wrote the below thoughts as a reminder. I am a hijab-wearing Muslim Palestinian woman living in Turtle Island (a.k.a. North America.)

“Do Not Fear The Stranger”

Do not fear the stranger.

Do not fear all strangers due to the ill intentions and actions of others.

Do not fear the stranger simply for being a stranger.

That time I was drenched in rain when a woman driver slowed down her car, rolled down her seat window and insisted I take her umbrella.

That time it began raining while I was outside at a protest. A woman took out her umbrella and offered to share it with me.

Or the man shopping at a store who expressed kind words of solidarity when I told him I’m Palestinian.

Or the couple at the café who spontaneously offered me their second slice of pie that they were too full to eat.

Or once during Ramadan I was still on the city bus when it was time to break my fast. A Muslim man walked up to me, asked if I was fasting, then offered me one of his granola bars even though I had already broken my fast in front of him.

Or the man on the city bus who offered to give up his seat when he noticed how exhausted I looked.

Or the woman at a public washroom who said I was beautiful while I was adjusting my hijab in front of the mirror.

Or the man that once watched me perform one of my Islamic daily prayers in a corner inside a building. After I finished, he said I was welcome anytime to pray in a room at his work which was in the same building.

Or the man on the subway who said I was incredibly brave for wearing the hijab despite post 9/11 Islamophobia.

Or the city bus driver who greeted me with “Assalamu Alaykum.”

Or the woman at a public washroom who asked if I was okay since my face was red while I was blowing my nose (due to allergies.) She expressed concern because she thought I was crying.

Or the woman who hugged me instead of shaking my hand when we were introduced by a friend. She said she likes to hug people who give off a friendly aura.

Or the man who told his male friends that they were blocking my way and apologized on their behalf as they stepped aside for me to pass.

The above incidences are but some examples.

Do not fear the stranger simply for being a stranger.

Despite the bigotry and fear of ongoing harassment, do not fear all strangers.

Do not fear the world no matter how much it fears you.

Despite politicians, ideologies, privileges and ignorance, there still exists good intentions and kindness.

A kindness that not even all forces of oppression can extinguish.

A kindness that can never be fully extinguished because it is human instinct.

A kindness that can come from anyone, even from a stranger that appears indifferent.

A kindness that can come even from those who are not always kind.

A kindness that can come from anyone, simply because they are human.

To be kind is to be human.

Do not fear the stranger.

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“Assalamu Alaykum” is how many Muslims (despite ethnic or cultural background) greet one another. It is the Arabic translation for “peace be upon you.”

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