“Everyone in the restaurant knew that we were Arab Muslims at the table because of the language and the ladies were having scarves over their head (Hijab).”
Eslam Mohamad and his family chose to dine out on Christmas Eve, something their obviously-Muslim-family was a little nervous about. The next day, Eslam shared a picture of his receipt from dinner, a photo that has been shared over 28,000 times.
After finishing their food, Eslam asked for the bill and was shocked at what he received.
“After finishing we asked for the receipt and the waitress came to us with that receipt in the picture. Yes, someone paid for us and wrote those wonderful words on the receipt. I can’t express how this act touched our hearts."
Being a minority is never easy, no matter where you are. And for Muslims living in the Deep South of the United States, this is no exception. It would be easy to read those words, 'Deep South', and assume a stereotype. Stories about racism, violence, and bigotry are great at reinforcing what we've heard about a faraway place.
Bad news fuels our fear and anger, emotions that fuel tribalism and the us-them mentality. Bad news abounds because people crave it.
But you have told us over and over that you crave something different. As the world becomes more and more entrenched and angry with itself, you've held onto a different belief. Like that kind person in Georgia who chose to bless a nervous Muslim family on Christmas, you defy the stereotypes—you love anyway! And now, Eslam's experience of the Deep South is forever changed!
After his photo went viral, Eslam shared another post about the backlash he received from people:
"I received TONS of messages on Facebook. I went fast through them yesterday and im gonna tell you some of the comments.
1) some said that im a liar
2) some said Islam is poison
3) some said things that i can't express =)
4) some said that saying Merry Christmas will denounce me of my religion
5) some said the chicken i ate is not halal
I feel so sorry for those people coz they didn't get the real meaning of the post but the majority of people got the message of love, peace and humanity and thats what relieved me =)"
This year, as the fight with ISIS wages on, the presidential race heats up, and conflict and sectarianism intensify, we plan to share stories that challenge the simple, the one-sided, the self-validating stories.
You've asked for more stories that defy stereotypes with love. Here they come.