Such simple yet profound advice
"Guide us to the straight path" "إهدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ المُستَقِيمَ" - Al Fatiha
When we think of the straight path we usually think: direct path, easiest path, simplest path, keeping us away from the crocked path.
Is this how you think of your deen? Do you think of it as something that makes your life easier or more difficult? Do you look at it as a list of do’s and don’ts? Do you feel that life inside your deen is easier than life without it?
Intention is necessary in the study of any discipline, since every deed is rooted in intention, as attested to in the words of of the Prophet: “Deeds are measured by their intentions.”
It is necessary for the student in his quest for knowledge to strive for the pleasure of God, the abode of the Hereafter, the removal of ignorance from himself and from the rest of the ignorant, the revival of religion and the survival of Islam.
The first time I felt like I missed out on having never met my grandmother (my dad’s mother) was when I heard her neighbors talk about her and reminisce on the past.
Right after a devastating bombing in front of a church in Alexandria back in January 2011, dad insisted we go visit my grandparents’ neighbor, tante Angail to personally wish her a merry Christmas rather than his usual calls around Christmas time. Our ‘quick’ visit turned into a few hours of catching up and remembering the good old days when we found out that her sons (who dad grew up with) were all in town visiting. It had been ages since they had all met.
I was puzzled at the beginning as to why they kept referring to me as ‘Olfat el soghayara’ (little Olfat), and then it hit me that they actually knew my grandmother (I was named after her). Tante Angail referred to my grandmother as her ‘sister’. She recounted how they always shared their fresh stocks of fruits and vegetables with each other. Her sons told me that their ‘eid’ (Christmas), was incomplete until she told them how handsome they looked in their eid clothes. It felt like they were more than neighbors, that they were family!
What happened to this spirit? We live in a time where people don’t know their own neighbors, in a time where our country is divided in to: “them” and “us”. “Them” being: Muslims, Christians, Muslim Brotherhood, ‘felool’ or whatever school of thought that is different than our own. How did things regress from how they used to be to how they are now?
We need to change our mentality of ‘debates’ and having to convince the ‘other’ that we are right; to one of dialog and understanding. Why not seek to understand rather than attack and assume the ‘other’ is a traitor, wrong or bad? And while we are at it, why not bake something and drop by your next door neighbor and say hi? You never know, in time, you may have a second family who live in the same building.
I can’t bring this story up without mentioning the sad underlying tension that has developed between Christians and Muslims over the years. Most of us pretend it isn’t there but at the first sign of trouble, the elephant in the room becomes visible. From the stupid debates on whether Muslims can wish Christians a merry Christmas or congratulate them on the assignment of a new pope to some Christians playing victim first chance they get (sometimes it is understandable, sometimes it isn’t). My journey to becoming a better person, growing spiritually and learning more about my own faith started after I became really good friends with a couple of Christian Americans. I learned a lot from our conversations and continue to do so. I would like to someday see that spirit here in Egypt as well.
I pray that God removes hate from our hearts, that He helps us become more accepting of each other, and that He softens our hardened hearts.
I used to hate my name when I was younger because the kids in school used to make fun of it all the time. I would run home crying and tell my parents I wanted to change my name. Now I am proud that I carry my grandmother’s name and I hope that someday I can be proud of carrying the Egyptian passport as well.