The Wonderful World of Egypt

Greetings ya’ll. I just want to start off by thanking everyone for all the love on recent blog posts. A lot has happened since my last post like…severe fuel shortages leading to ridiculous queues of vehicles blocking traffic (and making me late for everything), deadly Port Said riots culminating in the Egyptian fan club, Ultras Ahlawy, torching the Egyptian soccer headquarters (glad I’m not a soccer fan), and the usual occurrence of political oppression as the MB censures a U.N. document aiming to quell violence against women.

But in regards to my personal life, it’s hard to complain. Although lately, my roommates and I have felt as if we’ve reached a sort of lulling standstill. Our Arabic skills have properly ripened but classes are no longer intellectually stimulating (were they ever?) and more so, they aren’t pushing us to a higher language level. With two and a half months remaining, that’s two and a half months to leaving Egypt and its alternate reality world and returning to the States, the question of grad school, jobs, and just generally— “what the heck am I going to do with my life?” haunts us on a regular basis.  

This lull accompanied by our disenchantment with grandiose plans for the future, has left us searching for a new purpose; perhaps one that can carry us through the remaining months and show us something that we have left to find here.

In the meantime, I’ve taken to refining those skills which I know there is still possibility of improvement like my tajwid or Quran recitation, which might I add has always redirected me when I felt lost in Egypt. My Quran teacher, a friendly Arab baba in his own right, also happens to be the sixth best Quran reciter in the world, according to a yearly competition administered by the Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs in Jordan.

But really, all you have to do is listen to the man to know how good he is. Listen to him recite HERE.

His affecting singsong recitation, meditative focus, and perhaps most importantly, meticulous pronunciation of every Arabic syllable, sends shivers down my body every time. He often corrects me with the simple tap of his hand to the desk. Thankfully I’ve become accustomed to pinpointing my errors in elocution whenever he does so. Before that, I used to stare doe-eyed and dumb, waiting for an explanation.  

In addition to teaching me tajwid, Shaykh Ahmad Abdul Samad offers free mental health sessions as in he offers me motivating advice about how to overcome strife in life. Recently, he returned from umrah, bearing a gift for me—a handpicked black and white polka dot hijab. His motives weren’t subtle but they were sincere and this small gesture of kindness and concern really moved me.

It is definitely thoughtful personalities like these I will miss most about the wonderful world of Egypt. Much like the charming characters Elizabeth Gilbert encounters in Eat, Pray, Love, these people exude genuine concern about your wellbeing. Whether it be my eyebrow lady’s mother who has taken me on as her culinary apprentice, teaching me the art of stuffing grape leaves and zucchini, or the elderly lady who works in our Arabic department, providing tea and biscuits between classes, oh and free hugs whenever you’re feeling down, the sense of community and care is tangible and touching. As Millard Fuller once said, “For a community to be whole and healthy, it must be based on people’s love and concern for each other.”  

Anyway, I have to stop writing now because my kitten is purring incessantly in front of my face. She’s also demanding I pet her so until next time,

S

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3 comments

    1. Thanks Manaar 🙂 Back in the summer I started asking around for someone who could teach hifdh/tajwid classes. After meeting several shuyukh (some of whom even refused to teach women), I came across Shaykh Ahmad. Basically I got lucky. Turns out he also teaches at Alexandria University and is good friends with the director of our Arabic program. I couldn’t have asked for a better teacher mA.

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