100 Reflections on the Egyptian Uprising: A Lighthouse Episode

February 2, 2011 at 12:54 pm 20 comments

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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20 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Haroon  |  February 2, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    When we take a bold step towards change, even the strongest oppressors and their mighty supporters start shaking. The very foundations of injustice and evil rocks. Until yesterday these people were united in their evil, under their disguises. Today, they are reconsidering their relations. They are ready to switch sides. Things need a beginning, a seeding and there are enough good people who will be ready to join you. So take initiative and Allah will help you through means you wouldn’t have imagined. An ordinary fruit vendor seeded the hopes of an entire generation. What initiative are we going to take, right now! at this very moment?

    Reply
  • 2. cheyenne  |  February 2, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    A beautiful and absolutely necessary project! JAK MAS Tarbiyah for providing this forum.

    One particular aspect of the uprising in Egypt that I think deserves deep reflection is the strategic role congregational prayer within our masajid can play in community organizing. The second major wave of protests were scheduled to begin after jumuah salah on the 28th, a strategy which made it relatively easy to mobilize large numbers of people because they were already congregated in hundreds of masajid across Egypt’s major cities. This coming Friday, the people will again use jumuah salah as a springboard for a fourth wave of major protests (dubbed the “Day of Departure”). Allah (swt) has provided us with a mechanism to help in organizing our efforts that doesn’t necessarily require the use of twitter or facebook (though they’ve certainly played a major role during this movement). I think our communities would benefit immensely by a recognition salatul jumuah as a tool for communication/mobilization (among the other beautiful and important benefits of salatul jumuah, of course).

    Also, throughout the protests we have witnessed protesters come together five times each day to stand before Allah amidst the excitement, fear or anger of any given moment. These periods of reflection have served not only to provide the protesters with moments of rest and relative quiet, but have also been a means by which to consistently re-energize their efforts against the regime. Perhaps more importantly, salah has been a reminder for the protesters that solidarity and compassion toward one another are absolutely integral for the success of this movement.

    The power of salah is truly awe-inspiring. May Allah purify the intentions of the protesters and all of us who stand in solidarity with them!

    Reply
  • 3. Bhawana Kamil  |  February 3, 2011 at 1:07 am

    You never know where change will come from.

    For so long, Egyptians and others sympathetic to their plight have been racking their brains, struggling, fighting to win their freedom. Who knows the moment when the current uprising started, and how. It just goes to show that you never know where, when, why, and though whom the process of positive change may start. Always be ready to embrace it!

    Reply
  • 4. Emmatullah  |  February 3, 2011 at 1:59 am

    change inspires change…. when our brothers&sisters suffer elsewhere- as the prophet asws mentions, we all ache as one body… the Egyptian Uprising is inspiring…. i want to be a better muslim…

    Reply
  • 5. sarah  |  February 3, 2011 at 5:03 am

    All i want to say now…is may Allah unite the people of Egypt and give them the sabr needed to get through this ordeal…may Allah grant the Egyptian people victory that they deserve and may they regain their land and their freedom.Alahom Ameen

    Reply
  • 6. Ahmad  |  February 3, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    First of all, I pray to Allah to give the people of Egypt victory over tyranny and to enable them to achieve their goal of justice and human dignity.

    Having said this, I take issue with the claim stated in the article that the Egyptian uprising ignited the belief in Allah’s support and made it real and that it “removed the dust from our hearts and taught us to always believe that Allah will bring justice, even after a while”.

    Saying this overlooks similar cases of calling for liberation and fighting oppression in recent history like the Tunisian uprising which preceded the Egyptian uprising by a few weeks and the Palestinian struggle against a more powerful foe.

    These events should have already ignited this belief and removed the dust from our hearts.

    I urge my brothers at MAS to be more accurate in their description of events

    Reply
  • [...] Source: http://blog.mastarbiya.org/2011/02/02/100-reflections-on-the-egyptian-uprising-a-lighthouse-episode/ [...]

    Reply
    • 8. Lisa  |  February 4, 2011 at 10:23 am

      Bismillah: May Allah Guide ALL of us, the oppressed, as well as the oppressors! There is really only one common enemy to all of us and he is weak at the mentioning of ALLAH. THERE IS REALLY ONLY ONE GOD and He, Alone, Unites our hearts and is the Giver of Victory. MAY HE PURIFY OUR INTENTIONS ALWAYS . . . before, during and after our deeds.

      Reply
  • 9. hossamaljabri  |  February 4, 2011 at 9:48 am

    Youth are very important for change.

    Reply
  • 10. Essam  |  February 4, 2011 at 11:13 am

    why now?
    Where were those reflections when Tunisia uprising was happening?
    Is this actually a stand for justice or background- motivated?
    Here are the tough questions;
    Is MAS lead by Egyptians that it is why we need to learn from Egypt uprising?
    Is this relevant talking about oppression and tyrant in MAS tarbyia blog??
    This is why MAS status as we see it now.

    Reply
    • 11. hossamaljabri  |  February 4, 2011 at 11:40 am

      everyone in the world is talking about Egypt now-adays. We cannot correct the mistake of not addressing Tunisia in a timely manner by not addressing the issue of Egypt – which the entire world, including our own country, is talking about all the time. We need to use this as a way to educate our community for political involvement in the US. MAS addresses many other international issues such as the Palestinian problem. But please keep the feedback coming ! Thank you !

      Reply
      • 12. Ahmad  |  February 4, 2011 at 1:27 pm

        Brother Hossam,

        This article is talking about reflection. Given this, I don’t think we missed the opportunity to reflect on the situation in Tunisia since the Tunisian issue is very recent and still unresolved.

        When the author of this article states that hope in Allah and his support was a theory until the Egyptian uprising ignited it (See Reflection 1 in the article), I think he/she is, at best, describing the situation of a subset of MAS members. Since belief is personal, it is inappropriate for MAS Tarbiya to claim that this state of belief applies to MAS members at large.

        A good muslim, who truly believes in the unity of all muslims, would have had his/her hope in Allah and his support ignited (if it was a theory before) when seeing the Tunisian uprising

        Given the fact the Egyptian uprising started on the heels of the Tunisian uprising, one might even argue that the Tunisian uprising inspired the Egyptian uprising. As muslims, we should be accurate and we should give people (regardless of their nationality) the credit they deserve.

    • 13. Mazen Mokhtar  |  February 5, 2011 at 8:53 am

      This is indeed a stand for justice. Ours is not a nationalist movement, it’s a universal movement based on values. To answer the questions:
      - Tarbiya did not initiate the reflections at the time of the Tunisia uprising, nor did it necessarily need to; but I assure you that MAS members in at least some Chapters were aware and rallying support for Tunisia before anything happened in Egypt.
      - This is a stand for justice, and only Allah (SWT) knows the secrets of the hearts.
      - No, we need to learn from the Egypt uprising because we are Muslim. This is a major event with huge worldwide ramifications. MAS is led by whoever MAS members choose. I sincerely hope we don’t start electing or excluding people based on national origin.
      - Yes, the Messenger’s model is practical Tarbiya. Tarbiya cannot be isolated from the real world.

      Akhi Essam, we are one brotherhood without nationalist distinction. What brought us together is a love for Allah, love for working in the way of Allah, and love for each other in the way of Allah (SWT). Let us not ignite divisive nationalist feelings, it is much better for us to widen the reach of MAS to different communities.

      Reply
    • 14. Ahmed Eid  |  February 5, 2011 at 6:07 pm

      Br. Essam, I can assure you the decision to create these reflections was not background motivated. It was spontaneous and wasn’t fueled by nationalism. We as a Tarbiya team got on the phone, we acknowledged that we haven’t done an LHP in a long time because of our hectic schedules, and decided to release an episode.

      Reply
    • 15. Ahmed Eid  |  February 5, 2011 at 6:10 pm

      Also, on a side note, the LHP tam is only 4 people.
      You are welcome to come join us in creating other LHP episodes if you have some interesting ideas in the future inshaAllah :)

      Reply
  • 16. Essam  |  February 4, 2011 at 11:50 am

    It is a consistent behavior not a mistake. How about Algeria, Yemen, Jordan, African nations, etc. So, if we want to talk about Justice let us be only motivated by Justice. Credibility and consistency are requirement for leadership. I would like to see some reflections about the current situation in Yemen otherwise please stop that.
    There are tons of events in our country here that we can reflect upon to our youth about Justice not oppression and tyrant.
    Let us talk about what is happening now in health reform appeal. Then I will start to believe you.

    Reply
  • 17. Hossam  |  February 4, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    may allah reward you .. very good discussion.
    - compared to other countries that mas covered in the past few years, Egypt was one of the lowest. We care about Egypt today because it is front page news in America
    - MAS Freedom is not the mouth piece of the world. Our focus is the American society. Today, the American society cares about Egypt and is watching Egypt, and therefore we are contributing to this discussion.
    - MAS Covered Palestinian issues, Iraq, Afganistan much more than Egypt … mostly because these are American issues, that our country is concerned about.
    - If you look at our actions and positions, you will find that (notewithstanding this week), most are focused on healtcare, immigraion, voting, political engagement, and other similar issues.
    - Nonetheless, we need more diversity in MAS. I pray that we will be able to accomplish it.
    - This episode can be a teachable moment, especially for the immigrant community, to get them to engage politically in America with their elected official, for something that they are concerned about.
    Keep the good thoughts coming. this is the only way we will improve, since the brother is the mirror for his brother

    Reply
  • 18. Essam  |  February 6, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    Akhi Mazen
    As you said only Allah knows the secrets of the hearts; no one here ignites divisive nationalist feeling. Please be consistent.

    When you address the uprising in Egypt please make it relevant not to talk about tyrant and oppression in an American context.

    Slogans does not work in a pragmatic discussion.

    No one here wants to exclude members based on nationalistic background; it is about how those leaders make decisions with their views to assess situations.

    leadership is different than movement. The movement may be not nationalistic but leaders can.

    May be you are right, let us discuss how MAS freedom, IAU, other committees are almost one man show, those are the lessons from Egypt.

    Reply
  • 19. Essam  |  February 6, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    Hossam
    You did not discussed the uprising from an American context and let us focus on our youth not the immigrant community.

    I am not saying MAS freedom shall be the mouth piece of the World; but if MAS freedom wants to step in, then be fair.

    Another lesson from Egypt (from an American prospective) let us have more youth in EC,BOT, Chapter heads, Department heads and let us stop talking about “they are not ready” because we want to continue to be in power for years to come “ MAS leaders are chosen by MAS members”. What a democracy !!.

    Reply
  • 20. Wael Hamza  |  February 7, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    Some more reflections http://www.suhaibwebb.com/relationships/withthedivine/8-reflections-from-an-american-student-in-cairo/

    Reply

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