سنة دون شمس ..September, 2004

لم أتصور إن حنيني إلى الوطن كان سيعيدني إليه بعد عام من الاغتراب، حينها لم تكن طموحاتي ونظرتي إلى المستقبل مثلما هي عليه الآن، رغبتي في التغيير والمغامرة وربما الهرب من واقع الحياة اليومي في مجتمع عربي خالص دفعني للهجرة دون تردد.
لم يشعرني ظلام تلك المدينة ليلا ونهارا بالدفئ، المدينة التي يتهافت عليها العرب من كل قطر على مدار السنة، والتي طالما تساءلت عن سبب إضاءة كل تلك الأنوار ليلا على الرغم من أن الحياة تكاد تختفي فيها بعد حلول الظلام.
لا أدري من أين كنت أحصل على التفاؤل والأمل كل صباح من دون شمس في الأفق، كنت أرتدي معطفي الأسود الطويل الذي بات في خزانتي منذ عودتي إلى الوطن، وأحمل مظلتي الوردية الفوشية التي كسرت الرياح احد أضلاعها والتي كنت أفضل أخذها على أخذ المظلة السوداء السليمة التي تركتها لي أمي عند زيارتها لي، ويدي الأخرى تحمل أوراق التصميم الكبيرة في حافظتها الكبيرة التي تلوح بها الرياح يمينا وشمالا في طريقي إلى الجامعة. طريقي الطويل الذي لا ينتهي، بعد عشر محطات في قطار الأنفاق آخذ رجلي وأمشي عشرون دقيقة، أنا ومظلتي وأوراقي، حتى نصل إلى مبنى الفنون، القسم الذي طالما حلمت الالتحاق به واكتشفت لاحقا إنني لا أنتمي إليه. لم يحرك أسلوب أستاذي الإيطالي الوسيم أي شيء في داخلي ولم أجد في نفسي أي نزعة فنية، لعلني اكتشفتها الآن بعد أربع سنوات من العودة.
ساعدني كثيرا طبخ خالتي الشهي وكوني جارتها على تخفيف حنيني للوطن، لن أنسى طالما حييت سهراتنا الجميلة وأكواب الشاي الغير منتهية والأحاديث والنكات والرقصات ومتابعتنا للقنوات الفضائية العربية حتى الساعات الأولى من الصباح، كنا نعلم إنها الساعة الثانية عشرة في كل منتصف ليل دون الالتفات إلى الساعة عندما يطفئ “هارودز” أنواره وتردد ابنة خالتي أغنيتها المعهودة “الساعة 12 نص الليل”.
اختلط جنوني بالتسوق مع جنون الأسواق هناك وأصبح السوق ملاذي الوحيد للفرار من غربتي، كنت احفظ كل بضاعة في كل متجر لدرجة أني أصبحت محللة أزياء، فما أن تمر أمامي فتاة تجول أزيائها في بالي: الوشاح “GAP”، المعطف ““ZARA، البنطلون “ “DIESEL والحذاء ““SKITCHERS. و لعل شغفي في التسوق كان من ابرز الصفات العربية التي برزت فيني هناك، ولا أنكر كم تطبعت بطباعهم الإنجليزية، كنت اذهب إلى المكتبات و اشتري الكتب، أقصد المقاهي وحدي برفقة كتابي، أحضر آخر الأفلام في السينما دون أن يهمني إن كنت وحدي أم لا.
لا أذكر كيف راودني قرار العودة، ولكن اذكر جيدا كم الاشتياق الذي لم تشبعه زياراتي. اذكر كيف استغليت موت جدي رحمه الله في وقت من اشد الأوقات صعوبة لي هناك، و عدت وكأني كنت أنتظر أي فرصة للعودة، كنت على وشك التخطيط للسفر إلى مونتريال لزيارة صديقة قديمة لي آنذاك، شاء القدر أن يبدل الأحداث ويأتي بي إلى الوطن.
ما إن قررت العدول عن قرار غربتي زادت بي لهفة العودة، بدأت اعد الأيام، تبدلت مشترياتي من كل شيء شتوي ثقيل داكن إلى ألوان الصيف، ألوان البحار والشمس والرمال.
لم يكن قرار العودة أمر سهل، أحسست حينها قيمة الترف الذي نعيشه في الخليج. غلبني شعور الرغبة بالاستقرار، الاستقرار الذي انتزعته الغربة مني فور وصولي. يذكرني وصولي بالسيدة العراقية العجوز التي استأجرت غرفة في شقتها، تلك السيدة التي تعاني وسواس النظافة، همها الأكبر كان تبديل الشر اشف وغسلها بعلبتين من الصابون في آن واحد. شعرها البني القصير و سلسلتها الذهبية الطويلة وشالها الأحمر الذي لا تستغني عنه كان يوحي بالفئة العمرية التي تنتمي إليها.  وعلى الرغم من قصر فترة بقائي معها إلا إني خرجت بتجربة جديدة كليا. أعجبت برفها الطويل الممتلئ بالكتب العربية، كانت تعطي دروسا في اللغة العربية للأجانب في بيتها، ويمكنني الجزم أنني لو أزورها قريبا سأجدها على نفس الحال، تفتح لي الباب وفي يدها فنجان القهوة مرتدية سترتها الصفراء وشالها الأحمر. شكلها كان يوحي بأصلها العربي، عكسي تماما، شعري الهادئ اللون وبشرتي البيضاء التي سمرتها شمس بلادي كانت تخفي هويتي العربية. وكم كنت أشعر بالإطراء حين كان يظن البعض أني أسبانية.              
أجبرتني غرفتي التي كان حجمها اصغر مني على العودة، أقنعتني جدران مبنى الفنون الغير مطلية على الانسحاب، قادتني حقيقة إنني الأصغر سنا في ذاك الفصل إلى الاستسلام وترسيخ مبدأ إن هذا العالم ليس عالمي. ذلك العالم الغريب، أكثر ما يذكرني به هي تلك الفتاة الجنوب افريقية التي رافقتني مرة للغداء وأجبرتني على المشي مسافة للوصول إلى مطعم يقدم الوجبة ب 1, 25  جنيه إسترليني بدلا عن المطعم القريب من الجامعة الذي يقدمها ب 1,75 جنيه. ولن أنسى فرحتها العارمة التي ملأت وجهها وكلمات الشكر التي عجزت عن التعبير عنها عندما دفعت لها ثمن الغداء. والفتاة الخليجية ذات الأم الروسية، بمعطفها ذو الريش وأحمر شفاها الأحمر، كم كانت تدهشني عندما تقدم لي العلكة والسجائر في نهار شهر رمضان وتتعذر بأنها مريضة.                    
ذاك العالم المجنون الذي طالما حلمت الوصول إليه، تركته لأعود لكياني الذي سافرت دونه و ودعته عند باب المطار. جمعت أغراضي الكثيرة ورحلت عن ذاك العالم، رحلت دون عودة. تركت مظلتي الوردية هناك، وتركت معها ذكريات البرد والظلام، وعدت إلى وطن الشمس والسلام
September, 2004

Sunrise with Barry White..23-11-2009

My day starts at 7:30am, that’s when the alarm rings and I open my eyes. I change, have my cereal quickly while reading the news paper and head to work. I spend over 9 hours at work. I leave the office after 5:30, when it’s already dark outside. The only time I get to see the sun is when I walk to my granny’s for lunch, a 3 seconds walk!  After a long working day I go home and work out for an hour. Sometimes I jog, sometimes I do yoga, aerobics and exercises of that sort. After I shower I sometimes go out for a social obligation, or have dinner with friends, or have a society meeting, or stay home reading and watching episodes (always the best option).
By the time I get to bed I’d be exhausted. I immediately fall asleep the moment I put my head on the pillow. Usually, I go to bed at around 12 mid night and wake up at 4:30 to pray then I go back to sleep. But this was not the case today. When I went back to bed after praying, I picked up my phone and checked the recent updates. One of my contacts wrote something with the words first and last. And when I put my phone aside to sleep, the intro of Barry White’s My First, My Last, my Everything started playing in my head. Who can sleep with such tempo in his head?
The song kept on playing and I was moving my feet and head as I lay sleepless on my bed. I don’t know if it’s a fact or if it’s just me, but I always get the most accurate, creative and clear thoughts when I’m half asleep!!  I felt like a 100 wire was connected to my head, each had its own topic but Barry White was present in the background all the way.. my kind of wonderful, that’s what you are…(8)
 
The sun started to shine. My room has an issue with curtains. I always end up having a curtain that SUCKS the sun light and throws it up in my room!! A couple of months ago I spent a fortune on a new curtain and STILL, my room is brighter than the outside! The sun light had hit my eyes and I heard something moving outside my room, the maid was awake which meant that it passed 6 o’clock. My precious sleeping hours were passing by while I spent it singing with Barry White who decided to come back from the dead to keep me awake! You’re my reality, yet I’m lost in aaaaa dream (8)
It then hit me that I’m not going to Europe this winter. It’s good that I’m breaking the routine, but there are certain things that I’ll miss. But who knows? I might wake up one morning and decide to go. Just like I did many times before. You’re the first…you’re the last…my everything (8)
The song started to fade out and I finally fell asleep. And what a nap I had! I saw a horse getting killed infront of me. Then some buildings started blowing up one after the other while I stood in queue in Starbucks. And finally I was followed by an ostrich! I was running and the ostrich was running after me when I heard the sound of a PING. I kept my eyes closed and wondered who’d PING me at this hour. I closed my eyes tightly trying to go back to sleep when the alarm rang. DAMN IT. It was 7:30 already. I slept for like around 10 minutes?!  I was so tired and my eyes were not seeing clearly that the word DISMISS looked like a German word and I was wondering how the language set up in my phone got changed!
I dragged my heavy body out of bed, and guess who was back? BARRY WHITE. We got it together didn’t we? (8)
HAVE A GOOD DAY 😀
23-11-2009

Looking at Islam with Tight Eyes.. 18-April 2010

We hear about sudden death stories almost every day. Car accidents, heart attacks, murders etc. It is a fact that we are all aware of as human beings on earth, anyone could die any second. True that the news we hear have its way to depress and scare us. But at the end of the day we realize that it’s destiny. And as Muslims we are strong believers in that, which makes us deal with catastrophic situations with patience and faith.

Unfortunately, there are some very dreadful behaviors that became common to Muslims when it comes to death news. I like to call it looking at Islam with tight eyes. Example comment: Oh my god, she wasn’t met7ajba, she’s going to hell!!. Or: He’s so lucky he was memorizing the Quran, he’s going to heaven!

Let me tell you about two stories that I’ve read in al-seera al-nabaweyathat happened in Ohod battle.  There was a Muslim who fought with the Muslims and got deeply injured. He couldn’t bear the pain, so he picked up his sward and killed himself. The prophet salla allahu alayhi wa sallam said: he’s in hell! Another Mushrek (who never believed in god) started fighting WITH Muslims all of a sudden in that particular battle, he died of his injuries. Although he never prayed a single prayer for god, the prophetsalla allahu alayhi wa sallam said: He’s in heaven!

My question is why do some people think that they are in a position that gives them the right to judge and categorize good Muslims from bad ones? If you are as smart and educated as you think, then how come you don’t realize that judging is a sin? And that Allah is the only one who knows the good from the bad!

It’s not just about judging others but also judging ourselves. We are supposed to be positive. Islam is all about being optimistic and focusing on the good side of everything. So why do we always look at the bad things that we and others do instead of the good ones? Whether the person was dead or alive, we should always look at his better side. It will make us feel good about ourselves and others.

I was once in a department store in London and there was a lady in abaya with a 2 years old boy next to me. The boy picked up a soft toy and she suddenly grabbed it from his hand and threw it away: “THIS IS HARAM” she yelled at the baby! What does a 2 year old boy know about haram and halal? He’s just a kid who got attracted to a toy! And who will probably grow up in a strict community where everything around him is wrong and forbidden. This kind of behavior is what leads young boys to join fake jihad forces and get involved in terrorism and suicide attacks. Being harsh never leads to anywhere good. And forcing others to believe in what you believe has nothing to do with Islam, because el a3mal bel neyat.

We shouldn’t forget that faith comes from within. And that what goes on between each human and Allah is something between the two of them. Covering your face or growing your beard doesn’t make you better than anyone. It’s your behavior and attitude that makes you better. It’s how much you truly love Allah between you and yourself. It’s how open and easy you become while living your daily life: Being good to your neighbors, sharing your meal with the poor, pleasing your parents, being there for your friends, helping the needy, doing the best you can at work, maintaining good relations with other religions and showing them that Islam is beautiful, and most importantly, pray on time and do all chores with good intentions.

It’s sad how most Muslims look at death as a black place where all people get tortured. How is that motivating for us to be better Muslims? The prophet salla allahu alayhi wa sallam said: “Tafa’alo bel khair tajedooh.” And that’s why we should always look at the good things we do and believe that we’ll get rewarded for that. This will push us to do more and more and be better Muslims. I once heard a lady who was giving a lecture in a funeral saying that we should look forward to the day we die because it’s an honor. It’s like the day we walk down the isle to Allah, so why be scared of that? It’s the day we move to a peaceful world where no problems of the daily problems we live exist.

I was so happy to finally hear someone talk about death in a positive way. And I started picturing death as something white, not black. And I found myself trying to be a better person, focusing on the basics and what matters the most. So what picture would you rather see? Which way would you rather follow? The black or the white?

At the end, I really hope that we stop looking at Islam with close minds. Allah gave us Quran and he gave each one of us a brain. We should read, do our own research and have our own perspective. It’s wrong to believe everything we hear even if it was from a religious person. We can’t keep on passing wrong beliefs and information. We must go back to history and have a deep look at the origin of everything that we’re doing today. Allah gave us a brain to do that, and not to follow others blindly.

And remember: Judging is Allah’s job. Not yours.


18-April 2010

Let the Celebrations Begin..11-Feb-2010

No matter how old we get, we can never forget the joyful memories of Eid back when we were little. Every single detail about Eid used to be exciting for us; the new clothes, the blow dried hair, the 3eedia, the nuts, the visits and the hinna. I remember how I used to count down the days and wake up on Eid day thinking wow, it’s finally Eid.

Unfortunately, all those joyous feelings started to fade away with time. Nowadays, people think of Eid as a very heavy day which we’ll have to spend wandering from one house to the other, kissing people and eating fattening meals & sweets. We tend to travel in Eid to avoid all that hassle. I don’t think that it has anything to do with age since the new generation is feeling the same about it. And back then, our parents and grandparents used to be as excited as we were about it.

It’s very heartbreaking how we don’t get pleasure from the two Eids that Islam granted us as a reward for our worship to Allah. I look around at other religions and cultures and it’s pretty impressive how they create an attractive image of their occasions. Colorful Christmas trees and cute Easter bunnies. And it’s not just the image that attracts; it’s how deep and devoted they feel towards it. We leave our homes in Eid while they fly back home for Christmas. 

Ramadan is the only time for us Muslims to experience something of our own style. Cultural habits and religious practices are strongly implied in that month. In Egypt, streets are beautifully lit with lights and lanterns and packed with children and adults all night long. Luckily for us, my mother does the same to our house. She decorates the fence with lights and hangs a huge lantern by the entrance every year. If every house did the same, can you imagine how beautiful the streets would look? Sadly, we Arabs lack that passion that westerners have. We have a rich culture and a beautiful religion but we’re so ignorant. The least we could do is brand our occasions in a simple and creative way like: Sell Eid/Ramadan greeting cards that are modernly designed, branded food packages (Eid candy for kids, Ramadan treats on the shape of hlal, cupcakes with traditional flavors, etc), and funky wallets or handbags for kids for their 3eedia.

I’m sure that if we search around we’ll find many of those products available. But under a very, very low profile. We need to feel the spirit. We want to see colorful posters on the roads and fun ads on TV. We have to be surrounded with the theme to feel it.

I know several Muslims who celebrate Christmas. They decorate a tree and exchange gifts. It’s very attractive to do so since our markets get filled with Christmas products every year. But do any of us know any Christians who celebrate Eid? I’m sure not. And why would they if WE who are meant to enjoy it find it dull and boring?



There is no shame in looking up at other cultures and admiring their ways of celebrating their occasions. It’s very inspiring and there might be some hidden lessons for us as Muslims. A good example is Thanksgiving day in America. It’s so beautiful how you get to realize the things you’re blessed with and share it with others. It’s a main core in Islam to be thankful for god and be content, but are we? Not at all, we always want more and we only appreciate what we have when we lose it. We don’t have to celebrate Thanksgiving, but why not get inspired from it and learn to be thankful to Allah?

New Year’s is another example. Many extremists think of it as a bed3a and many see it as just another normal night. I personally think that it’s much more than that and I’m not talking about celebrations. It’s amazing how our days form months and how those months form years. It’s a beautiful way to measure our time as living human beings on earth. And by the end of each year we get a chance to look back at what we’ve achieved and what we want to achieve in that brand new coming year. I see it as a refreshing chance to wrap up the past and start over. 

There is something new in everything we see around us and everyone we meet. And as Muslims we have a message to deliver to the rest of the world. A message that reflects how lenience and miraculous Islam is. And the easiest way to do that is by expressing our devotion through spreading joy and fun in those special days. Let’s not allow any extremists to limit our creativity in creating that attractive image. And instead of walking around London wishing that Christmas was our thing, let’s aim for a day when they’ll walk around our streets wishing that Islam was their thing.

انتصار على الزمن 28/5/2005

تحت ضوء مصباحي الخافت.. فتحت كتابي.. وقبل ان ارحل في عالمه.. شعرت بشيء غريب يجرني الى مكتبتي الصغيرة.. مكتبتي التي يسكنها كتابك منذ سنوات.. كتابك الذي حضنت صفحاته عطرك.. والذي كنت ابرر قرائته كلما شعرت بالحنين اليك.. قادتني رجلي الى المكتبة بخطا صغيرة.. ومع كل خطوة يزداد فضولي.. أرحل العطر مع رحيل السنوات؟ ..ترددت.. لكني وجدت يدي تمتد بهدوء الى الكتاب.. سحبته وفتحته.. واذا بي اعود مع رائحته الى زمان بعيد.. تذكرتك.. ولم أحن اليك.. لم اشعر بأي حنين أبدا.. تأكدت من صلابة مشاعري التي الغيتها في يوم من ايام الشتاء الباردة.. فرحت كثيرا.. افرحني عطرك الذي لم تمحه الأيام من الكتاب بل محته من نفسي.. ادركت انك مازلت هنا في الكتاب.. فقط في الكتاب.. راودتني احاسيس كثيرة.. لا ادري ان كانت ثقة ام فخر ام قوة.. او حتى نصر.. في تلك اللحظة احسست بأنني انتصرت على الزمن.. واستطعت ان امحي ما لم تستطع الأيام محوه

تركتك في صفحات كتابك التي حملتك لسنوات.. اخرجتك من عالمي وشئت ما لم يشئه الزمن.. أعدت الكتاب الى مكتبتي.. وضاع وسط باقي الكتب

 28/5/2005