Envy

Envy is one of the most dangerous diseases. It can lead to actions people never imagine they would do. Here is a quick list of stories that came to mind when I was reading the Quran and reflecting on story number 2 below:

1- What made Iblis disobey the order of his Lord and refuse to prostrate to Adam is envy: “… see this one whom You have honored above me; if You give me respite to the Day of Judgement, I will seize and mislead his offspring, all but a few”

2- What made the son of Adam to kill his brother is envy: “… when each offer a sacrifice, it was accepted from one but not from the other; he said, I shall kill you …”

3- What led the Brothers of Yusuf (pbuh) to get rid of him was envy: “They said: Yusuf and his brother are dearer to our father than we, while we are a strong group … Kill Yusuf or cast him out to another land …”

4- What drove the Israelites to object to the assignment of Talut as a king, despite his knowledge and strength was envy: “They said, how can he be a king over us when we are fitter than him for the kingdom and he is not given enough wealth …”

5- What made the Israelites reject the message of Muhammad (pbuh) was envy: “Do they envy men for what Allah has given them of His blessings?”

6- After the people of the book were sure that the message the Prophet (pbuh) is the truth from Allah, the wishes of many of them were not to believe in it but to deviate those who had already believed, “Many of the people of the Scripture wished that they could turn you away as disbelievers after you have believed, out of envy from their own selves, even after the truth become manifest unto them …”

Search deeply in your heart, you will probably find that the source of most of your problems is envy. It is not that people envy you. That you have no way to search for. It is about YOU HAVING ENVY IN YOUR HEART TOWARDS OTHERS. 

One solution?, Well, keep in mind the following paragraph:

Others really do not have to lose what they have or what they achieved for you to get it. As a matter of fact, it is better for you to think of how to be as good or better than others by climbing up to their level as opposed to working deliberately to bring them down to yours.

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An American is About to Die; And You Are Not Doing Anything About It!

I 140401-soltan-615a_6bb0673d5316ace22e658d782e83ea12woke up this morning on a message from one of my old friends who lives in Saudi Arabia, “Wael, Mohamed Soltan is going to die. I am in my office now. I am helpless. I can’t do anything to him. I am just here crying.”

I paused for a moment, gathered my thoughts, then I responded, “Hey! It has been a long time since I heard from you. Sigh! Yeah, I know! He is among thousands of people: everyone of them has a tragic story!”

“No Wael!” He responded. “He is an American! Where is the American Government? What are the American people doing about it?”

I was a little surprised that my friend–who is not an American–speaks this language. I decided to call him.

“Want me to call?” I replied.

“Sure!” He answered.

Mohamed Soltan is a 27-years old, Egyptian American, who was arrested by the Egyptian Police in a street protest and was detained for over a year awaiting for trial. He has entered a hunger strike for close to year now. His health has deteriorated recently and people are worried about losing him.

“I thought calling you may be better.” I said to my friend.

“Yes it is! Thanks for calling and I am sorry to trouble you but I am here very helpless and I see my friend dying while I am unable to do anything about it!” He replied. “But I do not understand why you guys aren’t doing anything for him. Where is his government? Where are his friends? Where are the human right organizations? Where are people of conscience? Isn’t he an American citizen that you guys have to worry about? How do you just leave him die like this in prison?”

“Sigh! You know my friend. His case is not big enough to make the government push for it. There is no political motivation behind it for any politician to consider it seriously. It just did not get enough interest to be pushed forward” I, disappointedly, said.

“That is so passive Wael! YOU push for it! You make it motivating! You attract people’s attention. I know you are busy. I know you have tons of other things that you do. But this is a life of a human being that is under threat!” He angrily responded. “Don’t tell me he is not alone. I know he is not alone! But his case is unique and it should not be difficult to free him.”

“OK my friend! OK! I will try. I just do not know what to do. But I will try … Anyway, it has been a long time. How are you and how is your family …” I said

We hung up the phone. It was one of the toughest calls I had in a long time. I really do not know how to move and where to start. Well, First step, publishing this post

#freeSoltan

Your bones are not free

I recently broke one of my ribs while playing soccer. As someone who is in sports all the time, I used to pay attention to those bones and joints that are apparent such as the shoulder, knee, and ancle. However this is my first time to pay attention to the tons of other bones and joints in our body that we do not pay attention to.

Rib fracture is quite painful. Breathing is painful, coughing is painful … hiccup is a disaster.  This rib fracture made me recall a very important saying of the Prophet (PBUH) when he said what can be translated as,

“Every morning the sun rises, there is charity due on every single bone.”

Getting to know that we have three hundred something bones in out body and multiplying that by the number of days we live, I came to realize how much debt I am in to Allah (swt). Having one of these bones fractured made me realize how much I can’t live without this blessing. The question that comes to mind is “How much money I am willing to pay to fix this Rib?” Well, it gets fixed for free as well. Soon, good willing, I will be enjoying my full three hundred something bones again.

The scary part is how one would be able to pay such an enormous amount of charity. Well, the Prophet (pbuh) added in the same Hadith,

You bring justice between two people is a charity. You help someone ride or carry his stuff on his ride is a charity. A good word is a charity. Every step to the Masjid is a charity. Moving the harm from the road is a charity.

If you are enjoying your three hundred something bones, you better start paying their price back.

Be the Wick!

Olive oil is full of energy. It almost lights on its own. Dipping a little tiny worthless thread in it, surrounding the thread with pure glass, and putting the final product in a niche will produce real light. The oil won’t light on its own although it almost does. The glass protects the burning thread from being extinguished by a little blow of air. It will make sure the light spreads beautifully and uniformly. Putting the glass on the floor may cause light to be blocked by obstacles or the lamp to be broken by people kicking it. Putting it in the niche allows its light to bypass obstacles and protects it from damage. The Qur’an (olive oil) is full of guidance. It almost guides people on its own. When we (threads) dip ourselves in it we will light. If we let this light go out through our character (glass), it will help people see this light and benefit from it. We need to take shield by some little rules and guidelines even if tough and tight (niche). We will hereby protect the product (the lamp) and hence the light. Without that, the Qur’an will continue to be full of light and will continue to ‘almost’ guide. We will continue to be worthless tiny threads. Most unfortunately, the world will continue to be waiting for light.

Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The parable of His Light is as if there were a Niche and within it a Lamp: the Lamp enclosed in Glass; the glass as it were a brilliant star: lit from a blessed Tree, an Olive, neither of the East nor of the West, whose Oil is well-nigh luminous, though fire scarce touched it: Light upon Light! Allah doth guide whom He will to His Light: Allah doth set forth Parables for men: and Allah doth know all things. (Lit is such a light) in houses, which Allah hath permitted to be raised to honour; for the celebration, in them, of His name: in them is He glorified in the mornings and in the evenings, (again and again) By men whom neither traffic nor merchandise can divert from the Remembrance of Allah, nor from regular Prayer, nor from the practice of regular Charity: their (only) fear is for the Day when hearts and eyes will be transformed (in a world wholly new) [24:35-27]

Ossama, Obama, …. hmm, well, how about Alabama?

Since the night when Obama announced the success of killing Ossama Bin Laden and my Facebook turned “…AMA”: between celebrating and praising Obama and talking about the death of Ossama. Even my Egyptian friends who used to swamp me with a post every second about the progress of the blessed Egyptian revolution are now discussing the killing of Ossama: whether true or not, whether ethical or not, and whether useful or not? Muslim organizations in the US responded to the event welcoming the death and hoping that this will end a long period of Islamophobia in the US; which side did they take? Well, an AMA side! Even my kids came home saying that this was the main discussion in the classrooms and my daughter, being the first kid on the bus said that the next kid hopped in the bus saying “Hooray! We shot him!”

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Illusional Fear

“إِنَّمَا ذَلِكُمْ الشَّيْطَان يُخَوِّف أَوْلِيَاءَهُ”

This part of a verse [3:175] came down as a conclusion to an incident that happened at the time of Muhammad (pbuh) right after the battle of Uhud ( you can read more about the incident here). But in summary the Meccan invaders wanted to come back and finish their job by killing Muhammad and all the Muslims and hence get rid of Islam once and forever. The Prophet (pbuh) went out with his companions to stop them, although tired and injured from the battle of Uhud. The Meccan leader sent a few people to them to threaten them saying that the Meccans came to you with a huge army and weapons. Their response was “Allah will suffice us and he is the best to rely on.” They insisted to defend themselves, their city, their prophet, and their religion. The result was interesting. NOTHING happened to them. The invaders were afraid to attack them and they went back to Mecca.

Among the verses that came to describe and comment on the incident was this very important conclusion: fear is just what the Devil tries to instill in truthful people’s heart so they won’t be able to stand for the truth. The evil and its people are just the followers of the Devil who deliberately want to convince everyone that his followers are strong and impossible to overcome.

Growing up in Egypt under the oppressive regime of Mubarak where a lot of fear was put in our hearts. The regime used every possible way to convince us that it is impossible to overcome. We used to hear about the number of police soldiers (1.5 million soldiers), the torture that takes place in prisons, the misery that you will be subject to if you dare to oppose, and the intelligence that knows every ant that walks on the soil of Egypt. When a few dozens go down to demonstrate, hundreds of armed soldiers go down to “show off,” and it won’t hurt to injure one or two, kill one of two, or arrest a few.  Fear was there. Many claimed courage but many more were afraid. Media played a big role to convince us of this fear. Terms such as “go behind the sun,” make parents feel that if their kids become active, they will disappear. “Behind the sun” is where activists are taken to their unknown fate. Movies played a big role. Even schools and families taught us that people should “walk next to the wall” as opposed to the middle of the streets. I was wondering why people of the past such as Pharaoh and other tyrant kings used sorcery with people. It was for the very same reason, instill fear in the hearts.

After what I saw happening the Middle East, I realized that this was all illusion. This huge army of police soldiers was very fragile. These weapons failed to stop the people. Those police monsters turned into rats in front of the revolts. It was a completely fake image those oppressors wanted us to believe. It is us who believed it under the pressure and the whispering of the Devil, who wanted us to fear his followers. It happened in the past and it is happening to us and will happen in the future. The Devil will always try to instill fear in our hearts so we won’t be able to stand for the truth and struggle to bring justice.

It looks like fear is an illusion and it is something within us not external. Courage is also a quality of our hearts not anyone else’s. The most important point I would like to make writing this post is how we can drive this fear away and replace it with courage that will enable us to overcome the toughest oppression (or what we believe toughest). Here are a few points that I learned from the few verses I am referring to, a couple of other verses, and of course the real demonstration by the revolutions happening the Middle East.

  • Fill your heart with one kind of fear; that is the fear of Allah. Allah said, “It is the devil that makes you fear his followers; do not fear them and fear Me if you are believers.” Those who fear Allah will fear no one else.
  • “Isn’t Allah sufficient?” is a rhetorical question that Allah is asking His Messenger; “Isn’t Allah sufficient for his servant? And they make you afraid from those other than Him …” Those who rely on Allah will have no fear. Recalling the story above; when Muhammad and his companions were approached by this wave of scaring, they said, (hasbuna Allah wa ne’ma alwakeel,) “For us Allah suffices and He is the best to rely on.” This very sentence is what was said by Abraham when he was thrown in fire and Allah saved him.
  • Stay away from sins. When you sin you make yourself susceptible to these illusions of the Devil. In the battle of Uhud when many of the prophet’s companions run away from the battle field, Allah makes a comment about them saying “Those who run away when the two crowds met are deceived by the Devil using some of what they possessed …” The Devil probably told them (making it up myself) “You? You defend the Prophet? You defend Islam? You are not worth it. Remember the many mistakes you have made? What if you die now? Are you ready to meet Allah? Run! Run before it is too late!” And you run …
  • What are you afraid of? What is the worst thing that can happen to you? Death! We are all afraid of death. But think about your life. Are you living an honorable life, a life that pleases Allah. Those revolts who went down to the streets of Egypt thought that it is important for them to change this oppression even if the price is to lose their lives. Those heroes in Libya valued freedom over a humiliating life. An honorable life is what one should be looking for. As Muslims, we know that this life is just a very short period anyway and the real life is what comes after. One will die anyway after a few years; isn’t it worth dying for a cause like this? When the sorcerers that Pharaoh had brought to defeat Moses believed in Moses, he threatened them with torture and death. They responded “Finish what you want to finish; you only finish this life …
  • Be next to people of courage. I have attended lectures about courage. I have read a lot about it. I have been always wanting to be courageous. I never felt courageous more than I am when I saw videos of these revolts standing firm in front of an army of police soldiers with sticks, guns, tanks, and tear gas rifles. I did not feel more courageous than I am when I saw the Egyptian man challenging a tank with his bear body. I did not feel courageous more than I am when I saw those heroes carrying one another when they get injured, go for a little treatment, and come back to defend their demonstration from the barbaric attacks of the regime. We need to live next to people who show courage. I recall a word by Ali Ibn Abi Taleb when he said, when the battle becomes tough, we take shield by the Prophet (pbuh). I recall the description when the whole army is running away and the Prophet and a few of his companions are running towards the countless enemy saying “I am the Messenger of Allah; come join me o servants of Allah!”
  • Always remember! It is the devil who makes you fear his followers, do not fear them and fear Allah if you are a believer … These are not worthy to fear them. They are weak. You are strong. It is just an illusion.

I am sure there are many tips to defeat this illusional fear, these are some, share yours and do not be afraid! It is just the devil that makes you fear his followers, do not fear them and fear Allah ….

 

Away from the Revolution

Since the revolutions in the Middle East started and especially after the Egyptian revolution started, I haven’t written a single post. I was asking myself this question, “Why am I not excited to write especially after the abundance of thoughts those revolutions brought to me?”

Every time I try to write I feel that my writing will be very unreal. It won’t represent genuine feelings and it will lack spirit. I never hoped to be somewhere more than I did when I hoped to be among the revolts in Egypt since I would have probably been with them if I were in Egypt. I was obsessed with the feeling that anything done away from the revolution is insignificant. When I saw people of Libya giving away their lives to gain their freedom, I feel that nothing can come close to this act. Everything is insignificant compared to what is taking place.

This reminds me with a group of Muslims who migrated from Mecca to Abyssinia running away from oppression. The Prophet and his companions later migrated to Medina, when they faced a huge amount of challenges: many battles took place, many martyrs passed away, many victories were granted, some defeat hurt them. These other companions were away in Abyssinia probably feeling the same as I feel now: “Why can’t we be with the Prophet supporting him and struggling next to him?”

Here are a few points to help getting positive impact from being “away from the revolution”

  • We have not run away from playing a role. Allah (swt) has a plan for us to be away. So, no reason to feel guilty.
  • Our pure intention to contribute to such great events if we were there can grant us a similar reward from Allah swt. The prophet, while being in one of the battles told his companions that “Every time you go through a valley or met an enemy except there are people in Medina who will share the reward with you; they have an excuse not to join you.”
  • There are many other things to be done. Allah holds us accountable for the amount of effort we do and the quality intention we have, not the great results our work produces. The role those companions in Abyssinia were playing was also important. That is why the prophet wanted them to be there and he was extremely happy when they came back. His meeting with them was a meeting of celebration and value, not accusation and blame.

So, we have a lot to do away from the revolution. Let us do what we can. Let us purify our intention in what we do. Let us have a commitment that if we are faced with what these heroes are faced with, we will behave similarly or better. Let us ask Allah to grant us a chance for a good deed and accept it from us. Let us make duaa for those freedom fighters and hope that Allah grants them victory. Let us support them with all possible means. More importantly, let us compete with them to please Allah (swt) in our struggle against the evil of our own self and that in our societies. The struggle for freedom in ON throughout the world. Let us be part of it. Although physically “Away from the Revolution,” spiritually we should be in the midst of it!