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Say 'shukran'

Published Date: June 12, 2008
By Meshary Alruwaih, Staff columnist

During her press conference on Monday, The American ambassador to Kuwait Deborah Jones made a number of interesting points. But the one that caught the public's eyes and minds was when she took on the attempt to prioritize our moral responsibilities, stating that Kuwait has bigger problems than the hijab of the two female ministers, including the treatment of foreign workers and maids in Kuwaiti homes.

The first typical reaction is one wrapped in a feeling of jealousy over "cultural sovereignty", and expressed in phrases like "this is none of your don't tell us what is right and wrong...don't intervene in our affairs" and so on. But once you move beyond this provoked reaction, you actually feel the urge to thank her Excellency for saying what no politician, journalist, social scientist, even Islamic preacher has said.

Despite this fact, it's common knowledge for the average Muslim that compassion and gentle treatment of other human beings, with a special emphasis on the less fortunate, transcends the issue of two women wearing the hijab. If I'm to mention verses from the Quran and sayings of the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) that instruct Muslims to treat people nicely, I'd fill books!!

So Islam is clearly innocent from messing up our moral priorities, instead it's the increasing doses of politics in the Kuwaiti society that has allowed the hijab of Nouriya Al-Sabeeh and Moudhi Al-Homoud to overtake the ill treatment of Rajou and Komari, the hijab of Nouriya and Mohdi is politically more attractive and provocative, even if morally much less important!

Even when the government pays some attention to the subject, it does not usually stand on moral ground but instead, is always confused by earthly calculation of interests, expressed in the following recurring phrase, "the reputation of Kuwait in the international society". Well, you don't work towards ensuring a dignified life for foreign workers in your country to look good on international human rights reports; you do it because it's a moral must.

But, If the unhealthy domestic political climate and the politics of international regimes and the pressure of global advocacy networks have confused the government and the MPs to the point that now they see morals as a means and not an end, we the people of Kuwait have no excuse to continue to disappoint ourselves as good people and good Muslims. Many Kuwaitis entertain the idea of Islamization of the society, well, Islamization starts in your living rooms, Islamization starts by saying "shukran" with a k
ind smile to your maid when she brings you a glass of water.

An Islamic society is a society that is unconsciously occupying the moral ground on the world stage, not one that is fighting to escape category three from an American report.> 

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