Should I Greet a Stranger or Not: A Socially Relative Concept

27 Feb

By Nauman Tasleem 
The writer is associated with the print media of Pakistan and can be contacted at

“Good Morning.” A stranger said to me.

Do I know that lady?

If, I do not know her then why she greeted me?

Maybe she is needy and wants to borrow some money from me.

It was my second day in the USA and after a brief rest at my friend’s New York home; I went outside in the street to just have a bird’s eye view of the country, which is dreamland for millions of people in the world.
I was thinking of going in a nearby playground or just have a visit of a grocery store. The distance between my home and grocery store was not that much and during my five-minute walk, anyone who passed by me said ‘Hello’ or ‘Good Morning’.

Later, I came to know that it is a tradition in the US that people used to greet each other, as a gesture of goodwill. It was really strange for me, as we have always considered US society, a promiscuous one and an infidel society which has nothing to do with human values. “But they are greeting the strangers, a thing which has been taught by our Holy Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)

Jisay Jantay Ho ya Nahi Usay salam Karo (Greet everyone, either you know him or not) but we have never followed it in Pakistan?”

I asked my friend. Rather, we are instructed by our religious clerics (read Mullah) to only greet Muslims.
Often, in Pakistan whenever you greet any stranger then he/she would stare at you, as if you have done punishable crime or you are up to something negative.
If you have shown slight warmth in your greetings then get ready for weird look from the opponent, as he/she would consider you an alien or would utter, “Bhai maaf karo. Ubhi khulay paisay nahi hae,”
Some of the readers might differ and say that the US is not a good country, as it is bombing Muslims of the world but we should be clear here that we are talking about the society traditions not the actions of the government.
It was not the only good thing I saw in US society. I have had a chance of having dinner with an American family. Before starting dinner, the family has a brief pray, thanking the Almighty to bless them with food and saving from starvation. This is what exactly Islam teaches us. “Mera jitna shukur karo gay utno Ma tumhy aur nawazunga (The more you thank me, the maximum I will be bless you)”
At the same time, the traffic laws are governed very well through heavy fines. No one dare to enter the emergency lane (only for ambulances), as heavy fines are imposed. If you are on traffic signal at 2am then everyone stops, despite the fact no police officer is present but even then people follow the law.
However, not everything was good in the US society and there were also some shortcomings. The biggest, I observe, is wastage of food. Often people at homes or in markets buy more food than their requirement and the result — a lot of food could be found in garbage cans.

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Posted by on February 27, 2013 in Guest Posts


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