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Expat wanderer

Khaled Aljenfawi: Tolerance Begins at Home

An extraordinary article from today’s Arab Times:

Tolerance usually begins at home
By Khaled Aljenfawi

Verbally or physically abusing some domestic servants, stone pelting some expatriate passengers and drivers, lack of patience toward some expatriate doctors and teachers, by some individuals, certainly indicate that tolerance usually begins at home.

Already known for its tolerance toward strangers, foreigners and non-citizens, our Kuwaiti traditional society stands upon certain pillars of morality. These moral ideals usually advocate mercy, compassion and understanding toward others. As such, as Kuwaiti citizens, many of us already understand the importance of such moral ideals and many of us live by them. Therefore, we realize that we are integral parts of a larger human family; many of us in fact continue to refuse anti-social behavior directed toward some expatriates.

This being said yet certain individuals in our society continue to verbally or physically torment some helpless domestic servants. Some youngsters pelt expatriate passengers while they ride in public buses; perhaps just because they believe they can do so!

One can add to this the other negative phenomenon common these days of not being patient with some expatriate doctors and teachers and simply opting for the more reckless behavior: verbally and sometimes physically assaulting these expatriate professionals. Such behavior go against our national law and against the teachings of our national heritage. Such negative behavior in fact go against our Islamic tenets!

As a case in point, borrowing from already accepted international laws about human rights, and relying basically on our genuine Kuwaiti heritage of tolerance, officials in the Ministry of Education continue to update our national curriculum to adapt to a changing world. For example, primary, middle and secondary schooling emphasizes tolerance as a way of life in a modern society. Yet what the younger generations are learning at school about tolerance continues to be threatened by the behavior of some.

Intolerance actually goes against the basic teachings of our Islamic faith. As a Muslim society, Kuwait has been welcoming strangers, foreigners and expatriates for tens of years without apparent conflict. This tolerance toward those who are different springs from our Islamic faith, in addition, it originates from our national heritage. For example, one of the most enduring tenets of Islam is the equality among humans: in the Holy Quran, the Almighty say: “We have created you from male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. Lo! the noblest of you, in the sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Lo! Allah is Knower, Aware.” (Al-Hujraat-13).

One cannot instill by force tolerance in the mind of a child unless the whole family believes in the legitimacy of tolerance and its importance to its general wellbeing. If a young child learns about tolerance at school and then encounters daily situations of intolerance at home, he/she will find it hard to believe in tolerance. In other words, tolerance in addition to being a moral concept, which reflects the morality of a whole society, will take its roots if the ordinary family considers it as an accepted code of conduct. A Tolerant young person for example, will subsequently be a tolerant father or mother for these parents are already used to tolerance and will ultimately help shape the mentalities of their children.

A child who is already used to voicing his points freely in a safe family environment will find it much easier to accommodate tolerance and accept it as a way of life. Indeed, a child raised in a Tolerant family will eventually become a good neighbor, a good friend and certainly a Tolerant person toward those who are different from him.

Wooo Hooo on you, Khaled Aljenfawi!


February 17, 2009 - Posted by | Character, Cultural, Family Issues, Interconnected, Kuwait, Leadership, Living Conditions, Social Issues, Spiritual


  1. I love Khaled Al-Jenfawi. He is such a decent person.

    Comment by Desert Girl | February 18, 2009 | Reply

  2. I don’t know him, Desert Girl, but I was impressed by his clarity of thought and communication, as well as his theme.

    Comment by intlxpatr | February 18, 2009 | Reply

  3. Very very nice.

    The issue of tolerance and bigotry has been on my mind lately and I wonder if anyone can be entirely tolerant? I mean isn’t everyone – and I mean EVERYone in the world – at least a little prejudiced? Not necessarily racist or sexist which are more typical, but doesn’t everyone hold at least some unfair preconceptions about people?

    Comment by 1001Nights | February 18, 2009 | Reply

  4. I agree, 1001, I think we all have prejudices; I think it’s human. I know I am guilty.

    I think tolerance is a choice – we choose how we behave, minute by minute. Keeping our tempers under control, choosing not to bully those weaker or smaller or who have less power, being polite to people whose behaviors we may detest – it’s a choice. I think that is what he is saying.

    Desert Girl calls him a “decent person.” Maybe that is what he is asking of us, to be decent people, minute by minute, as hard as it may be. What do you think?

    Comment by intlxpatr | February 18, 2009 | Reply

  5. I love what he’s saying actually.

    And I agree with what you’re saying too. I mean you can have your prejudices and keep them locked up in your head where they should stay while you censor your BEHAVIOR so that you don’t turn into an unfair person.

    Comment by 1001Nights | February 19, 2009 | Reply

  6. Exactly. Now, God willing, that he gives us strength so to do!

    Comment by intlxpatr | February 19, 2009 | Reply

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