No Family for Christmas

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Chapter 9: Global Bridge
(by NativeRose, added on 29 December 2008 02:31 AM)


Zakir Muhari and Liyana Kahlil watched Gabe and Mel walk from Baker Hall to the school side of the building. Their dark-skinned friends had encouraged these two culturally-connected young people to reach out to each other in a new way. Liyana and Zakir both came from conflict-ridden Jordan. Both children's parents had been killed in the Middle East conflicts when Zakir was ten and Liyana nine. They had been at the orphanage in Minnesota for five years. As fellow Muslims, they clung to each other and found the common cultural ground to be comforting. Most people didn't understand them and had no real interest in forming any sort of friendships. Like many people, others assumed they would be violent, religious tyrants, but Melody, Gabriel and Kalila reached out to their dark-skinned, ostracized neighbors. Although the two "groups" had vastly differing religious beliefs, they all believed in one God. None overtly tried to convince others of their religious convictions, though each one was confident in his or her own value systems. The African-americans freely spoke of their God with great flourish and emotionally expressive language. However, they did not do so in a forceful, condemning or condescending nature. They just expressed love to their friends through their Jesus. They did not see Jesus as a great teacher, as did Zakir and Liyana. The two Jordanians were more reserved, but the three black young people didn't seem to be disturbed by this.
Then their were Becky and Scott. They were completely different in personality, and this filtered into how they treated their charges, especially the minorities. Becky had no patience or use for Liyana and her strange Muslim customs. She often belittled the girl and reacted caustically to Liyana's religious observances. During Ramadan, Becky was rather unkind and endeavored to "break" Liyana's fast. She tried to refuse to allow Liyana to eat after the fourth (sunset) and before the first (dawn) prayer. She thought this would entice the girl to eat during daytime hours, which Liyana refused to do. Mrs. Donne had given Zakir and Liyana permission to observe this particular custom during this lunar "holy" month. Therefore, Becky could do nothing about this. In contrast, Scott, upon learning of Mrs. Donne's acquiescence, allowed Zakir to participate without giving him any trouble. Although Scott clearly did not share Zakir's beliefs, he certainly didn't belittle the young man. Zakir appreciated this more than he could express. He, along with Liyana, was ridiculed at every turn. Many of the other young people lashed out at them as a reaction to their own fear. The media and common misconceptions passed along to the children at the orphanage naturally created in them great fear, anger and even hostility. Perhaps this was the reason a select few stood out to Zakir and Liyana. Scott, Alanna, Kalila, Gabriel and Melody's actions toward the "weird" Zakor and Liyana were attributed to Jesus. They often said that they were to love people as Jesus did. This was beginning to make the two Islam young people think about Jesus as their friends viewed Him. While they had no intention of betraying their God, Allah or his teachings as given to the prophet Mohammed, they tried not to take offense at their friends' seemingly blasphemous statements about Jesus as God. How could that be possible?

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