A story and a message
First, here’s the story that has been fairly widely reported. While I am quoting from a BBC News website, the story has appeared in other journals.
A Bangladeshi taxi driver in New York City has gone out of his way to track down the person who left thousands of dollars in cash in the back of his cab.
Mukul Asadujjaman, a medical student, drove nearly 80kms (50 miles) to an address he found with the money.
He left his phone number when he found no one at home. The money belonged to an Italian grandmother visiting the US.
Mr Asadujjaman was offered a reward, but he turned it down saying that as a devout Muslim he could not accept it.
Felicia Lettieri, of Pompeii, Italy, and six relatives had taken two cabs on Christmas Eve, Newsday newspaper reported.
Mrs Lettieri, 72, left her purse behind, with more than $21,000 of the group’s travelling money, jewellery worth thousands more, and some of their passports.
Her sister, Francesca Lettieri, 79, of Long Island, said the honest driver had saved her family’s vacation.
“We really love what he did,” she said.
A gracious Asadujjaman was quoted by the newspaper as saying that he may be broke, but he was also honest.
“My mother is my inspiration. She always said to be honest and work hard.”
Mr Asadujjaman called a friend with a car and drove some 80km to a Long Island address in the purse.
No one was at home, so he left his phone number and a note, the report said.
His phone rang a short time later and he drove back to return the bag.
“They were so, so, so happy,” Mr Asadujjaman told the paper.
Asked if he was tempted to keep the cash, Mr Asadujjaman said the money would have allowed him more time to study, “but my heart said this is not good”.
He also turned down a reward, saying he could not accept it as a devout Muslim, Newsday reported.
“I’m needy, but I’m not greedy,” he said. “It’s better to be honest.”
Mr Asadujjaman is not the first honest American-Bangladeshi cabbie to hit the headlines for noble behaviour.
In 2007, driver Osman Chowdhury returned a lost bag containing diamond rings worth $500,000 to the rightful owner.
Now to the ‘message’. All too often we hear generalisations made about endless numbers of groups, ethnic or otherwise. All too often those generalisations are directed towards Muslims. They are rarely based on facts.
Mukul Asadujjaman has demonstrated something that we all need reminding about. Goodness comes from the person not the creed, race or religion.
By Paul Handover