“You Indians smell,” said one of the Arab colleagues to me while we were having dinner together. He was from Jordan.
The food stuck in my throat. Shocked and amazed, I looked at him still grappling to find out the reason behind his utterance.
His onslaught continued: “You should not feel bad. But it is a fact…all Indians, have a particular smell. Their body, cloth, room… all smells. In fact, they don’t know how to eat and how to live.”
I stopped eating and stared blankly into his eyes. The color of my face changed from red to black. The vision of my eyes, it seemed, stopped working. The world looked dark.
“You should not feel bad,” he resumed after a pause, reminding me of his innocence, and further added, “You are a good person. The remark is not particularly aimed at you. Change yourself to the Arab way of living.”
It was too much for a human being to digest. I was awfully hurt. I decided to retreat into my room avoiding further escalation of the talk and possible clash of counter argument.
The unfortunate episode left me traumatized. The racial comments hurt me very deeply. All my effort to sleep that night failed. I lay awake hours on the bed reflecting over the rise and fall of the Arab nations.
One verse of the Holy Quran arrested my thought: “Do not walk proudly in the earth. You cannot cleave the earth, nor can you rival the mountains in stature. The evil of all this is odious in the sight of your Lord” (17:37). The divine book is replete with umpteen moral suggestions and percepts. It denounces the arrogant and the proud.
The Arab arrogance over the non-Arab is a page of history. The prophet of Islam, Muhammad, acknowledged the evil effect of it and denounced its practice.
His last sermon delivered on the ninth day of Dhul-Hijja, 10 A.H. (632 CE) is both secular and democratic in tone.
He exclaimed, “O People! Lend me an attentive ear, for I know not whether after this year I shall ever be amongst you again. Therefore, listen carefully to what I say and take these words to those who could not be present here today…All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab: also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action… So beware, do not astray from the path of righteousness after I am gone.”
The Holy Quran is full of extortions and warnings to mankind. It mentions, “Can they not see how many generations we have destroyed before them, whom we had made more powerful in the land than you, sending down for them abundant water from the sky and giving them rivers that rolled at their feet? Yet because they sinned, we destroyed them all and raised up other generations after them” (6:6).
Arabs are now under siege. They have been destined to face misfortunes and hardships by none other than the God they believe in. Their selfish tendencies, puffed egoism and narrow mindedness have angered the lord of the universe.
The very concept of Arabs, as a community, stands hollow, for they are glaringly divided into uncountable fragments. Their blunt disregard to the valuable message of unity in humanity has now placed them into dark chapter of history. They are the ones to be ruled over by ignorance and hollowness.
It is high time they rise above their personal liking and disliking, introspect as to what has gone wrong and accordingly improve their moral behavior.
At the same time, they should not devalue the individuals in the society, especially immigrants who travel to Arab land for bread and butter. They must open their eyes and see that the world in which they live are ever becoming more pluralistic and multi-cultural.