Thursday, April 26, 2007

Put on your seat belt for God's sake

My sister had a little plan for a nice relaxing weekend. Her husband had just finished his PhD exams and they planned to spend a couple of nights in Port Said in a condo on the beach. They left yesterday in their little Hyndai; Ammar, 6 months, in his car seat, Sumaya, 4 years, right next to him with her seat belt on but she doesn't have a car seat. Forget about safety studies; we are Egyptians and we know what we are doing. If we think that 4 years is old enough not to have a car seat then we are right. Don't talk to me about statistics, it irritates us. We have a saying: don't count lest you lose the baraka (God's blessing). It is a saying that has no foundation or roots in Islam but for some reason, it is kind of a conviction. Anyway, half way through, Eman, my sister, decides to switch seats with Sumaya to feed Ammar. Eman forgets to ask Sumaya to put on the seat belt. Yes what you pictured is right; the four years old girl is in the front passenger's seat without a car seat or a seat belt. Her dad would not remember either because he was busy keeping himself awake but to no avail. In Egypt people don't usually drink and drive but they are fine with driving while sleepy. However, it is worthy noting that my brother in law has a chronic sleep-driving problem. He can't prevent himself from falling asleep on the wheels no matter how much sleep he gets before driving.

I don't need to tell you what happened next. It was just a matter of time before he hit a truck. The baby was safe, thank God. The driver's seat belt saved him and the mother was not hurt because the front seat protected her. But poor little Sumaya had a head trauma and broken glass pieces all over her face. She had a CAT scan which was fine and a 3 hours long plastic surgery for her face. We will only know how bad the scars will be after they take out the stitches.

Pray for little Sumaya and remember to put your seat belts on. Look at her pretty face and ask Allah to give her a speedy and complete recovery.

It is our prophet's (peace be upon him) teachings to take necessary precautions as part of trust in Allah.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

A tribute to my teachers behind bars

Dr. Mahmoud, I know you may not read this but I felt that the least I could do is to write those lines. Dr. Mahmoud Abozeid, a professor of surgery in Cairo University medical school. I learnt a lot from him just by example. For me he was an example of dedication, sacrifice and most importantly decency. When I think of the word decent, he is the first I think of. He was a mentor of the student movement when I was a student at Cairo University. I used to bother him with my visits to his office late by night after he is done with his patients (doctors' private practice opens in the evenings in Egypt). He was so welcoming all the time and would stay for hours even if that meant missing his kids' bedtime. In my last year of school when the emphasis was on Surgery, I had to miss many days at school because of the political turmoil at the time and the conflict the government had with the student movement. He offered to help me with school. I used to visit him in his office around 10:30 PM at "my" convenience to discuss a chapter or more with him. His knowledge in Surgery was vast and his character just stood out. One time I asked him to give a talk and he said that he was busy all Fridays and every three months when the month has a fifth Friday, he has a meeting scheduled. With such a busy schedule he was still willing to give a talk during weekdays in the time slot between his morning work and his private practice in the evening. For an organized person like him and with such a busy schedule, tutoring me must have been way high on his priority list to squeeze it in like that. What was he thinking? I don't know. All I know is that I am so grateful and I am so full of guilt. I am grateful for him and for the movement that allowed me to know such a person. I feel guilty because what he gave me was a trust to carry over. I may not know why he gave me this kind of attention and time but I am sure he was thinking he was investing for the future. I am not sure I gave as much as I took, let alone give more. May Allah forgive us all. During my last visit to Egypt I couldn't find time to visit him and surely, I regret this so much. I pray that his time behind bars won't last for long and that in my next visit to Egypt, inshallah, I will be able to visit him in his office. Let me hope that by then, I would be able to make him feel that his investment was worth it.

Dr. Abdelrahman Saudi is another person behind bars who influenced me so much. Although I haven't had a deep direct relationship with him, I was deeply influenced by his character. He was an icon of generosity. He used to be very rich before the government froze all his assets. His house was hugely humongous and we used to hold meetings there all the time whether he was at home or not. Countless brothers and sisters had keys to his house and at one point they were welcome anytime of the day. He had more than a dozen cars but one day he asked for a ride because all his cars were in use for movement related errands. That was not an exception, that was his daily routine; giving and giving more.
One day I visited him at work and my sister came along. She had never met him before. As we left the office, I noticed tears in her eyes and an extremely delighted look on her face. I was surprised and when I inquired, she said: I have goose bumps, this is the "Ikhwan" I read about not "you". I asked her what did you notice that made you extremely taken by his character. She said: "I don't know, but he is just so kindhearted and extremely decent"

If people like this lose their freedom and their money, what kind of message is the government sending to the youth: "Good is bad and bad is good"
I ask Allah to free all of them, to give them patience and to return their money to them and multiply it for them. I ask Allah to give their families patience and to shower them with peace and tranquility.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Not thoughts they are heresies!! Not immigrant but alien

Yup, I am not an immigrant. According to the homeland security we are called Aliens so let me keep it that way for now. I think that my musings qualify more for heresies than thoughts. When I listened to Freeman Dyson's winter 2005 commencement speech at the University of Michigan, I could relate to him calling his thoughts heresies. Today, I think I will use that for my blog title :) I don't agree with his heresies; they are heresies after all but I like the idea. Once I call my thoughts heresies, I am free to scribble whatever I want :) Read my heresies but be careful, you may become a heretic yourself :)