100 Reflections on the Egyptian Uprising: A Lighthouse Episode
In this Lighthouse Episode, we will be sharing 100 Reflections on current events. Keep reading after the video for the first 10 opening reflections.
All of the world’s eyes are on Egypt and current events are, by all accounts, historic. Whatever our connection to the uprising, there is no doubt that as MAS members we are drawn to any call for liberation and every fight against oppression. The peaceful methods of change, the enterprise of people in gathering and protecting each other despite obstacles, the economic and social divides that have been crossed in the organic, grassroots mobilization for justice are all aspects that resound with us.
We invite you to participate in a reflection process to show our own people a different side of the Muslim world in this peaceful, organized movement for democracy. It can help us guide our families and friends to channel their energies into productive activism instead of being over-idealistic or apathetic. Finally, these reflections help us engage in an interactive, experiential tarbiya process, in which we are seeing the lessons in real life instead of through books and speeches.
The Lighthouse Team invites everyone to contribute to 100 REFLECTIONS on the current situation in the Middle East, which will be shared online on the MAS Tarbiya blog. Send your reflections on the comment section of the blog. Reflections can be any length and any style.
To get your ideas flowing, the Lighthouse team drafted 10 opening reflections. Read, reflect, learn, then give back by sending in your own!
1. From Hope to Belief
We all know that we should never lose hope in Allah and His support. However, this belief sometimes becomes a theory. The Egyptian uprising ignited this belief and made it real. Many of us were almost hopeless after many attempts to reform. This uprising removed the dust from our hearts and taught us to always believe that Allah will bring justice, even after a while. Allah gives people the chance to struggle, put effort, try possible means, and become almost desperate. Only then His support comes to revive our belief and comfort our hearts. In light of the events in Egypt, the verse “Until when the messenger almost gave up on their people and thought they are deemed liars, our victory comes to them…” takes on a completely different taste.
2. Power lies in the Hands of Allah
We know that the ultimate power lies with Allah (swt) — “there is no strength nor power except with Allah.” But as we observe and rejoice in what is happening in Egypt and across the Arab world, we are reminded that Allah (swt) also empowers people to do good in the world. Our prime example is His empowerment of one man, Muhammad (p), to completely reform the society and return mankind to the path of Allah (swt). He further empowered the companions of the Prophet and their righteous followers, who serve as models for our generation to follow and emulate. The parallels with our current situation are striking. Allah (swt) empowered a group of “regular” people, including youth, elders, men, women, activists, merchants, and farmers. Their initiative to stand up for the truth, and to gain their rights, was magnified by Allah (swt). Now the entire region is set in motion based on their model of peaceful demonstration and inclusiveness. We can use this reminder from Allah (swt) to think of how to move people and unleash their power to work together for good causes in our own communities, like helping to improve education or fight poverty.
3. Be Quick to Acknowledge Mistakes
Rarely do we see situations that are black and white or right and wrong. Watching news footage of the Egyptian army and the police trying to deter the protesters helps us empathize with people who may often be viewed as “the other side.” Check your assumptions. How might it feel to be an Egyptian soldier, a police officer, or even a politician in a corrupt regime? Think hard about when you might have wronged someone or defended a false cause. Are you willing to admit to those mistakes, repent, and change? When Umar ibn Al-khattab listened to the Prophet and Allah’s words with his heart, he became one of the greatest leaders of our time. Only when we can check our assumptions of others can we truly become sincere, conscious people ourselves.
4. Do we have what it takes?
Victory, Freedom, Justice, and social equality all come at a price. We are hoping that the Egyptian people will be willing to pay this price, but am I? Are you? If I were in their shoes, would I be on the streets or in my home? Would I be cold, hungry and shivering with the protesters or would I be following at home on televsion? Parents who are allowing their children to join the protests are giving their own hearts to the struggle. This mass of protesters, while huge, are a percentage of the population who are determined to put their own selves, their spouses, and children on the line for the sake of a better future for everyone. They are heroes. While standing against a tyrant and his oppression holds promise of tremendous reward from Allah, some people will be hurt and some people will die. If we were present at a moment of truth, when freedom and justice demand an advocate, do we in our current state have the strength to stand up?
5. Using Social Networking for Positive Change
Social networking has been at the heart of the revolutions that rocked Tunisia and Egypt. They placed tremendous power in the hands of the people and empowered them to organize, and more importantly, cause positive change. These tools are largely untapped resources that can be extremely effective when used correctly. They allow minute-to-minute updates and the forming of groups so members can stay up to speed on the latest.
How can we utilize social media in America to convey Islam? We have seen the positive change of social networking, but as Malcolm Gladwell wrote, we can also fall into a false sense of action if the activism does not move outside of the Internet portal and nothing happens in real life. If I “like” a status, it is not enough action. We have to figure out how to use these tools as a means as opposed to an end.
6. Giving Up Luxuries in the Fight for Justice
We, as Americans, live in a culture of over-consumption and instant gratification. We rarely question whether or not we will have enough food to last us the day, or if we will have enough blankets to keep us warm at night. Currently, there are over 80 million people living in Egypt, half who live on less than two dollars a day and who would be wide-eyed at the luxuries available to us on a daily basis. We can learn a lot from the activists in Egypt- they are sacrificing their comfort, and even their lives, for something they firmly believe in. What if we found ourselves in that same situation? Would we complain and have shorter fuses due to our lack of food, showers, or sleep or would we recognize that we are striving for something greater? How dependent are we on grocery stores, banks, shopping malls, and cars to survive? It’s easy, in theory, to say that we would choose to give up luxuries, but let us reflect on a long plane or car ride and how uncomfortable we were. Would we then be able to sustain camping outside in the cold for days while our spirit remained unblemished?
7. Unity Results from Rallying for a Cause
It is amazing how a common cause can unite a people that many thought to be so diverse that they could never coexist together peacefully. Muslims and Christians, professors and farmers, the youth and the elderly, the rich and the poor, all stand side by side to clean the streets, protect one another, guard each other’s property, and get their message across. No longer are the differences so prominent and many shortcomings are put aside. Did not the message of the Prophet (pbuh) unite the people of his times? Both the poor and the rich, the Arab and non-Arab, worked together to uphold the truth. Did not this cause and this unity prune the people from many of their ignorant ways? What cause does your family uphold? What rallying cause can our community support that may bring about this unity?
8. Nationalism Tied to Dignity
Since the uprising, many of our Egyptian brothers and sisters started saying “proud to be Egyptian, Egypt is the “mother” of the world,” a dose of what can be called nationalism. Recalls of history figures, heroes, and champions of the nation became an apparent evidence of this nationalism. All of us do that especially at the times of massive victory and, to a lesser extent, defeat. The Middle East uprising in general and the Egyptian uprising in particular places an important spin on the concept of nationalism. It tied it to dignity, freedom, and struggling for rights. It gives pride to a nation fighting oppression and demanding a virtuous and just life. People who are not Egyptian, Tunisian, or even Arab, took pride in the same nations. This reminds me with the Qur’an relating Prophet Abraham to Prophet Noah albeit thousands of years apart by saying, “And from his group is Abraham …” When nationalism becomes excessive and is not tied to values and virtues, or even worse, opposes values and virtues, nationalism becomes an evil thing one should eliminate.
9. The Humiliation of the Oppressor
History is full of examples of just leaders and oppressive ones, and rarely does an oppressive leader’s end come easy. The moment that someone chooses to wrong someone else, they have destined themselves to a horrible ending and punishment from Allah. Pharaoh oppressed the people of Egypt by putting them under slavery and telling them he was their one true God. Allah (swt) not only purged the land of his evil rule, but also made him an example of what happens to oppressive leaders for the rest of time. “What, now! When previously you rebelled and were one of the corrupters? “Today we will preserve your body so you can be a Sign for people who come after you. Surely many people are heedless of Our Signs.” (Quran, 10:91-92). Pharaoh’s oppression led him to be humiliated in the next life. and also in this life by Allah preserving his body. Seeing rulers fall from their thrones should cause us to reflect on oppression and seek refuge in Allah for such blindness. We should beware of falling into oppression with ourselves or with those who are under our care.
10. How Emotional Are We?
Our hearts feel like they are bursting out of our chests as we watch images of Egyptians risking their lives and standing up against an oppressive regime. Many of us are not even Egyptian and we feel solidarity with those defying injustice. However, are our emotions getting the better of us? Are we getting caught up in the moment or are we looking ahead, knowing that it will be an uphill battle to rebuild a country and knowing that change takes time? Allah tells us in Surah al-Hadid, “No evil befalls on the earth nor in your own souls, but it is in a book before We bring it into existence; surely that is easy to Allah, So that you may not grieve for what has escaped you, nor be exultant at what He has given you; and Allah does not love any arrogant boaster,”(Surah al-Hadid, 22-23). How can we, as individuals, temper our emotions in order to remain goal-oriented after the adrenaline fades? Are we glued to our screens watching all this news coverage because of the emotional high that we feel? In the aftermath, will we fail to pay attention because it is emotionally boring?
Now it’s your turn. Please share your reflections in the comment section.
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