September 1, 2019

The Good Islamic Fundamentalist: A Modern Day Parable

The Illegal Immigrant and the Good Fundamentalist Muslim

Modern Day Parables are the NPE interpretation of bible passages into modern parlance to make the emotional response intended for the original audience to touch the modern audience, as well. The Bible was not written by Americans for Americans, but was written in the ancient language of first century Jewish people. I Promise, there is another true way to think.

Three men mugged a farm worker as he the worker walked down the road. They beat him, each punching him repeatedly. Once the attackers had the man on his back, they broke his ribs with a bat, ripped off his clothes, and stole all that he had.

The bandits had planned this attack on payday to benefit from the cashed paycheck the farm worker was sure to be carrying. The farm worker had been brought to America as a child and had worked in the U.S. for more than a decade – always paying taxes and living a civil life. Yet, as an undocumented, illegal alien, he was not able to use a regular bank account for his finances but rather was forced to use a check cashing service. Like numerous workers at the farm, the workers would be forced to carry a large amount of cash, making them regular targets of outlaws who took advantage of the hard-working immigrants. 

Having taken all the worker possessed, the bandits left him on the side of the road with no regard to whether he would live or die.

Soon, a limousine happened by carrying one of the local elected officials as well as a political party leader. The occupants of the limo saw the beaten man and discussed the situation as they pulled to the side of the road.

“I wonder if it’s safe to help,” said the elected official.

“He looks like an illegal immigrant. This might not look good in the press,” said the party official. “And it’d make your base voters very unhappy. We better drive on.” They left the beaten man behind. 

Next, one of the town’s prominent business owners came by with his wife and saw the man. They were headed to an important charity event and were hesitant to help.

“We’re in our nice clothes,” said the worried wife.

“Let’s call 9-1-1,” said the husband. Finding it to be an area of low cell service, they decided to drive on and alert someone at the charity event. By the time they arrived, they had forgotten about the forlorn worker.

Finally, a leader of a local religious organization happened by on his way to a political rally. Seeing the man on the side of the road, the religious leader wondered if he should stop.

“Probably a drug deal gone wrong,” the religious leader surmised. “My how our sins will catch up to us as God allows us to face the consequences of our sinful actions.”

The religious leader rolled down his passenger side window and declared. “My thoughts and prayers are with you.” The religious leader drove on.

Finally, a young Muslim happened upon the scene. The young man’s family was a fundamentalist Islamic family and was not well liked in the local community, as the residents feared Islamic people.

“Go home, terrorist,” a local citizen yelled at the young man just last week at the supermarket. His parents had operated a small farm for many years and tried their best to integrate into the town but the humiliation of this type of treatment had burned into the young man and, unable to retaliate, he grew ever angrier.

As he came upon the battered immigrant, this young Muslim felt compassion, stopped his Jeep and climbed out of his vehicle to check on the broken man.

“The ambulance will not make it in time to save you,” the young man said in his heavy, middle-eastern accent. “I must take you home.” The farm worker tried to thank the young Muslim, but the young man wouldn’t hear it.

“Save your strength,” insisted the young man.

At their home, the young man’s Muslim family tended to the worker, stopping his bleeding and dressing his wounds. They kept him stabilized until the ambulance finally arrived.

“We’ll follow the ambulance,” said the young man, “and make sure to take care of any finances that need to be paid at the hospital.” The farm worker was amazed at the selfless act of the Muslim family while others had simply passed by.

Dear reader, as you study this story, please be reminded of the question asked in the Bible – who was this man’s true neighbor? It was clearly the people willing to sacrifice to take care of the man. Feel the pinch of the good people in society being willing to place a call or pray, but were not willing to do anything more to help. In fact, they felt the victim probably deserved his fate.

The moral of the story is God wants his followers to give mercy to people we think might not deserve mercy. Too often we’re too busy or too judgmental to help others as God commands. I believe Father God loves mercy, wherever it’s given and by whomever it’s given.

And he loves our mercy more than our good theology or identifying the shortfalls in others. Good people only react as they’ve always known. A generation grew up in a country that valued prosperity but sometimes failed to value minority races and ideas of equality.

2 comments

  1. Gary Waterman says:

    For me the struggle has been between sticking to my plan (which of course seems important) or interrupting my plans to help someone out. If that someone seems likely to get other help or maybe seems less deserving, that weighs on the side of sticking to my plan. But I have realized that God wants to partner with me to help people, and he will manage the consequences of any interruption. On two recent trips I picked up a hitch hiker (don’t see too many of those anymore) and definitely helped out their day. Certainly not the extent of help in our parable, but a step out of my comfort zone and an intentional faith act. Both hitch hikers were a bit unkempt and dirty, but very appreciative. Step one for me.

    1. Paul Swearengin says:

      Good stuff, Gary! I think the issue is even broader than are we willing to interrupt our plans to help one person. I’m asking in the parable if we’re willing to set aside our belief systems to love people that God loves even if we don’t feel they’re worthy of love. Like the immigration issue which has given so many a justification for categorizing people as “others” and applauding heartless treatment of them. The parable demands we consider those we consider “others” (as the Pharisees did the Samaritans) and would Jesus do the same were he on earth today. Thanks for your insight and I’m sorry I missed you while you were in town!

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