Muslim Woman Befriends an Airplane Passenger Who Thought She Was a Terrorist
Lifestyle| | By Lauren Boudreau
For passenger Jiva Akbor, it was just an ordinary flight from Glasgow, Scotland, to Malaga, Spain. However, another passenger would prove it to be anything but.
As Akbor was seated on her flight, which had been grounded for 40 minutes, she decided to catch up on messages. She texted a colleague, who had been a victim of theft, “HasbiAllahu la ilaaha illaahu alayhi tawakaltu may Allah make the day easy for you all!”
It was at that point when the woman who was sitting next to her got up and left. What happened next, left Akbor speechless.
“A few moments later she returned and so I got up again and waited for her to take her seat. Only I looked at her face and she was in sheer panic, clearly flustered and didn’t get into the seat immediately. I noticed the two (amazingly wonderful) air hostesses were stood behind her, also looking concerned. I smiled to them all and gestured towards (sic) the seat so that she could get in but she was hesitating. Then I heard one of the air hostesses say ‘You can take your seat ma’am’ to her. But she stood there, with a look of fright on her face. I was confused. For a split second I though she had some health issue or something and about to have a panic attack. At that moment she looked at me and said, ‘I saw you write a text message and you wrote Allah on it’.My heart stopped. And I thought Oh Ma Goddd.”
Akbor continues to say that the woman was “on the brink of tears” and clearly terrified to be next to Akbor, but Akbor told the woman that Allah just means God in Arabic.
Akbor revealed that she thought she was going to get kicked off the flight.
“The thought of all the other incidents recently that had been circulated of other Muslim passengers being judged and removed and heckled came flooding into my head. And the thought, my biggest fear (other than missing my flight altogether!) was playing out in front of my eyes. A solo Muslim lady traveller and this is actually happening.”
However, the flight attendants told the woman that she could leave if she so desired, but the woman took her seat instead, still shaking from fear. Akbor saw this as an opportunity to engage with the woman and dispel some common stereotypes.
“It took her a few more moments, looking me square in the eye, whilst I fumbled telling her how the message was written send well wishes to my colleagues who had a theft today,” she wrote in a now viral Facebook post. “I quickly filled her in and told her that ‘I’m just a regular Muslim girl travelling (sic), on my way to tour Spain, I was born and bred in Greater Manchester, England and she has nothing to worry about being sat next to me’.
“After about 15mins of conversation I could feel her calming down and starting to accept what I was telling her. I rubbed her arm and told her I am not a threat to her. I told her I believe in God and so naturally my conversations often make reference to Him and in written form that is expressed with the word ‘Allah’. She (sic) went on to tell me she herself was a woman of religion too- Roman Catholic and we continued our conversation about our faiths.”
Before long, the two were chatting about their families and upbringings, shared pictures of loved ones, and talked about careers and the state of the world. When Akbor ordered a bottle of water, the woman paid for it. The woman also gave Akbor a bottle of her favorite perfume.
“About 2 (sic) hours into the conversation I was actually laughing at what had just happened between us. I wanted to understand the mindset. I asked her, ‘So you saw me writing the word ‘Allah’ and what was the exact thought in your head?’ and she said, ‘I just thought what if this was like the last message you’re sending…’ and I laughed, And with each laugh, she apologised (sic).”
Akbor adds that she encouraged the woman speak to other Muslims and to not believe the “the scaremongering of politicians and media outlets.” If Akbor’s story proves anything, it’s that with simple conversation and a little bit of understanding, people can come together and love each other.