The Days I Had a Brief Friendship With a Muslim

Austin Heeney
4 min readNov 7, 2022

it was a very friendly, yet powerless friendship

now playing ::.:.:. Jhana by il:lo

true story, but just as an example please.

it was a few years ago, and was locked in a mental facility for the second time? happen to run into this skinnier man, seemed very quiet, seemed to himself, and would enjoy looking out the window. it was very sunny that day. he was not of my ethnicity it seemed. there was a really good window in the ‘break room’ or lunch room and we would run into each other in there and talk and stare up at the sky.

don’t remember our first conversations, but we did sit down one day in front of the window. he seemed to listen very intently, and we started with a bit of small talk. he made a lot of eye contact, and that seemed important to him. did the same as well, and in doing so, felt like we were able to communicate more effectively. sometimes, americans see strong eye contact as intimidation or kind of like ‘you wanna fight or what.’ it really should have nothing to do with that unfortunately. and others, see strong eye contact with strangers as disrespectful, which is so unfortunate. strong eye contact while talking helps to effectively communicate to the other person. but happen to go out on a limb, and ask him what religion or beliefs he practices. he said “I am Muslim.” we started talking about other things, and he happen to randomly look at me and said “thank you.” it sounded very meaningful, but i redirected the conversation. we mostly talked a lot about our immediate families, but also as well as why we thought we ended up in the facility. and also, what we thought about america’s treatment plan for ‘mental patients’ like us. believe we did share some smiles or laughs, but he did have quite a seriousness about him that i felt like i had to respect.

we also didn’t dive too much into religion as i recall; as we both seemed to know both of our beliefs were intuitively different. and that was ok. it was nice to just listen to him, and what he had to say. he did open up about some of the beliefs of Muslims and/or his beliefs, but i have a hard time recalling what those were today; was just trying my best to listen to what he was saying during that time. i think a couple times we were making fun of how nasty the food was that they served the mental patients. not making fun of the patients, making fun of the food. how logically unsound that is, if someone is having a mental problem — they should be given the healthiest food? yes? no? that would help right? my goodness.

anyways, all in all, it was a great experience to be able to talk to a Muslim, & to just listen. would thoroughly enjoy talking to many more, would not have one problem with that. he was very nice & congenial. there was something about the way he conducted himself that i thoroughly respected. whether it seemed like honour, being powerless, or a sense of strength. whatever it was, it was respectable; even though, our faith beliefs were of course different. an interaction like that is one i will remember. believe we wished each other well when we ended up leaving the facility at different times, and always the thought of running into each other again; most likely, in this lifetime, knowing that probably wouldn’t be the case.

to respect someone fully of a different belief or ethnicity, is an absolute wonderful choice, knowing too well that your belief or faith is different from theirs. likewise, with ethnicity. sometimes it just takes that extra step to jump over the fear hurdle, to talk to someone that you may think is nothing like yourself.

it really is a beautiful choice we can and should make. the realization that even though the two faiths may be completely different, you may find that there are hidden similarities that you never knew existed. and sometimes, that just comes with the curiousity of asking questions. those similarities, of course, don’t have to be with the different beliefs. they could be personality, common interests, goals, passions, likes, dislikes, etc.

have a great, & wonder-filled day.

i am a sinner.

-ajh

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