I ran out of checks and went to the bank to order some new ones. I went to the customer service counter to ask to speak with one of the bankers and they led to a man’s desk. He got up from his seat but didn’t reach in to shake my hand. He asked me my name and what I needed and he got right into loading up my account. He saw on the screen that I had a lot of money in my checking account and was prompted (by his computer) to ask me about opening a savings account to go along with it.
I just told him, “Oh, I don’t use interest,” and he was so pleased with my answer. He said he truly admired that at my age I cared to follow my conscious and my religion. He even said he would remove the prompt from my account so that the next banker I would visit in the future wouldn’t ask me to open a savings account anymore.
He seemed like a really nice person, so I didn’t mind telling him about my past experiences with interest, and how I used to withdraw the money from an old savings account and throw it in the trash. He paused for a moment and said, “Now, is that because of the… um…shari laws?” I was impressed! I told him the word was shariah, and he kept pronouncing it wrong, but nonetheless, the man knew what he was talking about.
He said he liked that Muslims followed their rules. He brought up a an Iraqi refugee his church took in and how she had rules about not staying in her sponsor house alone with the man, and that the hosts had to get rid of their dog for a while because she couldn’t keep clean around it. So he asked me why that was, and I explained to him that it isn’t that we dislike animals, or dogs specifically, it’s that there is a lot of maintenance for our purity when we’re around them.
Going back to the lady who couldn’t stay at home with her male host if his wife wasn’t there, he said he remembered that story when I came into his cubicle, and that was why he didn’t reach in to shake my hand. I was impressed again! This guy was really aware of his surroundings and willing to accommodate all sorts of people’s ideals.
Later as we got back to ordering me some checks, he asked me if I had direct deposit. I told him I did, and it went into my personal checking account, not that the joint one I share with Saqib. He said cool, and I took that opportunity to share a fun fact with him. I figured he likes to keep track of his Muslim clients and keep up with our habits, so I let him in on some information. I said, “Y’know, in Islam the policy is, the woman’s money is for her alone, and the man’s money is for both.” He was so pleased to hear this. He said he would go home and tell his wife because she would absolutely love that idea. I made sure to point out that women in Islam are given a lot of privileges and rights that are kind of foreign to other cultures. He was delighted and repeated my sentence to himself. The woman’s money is hers alone, and the man’s money is for both, excellent!
Lastly when we were finally wrapping up working on ordering me some checks, he said he was happy to have met me and that it made his day because he learned some interesting things about Muslims. I told him that he would be doing himself a favor if he looked into learning more about our Islamic shariah laws of banking. I mentioned that I read an article once that said it was becoming more of a commodity because the more banks know about their Muslim clients, the better they can service them. He completely agreed because he said the population in America is so diverse, everyone needs to be able to get what they need, and Muslims shouldn’t be held back from getting loans, or saving up in banks, because the bank can’t accommodate what we need.
What a wonderful trip to the bank. I went in there to order some checks, and I ended up having one of the best conversations with a non-Muslim I’ve had in a while. I really recommend the next time you go out to different places, to not shy away from explaining to the people around you why you do the things you do. Whether it is at a restaurant and you ask not to be served dishes with alcohol in it, or you’re at an interview and you don’t want to shake hands with the opposite gender, the American people are ready and willing to learn about our religion. I think it’s their right that we inform them.
Get out there and talk to a stranger!