Every person we meet, every place we visit, every encounter, every moment in our life is not a coincidence, but a divine wisdom. There’s no such thing as a coincidence, everything happens for a reason. About a week ago, I went back home to Egypt to visit my family and for my brother’s wedding. From the first day that I arrived, I decided to be more observant of what I see and the moments spent there, even before knowing that I would be writing this. So, these are just 5 insights in the first 5 days that I was there.
We arrived at Cairo airport and my uncle picked us up to take us to Alexandria where we’ll be staying for the whole summer. On the way, my uncle pointed out saying, “Look at that, a huge church and a huge masjid right next to each other and they’ve been like this for years, yet they make it seem as if Muslims and Christians are killing each other every day.” He wasn’t disregarding problems between the two religious groups, but he was simply saying that what the media is proclaiming is a bit far from reality. So, I realized that I can’t just take everything that I hear without first fact checking it with what I see and experience myself. A lot of what we hear needs to be taken with a grain of salt and not just blindly taken as fact.
2. Perception of Right & Wrong
On the same car ride(it was a long ride lol), I realized that it’s difficult to realize the wrong and impossible to change it, if I haven’t seen the right. For example, Egypt has a garbage problem and some people who haven’t travelled, can’t see that as a problem. They’ve lived their whole life normalizing what to others is wrong and convincing them otherwise becomes difficult. Similarly, if someone pronounces something wrong in English, I can easily catch it or if I pronounce something wrong in Arabic, someone here would easily catch it. It’s so easy to see what’s wrong, and change it when you’ve seen the right, but we shouldn’t expect the same from others. Others haven’t seen what we have seen, they haven’t had the same observations or experiences. So, patience and mercy is needed to explain to others their wrongs and humility is needed to accept our wrongs when they’re pointed out to us.
I remember hearing this in an Egyptian movie and I experienced it first hand when I came. One of the characters in the movie was explaining that Egyptians have the, “Concept of Alhamdulillah (All praise is due to God)”. Talk to majority of the people here and if you ask them how they’re doing, they’ll answer with a simple, yet profound answer, “Alhamdulillah”. Trust me when I tell you that they have worse problems than us, but they’re satisfied with whatever Allah decrees for them. They are content with everything that Allah has given them and everything that He has taken away. Unfortunately, we still haven’t got this concept down just yet. And I really wish that by the end of the summer, I’m able to learn their contentment and immense gratitude.
Just 2 days after our arrival, it was my brother’s wedding and by the end of it, I finally realized that he’s actually leaving. Having a brother is one of the most amazing things in the world. They’re there for you whenever you need them. They advise you when you’re doing something wrong and you can never be angry with them doing that. They do everything out of the goodness of their heart and they never expect anything in return. Subhanallah, that’s why when the Prophet described the believers he said, “Indeed, the believers are brothers.” Even though the masculine was used in this hadith, the statement of course applies to sisters with one another as well. As believers, we should always be there for one another. We advise one another and we never get angry from each other’s advice because we know it’s coming out of place of love. We’re not just friends or companions, we’re more than that…we’re brothers.
On the 5th day, it was my birthday and I got the greatest gift ever. I was out with my cousin and when I went home, my sisters and parents surprised me by having my whole extended family there. All my uncles and aunts were there and majority of their children and grandchildren were there as well. Other than my brother’s wedding, this was the only time I had both sides of my family there in one place. It was just beyond amazing and I experienced happiness that can’t be described in words. Even though, we have problems within our family and we get into fights because of it, at the end of the day, we love each other and all of them being there showed me that love.
I’m sure everyone reading this has gone through similar experiences or maybe different, but at the end of the day, these are all just reminders for us; reminders to make us better Muslims and better human beings. It’s divine wisdom and guidance for us that is subtle, but impactful. There’s still four weeks till I come back and I’m looking forward for what these four weeks hold for me.
By Omar Shallan