About two weeks ago on October 13th, 2011, a tragic event took place in China which woke up the conscious of not just the Chinese people, but of everyone around the world. A hit-and-run accident took place at a market in Foshan, a city in Guangdong province, where a two-year old girl was run over by two vans. The story became a national and then international sensation after a security camera’s footage revealed that more than a dozen passers-by had ignored the injured toddler as she lay in the street bleeding. Over a span of 7 minutes, a total of 18 people passing by failed to extend a hand or call the police, up until the 19th person – a garbage scavenger – lifted her up after discovering her and then called for help. The little girl’s mother who was in the vicinity immediately rushed over and took her to the hospital.
The video, which is available on the internet, shows that as the girl lay bleeding on the road, people walked or drove by on scooters, in some cases pausing to look at the girl or swerving to avoid her, but not stopping to help or call police. Then a second van ran over her after being ignored by the pedestrians. After being hospitalized for a week, the girl lost her life due to brain damage.
This horrendous event forces us to open our eyes to the reality staring us in the face regarding our world today. It forces us to reflect upon such incidents and question why it happened, and what should’ve been done to avoid such a situation. Why didn’t any of the pedestrians who passed by the injured girl pause to help her, call for help, or pull her out of the road? To what degree of moral decay has society reached that 18 by-passers ignored the tragic situation they witnessed as if nothing happened? Where is the moral duty of a community member or a neighbor, let alone a human being? It is as if they just passed by a dead cat on the road – yet even then, in that situation, there are those who would take the time to remove the animal’s body from the place of traffic.
Is this lack of Good Samaritan behavior only limited to the Chinese community? It is true that the Chinese have lived under communism for well over a half-century and by this time generations of Chinese have, sadly, grown up immersed in a materialistic philosophy which denies the existence of both the soul and God, thus conveying the message that we are merely soulless animals. The materialistic philosophy further conveys that what is “good” or “bad” is only relative. The lack of religion in a society’s life is surely a contributing factor which has erased the natural feeling of morality and humanity for each other. However, how many other communities – including those of Muslims – would have behaved in the same inhumane manner?
Unfortunately, it seems nowadays that people are generally getting more preoccupied with accumulating wealth, achieving ambitions, and collecting materialistic gains, while their sense of humanity, morality, and care for one another has diminished drastically. Some have exhibited such insensitive behavior which even animals would not exhibit. Thus, it is not surprising that God says in the Holy Qur’an, “Or do you think that most of them do hear or understand? They are nothing but as cattle; nay, they are straying farther off from the path.” (25:44)
The idea of a “Good Samaritan” is not only supported logically, but is also encouraged in all religions and is deemed as duty and obligation by every person to help those who are in need of assistance or are in danger. Lack of doing so can very well cause the dangerous situation to turn worse, as in the case of the above story where the little girl got run over by a second van after pedestrians failed to pick her up after the first accident. Who knows – perhaps if she wasn’t run over the 2nd time, she may have survived! Thus the responsibility over her death falls not only upon the shoulders of the individuals directly responsible, but also upon the witnesses who ignored and kept aloof of the situation.
In the Bible, the parable of the Good Samaritan is quoted in Luke (10:30-37). According to the excerpt, when Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) was asked who is considered to be one’s neighbor, (after he stressed the importance of loving the neighbor as oneself) he replied: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half-dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.'” Prophet Jesus then asked the questioner, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The man replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus then told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Islam has also greatly emphasized the importance of brotherhood (in humanity) and taking care of others including your neighbors. The Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) is narrated to have said that during his journey of Mi’raj (Ascension), he was advised numerous times to look after his neighbors, to the extent that he thought that the right of neighbors is such that they inherit one another.
Then imagine what would be the fate of those people who intentionally hurt and harm those who are the best of humans and the perfection of mankind – Prophet Muhammad and his purified progeny (peace be upon them)! What about those who silently watched Imam Husain (peace be upon him) being killed, let alone the killers themselves? How about those who heard the call of Imam Husain on the day of Ashura when he asked for support – “Is there anyone to help me? Is there anyone to defend the family of the Prophet?” Even after beseeching for help, he received no response whatsoever and as a result of those who ignored his call, he was brutally killed and slaughtered! Surely, the abode of the enemies and killers of the Ahlul Bayt is none other than eternal punishment and misery in this life and the Hereafter, as God says, “And they who act unjustly shall know to what final place of turning they shall turn back.” (Qur’an 26:227)