Why Not These Two?

by Sheila Crosby
Canary Islands, Spain

Why not these two

My boyfriend and I hitchhiked from Newcastle in northern England to Geneva, Switzerland, in October 1983. We got there without too much trouble, but when money ran low and we headed for home, the lifts dried up. We went from eating sandwiches to eating just bread, and still there were no lifts. I was beginning to fear that we would run out of money for bread. I learned about the importance of forward planning the hard way.

Finally an Italian lorry driver picked us up in Lyon, bought us breakfast, and took us to the Channel port of Calais. We spent our last francs on the ferry crossing. It was an enormous relief to be back in the United Kingdom, but we still had 350 miles to go, and the few lifts we got were for short distances. By the time we got to the outskirts of London, it was dark and it was raining.

Our cardboard sign started to disintegrate. Greater London is 25 miles across, and we were on the wrong side of it, looking for a lift. We had no way of telling people where we wanted to go, and no way of saying “please”. By the time we decided to spend our remaining funds on a tube train, the last one had just gone.

To our enormous relief, an old Austin Mini pulled up around 1:00 a.m. We got in. The front seats were occupied by two young Arab men. They asked where we wanted to go. They had a discussion between themselves about various bits of London we’d heard of but didn’t know. Finally they announced they’d take us to The Elephant and Castle, which is where the freeway to the North starts. Since they had to stop and ask directions to get there, I’m sure it was nowhere near their home.

They drove all the way across London just to help us. There were more people trying to hitch near Marble Arch, and our rescuers asked, “Do you think we could fit them in?” We regrettably agreed that since we already had four people in one Mini, this was sadly not practical.

On the way, we told them how grateful we were and talked about what a mess we’d got ourselves into. One asked, “So when did you last eat?” I said, “Breakfast.” Without a word he handed over his take-away dinner. I was too hungry to be proud, and it tasted wonderful. I was all the more touched because they obviously weren’t rich. Their clothes were clean but clearly not new, and the car was a wreck.

I said something about how wonderfully kind and generous they were. They replied, “Well, we’re Muslims. It’s our religion to help people, you know.” So if anyone is inclined to judge Islam from one or two people — why not these two?

Originally published as HeroicStories #339 on Sept 12, 2002

28 thoughts on “Why Not These Two?”

    • Blessings on those two men for their beliefs and deeds. Sadly the negative judgments on Islam are not the results of evaluating the deeds of “one or two people” rather the actions of many thousands if not hundreds of thousands of radicalized Islamists. The unspeakable horrors and cruelty inflicted on innocents that we hear of every day beg for judgement by all, including Muslims.

  1. This story brought a tear to my eye – despite me being a fat hairy Harley-Davidson rider. I wish the world were such a place that this story was not news-worthy, but instead completely routine. On the other hand, I am grateful that it happens, and that the fact of it happening is published by people who know why it is important that it is published. Let’s all of us, of whatever faith or of no faith, “go thou and do likewise” (as a wise man once said).

  2. So now you’re doing “soft propaganda” on behalf of Muslims! Get a clue and open your eyes. The second most important commandment in Islam is to conquer, enslave, kill, or convert non-Muslims. And England especially, is facing an epidemic of Muslim on non-Muslim violence, intimidation, and especially rape of minor girls.

    • I struggled with this comment, because I hate bringing negativity to what I believe so strongly should be a place of positivity and hope. And I’m deeply disappointed with your reaction.

      It seems like you’re making exactly the snap judgement that the story is all about re-considering. You choose to treat an entire religion by the acts of its most violent and extreme members, completely ignoring the vast majority that simply act more like our story’s protagonists. I believe your assertion about Islam “commandment” to be both wrong, and completely immaterial. The vast majority of members of that faith are good and caring people.

      Would you have all Christians (or any faith of your choosing) be demonized by the acts of their most extreme? Or by some of the horrific atrocities called for in their holy books? I think not. And yet that’s exactly what you call for here.

      I know you are not alone, and not likely to change.

      And this makes me sad.

      • Leo, the reason I subscribed to Heroic Stories was my need to see [true] stories about people who help others because they are inherently good. These people had good examples to learn from while they were children, as I am sure you did. I also had good examples as a child. I don’t believe that this kind of goodness can be taught, but it can be encouraged if it is present at all.
        It takes effort to climb up the hill towards the positive, while sliding down the slope towards negativity is easy. We are being taught that it is wise to be suspicious, and we need to be prepared to defend ourselves and to survive when the enemy [inevitably] attacks. So it is hard to trust in innate human goodness, whatever their religion or lack thereof. But it is refreshing and nourishing to the spirit when we witness or hear of it. Thanks for the effort, Leo!
        Incidentally, I would rather read the stories than listen to them, but there may be those whose eyesight is not so good, or who carry iPhones around and can listen while their eyes need to be focused elsewhere. Whatever you decide, we understand.

      • Leo – you are forgetting one thing. All Muslims, including the radicals, call themselves Muslims. Why not these two? Because, until the day when “good” Muslims publicly condemn and openly assist in stopping “bad” Muslims, the rest of us have no way to tell them apart. They are all Muslims.

        • Not forgetting that at all. The same statement could be made about most any religion. And we definitely have seen our share of Muslims publicly condemning the acts of their more extreme members. “They are all Muslims”? Again, pick a religion and the same statement could be made. Once again, this attitude disappoints me.

        • I am from the Christian minority in a Muslim country, Malaysia. Last Sunday, a gang of 50 Muslims protesters threatened a small church in my state, demanding they take down their cross because it was visible from an apartment building which they claimed was 95% Muslim.

          To avoid the confrontation, the church complied, but then the incident hit Social Media and thousands of Muslims publicly defended the church and both the Chief Minister my state and the Prime Minister of the country (who are from opposing parties), both of whom are Muslims, publicly affirmed the rights of the Christians to have a cross on their church and told the church to go ahead and put the cross back up.

          A few years ago, some Muslim terrorists vandalized a few churches and burnt one to the ground. Thousands of Muslims spoke up condemning the action, and the Muslim-led government provided funds to rebuild the burnt church.

          I suppose Western media didn’t really mention either of these much, did they? So how would you in the West know about it?

      • Thank you, Leo, for your thoughtful response to the misinformed and/or bigoted person who excoriated you for “soft propaganda.” I, too, have difficulty in containing my outrage whenever someone judges a community/race/religion by the few worst members. While it may be true that most modern day terrorists have been Muslim, it is NOT true that most Muslims are terrorists and it is grossly unjust to make that assumption.

    • My advice to David Jackson is: Read Heretic by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. She knows what she is talking about, from her own experience. She is respectful of what deserves respect, and critical of what is wrong, offering clear, explicit criteria for her opinions. She suggests realistic roads for practicing Muslims to modernity. She uses no stereotypes: she doesn’t need any.

    • So if The second most important commandment in Islam is to conquer, enslave, kill, or convert non-Muslims, Then why didn’t they kill or convert the guy when he was “trapped” inside there car. They could have easily poisoned the food they gave him. They “all” carry poison and guns don’t they. Sheesh think things through man. You know we are allowed to think for ourselves, why else would we have intelligence.

  3. I spent a year in Saudi Arabia teaching electronics between 1979 and 1980. I got to know a lot of Muslim people (the Saudis I worked with) and by following the true teachings, they are friendly and helpful. You are going to find bad people and extremists no matter where you go or what their religion. Just remember that the Media likes to highlight the troublemakers and not those who are kind and helpful. They concentrate on the exception – Not the Rule!

  4. The words spoken at the end of this story is the best I have heard in a long time. It is true we hear about the evil ones and totally forget about the ones who are kind and generous with their time and selves. I wish the media would spread the works of the good and not so much of the evil. Maybe if the world know of the kindness of others we would all live in a happier place.

  5. If David identifies himself as Christian, would he want to be put in the same category as the Westboro Baptist Church or the KKK?

    • David did not identify himself as any particular faith, so the comparisons may not be relevant to him. But in general … indeed.

  6. Mister Jackson, I believe, is speaking without knowledge, except, perhaps “Talking Heads” on TV.
    ” Conquer, Enslave, Kill…” are very much not in line with the Quran, any more than the Spanish Inquisition, Jim Jones and Jonestown, or Intuitionalized Racism is in line with the Bible.
    I would invite mister Jackson to discuss these views with several Muslims.
    There are mis-educated people in any religion, under the sway of a few with an agenda not in line with the authority they profess. As A Christian, I am no more responsible for Jonestown than the average Muslim is for 9/11.
    I hope some Muslims will respond too.

  7. Negativity in today’s atmosphere is an algorithm exactly like any algorithm governing a computer or robotic device: it saves thinking. The negative algorithm spares the robotic mind from caring about and risking action to defend anything but negativity itself. If by generosity a real person does attempt to engage a trolling commenter in open debate, it saves energy to recognize in advance that no evidence or argument is likely to do more than persuade the negator of his/her importance. But the owner of any site, whether Leo or any other blogger or commentator, has no obligation to grant space to automated responses, whatever the source. For the rest of us, a troll-free zone would be a blessing indeed.

  8. And let us all take a moment to remember that taking the time to go out of our way will ultimately be a SMALL inconvenience but the person being helped will most likely experience the event as a MAJOR moment in their life. It does not take that much time or energy in the long run to drive past your own turn and give someone a lift to where they need to go. Let us all take care of one and other and the world will continue to become more and more peaceful and beautiful. Also, I highly recommend traveling! I imagine these to that were helped will have a hard time having a negative impression of people of the Muslim faith after having met these to gentlemen that helped them out! There is nothing like meeting real people in their real other cultures and places to open your eyes to how all humans are the same even at the same time that we are all different.

  9. I only wish that it were only a small number of Muslims who advocated violence. Sadly, that’s not true. More than a third believe that the 9/11 attacks were justified. 61% of Egyptians approve of attacks on Americans. 12% of Muslim-Americans believe blaspheming Islam should be punishable by death. Two-thirds of young British Muslims agree that ‘honor’ violence is acceptable. 31% of Turks support suicide attacks against Westerners in Iraq. One third of Palestinians (32%) supported the slaughter of a Jewish family, including the children. More than half of Muslims supported Osama bin-Laden. 68% of Palestinian Muslims say suicide attacks against civilians in defense of Islam are justified.
    43% of Nigerian Muslims say suicide attacks against civilians in defense of Islam are justified.
    38% of Lebanese Muslims say suicide attacks against civilians in defense of Islam are justified.
    15% of Egyptian Muslims say suicide attacks against civilians in defense of Islam are justified.
    13% of Indonesian Muslims say suicide attacks against civilians in defense of Islam are justified.
    12% of Jordanian Muslims say suicide attacks against civilians in defense of Islam are justified.

    • Joan,

      Well, how about Malaysian Muslims? I know for a fact (I am a Malaysian Christian) that when some terrorists firebombed a church a few years ago here, EVERY SINGLE MUSLIM-LED POLITICAL PARTY as well as large numbers of Muslim organizations condemned it. And the Muslim-led government provided funds to rebuild the church.

  10. Thank you for sharing these stories with us!
    It is sad to read comments from those who read your Good stories and feel the need to disagree with a good deed.
    Stereotypes, and those that believe them, are easy outs for the mentally lazy and those who need a group to feel superior to. I have seen too many examples here in SC by ignorant bigots, and elsewhere when All southerners are assumed to be that way.
    Treat others as you would wish to be treated.

  11. Never underestimate an act of kindness. It can surprisingly change the way you think about other people.

    People should open their eyes and learn that the world is not black and white. Bad and good people are everywhere. It saddens me that despite such a good story, some commenters will ruin such mood and claim such unwarranted and severe generality.

    There are 1.6 billion Muslims around the world, I included. It is simply wrong to generalize us because of the acts of the few of the same circle. I wish I could spout my sentiments further, but this is not what the site is for. It’s truly ironic to read such comments from a site like Heroic Stories—a site that tries to restore our faith in humanity. Well, I guess this shows why we need to publish more stories like these, Leo.


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