Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Opinion: Do Good and Forget About it | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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There is a proverb that says: “A worshipper only prays to God in order to attain reward and forgiveness”. This opinion is a good one and there is nothing wrong with it, and praying in order to achieve reward and forgiveness is one of the qualities of a true believer.

However, there is another deed that is just as great as the one mentioned earlier. This deed is helping someone you don’t know in a time of need whilst knowing that you will not personally gain anything from helping them.

This act, in my view, is the epitome of selflessness and sacrifice. On this note, I will share two examples of a person helping another with the sole intention of helping them. The first is a personal experience.

Third Avenue in New York was almost empty when I went out to get a newspaper in the evening. I was startled by the sound of a phone ringing urgently that came from a public telephone booth as I passed by it. Curiosity got the better of me and I picked up the phone. I heard a voice asking whether I was on Third Avenue and when I replied in the affirmative, he directed my attention to some devices belonging to an electricity company that were close to the booth, and then asked if I could see a yellow warning light. I told him that I could not and he confessed in a painful tone that he forgot to switch the light on. He then said, pleadingly, “Listen my friend! Right now I am far away in the borough of Bronx and if the lights on the devices are not switched on, I will be harshly punished. Do you think that you will be able to switch the lights on? I will appreciate this favour.”

The device seemed complicated but mercy overcame me and I agreed to try. I followed his instructions and felt relieved when I discovered the switch and switched the light on. The glow from the device filled the street.

I shouted into the phone saying “The light is on, the light is on!” I heard the person on the other end of the line sighing joyfully and then we wished each other a happy evening.

The second example was not a personal experience. However, the person who helped someone in need this time narrates it as follows. Whilst waiting for the bus, I folded my white stick and put it in my handbag. A young girl came over to me and said “Can you help me cross the road, madam? My mum told me not to cross the road on my own. ”

I did not want to increase the fear that the girl already felt by telling her that I am blind or by taking the stick out of my bag. So I said to her “Of course, little one. Take my hand and let us cross the road. She obeyed me and when we got to the white lines I told her “Now look right and then left and let’s cross the road when there are no cars”. When she told me that the road was clear, we crossed to the other side. She thanked me and continued walking. I waited until I could no longer hear her footsteps and then pulled my white stick out to cross the road again.

There’s nothing more to add after that, really.