Should one talk to strangers?

5 10 2008

DIDN’T your mother ever tell you not to talk to strangers? I guess my mother did but I completely forgot all about it. πŸ˜‰

I have this soft spot for people who seem to have problems with their mobility, transportation-wise. Whenever I see helpless souls waiting by the roadside for buses or taxis (which may take hours of waiting sometimes), I am always compelled to give them lifts. Perhaps, because I don’t drive big, posh cars like a Mercedes, BMW or Lexus, so to me there’s no harm in offering strangers rides in my small Japanese car. In all probabilities, I wouldn’t have done it if I were to drive such luxurious vehicles, maybe. Somehow, it did make me feel good to have been able to help people in small ways such as giving strangers free rides to their destinations. On a few occasions, I had also helped other motorists who had been troubled by their car breakdowns, even by the simple act of lending my cell phone for them to make necessary S.O.S calls…

My eldest brother who is a senior police officer scolded me some years back when I told him I couldn’t help pitying a couple of Bangladeshi Muslims who had been waiting in vain for a bus after Hari Raya prayers and offered them a lift to go to town. My cop brother said that there were a few cases of fatal stabbings of drivers who might have given strangers (suspected to be foreign workers) unwarranted rides in their cars.

Just last week, I related to my second eldest brother (who is a senior army officer) how I accommodated a European hitch-hiker couple for free rides around town and a night’s homestay during their short visit to Brunei last month. His retort was that there must always be a limit to being hospitable to total strangers. 😦

As a matter of fact, I have lost count of how many strangers have I given lifts to over the years! πŸ˜‰ I have yet to be knocked and beaten the living daylights out of me by those strangers (touch wood – “Nauzubillahi minzalik”). God the Almighty the Most and All-Seeing must have seen deep down into my heart that I only meant to help, hence His Divine Protection! Alhamdullillah (all praises be to Allah Subhannahu Wataala). πŸ™‚

In 2001, I happened to spend Hari Raya in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia due to heavily-booked flights back to Bandar Seri Begawan just before and on the first day of Raya then. On the eve of Hari Raya that year, I was on my way back to where I stayed in PJ/Damansara — driving an old Proton Saga — from the Masjid University Malaya in Petaling Jaya (after Isya’ Prayers and subsequent Takbir Raya in that mosque) when I saw a family of three, anxiously waving down cabs which couldn’t be bothered to stop for them. So having nothing better to do that night, I turned back to where they waited and offered them a much-needed lift.

The husband, a young, tall, black Egyptian Muslim and his pregnant Indonesian wife together with their toddler son, were on their way to a relative’s place at the other end of Selangor. So off I drove them to their destination which I hardly knew myself but since I had a handphone, all that was needed to be done was to keep on calling their relative for direction. Only well before midnight did I manage to locate the apartment they were headed for. After which, I was kindly invited by their relative to have some Eid Mubarak Eve refreshment of “Lemang” and Beef “Rendang” — Indonesian style. I then got to know about the host who was an Ustaz Lecturer in one of the Islamic colleges in Malaysia while the Egyptian family man was a Doctorate student completing his thesis in the International Islamic University Malaysia. We had some interesting conversation until the wee hours of the morning. At about 2.00 am, I made my way back and dropped by a Masjid nearby to pay for the “Zakat Fitrah” (Tithe) although I had earlier paid for it in Brunei Darussalam before I flew to KL during the first week of Ramadan. But you rarely have that kind of opportunity to pay for the tithe just hours before Hari Raya prayers back home! πŸ˜‰ Besides, I felt obligated to pay my Zakat since I was doing some kind of work there then.

The next morning, after performing my Hari Raya prayers in Masjid Petaling Jaya, I once again bumped into an Arab father and son team looking high and low for taxis which were nowhere in sight.Β  So there I went again to these strangers’ rescue. Once we reached their apartment, the Arab guy graciously invited me to join them for Eid ul Fitri breakfast which was a first for me! πŸ™‚ His wife and baby daughter were home and I at least did have a family of strangers from Sudan to share Hari Raya and Arabic dishes with… The Sudanese husband, by the way,Β  was on a Malaysian-Government scholarship taking up a Masters’ degree course in University Malaya then.

In the afternoon of that same ‘fateful’ first day of Raya in Malaysia, I saw another poor soul sitting near the roadside looking pretty much dishevelled and forlorn. So being the soft-hearted person that I am, I stopped to ask where he was going to. That short Malay Muslim bloke wearing a songkok but without shoes said that he was going to the bus terminal in Pudu Raya in the heart of KL City. I drove him off to where he wanted to go, stopping by a Masjid (mosque) for Asar prayers and some place to eat along the way. As soon as I dropped him off to his destination, he was all gratified. But not long after he was gone from my sight, I noticed that my handphone set I remembered placed near the handbrake was nowhere to be found, gone right under my nose… Ah well, I thought, if it had been pinched by that poor stranger, that was really his “Rezeki” for the taking. Who knows he could have sold it off for his bus fare whatever… (“Halalkan tah saja“).

In doing these kind of simple deeds (good or bad — only God knows), I would always recall an old story of how one kindred soul gave a lift to an ill-intentioned stranger (who was actually a robber). But before the robber decided to kill the kind man after having successfully stripped him of all his belongings, the highway-robbery victim pleaded for time to perform his last prayers. Whilst in the middle of him praying, some miracle had occured whereby the robber was out of the blue beheaded by the quick swing of the sword of a mysterious horse-rider! Thus, the kindred soul was spared his life and his properties… “Wallahu A’lam Bissawab” (Only God is the All-Knowing). πŸ™‚





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