Friday, May 27, 2011

Egyptian Revolution Song

This is one of the best songs to come out of the Egyptian Revolution. The video captures the mood of the people. We keep hearing about the "shabab" the youth who protested but really it was every age, every walk of life. This video captures some of that feeling.

There is a moment when a man is holding his cell phone and video-taping some sheiks. If you don't live here, maybe you won't understand the significance of the moment. He has a little Coptic cross tattoo on his hand. Do you understand? "Kullu wahed" we are one. This was not a revolution by a religious group. This was a country-wide effort from all the people who were fed up.

Today is another Friday and another protest day in Egypt. They say it might be a big protest. We never really know; we can only guess. So, we bought up some food just in case. No one else seemed to make preparations to guard against the worst case scenario (but that's typically Egyptian).

The call to the noon prayer is still in the future as is the time after the prayer. Will massive amounts of people take to the streets? Will the army push the mobs off the streets and back into their homes? Honestly, we all hold our breath.

One thing I do predict is that the Western media will spin the coming protests to make it seem like "Militant Islam" is in danger of taking control of the country. This is not the truth as I see it. People here love Allah Subhanana wa Tallah but they are not interested in gripping their lives with a tight fist. Egyptians love a life of fun times, simple pleasures and "live and let live". We co-exist side-by-side with one another.

Enjoy this video and see the world I live in. Let me know if the ending made you tear up a bit. I still get a lump in my throat seeing the Copt Christians protecting the Muslims while they prayed in the street. I hadn't seen all the images; maybe I'll never see all the images. This video does a good job of showing you what I can never accurately write to you.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

MAKING HIJRAH 32 "Home Sweet Home"

Asalamu Alaykom,

This picture is going to look very ugly to you.

To me,  I saw beautiful progress when I looked at this cement wall. 

Before our marriage, this was bare brick and almost impossible to envision as a home.  Maybe it was the chickens running around.  Somehow, we needed to put our heads (as well as our hearts) together and make a comfortable (and affordable) place to live.

First, we cleared out the poultry.

Good call, right?

Then, my husband got out his little black book and started lining up workers.  It helped immensely that his married older brother had used contractors to fix up his flat.  All of these people were well known now to my husband.  

The funny thing is that my hub insisted on having the bachelor brother do all the hard-line negotiating with the workers.  My hub could be the good guy who brought them the tea and even the dinner (if they stayed late).  His bachelor brother could come up, inspect the work and demand they re-do this or that. 

Me?  I was out of the loop.  That was very hard for a control-freak  DIY afficianada.  I could not be talking to the workers.  They could not know that Ahmed's wife was American.  If they did, the price would go up.  I was kept out of their sight every day until they were done with their work.  Then, I would walk over for dinner (from our temporary home at the honeymoon cottage) and have a peek at how things were coming along.

I had to let my husband be the boss of this deal.  Okay, I didn't have to but if I wanted to have a smooth transition into married bliss, then it was a good idea.  One reason I married my husband was that our visions were oddly simmilar.  We both can agree on what is important or extraneous; beautiful or ugly; priced right or worth less.  He had my trust and I felt like now would be a good time to put that feeling into action.

As time went on, I started to see our dream life become a reality.  It was a wonderful experience.  All the engaged couples in Egypt do this building a home together.  I used to joke about it but now I could see how much it cements you umm... cement.

               as if a trowel of love were spreading a cementing
               commitment over us making each layer joined
               together forever.  

Okay, smarmy sentiment aside, it was a positive in our lives that I'm glad I got to share with my husband.  It was truly affirming to see that basically a chicken coop could transform to be our palace of hudu  or calm.  Everything we picked out together had to help add to our formulation of  understated quality and simplicity. 

I didn't always understand why he was doing exactly what he was doing.  Our trip to the tile store section of town was one of those times.  Remember, the stores in Egypt are not scattered about.  Each specialty store is clustered with more of the same.  From store to store we went.  I found some gorgeous tile but it was not the brand he wanted.  Ahmed insisted on quality from a brand he trusted.  So back to the first store.

We had talked quite a bit initially in that first store.  We had talked a lot while looking at the other stores.  Now, we were narrowing things down.  Less talk.  More decisions. 

I wanted the tile with the butterflies for the bathroom.  He agreed until he saw the price.  He said no way.  I said I must have them regardless of price.  He bended so the two of us didn't break. 

I wanted the fruit border for the kitchen.  He didn't agree.  He had seen the price and said no way.  I knew that I couldn't be adamant about every choice.  I asked if he could help me find something cheaper that was as nice.  We looked through a large selection and found coffee cups which captured the warm, welcoming feel we wanted. 

I was surprised how long he sat with the manager of the store.  There was drinking tea together and chit-chat.  I was not really involved too much with this.  I wondered if my husband had lost his mind.  Weren't we here to buy tile?  Was he trying to make a new friend?  Turns out that this was typical Egyptian business.  In order to negotiate, the two men had to spend substantial time together.  When the dealing got going, I saw how my hub used his new-found knowledge of the manager to twist the prices our way.  It worked remarkably well.  We left in a pick-up truck with a pile of tile, a sink, a toilet and a bathtub.

We also had the floor tile I wanted.  I had wanted a lighter shade than he wanted.  When it came time to lie the tile, my husband used some of the remanent tile from his brother's apartment.  It was a little darker.  Ahmed designed a pattern using both shades for the salon.  I loved it!  And the amazing part, for me anyway, was that I wasn't consulted and I didn't care.  I knew that my husband cared and had taken both our feelings into account.

Little by little, we had walls, floors, and eventually ceilings (with lovely molding alhumdulillah), then windows and doors.  I took pictures every step of the way.  Ahmed had no idea why I would photograph something incomplete.  For me, really the process was lovely.  It was a dream coming into fruition.  It was a kind of miracle taking shape.

Somehow, I had come to Egypt with $2,000 and managed to find a job, a husband and now a home; not a rental property.  I was building something permanent with a person who wanted to share his blessings with me.  Alhumdulillah.

Copt Cemetary

     Walk through the Pharoah's portal.

Pass by the Muslim guard at the gate and enter into a different world.

It's like a little city.

It's quiet, clean and peaceful; a idyllic Egypt.

Stand in the shade and enjoy a moment of calm in a chaotic world.

There isn't room here for hate. 

To me, my religion and to you, yours.

So many doors.

Each door holds the promises, dreams, and hopes of so many lives.

My life is made richer by knowing my time on earth is finite.

Alhumdulillah for my life and for your life.  Alhumdulillah for the ability to really think about our lives and our choices. Who are we now?  Who do we want to become?

We have an amount of time to change our lives; to be better than we were the day before.  We can love more fully, forgive deeper, think with a clearer mind and embrace with a bigger heart.  We can.  It's a choice.

I love visiting cemetaries.  I love reading obituaries.  I love seeing how lives are precious.

It makes me remember the infinite possibilities inside me which are God given.  Subanallah.

Those possibilities are in you, too.

May all of us who strive for the sake of Allah be thankful for the chances we have to be the most we can be.  May all of us do more good than bad and be accepted into Paradise at the end of our days.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

My Final Resting Place

I'm going to take you to one of my favorite places

I know you think we're going to The Pyramids.

We're not.

We are, however, going to The Land of the Dead.

Right next to The Pyramids is a place you can't enter as a visitor.  You can only enter it as a future resident.

Inshahallah, I will end up here when my days are all done. 

When Allah has given me every single one of my blessings, then I will not need to stay walking around this earth any more. 

I will not need to move or to think.

I can stop all my travels and tribulations. 

And though I don't want to stop everything today, I am comforted by the fact that someday it will stop. 

And when I am all done with my life, I honestly hope that my body is buried here.

It's the first time I've ever felt like I have a resting place. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Poll: What Should I Sell?

I have been having regular polls on the sidebar.  I kind of like this focused interaction.  It allows me to take the pulse of my readers (and find out if anyone is still paying attention).

I wrote this,

"Inshahallah I'll travel to the U.S. this summer. I've been thinking of packing my suitcases with items I could sell. This way, while I'm in the U.S., I'll have some dollars to spend. Not sure if it's a good idea. Vote on the latest poll to help me decide. Thanks!"

Here's how you responded:
NO to anything      2%
YES to clothing     4%
YES to jewlery      5%
YES to linen          1%

Now, after having some time to think about it, I've decided not to really put too much effort into making money off items from Egypt.  My heart isn't into it.  I love buying gifts.  I love buying lovely things and keeping them.  I don't actually love buying things which I have to convince someone (somewhere) that they need to own it.

The awful economy in the U.S. is partly to blame for my decision.  I don't think that spending habits are so loose and fancy-free.  I think people are still tight with their cash.  If I spend my money counting on YOU wanting to spend isn't that smart.

The place I'm headed to already has a lot of immigrants bringing stuff from "back home" and they have a corner on the market.  Why try to compete with them?  They have shops and regular customers. 

And where would I go to sell?  That really worried me.  I have a lot of chutzpah but I'm not imagining the big duffel bag coming into the masjid and me opening it up after prayers.  Besides, chutzpah is yiddish and probably not allowed.

So!  I will bring the long tunic tops and skirt for my pal, the light summer dresses for my mom, jewelry for my girlie, some scarves, and a lot of Islamic wall hangings.  I don't think I'll get any money for any of it.  It's okay.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Asalamu Alaykom,

I almost forgot this very strange episode maybe because I would like to forget it.  However, any accurate account of my hijrah needs to include it.

Go back. 

Go back to the week I was getting married.  I had been sick.  Mr. Boo had been sick.  After shots and rest we were both well enough for me to push on ahead.   This was going to be the last attempt Ahmed and I made to climb up that mountain of paperwork in Cairo (being careful of course of the treacherous red tape).  I had some amount of hope still that it would all work out (which we all know that it did).

But right before our final attempt we were a little tense with fear of the unknown.  And what we didn't need to add to the tension was a call from America.  BAD TIMING!  It's X2, a.k.a AbuBoo.  As we were planning our new life, his call reminds us of the old.  I can't get mad because I actually asked him to help me with something for our son.  I had asked him weeks and weeks ago but he's only now able to help me out.  He tells me that this week his brother can come down and register our son in order to get his Egyptian birth certificate.

I would have loved to say, "No, sorry!  I'm supposed to get married this week so I can't!"  I couldn't say that.  Open honesty wasn't going to win me any awards in this moment.

Plus, that birth certificate was something the school needed in order to help process my work permit paperwork.  As the mom of an Egyptian, I could stay in Egypt as long as I was his guardian here.  I knew that my marriage would also secure that right to stay but I was more comfortable in securing my own future. 

I could not register my boy myself.  I had to have a male member of AbuBoo's family do it for me.  The older brother would be the family reprensentative.  He would meet us at the office.  I had to do it in the next few days as there would not be another chance for months.  I couldn't guarantee if the brother would be available another time.

I said "yes" and I prepared myself for a day I didn't want.  It would be during the honeymoon I wished for.  No, we weren't going out of town.  I simply wanted to chill at home and enjoy time together which we'd never had before.  This marriage wasn't going to be like any previous relationship.  This marriage was truly between two people who had been forced to keep their distance.  I knew I'd be going into Cairo to marry and then two days later going again.

I couldn't go alone to this government office.  Even if I had not married Ahmed those days before, he would never have allowed my boy and I to brave the city alone.  He was with us on the bus.  Imagine:  the new bride and groom with their boy going to see the uncle (from the previous marriage).  It was super awkward. 

Somebody should draw a comic book hero named, "Super Awkward."

So, we're a block away from the government office and that's where we have to part.  It wasn't smart to let on to Mr. Boo's uncle that I'd just gotten married.  I went to the front of the building and waited.

That's when the big bear of a brother showed up.  Really, I have nothing against the man.  He never did me any wrong.  Never.  He tried his best (all those years ago) to talk his younger brother out of divorcing me to marry his former wife.  Didn't work.  Can't blame him.

"We're mad at you," were some of the first words out of his mouth.

What?  HUH? 

"You said you would come for a visit and you didn't," he explained. 

I couldn't believe that this was the start of our time together.  It really upset me.  I traveled all those miles alone with their family's namesake and ...

"I didn't have to come see your family at all," I answered.  "I didn't even stay in Cairo for one day.  I came as soon as I could to see your mother and the family.  You can't blame me.  I've been busy working, finding a place to live, getting used to the country, the language, EVERYTHING and I've been sick---we've both been sick.  I wanted to come again but the H1N1 scared me."

He lightened up after that.  He handed the package which his brother's friend had brought over in his suitcase. No one sends anything to Egypt in the mail for fear of it being stolen.  Inside were a couple of books and toys from my mom, a package of Sambucol medicine, my updated driver's license, and the most necessary item:  AbuBoo's Egyptian I.D.

As a man, you can't do anything in Egypt without it.  You can't enter a secure building without leaving it with the guards.  You can't walk in the street for fear of being stopped and not having it (as you could go to jail).  And if you are married, you carry both the I.D. and your marriage certificate to prove that the woman next to you is truly yours.

So I stare at the photo.  It's the man I used to love dearer than God, astragferallah.  I take my camera and take a photo of the front and back.  I do this not because I need to remember his face.  I take it in case I need to persue any legal action to protect my son's rights.  It's come to this.  The man I once loved so much is now the man I don't trust for much.

I had to ask the brother about the past.  It was strange, you know?  We were these people who had spent years within the same family but we never had spoken face-to-face before.  There had always been a lot of family surrounding us and of course a lack of language between us.  Sitting there outside on the bench together we talked for really the first time.

It was as it always is with everyone I talk to:  No one wanted AbuBoo to marry her in the first place.  No one supported their marriage.  Everyone was relieved when they divorced.  Everyone was happy when we married.  No one could believe that we divorced.  Always the same story.  In the end, it doesn't help me one bit.

We went about our business and I almost had to laugh.  The mannerisms of the uncle were the same as his brother.  There was all that quick rushing around, forgetting where you put something, back tracking and laughing it off.  We filled out the forms together then we went from office to office to get the work processed.  I had to trust what he was doing and it occured to me that he could really be screwing me over. 

At one point, I didn't know where my passport was.  The uncle acted like it was no big deal---one of the counter workers had it (though he couldn't remember which).  I nearly clubbed him over the head with my handbag.  Was he insane?  My American passport was no where in sight?!  When I tried to explain how important it was to me, he asked me, "Why are you so nervous?"

Yes, that very much reminded me of AbuBoo.  If I was upset about something that was important to me, then I needed to chill.  It was not that the man needed to find some sympathy for me---oh, no!  Eventually, he asked the right person for the passport and it was handed back to me. 

We waited together while it was processed and I wondered what people thought of us.  Who were we in the eyes of others?  Were we this happy family?  Were they thinking I was married to this gentle giant?  If anyone really knew how I had my new husband waiting for me outside, they would be surprised.

At the end of the process, I had given birth to a healthy 17 kilo, five-year-old Egyptian boy.  I had his birth certificate to prove it.  He now had dual citizenship.  Alhumdulillah.

A lot of people wonder what that means for military service here in Egypt.  As a dual citizen, he does not have to serve in the army.  Alhumdulillah!  Really, I am not interested in having any of my kids experience the military.

We could have parted afterward but instead I was asked for lunch.  I agreed because I was so hungry.  We went into the Felfela and enjoyed some delcious food.  It was terribly expensive but I wasn't paying.  I ate chicken and rice which really hit the spot.  I took some pictures.  We made a call to his town to say "hi' and then it was time to go.

When I left, the thought occured to me that I wasn't sure how to link up with Ahmed again.  I walked away from the restaurant into a crowd of people and my phone rang.  It was my new hub.  He and I met up and boarded a bus. 

He had not eaten.  He was crabby.  The whole time we had been apart, he had been watching us.  Creepy!  But I understood his reasoning.  Really?  He watched the whole time?  I listened to his spying account.  Yes, he did. 

Though Ahmed had loved me from afar, he was distant with me in the same bus row.  I put my head on the window and tried to sleep.  I was exhausted.  I was still recovering.  I was in shock a bit from both being newly married and from revisiting the past.  I felt sick.  I did everything I could to keep that chicken and rice to stay down.

We reached home.  We didn't talk.  We were tired.  Alhumdulillah, we would have other days.

Chapter 32

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A Jewish Girl Accepts Islam

I like this story---not necessarily that OOOOOH AAAAAAH it's a Jewish girl so that's subhanallah amazing. I like it because in many ways the story is universal. She studied, she befriended, she explored and discovered she already was Muslim.

Her way to handle family opposition is very smart: wait until some time has passed and then tell them. That way they will realize that they were talking to a Muslim; loving a Muslim all those months without realizing it.

I did not do this. I basically told my mom within the hour (as I handed her a Quran) LOL! Oh, I've learned a lot since then.

May God make the ways of new Muslims easy and full of understanding supporters.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Miracle Worker

Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke, pretending to be teacher Annie Sullivan with Helen Keller. 
If I had to chose one to resemble, I would definately chose "Cuckoo Catchoo Mrs. Robinson". 
However, I didn't get to choose my looks and more than one person has told me I look like Patty Duke. 

Being a kindergarten teacher is as important to the world as being a surgeon.  I'm not into hyperbole.  I'm being serious.  I have a life in my hands.  If I treat that child well and guide him effectively then he has a solid foundation on which to build his life. 

If I am cruel, heartless, thoughtless, or worse yet indifferent, then the child suffers not just in the here and now but forever.  I know that my affect on a child will be long lasting so I really consider deeply my role in their life.

Today was a tough day at school.  Alhumdulillah.  I earned my money today!  When I came home and did my prayers (no time to do duhr at school---astragferallah), I made sujud with complete gratitude for the peace and quiet here in my our apartment.

After dinner, I kept thinking of the conference I must have tomorrow.  It's yet another serious discussion with yet another family having problems with their child.  If I cannot help this child and his family, who will?  This weighs heavily on my mind. 

Yet, at the same time, I have a duty to the other children in the room.  We have 29 days left together and I want those days to be memorable in a positive way.  Today had too many negatives and I worked too hard to keep the good feeling and hugs going.

Honestly, I think there comes a time when a teacher has to say that she's done all she can do.  I am not a miracle worker.  I'm just a person and I don't have all the expertise and all the answers.

Here's an analogy:  If I had a child who was bumping into chairs and tables and even other children, shouldn't I try to figure out why?  There would soon be upset and injury!  It wouldn't be right to assume I could help the child based only on my guesswork.  It could be a problem with my furniture lay-out.  Maybe there's a vision problem or a problem with his equilibrium.  Or should I start looking into his state of mind? 

I should release.  That's the answer I decided upon.  There are too many variables when a child is acting up in the classroom.  I don't really have all the information so I requested his parents to provide both a physical and a psychological evaluation.

Lots of times, we want to play armchair psychologist and determine that a child is troubled emotionally and must be seen for family issues.  I am against this approach.  There are many physical conditions which show up as negative behaviors.  A child who isn't processing information correctly due to deficiencies in hearing or vision can't function well in a classroom.  Anemia and low-blood sugar can adversely affect energy levels during a busy school day. 

So, I'll await the test results and then decide how best I can help this child.  Inshahallah, his education will continue after I get educated about his needs first.

May Allah help all the teachers to guide their children to the good straight path of knowledge.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Osama Was My Neighbor

     Nasheed artist Dawud W. Ali unexpectedly found himself in the right place at the wrong time. 

     His article in Emel Magazine is a must read.

MAKING HIJRAH 30 "We Are Family"


Asalamu Alaykom,

Three is a magic number.

I was now (once again) a married woman in Egypt.  I honestly didn't think I'd ever be on my fourth marriage.  It sounds like a joke---a bad joke.  Just a re-cap for viewers who tuned in late:  my first marriage was to an American man I met when I was 19 (I married at 22 and divorced at 31); my second marriage was to an Egyptian-American man who helped bring me to Islam and our relationship lasted five years; my third (Islamic only) marriage was to a Moroccan internet romance and it lasted four months before I moved out.  And in 2010, I entered into a marriage four months after meeting an Egyptian man here.

Was I nuts?!


But it made sense at the time.  I was no longer alone in Egypt.  I could wake up, pray, make love, get help getting Mr. Boo ready for school, and together we could walk (or run) down the road to catch the bus.  I could count on someone.  It felt good.

Sometimes, it felt bad.  Yet, from all my previous experience I knew that the first year was not going to be easy.  I knew that I had to keep it going and make it through that first year no matter what.  For one thing, I needed to save face after my Moroccan disaster.  More importantly, I feared Allah and didn't want to displease The One Who Blesses.  I felt that I was blessed to have married this particular man---though during those first months it was a frequent challenge to stay positive.

For one thing, it seems as if step fathers switch roles from when they were courting to when they are married.  X3 did it and so did my current husband Ahmed.  In all the times of going out as a faux family and having fun, he rejoiced in my son's antics (or at the very least, showed huge amounts of patience).  Yet, as soon as we started living together, Ahmed became the authoritarian.  He thought that to curb my son's naughtiness, there had to be some tough love. 

I didn't grow up with a man in my house---not even a boy.  It was only my single mom and me.  There was zero testosterone.  It maybe didn't matter too much as a girl (although I certainly went looking for male attention as a teen).  As the mom of a young boy, I knew we had to get some male role modeling...otherwise Mr. Boo would be looking to me as his role model.  I married in part to have that influence.

However, when the time came to see a man actually fathering my son, I was not able to loosen my control very well.  There was Ahmed's slap on the hand to stop Mr. Boo's thumb sucking.  There was Ahmed's cold, non-loving stare when Mr. Boo did something naughy in the house. There was walking away from us when Mr. Boo did something naughty outside of our home.  I had a hard time with the rough-housing.  I didn't like the teasing.  I didn't like the name-calling.  I wanted to coddle, contain, indulge, and protect my baby boy. 

Over time, I saw how Mr. Boo was making positive changes.  He stopped sucking his thumb, he obeyed better, and basically he developed a need to please.  With each positive change, I saw my new husband loosen up and outwardly show more affection and approval.  Remember:  a mother's love is non-conditional and a father's love is conditional.  Before, in America, AbuBoo would be a visiting dad who could not, in his own mind, afford risking displeasure from his son.  The fun once-a-week father with few boundaries spoils his offspring.  This becomes a kind of weird reversal, i.e., the father's love becomes non-conditional and the mother's love therefore has to balance it out with a conditional love.  Think "Good Cop/Bad Cop". 

For the first time, I really was in a parenting relationship.  I got to experience the balanced life with an active partner.  I could stop being The Everything in my child's life.  I could be the parent who gets help.  It wasn't the big wonderful Hallmark "Happy Father's Day," card.  It hurt almost as much as birthing or weaning.  In a way, it was me who needed to wean myself from my son.  I could leave him under the care of this man and his family and feel like he would be safe.  Alhumdulillah.

At the same time, my husband was needing to redefine himself with his family.  We faced some friction with his family.  He was their baby.  I married ANOTHER baby.  In fact, I seem to marry only babies.  Youngest children are the ones who are the least confined and defined by family traditions.  To marry me, does seem to mean breaking away from the norm.

Egyptians love to yell.  They yell when they are happy and yell when they are mad.  Basically, they yell most of the time.  There is such noise pollution in Egypt from the the cars honking, people yelling in the street, the Quran playing in the home, the TV on full blast, and the people yelling inside the home. 

I thought, when we moved to our little honeymoon cottage, that I could get away from a fair amount of that.  We were living on a quiet street.  We only turned the TV on to watch a show and then we would turn it off.  We didn't yell to be heard. 

So, imagine my surprise when the family started coming over to our place to chillax.  I would come home from a hard day at work and find the whole posse plunked down in the salon.  My needs had to be submerged for the moment while I played hostess.  Everyone got a glass of pop or a cup of tea.  I passed cookies, candy or fruit.  Alhudulillah I've played the part before so I knew what to do.

When there was a problem, the family would show up again.  Once, during a family meal at the Grandma's, I had asked in Arabic how the tile was coming along in "my house".  The Grandma flipped out.  She thought, in her limited capacity that I was trying to claim her property.  She yelled at us in her house (and I better not forget it was hers).  We retreated to our house AND the whole family followed.

The doorbell never stopped that evening and into the next afternoon as a steady stream of menders came to patch things up.  Even when my husband tried to sleep off the upset, his sister showed up  She boldly came in uninvited, proceeded to walk through the salon and into the bedroom where she flipped on the light.  No, my husband was not allowed a break and that made me mad.  I vowed that would be the last time I would let a family member walk in the house and walk all over me.

It took another pow-wow to calm everyone down.  No, Yosra didn't mean that the house was actually hers.  I wasn't trying to clain anything legally.  I was just wanting information about the workers who were getting our real home ready. 

As nice as our honeymoon cottage was, we weren't going to live there forever.  We were paying money to have the walls finished, the tiles layed, the kitchen counter top installed and so on.  This was going to be our home...with the family.

I was starting to doubt if moving into the family house was such a good idea after all.  Before marriage, I could go to my little apartment and find solace.  Now after marriage, even in my our place, I didn't feel like I could get away.  I was not happy with all the visits.  I let my feelings be known to my husband, although I won't say that I sounded very good.  I sounded American!  I sounded like that independent individual whose home is their sanctuary.  The visits reduced and my husband started asking me about people coming over instead of them just showing up.

I had to keep remembering the good times with family.  The sisters brought homemade cakes to our kitchen.  When I was scared of a man the window, I called the brother-in-law owner and he came right over to introduce me to the "boab" or security man.  If Mr. Boo was lonely for a playmate, I had many cousins who could supply the fun.

In hindsight, it was a good way to gradually ease into a new life---a new family life.  In Egyptian culture, you really don't have friends who take up your time and your energy; you have family.  I now had a family.  Alhumdulillah.

Chapter 31

Monday, May 2, 2011

Osama Bin Laden was a Hijacker

     Astragerallah that a Muslim man became hunted like an animal.

Yes, Osama Bin Laden was a Muslim man.  At some point in his life he made a conscious decision to leave Islam.  He decided not to focus on his inner struggles; his inner jihad.  Instead, he placed the focus out of himself and projected it into a culture which he didn't understand.  He made a decision not to let others have their ways. 

"To me my religion and to you yours," was what Allah had commanded him to say.

Osama Bin Laden disregarded that verse in the Quran and so many more following it.  He didn't care about what was right with Islam and thought only about what was wrong in the West.

He lashed out at those who were different and acted like a predator who had the thought of prey not pray.

He hijacked my religion and used those planes to kill innocent lives and to destroy the spread of a peaceful, moderate Islam.  He became the most well-known Muslim man in the world and made people think of him and Islam as perpetually linked together.

Now, he has been freed from this world; uncaged from his hiding place.  Inshahallah, by killing him the U.S. has saved him from committing more sins against humanity.  I don't know if all the oceans in the world can wash away his sins.  He did some good in this life but the bad he did was astronomical and only Allah can weigh the scales of justice.  For me,  I can only feel that he wronged Islam even more than he wronged the families of murdered victims.  Astragferallah.

There was a moment when he could have made a choice to help not hurt.  That moment is also my moment and your moment.  We intertwine our lives with so many other souls each day.  Don't look at his life and scoff that he was ultimate evil.  He was only a man.  He was a deeply misguided man.  I honestly don't know if my life will be any better than his. 

I have my life yet to live.  So do you.  Be careful with your life.  Be a higher thinker than a reactionary minuteman ready for fight for your cause.  Accept life and those who live around you as gloriously imperfect creations from The Perfect Creator.

May Allah put to rest the life of Osama Bin Laden and bring peace to both those who loved him and those who hated him.  I pray, Dear Lord, that the world which we now share without him becomes a better place---not by us vilifying him but by us lifting ourselves up to be your servants.