By: Mahmoud El-Yousseph
There aren’t too many people who don’t remember Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, also known as “The Grinch.” It was a 2000 American film starring Jim Carey based on the 1957 book of the same name by Dr. Seuss. For four weeks it sat as the #1 film in the U.S., eventually earning $260 million at the US box office and breaking the 2007 Guinness World Record for Highest-Grossing Christmas Movie.
At the same time, I bet there are very few Americans who’ve heard the story of the Muslim cabbie who saved Christmas. It is another heartwarming but true Christmas story that took place last year on Christmas eve that is worthy of being made into a film for its profound effect. This was a story about honesty, integrity, ethics, and human decency, yet those who heard about, knew very little about the honest cabbie or where he came from.
It began with an Italian traveler, Felicia Lettieri, a 72 year old grandmother along with 6 members of her family who took two cabs from midtown Manhatten on Christmas eve. Mrs. Letterie left her purse and a hand bag in one of the cabs. Inside her bag was over $21,000 of the group’s traveling money, expensive jewelry, and some of group’s passports.
After realizing she had lost this great fortune, she went to the police who told her “not to get her hopes up.” Her family echoed these sentiments, telling her that “this is New York. Forget about it. You have lost everything.”
Not so quick! The cab driver was a medical student from Queens, N.Y. who took a job few days a week driving a taxi after his hours were cut back at his former job. When he found the purse, he looked for contact information. Seeing the rolls of euros, nevertheless he never bothered even counting the money. He finally found the address and then asked a friend of his with a car to drive him 60 miles one way to Patchogue. When he got there, no one was home. He left his cell phone number with a note “Mrs. Letterie, don’t worry about your money, it is safe.”
After he left home to Queens, his phone rang, and it was Mrs. Lettieri, he then drove back again another 60 miles and returned all the lost items, refused to accept the reward offered him and returned back home, having driven a total of 240 miles, all for this one woman he did not know.
When asked by a reporter if he was tempted to keep the cash, he answered, “I am needy, but not greedy.” adding that when he was five, his mother told him, “be honest, work hard, you will raise your status.”
This man is precisely the type of person you want as your physician. He clearly is a man of enormous ethics and high moral principles. He has given us all a gift by his actions and integrity.
Mrs. Lettierei’s sister, Francesca, 79, said, the honest cabbie had saved her family’s Christmas vacation. adding, “we really love what he did.”
Oh yes, I all most forgot to mention, the cabbie is Mohammad “Mukul” Asaduzzaman, 28 years old and a native of Bangladesh. Many newspapers that published this story omitted his first name for some odd reason with the exception of AP wire service. Other daily papers ignored other ‘bothersome’ facts, such as his country of origin and that he was a Muslim, thereby denying American Muslims like me a moment of pride.
No one can forget the panic and hysteria created in America and all over the world as a result of the failed Christmas bombing aboard flight 253. In contrast, the message of this Muslim medical student story is very clear – namely that these are the kind of stories we need to hear more! Real people, honest, hard working, not politicians and religious fanatics as representative of American Muslims.
Mahmoud El-Yousseph is a retired USAF veteran and lives in Ohio.