WASHINGTON, May 16, 2014 — This week, after a young Muslim man in a Saudi hospital tweeted that he had been paralyzed and was sad at the lack of visitors, hundreds of locals lined his hallways with gifts and promises to pay for his medical care. The episode, and many others, offsets the constant deluge of negative focus directed at the world’s 1.2 billion Muslims.
Supporters point out that stories such as these rarely gain popular attention. The Islamic faith teaches charity and charitable acts should be anonymous. The media, of course, prefers to broadcast stories of tragedy, hate and intolerance.
The young man is only identified by his first name, Ibrahim, and his original tweet, translated into English reads:
“My name is Ibrahim, and I am hospitalized at King Khalid Hospital. I had a car accident which left me paralyzed and I have no one to visit me. My father and my brothers have ignored me all this time. I also have another wish. I wish someone could help me get treated for a bone marrow transplant in Germany.”
The post went viral, and the hashtag #visitibrahim became a trending topics on Twitter.
Amongst this visitors were numerous first responders, businessmen, and youngsters. In the famous custom of Arab hospitality, some visitors literally spoon fed Ibrahim sweets and candies.
Many were wearing the traditional thobe and headgear common to Saudi culture, serving as the Middle Eastern equivalent of a suit and tie.
In December, the Shiite scholar Sheikh Mohammed al-Hilli posted the picture of a young child offering free tea and snacks to pilgrims performing the annual Najaf to Karbala walk in the country of Iraq, commemorating the religious sacrifice of Imam Husain, Prophet Muhammad’s grandson.
It is common for residents in the region to host strangers, offering food, lodging, and other accommodations, entirely for free, during the annual walk.
— Mohammed Al-Hilli (@malhilli) December 10, 2013
A few weeks ago, on a public bus in Sydney, after witnessing a homeless individual without shoes, a Muslim man donated his own, opting to walk home barefoot.
According to Canadian newspaper The National Post, “The ‘random act of kindness’ took place on the 341 bus route in Surrey, B.C. and was witnessed by an off-duty bus driver who took photos of the incident, which were later posted on Facebook… The man was on his way home from a nearby mosque when he made his kind intervention. He asked not to be identified for his generous deed because the Islamic faith teaches that charitable acts should be anonymous.”
A writer from The Guardian wrote an editorial publically thanking the Muslim men, including a foreign based Imam, for helping her to escape an abusive marriage.
She wrote of her experience “It was the men, the wonderful gentle, kind Muslim men in my life who finally made me admit that enough was enough… I owe them my sanity and wellbeing.”
On Reddit, users recently posted a photo of a refrigerator installed on a street corner, continuously stocked with food to be utilized by homeless families and children. This act of charity is an ongoing initiative in the Saudi Arabian city of Hail.
The food is stocked by local residents, with no one individual being the sole donor – instead, it is a community initiative.
Residents are often encouraged to stock the fridge with leftovers, to increase the practicability of the program and food supplies for the homeless.
Redditors from various Muslim countries, such as Morocco, Qatar, and Turkey, responded with stories of similar charity food storage lockers in their home countries.
In March, 5th graders from the Peace Terrace Academy in California started an initiative to help local orphans, raising more than $1,000 through an initiative with the GiveLight Foundation.
The Academy, a Muslim private school, mission is:
“We inspire our students to become active, dedicated, ethical, and informed leaders.”