This I Believe

Ahmed - Minneapolis, Minnesota
Entered on January 16, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: tolerance

Ahmed Hassan

This I believe essay


Since I left my war-torn country, Somalia, I have faced many obstacles but that has not hindered me from learning to be tolerant. Ever since I was young, I have been taught the Islamic doctrine “Retaliate that which is bad with that which is good.” As a child, it was very hard for me to comprehend this verse from the Koran because I thought it was very impractical.

I used to live in an extended family whereby conflicts were very regular. Each member of the family seemed to have his or her own view on how to live and use the budget. Some of them couldn’t bear the conflicts and left, whereas others managed to regroup their thoughts through patience.

For me going through my family’s conflicts was a lesson. A lesson that will prepare me for the future, as my mom used to tell me. I learned how to live in a peaceful way when I enrolled into an Islamic school where there wasn’t that much tension.

My family and I moved to a city in Uganda .I enrolled into a primary school that was known for its tensions. I faced many difficulties because everything was new to me and I had conflicts with teachers, students and school administrators because of misunderstandings. One day four students planned a plot on me. After school was over, unknowingly I fell into their trap and they beat me helplessly. When I came home that night, I told my mom that I would never go back to school, but my mother insisted I should go back and deal with the situation.

I remembered the dealings of our prophet with the pagans of Mecca and the way he coped with it. During the early times of Islam our prophet faced many difficulties with the pagans of Mecca but he didn’t retaliate in a violent manner against them but dealt gently with them. That inspired me to go back and befriend those students. Since they weren’t good with school, I tried to help them with their class work and this helped build a bond between them and me although we were of different race, background and religion. In turn, they helped me by giving me protection against anyone who wanted to attack. I still miss them and I know we had a very special relationship.

Tolerance might mean weakness to some people but that is not a conviction I have of it. I believe without tolerance it is practically impossible to live in this world because tensions are inevitable as it is a natural instinct we are born with.

With the help of the Islamic teachings I got from the Islamic school, tolerance became an asset in my daily life. As the saying goes “charity begins at home,” I believe if you don’t practically use tolerance in your daily life, how will you then want other people to tolerate you?