Muslim-Christian Dialogue on the B.Q E.October 14, 2009 at 9:08 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
Tags: Arabic, Berber, cabbies, Ditmas Park, LaGuardia Airport, Mary of Nazareth, Muslim-Christian dialogue, terrorism, the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway
From time to time I think back with pleasure to an experience I had last summer. My flight from Dallas to LaGuardia had been very much delayed and I decided to take a cab home to Ditmas Park. By the time we got onto the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, the cab driver and I were deep in conversation.
The cabbie, as it turned out, was a young Muslim who had recently emigrated to the United States. When I asked where he was from, he made me guess. The Middle East? Nope, he responded; Africa. But where? Algeria? I guessed. Close, he said: Morocco.
I complimented him on his English. Oh, it’s not nearly as good as my other languages, he replied. Arabic? I asked. Yes, he replied, but also French, Spanish and Berber. Seems like with all those languages, I responded, you could do something besides drive a cab. Oh, but I like driving a cab, he said.
And did he like living in the United States? Yes, very much. Were people nice to him? Mostly. A few not, but nonetheless, he still likes it here. Some Americans do not understand, he mused, that you cannot be a good Muslim and hate other people, or be a terrorist. The two things don’t go together.
And did he have a family? Yes, he replied, two girls. The name of the first girl has vanished from my memory, but the younger, the driver told me, was named Mariam, after Mary of Nazareth. Many Christians do not realize, he added, that there are more references to Mary of Nazareth in the Koran than in the Bible. I responded: my name is almost the same as your daughter’s: Marian.
When we got to Ditmas Park and I began to get out, the driver also got out and began to walk around to my side of the car. Oh, there’s no need to get out, I said; my suitcase isn’t very heavy. But he came around anyhow, and when he got to me, he gave me a hug.
Things are not be going well in Afghanistan and Pakistan and Iran and even Iraq. But on the B.Q.E. that day, my new friend and I made a little progress.