In the city of Los Angeles there lived a young a boy named Abdul KarimAlam. His parents were Pakistani immigrants who moved to the United States in 1997 and ended up running a gas station and living in a descent neighborhood. Abdul was born in 2000 and his parents wanted him to learn the Islamic faith, but also wanted him to grow up as an American, since this would be the country in which he would live his life.
When Abdul reached age eleven, he began expressing interest in the boy scouts since some of his friends at school we members and thought it would be a good idea if he joined. After talking to his parents about it, they all agreed that it would be a good experience for him and he joined to local troupe.
At first everyone in Abdul’s troupe treated him nicely enough, but he couldn’t help feeling like an outsider sometimes. When it was time for prayer and Abdul performed the ritual, some of the members of his troupe would watch and whisper at each other, occasionally laughing. Abdul accepted this because he knew he was different and they didn’t really understand why he was doing this. But eventually the differences became a problem when one day the scout leader began to create partners to perform a trust exercise. The exercise involved one partner to fall back into the other partner’s arms in a show of trust. When the scout leader partnered Abdul with another scout named Adam, Adam refused to participate with him. Adam told the scout leader he didn’t trust Abdul because his uncle was killed in Iraq, and he doesn’t trust “people like him” when talking about Abdul. The scout master changed Abdul’s partner and later apologized for the incident explaining what had happened to Adam’s Uncle, but Abdul couldn’t help but feel sad that Adam felt this way about him
A few days later Abdul saw Adam with some of his friends, one of which was an older kid. Adam said “What’s up Saddam?” and Abdul replied “My name is Abdul, you know that.” “Saddam, Abdul, Osama, they all sound the same to me!” Adam said as all of his friends started laughing. As they walked away, Abdul felt angry for a moment, but then forgave Adam because he knew how Adam felt. Abdul’s grandfather had been killed by a suicide bomber in Pakistan and the pain of losing a family member to terrorism is hard to overcome. Later on while walking home Abdul saw Adam being bullied by the older kid that was hanging around with him earlier. They looked like they were going to get into a fight and there was nobody around to stop it. So Abdul walked over and told the bully “So you like picking on people smaller than you, why don’t you try picking on both of us then?” The bully said “Now you’re really asking for it Saddam!” and started to come towards him, but tripped and fell breaking his nose as he hit the ground. Abdul grabbed Adam and said “Come on, let’s go!” and they both ran away laughing hysterically.
While walking home Adam was silent for a long time and then asked Abdul “Why did you help me after the way I treated you?” Abdul replied “The scout oath tells us to help others at all times, and you looked like you needed some help.” “So you really take this boy scout thing seriously?” Adam asked and Abdul told him “It’s not just the scout oath, Muslims are taught to help others as well in the teachings of Allah.” Adam wondered about this and then asked Abdul “So why are there all these terrorists trying to kill people, then?” and Abdul didn’t have a good answer. All he could say is “Some people just look for an excuse to do what they want to, but I try not to judge people who are different than me just because some of them are bad.” This gave Adam a lot to think about and both of them went home for the night.
The next day both Adam and Abdul walked home with each other because they were worried about the bully trying to find them. When they did see him he just scowled but didn’t try to fight them or come after them. At first they thought that he would come after them later, so they both began walking home with each other every day. After a while they started to get to know each other better and stopped worrying about the bully trying to beat them up as he was probably too embarrassed to say anything about what happened to anybody. As they became closer friends they started to spend more time with each other, inviting one another to their birthday parties and playing with each other on the playground during recess.
Eventually Adam came to understand that his feelings about blaming Abdul over his Uncle’s death were out of anger and that he shouldn’t judge others because of where they come from or the fact that they are different. While in the scout meetings, Abdul still faced some funny looks when performing prayers, but it didn’t bother him as much when his new friend always smiled and told him not to worry about it later. Abdul and Adam became life-long friends, understanding that what made them different was something that made their friendship stronger in the end. As they grew up and had children of their own they tried to teach them to be understanding of other people’s differences and embrace them because after all, variety is the spice of life as some people say and what makes us different is part of being unique which is something that should be celebrated and not a reason to be afraid of others.