“Not at all,” I replied. “I think you are an incredible people.”
We got interrupted as I started to explain more specifically what I appreciate about her people. Since then, I have been working on a more complete answer to have ready the next time someone expresses this wrong assumption that we probably think poorly of them:
1. You have a strong sense of community: like one big family looking out for and supporting each other.
2. You each have a role to play. Feeding 5000 people at a memorial festival is a huge task, but when everyone in the community contributes in some way, it doesn’t seem hard to you at all.
3. You teach your children by example the importance of serving. They learn from a young age how they can help in their homes and in the community, and they know that the world does not revolve around them.
4. Your children learn to respect their elders. At the memorial festivals, I see young ones voluntarily getting pieces of wood for older ones to sit on, serving food to the older ones first, and waiting for the older ones to begin eating.
5. You invite members of the community and imams who don’t belong to your Sufi order to pray with you and to serve them a feast. Your reaching out with this kind of generosity shows how willing you are to overlook differences in beliefs because of the high value you place on unity within your community.
6. You practice amazing hospitality. Tea cups continue to be filled to the brim as long as your guests stay. This communicates to your guests how important they are and shows how well you take care of them.
7. You have been incredibly welcoming and accepting toward us as foreigners to live in your community.
Thank you for blessing us. We have learned so much from your people!