Monday, September 21, 2009

Tariq A. Al-Maeena : An Eid message to our fellow expatriates/Guest Workers

As I promised over the weekend/holiday, here is Tariq Al-Maeena's piece in full:

An Eid message to our fellow expatriates
Tariq A. Al-Maeena

Now that the blessed month of Ramadan has come to an end, its passing should not signal the end of exertions of goodwill and worship that had governed us for this past month.

And as the citizens of this country prepare for the festivities of family gatherings and reunions in the days ahead, let us not forget the countless number of Muslim expatriates among us who stood with us in worship, but who will celebrate the dawn of Eid in solitude, away from family and friends.

Millions have come and gone, and millions remain among us today, some alone and distant from their families, tasked with the duties of helping oil the machinery that makes this country run. Many perform to the expectations required, mostly in silence. Their isolation and loneliness in a land different than their own cannot be simply compensated by the riyals they earn.

Leaving behind fathers and mother, brothers and sisters, wives and children, these foreign expatriates who reside amongst us ask little of us as they fulfill their duties. And yet they love and feel like the rest of us; the joys and pains that course through our emotions are not alien to them. Separated on a day meant for togetherness, many will celebrate Eid in solitude and bitter loneliness.

Let us honor them like we honor our own. Let us bestow upon them our best wishes as we do upon those near and dear to us. Let us thank them and expatriates of other faiths as well for the difficult sacrifices they are making daily in leaving their loved ones behind and coming to this country to help us forge a better life. Many move around us, barely visible or seen. Yet they continue in their toils, expecting very little thanks or gratitude from their hosts while putting in an honest day’s work.

Let us begin by ensuring that their rights are protected and dispensed with in the manner and spirit that Ramadan has roused in us. The Prophet (pbuh) said, "The merciful ones will be shown mercy by the all-Merciful (Allah). Be merciful to those on Earth, Allah will be merciful to you." This mercy extends to the proper execution of our obligations to our guest workers.

The Prophet (pbuh) also said, "The likeness of the believers in their mutual love, their mutual mercy, and their mutual affection, is like a single body. If any part of it complains of an injury, the entire body responds with sleeplessness and fever… Allah will continue to help the servant as long as the servant is helping his brother.” This narration emphasizes the fact that our mercy as servants to our faith shouldn’t be confined to our immediate circle of family members and acquaintances. Rather it should extend to the entire nation of believers.

On this Eid day, most of us will enjoy the blessings of ample food and gifts. But we should never forget those among us, and especially the less fortunate expatriates form Third World countries whose daily existence is a continuous fast. These noble men and women deserve our thanks.

Those Saudis who have fasted and stood in prayer at night during this past month with sincere faith must continue to be diligent and dutiful in our worship of Allah, and kind to our fellow residents including the silent expatriate. Such obligations must continue in good faith, even as Ramadan comes to an end this year.

And while I can personally deliver my Eid greetings to family members, friends and associates, I take it upon myself to use this column to acknowledge our fellow expatriates and thank them for being among us. Eid Mubarak.

The writer is a Saudi socio/political commentator. He lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and can be reached at talmaeena@gmail.com.
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