Confrontation before flight led to unlikely friendship

- Flying can be full of delays and crowds. Not the most pleasurable experience. But one passenger on a flight from Scotland to Spain had a “wonderful experience” and wrote about it on Facebook.

Jiva Akbor is Muslim and was going to meet an Islamic Spain Tour group.

Her seat was on the aisle in the very last row, next to a woman whose son got the window seat.

During a 40-minute ground delay, she took a moment to catch up on messages and found out a group in London had its car broken into, and a lot of equipment was stolen.

She replied “to the group as ‘HasbiAllahu la ilaaha illaahu alayhi tawakaltu, may Allah make the day easy for you all!’ sent the message and continued going through my other pending messages.”

What happened after that?

“The lady sat next to me asked if she could get out, thinking she wanted the toilet I got up let her out, and sat back down in my seat,” Akbor wrote. “A few moments later she returned and so I got up again and waited for her to take her seat. Only I looked at her face and she was in sheer panic, clearly flustered and didn’t get into the seat immediately.”

Turns out, that woman had gotten two flight attendants who looked concerned, but they were calmed with a smile.

Then, that woman “looked at me and said, ‘I saw you write a text message and you wrote Allah on it’. My heart stopped. And I thought Oh Ma Goddd.”

“This lady was actually scared to sit next to me on this flight and had gone to tell the staff that she saw me write the word ‘Allah’ on a text message and wanted to now change seats – and probably wants me (my now starting to get a sick feeling of dread mind was telling me) removed from the flight too.”

No other seats were available and the flight attendant told that other woman she was free to leave. The tables had turned.

But Akbor wrote, “What was bothering me was the state this lady was getting herself into. She was literally shaking, breathing heavy and had gone flush in the face. She then got into the middle seat, next to her son still shock up and I took my seat next to her- telling her again ‘It’s just an Arabic word that means God, you have nothing to worry about.’”

Akbor’s Facebook post goes into detail about the women’s discussion: backgrounds, faiths and feelings.

So, what she “expected to be a quick three hour flight where I could catch up on some sleep turned into the most intense heart to heart I’ve ever had with a stranger. I defended my beliefs, I encouraged her to ask me any questions she had and I would try my best to answer them. And about 20 minutes into the conversation- she kept repeating ‘I’m so sorry’, ‘I’m so sorry.’

“We spoke more, and more and more. And in the words being exchanged between us I could see a change in her heart. She felt regret. Sincere regret.

“I know today was special for us both and many lessons learnt on both sides. We hugged, exchanged numbers and will definitely keep in touch.”

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