Watch this video clip of the man with the large blue basket walking towards the camera.
What do you see?
I filmed this man while in Istanbul, Turkey, last week. It was early afternoon, 33C, hot and humid. I spotted him as I was making my way, alone, to a tram stop in the Eminonu district.
The roads were filled with traffic, cars bumper to bumper. Engine fumes and horns in abundance as I began to cross the street.
And then I saw him. Around 50 years old, with that large blue basket full of perhaps 30 plastic water bottles. The bag must have weighed about 15kg, if not more. Street sellers selling water on the streets of Istanbul is nothing out of the ordinary.
But this man was blind.
After he crossed the road ahead of me, a passer-by helped the blind man to navigate between two parked cars. Then the blind man sat down to catch his breath and he put the heavy bag of water bottles next to him.
He looked exhausted, hot and thirsty. Sweat was dripping down his face.
I had walked ahead but that incredible sight stuck in my mind. I turned around.
After a few seconds rest, the man stood up, hoisted the blue basket onto his left arm then began to continue down the street towards me.
He appeared to have wrapped some padding around the handle of the basket to cushion his arm from the heavy load.
Unable to contain my amazement, I took out my phone and filmed him walking towards me.
For the rest of the day the image of that blind man selling water from that blue basket refused to leave my mind.
I thought about those vermin moped thieves racing through the streets of London stabbing and robbing innocent people of their watches, phones and mopeds. In some cases throwing acid onto the faces of their victims before stealing their possessions.
Their justification: they feel that prejudice in society has left them disadvantaged in life so they rob innocent people to make ends meet.
Where the vermin’s justification breaks down is that they do not rob to feed their starving families or to send the money to poor people in Africa. They rob to own the latest smartphone, diamond necklace or Rolex watch.
The cowards aren’t even brave enough to take off their helmets and show their faces.
Recently, one of the cowards was caught on camera being overpowered by his intended victim. The victim disarmed the coward of his weapon, a hammer, and began to beat the coward with his own hammer while the coward yelped on the floor like a squealing dog.
For those moments, the yelping dog forgot the pain, misery and harm he was going to cause to another person. He was just worried about himself. It’s OK when you harm others but not OK when others harm you, isn’t it pal?
I thought of those women (not Muslim) who don fake hijabs and go around begging on the streets of London. For some reason they are always immaculately dressed, with the latest baby buggies and expensive smartphones.
I thought of the conversation I had with that prisoner in a United States federal prison.
“You see, in the 1970s the federal government introduced cocaine into black communities to ensure that black people only sell drugs and they don’t succeed,” he told me when I asked him why he had chosen to sell drugs.
“If that is true, then why do most black people in America, including those from poor communities, not sell drugs?” He was unable to answer.
As for the US Government introducing cocaine into poor communities, that is nonsense. I know who introduced cocaine into the United States in the 1970s.
A certain Colombian drug lord who was my cellmate for several months. Conspiracies against black people were certainly not his motivation while trafficking cocaine.
And then there is the Muslim card. Those Muslims in western countries who blame their failure to succeed in life on Islamophobia, anti-Muslim prejudice or simply “Jews”.
I have never understood why anti-Muslim prejudice only applies to those Muslims who fail in life. What about those many Muslims from poor homes who are today successful shopkeepers, professionals and businessmen? Hard work and determination got them there.
I thought of people struggling in life who always complain of their circumstances. They blame racism, the Government, hidden conspiracies… It’s always someone else’s fault why they succeed in life. Never their own.
They wallow in their victimhood. It’s always easy to blame someone else for your problems; that way you don’t have to take responsibility when you fail or lose.
Yet here I saw a man who some might argue has been dealt an unfair hand in life. You can’t get much worse than being blind, being unable to see. If anyone has the right to complain about life being unfair, or tough, it’s him.
But here he was: a blind man on the streets of Istanbul. He wasn’t begging, he wasn’t blaming, he wasn’t feeling sorry for himself. He was selling water, may Allah bless him.
He is a survivor, not a victim. Just like the greatest survivor in the history of the human race, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
A man who was orphaned at the age of six. Then ridiculed, abused, ostracised, beaten, exiled, abandoned, humiliated. Sworn at, spat at, punched at. Yet never once did he consider himself a victim or blame others for what was happening to him.
So next time you find life tough, just come back and watch this clip of the water seller of Istanbul.
Read my story and why I was in prison here.
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