Honour in Morocco

A few days ago my wife’s engagement ring was stolen from our house when we had
a tradesman over. To be honest we felt that it would be gone forever. North
African’s very rarely admit being at fault because it is too shameful. Also to
be called or to be known as a thief is a very grave insult. It’s very hard to
explain just how powerful this concept of honour and shame is. Right and wrong
is not as important as honour & shame.

There are two men who run a hardware store nearby. I try to find reasons to
buy something there and chat to them… a few thumbtacks here, wire there etc.
They’d recommended the tradesman to me and I’d bought the supplies from them.
It was the local way, mixing relationship and business and I felt like our
friendship was starting to strengthen. Last night I went and told them about
the situation, asked them what to do and was careful not to shame the
tradesman by accusing him outright. I came home frustrated, unable to
understand them when they became animated.

We prayed a lot, realising that it was just a possession and
hoping somehow to turn the situation into an opportunity to show grace.
My wife felt that we should ask if the ring had “fallen into his bag” when the
bedside table was moved, even though we all knew that the bag was in another
room all day. I took our team mate with better Arabic back to the hardware
shop and we explained the situation again asking that they mediate for us. We
said that we didn’t want to publicly shame him and that we knew that they
themselves were honest men. This morning the tradesman came to my door asking
me to please forgive him because the ring had “fallen into his bag” when he
was packing up. I thanked God that the ring had been found and told him that
there wasn’t any problem between us. The strange thing is that we all know he
took the ring but by giving him an excuse, he was able to return it and not
feel shame.

Source known but withheld.