Friday, 25 July 2008

Singular and Plural Masculine Pronouns in Egyptian Colloquial Arabic

Are you going out?
Yes, mom. I wont' be late.
Where are you off to?
Zamalik. I'm meeting an ex-(male) student who's back from London and wants to say Hi.
What shall I tell your brother, then?
Tell him "I'm meeting an ex-(male) student who's back from London and wants to say Hi."
Why the headache? Some things are better left untold.
Mom, tell him whatever you want.
I'll say ex-students phoned and you're going to have coffee with them.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

In two minutes

'I'm leaving tomorrow and I have been holding myself. You know how much I love you, no?
You're just like any of my daughters to me and I hope you don't get upset.

You have been to Aya's funeral and you see how it could have been you. She was among us a week ago. Life is short, dear. This is the life of testing, and the other is the life of eternity. You'll see the truth of all this in your grave, a dark hole in the ground.

You think you look more beautiful without the veil? I swear you don't. Your beauty was in your headscarf. You looked as pretty as a full moon.

God is always there for those who watch him in their actions and follow his straight path. Don't forget him so that he doesn't forget you.

May Allah guide you, love.'

Wednesday, 16 July 2008


My mom heard the news and sent my dad to tell me.

You never know how they feel until you lose one the way they did.

I see her smiling at everyone. I see her delicate body dancing at a wedding. I see her talking to me when I ran into her on the subway. I see her twenty happy years gleamining in her eyes. I see myself in her place.

And now she is gone. One cousin instead of the other would have been lost. That simple.

Oh God, I am not ready to meet You. I am just not. Please do not take me unless You are happy with me. Do not take me unless my heart is as pure as snow. Do not take me now. I need your guidance and do not know where to look for it. I am tired and have never ever been that tired before. I really cannot take it any more. I feel the whole world on my shoulders. I lost my smile, the taste of everything, and do not want to lose myself.

You know me better than I know myself. You know how fragile I have become and how weary and confused I have been. I never doubted Your presence and never will. I feel it in every breath I take. If all that is happening to me now is because of something I did, please forgive it and make me forget it. If this is all a test, I am unable to bear it. I do not want to hear them talk about You. I do not trust anyone anymore. They all claim to know the path to You and I just dislike their voices. I need You to help me find You and know that I will never have peace again unless You give me guidance. Only You and no one else.

Only you can rest her soul.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

By Sunset

- Ok, then. Why is pork prohibited? And please don’t give me the ‘it transmits diseases thing’ because this could also be caused by beef.

All these kinds of questions have been dealt with for years. I’m not going to try to answer them for you because I don’t think this is your problem. You need to find answers.

- I've tried and no one has been able to provide plausible answers. Plus, if there were such answers, why are these questions still being asked?

You know what? I think you're dealing with the whole thing in the wrong way. You need to start with open heart and mind and then seek guidance, and not by taking two issues, pork and alcohol, and rotating around them.

- I still think if these are simple questions on my mind, there should be equally simple answers.

Listen, some people go into religion and try to find answers that help them do what they want and justify what they do. Others truly want to find answers and they don’t merely aim at proving they are right. They are after the truth. If you are of the first type, I'm telling you, you will keep digging for answers that appeal to your desires and end up going round and round in a vicious circle because you will not want accept an answer that doesn’t match what you want. There are answers for everything if you have an open heart. And this is where you should start.

- And how do I find those true answers?

Ask trustworthy people.

- Oh, really? And where are they? And who do you trust? And who qualifies as a trustworthy source? They all follow someone before them - there is nothing new. Plus, there is usually more than one answer to almost every single question and some questions just exist without answers.

Listen, I really am telling you. I myself once doubted the presence of God and now I am at peace with everything because I did want to find true answers and worked hard. It was not an easy stage at all, but here we are. I’m not saying it’s over for me, I’m always reading and trying to educate myself, but my faith is unshakable now.

- And how did you reach that?

Seeing millions of people around me believing in this book - I don’t think it's nonsense. I don’t think that your heart beats because it beats. He is making it beat this way for you.

I was sitting at the head of the table. She was sitting to my left. He to my right. I kept moving my eyes between them wishing this conversation never ended or that it never started.

I do not know if sitting between them was by any chance symbolic.

The heated conversation ended after sunset. I have listened to this same discussion before. But it is usually louder and much more heated. It is always between another two: my mind and my heart.

And I have always wished a sunset could end it.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Surreeeeeender II

I will not be ablet to go to this weekend's session but at least I can share with you the announcement.

Study Circle This Week: Polygamy;)

Hello everyone,

Here is your chance to learn how to share your husband with other wives:)))))) Just kidding. But I bet you will be interested to know how some women were more than happy to do this and in fact found their husbands other wives. Well, you will get to meet some, at least ONE.

We will cover the historical background on this subject and its relevance to other Abrahamic religions, Judaism and Christianity and how polygammy has been practiced for centuries. We will take a close look at Islamic stance on this subject and will examine the positive and negative aspect of this controversial topic.

Please bring with you all your questions and a dish to share with others. The time is from 5-9 pm at my home in (..........) Address is attached for anyone new.

Please RSVP as soon as possible as I may have to turn down some late responders if we have more than we can fit in the house.

Looking forward to see your shinning faces:)


Friday, 4 July 2008

The Power of Et-tallaaga

I have always been somewhat observant of other people’s personal habits. Some of them are disgusting, funny, unbearable, boring, hilarious … etc. My dad, for example, if he wakes up in the middle of the night, the first thing he does is to go to the kitchen, eat something sweet, and go back to bed. My mom makes herself a big cup of tea in the morning and rarely finishes it. One of my cousins has the habit of taking a bite of whatever you have in your hand. So if a big group is eating and she has just finished her lunch, she’d still ask everyone to let her taste what they are having. Another cousin is always dead tired after work. She goes home and lies down on the couch in front of TV without even changing clothes, and in the process deprives everyone of the communal space. She falls asleep in less than five minutes. Ask her to go get changed and then sleep and you get the “I am not asleep. I am watching the program”. If you try to convince her, you will be making the gravest mistake ever. You will create the grumpiest person ever for the rest of the day. A young cousin of mine, poor thing, would look at the ceiling whenever she is telling a lie. Her sister, another poor thing, has to start off a lie saying “shoofi, khallini a’oolik” (look, let me tell you). Yes, I do have many cousins.

I do not really know many of my habits, although there are a few I can identify. Like my mom, I rarely finish my cup of tea. Like my dad, if I wake up in the middle of the night, I will grab something from the fridge, usually fruit. Whenever I am in a bad mood a cartoon will fix it if the shower does not. During the days I am studying for a final exam, I have to buy a new pen, with the unconscious hope that it will write the correct answers on its own. I keep my note pad in my purse all the time. It is full of notes I rarely, if ever, look at or consult later. Oh, and I am the deadline girl. Last year, I submitted an application on May 22nd at 4.20 pm and the deadline was May 22nd at 4.30 pm. Another very bad habit of mine is forgetting a lie after telling it. So I would tell you “I went to the cinema on my own” and then talk to another person in your presence saying “Yes, I remember. It was right after we went to the cinema last week.” No stares or winks from that person can help me understand I am being such a clumsy liar and worse than that stupid teenager who always spoils plans.

But really … one of my habits is a funnily and nonsensical one: I open the fridge when I am not hungry or thirsty, stare at things aimlessly, just to THINK something over. Why not open my wardrobe for instance? Why not look outside the window? Why not sit down and write my ideas down? Why not anything other than et-tallaaga? Is it the coolness that comes out or the colorfulness and the smells? No idea!!

I caught myself doing this very thing today. My dad caught me as well. I asked him why he thought I open the fridge to think and he gave a friendly chuckle and said that people sometimes do things for no reason. I actually believe there must be a reason for this. Not that I have some unemployed cells in my brain to use and wonder about this. It was just interesting to realize a habit I have had for so long. I realized it at a time when I was thinking to myself why I was automatically doing the same mistake. Is it simply, like my dad said, that people sometimes do things for no reason?