Monthly Archives: July 2007

the “haram” doll, a day of frustration at the airport & a night at the hotel novotel

Tuesday, July 31:  Lisa is an ESL teacher in Pennsylvania.  On this trip to Egypt, she brings a doll she made.  She photographs the doll in various locations in Egypt, such as in front of the Pyramids and other landmarks.  When she returns home, she will show the pictures to her students, who get great enjoyment from seeing the doll in places where Lisa has visited.

the doll that Lisa brings on her travels

the doll that Lisa brings on her travels

This doll reminds me of the rabbit Felix in the amazing children’s book series that began with Letters from Felix: A Little Rabbit on a World Tour.

At the end of a vacation something terrible happens: Sophia’s cuddly rabbit, Felix, disappears in the airport. This is very, very bad, because Sophie and Felix are inseparable. But when school starts again, suddenly a letter for Sophie arrives from London – a letter from Felix!

the fabulous children’s book: Letters from Felix

Our roommate, Souhaila, is a serious believer in Islam and believes the doll is haram, or sinful.  Every time she sees Lisa’s doll lying around the apartment, she turns it face down or she asks Lisa to remove it. Now, Lisa is Muslim too, but she doesn’t see it this way.  She sees it as a plaything for children, and something they enjoy, especially when she brings back pictures of it in front of landmarks throughout the world.

Here’s what the Metropolitan Museum of Art says about this idea: The Islamic resistance to the representation of living beings ultimately stems from the belief that the creation of living forms is unique to God, and it is for this reason that the role of images and image makers has been controversial. The strongest statements on the subject of figural depiction are made in the Hadith (Traditions of the Prophet), where painters are challenged to “breathe life” into their creations and threatened with punishment on the Day of Judgment. The Qur’an is less specific but condemns idolatry and uses the Arabic term “musawwir” (“maker of forms,” or artist) as an epithet for God.

HOWEVER, says the Met:  Although the often cited opposition in Islam to the depiction of human and animal forms holds true for religious art and architecture, in the secular sphere, such representations have flourished in nearly all Islamic cultures (Metropolitan Museum of Art: Figural Representation in Islamic Art).

I am just a bystander in this disagreement between two Muslims, but I have to say, I find Lisa’s take much more moderate and reasonable.  Besides Lisa has a fabulous sense of humor and I can’t help but laugh as she decides, on our last morning in Cairo, to take pictures of the doll in various places throughout the flat, including on Souhaila’s bed.

the doll on Souhaila's bed

the doll on Souhaila’s bed

We have some fun with the doll in the flat before we gather up our belongings to head to the airport.  After we take a number of pictures and have a lot of laughs about the whole situation, we load our suitcases on the bus and head to the airport.

Lisa and her doll

Lisa and her doll

me with the doll

me with the doll

When we arrive at the airport, we find we are all on standby for a flight home.  Dr. Jones is scrambling around trying to get us sorted out.  While we’re waiting, Lisa and I play around in the airport, laughing our heads off and acting goofy, as we have from the first minute we met at the beginning of July.  I push her around on a baggage cart and then she pushes around some Egyptian children.  We laugh and laugh, acting like little children ourselves.

Lisa and me at Cairo Airport

Lisa and me at Cairo Airport

Lisa and me at Cairo airport

Lisa and me at Cairo airport

I push Lisa around on a baggage cart

I push Lisa around on a baggage cart

acting like goofy kids

acting like goofy kids

more goofiness

more goofiness

Lisa and some Egyptian kids

Lisa and some Egyptian kids

Finally we get a little tired from all the energy we’re expending acting goofy.  Irritation starts to set in.  It seems this situation with our flight is not being resolved.  Dr. Jones and his Al-Ameen Associates are so disorganized; it appears we will not even get on a flight today.  As the hours tick by, we get increasingly impatient and annoyed.  Finally, after about 6 hours in the airport (!!), we find we will not get on a flight after all.  We are transported out of the airport to the Hotel Novotel Cairo Airport to spend the night.   We will try to get on a flight tomorrow, insha’allah.

This extra night gives me another chance to see Basim.  I call him and he comes to visit at the Novotel, but he can only stay for a short time because he has to attend a birthday party for someone in his family. It’s okay, I’m happy to see him one more time.

Basim and me at Hotel Novotel Cairo Airport

Basim and me at Hotel Novotel Cairo Airport

After he leaves, Lisa and I have a light dinner in the lobby restaurant.

me at the Novotel having a light dinner

me at the Novotel having a light dinner

I go to bed early, exhausted from our ridiculous day at the airport.  At this point, I’m ready to go home, and I am keeping my fingers crossed we get on a flight tomorrow.

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Filed under Cairo, Egypt, Hotel Novotel Cairo Airport, Middle East

a farewell walk in wadi degla desert protectorate

Monday, July 30:  Today is supposed to be our last day in Cairo, and we spend the day mostly packing and gathering things together.  

When I check my emails this morning, I find this one from R, written yesterday afternoon from Virginia:

C,

Absolutelynothing to talk about, but that I felt like writing anyway. Spent the day with a house full of in-laws and kids.  Repaired the rest of the toilets, graded papers, finished a few performance evaluations, and sent some emails tending to tasks long overdue.  Just another Sunday in suburbia.  Enough already.  Taking my nieces to “Shear Madness” tonight.  should be fun.  I’ve not seen it in a long time, and always enjoy the theater (except when there is something much better to do).

Hope all is well in Cairo.  Looking forward to your return.  Good luck with it.  Hope it doesn’t involve any camels or long stays on tarmacs.
MU.

r.

I write him back: 

Hi R,

I have absolutelynothing to talk about either, but I wanted to write to let you know I believe all is on for my flight back Tuesday. As of yesterday afternoon, there were only 3 people confirmed on the airplane, and I wasn’t one of them.  But last night at 10 pm, Dr. Jones called my cell to let me know I am on (Insha’allah!) We will see about that.

I had to transfer money to my account on Saturday because I was down to $6.  Hopefully I will be able to access it today, because I need to do some shopping for people back home.  I thought I’d get the boys each shisha pipes; they can be decorative for now, but they can take them to college and smoke them later if they feel like it.  They are just so cool.

Anyway, I am so looking forward, with some reservations re: family, etc., to my return and especially to seeing you again.  I hope it will be very soon after my return.  I hope you can get all your papers graded, etc, so you will have a little time for me.

I hope you enjoyed Shear Madness with your nieces.  I can’t even imagine being back in such civilization where people go to theater, etc.

I am going to miss Cairo terribly, however, and it is difficult in many ways to think of my life back in the old U.S.A.

See you soon,
Love,
C

I go shopping one more time at Khan al Khalili because I want to buy some gifts.  I buy my daughter several pairs of earrings and each of my sons a hookah, an Eastern smoking pipe with a long tube passing through an urn of water that cools the smoke as it is drawn through.

Basim wants to see me one more time before I leave.  We go in the late afternoon to Wadi Degla Desert Protectorate for a hike.  This was the place where I went to my first Cairo Hash and where I first met Basim.  It’s a hot day, with no shade in sight, and we climb up to the top to get a grand view of the Wadi.  We have a lovely time laughing and walking and I can’t help but feel really sad that I’ll probably never see him again.

wadi degla desert protectorate

wadi degla desert protectorate

Basim at Wadi Degla

Basim at Wadi Degla

me at Wadi Degla

me at Wadi Degla

at the top of Wadi Degla

at the top of Wadi Degla

me at the top of Wadi Degla

me at the top of Wadi Degla

As he’s driving me back to Muquttum, I take a picture of a pretty mosque along the way.  I am starting to feel nostalgic about Cairo already, despite the fact I haven’t even left. 😦

mosque in Cairo

mosque in Cairo

mosque in Cairo

mosque in Cairo

I am really so sad to be leaving Cairo.  And believe it or not, I will really miss Basim.  😦

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Filed under Cairo, Egypt, Khan el-Khalili, Middle East, Wadi Degla Desert Protectorate

graduation from al azhar & the unknown soldier memorial

Sunday, July 29: Today we have our graduation from Al Azhar’s intensive 1-month-long Arabic course.  I think I know about as much as I knew the first day I arrived.  My entrance test and my final exam had about the same scores.  Oh well, at least it’s been the adventure of a lifetime.

the group of American women studying through Al Ameen Associates at Al Azhar University

the group of American women studying through Al Ameen Associates at Al Azhar University

another group shot

another group shot

me with Lisa on the terrace overlooking the courtyard at Al Azhar University

me with Lisa on the terrace overlooking the courtyard at Al Azhar University

the "infidels" - Kevin, me, Clint, and Shannon (the only non-Muslims in the group)

the “infidels” – Kevin, me, Clint, and Shannon (the only non-Muslims in the group)

me with my diploma

me with my diploma

Lisa with her diploma

Lisa with her diploma

Lisa and me

Lisa and me

Lisa and me outside in front of Al Azhar

Lisa and me outside in front of Al Azhar

me with my diploma

me with my diploma

On our way home today, we make a stop at the Unknown Soldier Memorial, a pyramid-shaped monument in Nasr City, Cairo. President Anwar Sadat ordered its construction in 1974 in honour of Egyptians who lost their lives in the 1973 October War. It was inaugurated in October 1975. The site was also chosen for the president’s tomb after his assassination in October 1981 (Wikipedia: Unknown Soldier Memorial (Egypt)).

Unknown Soldier Memorial

Unknown Soldier Memorial

Across from the memorial are the stands where Anwar Sadat was assassinated on 6 October 1981.  An annual victory parade was being held in Cairo to celebrate Egypt’s crossing of the  Suez Canal.  Sadat was protected by four layers of security and eight bodyguards, and the army parade should have been safe due to ammunition-seizure rules. As Egyptian Air Force Mirage jets flew overhead, distracting the crowd, Egyptian army soldiers and troop trucks paraded. One troop truck contained the assassination squad, led by Lieutenant Khalid Islambouli. As the truck passed, the assassins dismounted, and Islambouli approached Sadat.  Sadat stood to receive his salute, whereupon, Islambouli threw three grenades at Sadat, only one of which exploded, and additional assassins rose from the truck, firing assault rifles into the stands. After Sadat was hit and fell to the ground, people threw chairs around him to protect him from the hail of bullets.

fatwā approving the assassination had been obtained from a cleric later convicted in the US for his role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. The assassination was undertaken by members of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad.   Though it has yet to proven, it has also been theorized that Sadat’s Vice-President Hosni Mubarak and Defense Minister Abu Ghazala played in role in planning the assassination. (Wikipedia: Assassination of Anwar Sadat)

me in front of the stands where Anwar Sadat was assassinated in 1981

me in front of the stands where Anwar Sadat was assassinated in 1981

me with Lisa at the Unknown Soldier Memorial

me with Lisa at the Unknown Soldier Memorial

When I return home after class, I find this email from R.

C,

Back from a family-sort-of-reunion-thing. People from around the country getting together.  Best part was I got a chance to spend some cool pool time with my granddaughter.  2 is such a cute age.  But I’ve a whole night of grading ahead. What a way to spend a Sat. night.  Would much rather be with you.  But I bought a bottle of Bushmills to
help get me through.  Usually, grades improve as the evening wears on.  Not entirely sure why.

Anyway, I’m not sure how much more you’ll be on-line and I guess it’ll be choppy until you actually get back.  And then maybe choppy until you get settled– whatever that means.  In the meantime, if you can, let me know when you think we might get a chance to get together.  From Aug. 1 on I’m flexible, so let me know.

Can’t wait to see you.

In meantime, stay safe.

Love,
r.

In the evening, Basim comes by to pick me up and we go back to The Virginian at Muquttum Corniche.  It’s so lovely now to spend time with him.  I’ve come to enjoy his company, even though it’s been hit or miss much of the time I’ve been here.  I realize I will miss him when I leave here.

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Filed under Al-Ameen Associates, Al-Azhar University, Cairo, Egypt, Middle East, Muquttum, Muquttum Corniche, Nasr City, The Virginian, Unknown Soldier Memorial

final saturday in cairo: a shopping spree at the far end of road 9

Saturday, July 28: I am almost to the end of my month in Egypt and this is our last weekend day here.  Lisa and I plan to do some shopping later this afternoon.  We also need to study, as our final exams and graduation are tomorrow.

This morning, I send an email to R:

Have you fallen off the face of the earth???  I haven’t heard much from you.  Have you decided to join the “Hate Cathy Club”?  Or are you simply incredibly busy?  Or maybe you are tired of me cluttering your life.

Anyway, I hope all is well with you.  It is so freaking hot here.  All I feel like doing is staying in my apartment with the A/C going full blast.  There is no relief from the heat when you go out.  Taxis, cafes, shops: none of them have air conditioning.  I want to shop more at Khan el Khalili, but don’t know if I can brave the heat.

Study today, maybe shop, who knows what else.  My 3 infidel friends enjoyed the hash last night.  We had a lovely spot with a pool for BBQ and cold beers afterwards.  None of my Egyptian friends were there.  It was fun, nonetheless.

Take care kind sir,
let me know if you have abandoned me…
C

I hear back from him after a couple of hours:

Not off the face of earth, yet, but flitting around the edges lately and have had a bit of a problem getting to and staying near a computer.  Not in the club.  Can’t even imagine the club.  Quite the contrary.  But, have to dash again. I’ll try to be more complete about my flittings later– they mostly have to do with a flood of papers from two courses and performance evaluations for all the people who work for me, due Tuesday.  I’m just a grading fool.  And no time to be human or to slow down.  Will chat more when I can.

As for my ‘millionnaire’ just as I was going to lay into him, his wife asked me under her breath not to burst his bubble.  Damn.

See you soon!!!

Lisa and I go on a shopping spree at some shops at the far end of Road 9 in Muquttum.  She does more damage than I, but both of us buy a lot of stuff we don’t need.  After we shop, we have a lunch of cucherie and Coca-Cola in a steamy hole-in-the-wall.

me having cucherie and Coca-Cola in Muquttum

me having cucherie and Coca-Cola in Muquttum

Lisa in Muquttum

Lisa in Muquttum

Lisa and me in the tuk-tuk

Lisa and me in the tuk-tuk

Lisa and me after our shopping spree

Lisa and me after our shopping spree

Lisa, me and our spoils

Lisa, me and our spoils

Later, I write back to R:

I know you are swamped and I’m just happy to hear you haven’t joined the club.  I hope you haven’t surreptitiously added your name to the wait list.  Anyway, we will talk more upon my return to the USA after Tuesday.  I am so looking forward to seeing you.  The boys called today and Adam goes to lax camp through Wednesday, so I’m sure I will need to spend some time with him when he returns.  He sounded sad and like he misses me.  Alex seems to be doing fine.  Mike never speaks to me when the boys call.

I will leave you to your paper grading and your performance evaluations.  I have my big Arabic test tomorrow, but instead of studying today, Lisa and I went shopping at the other end of Muquttum.  We actually found it quite nice.  If only we’d discovered it earlier.  We were so dead set against the neighborhood from the start, that we never gave it a chance.  Oh well, that’s life.

So, hold on dear R, and I look forward to seeing you in just several more days.
Love,
C

He responds back:

Love it, loved it, loved it, loved it, loved it.

r

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Filed under Cairo, Egypt, Middle East, Muquttum

cairo in black & white: a return to coptic cairo & another cairo hash

Friday, July 27:  Today I return to Coptic Cairo to buy some black and white photos I saw in a shop the last time I was here.  I love how the photographs capture an old romantic version of Cairo.  I end up buying three of them.

Egyptian black & white photos and the fresh shopkeeper

Egyptian black & white photos and the fresh shopkeeper

While I’m in the shop, I ask someone in the shop if they will take a photo of me with the shopkeeper.  Right after the photo is snapped, I am shocked to feel the shopkeeper’s hand grab my butt.  I say, “What are you doing???” and promptly move away.  He says, “Please can I have your number?”  I say no!  What presumption!!  This kind of thing happens too often in Cairo.

the Egyptian shopkeeper and me

the Egyptian shopkeeper and me

When I return from Coptic Cairo with my amazing black and white photographs, I put them away and check my emails.  I find the following from R:

C,

I’m gonna go back to my old style of writing. Hope you don’t mind.  I’m just too tired and frustrated to be efficient.  And so all the nothing will come out in full form, or something like it.

I am in such a funk.  Since hitting the office I feel like I’ve been in a particularly creative episode of the show “Office.”  OMFG!!!  What is this place?  It’s a steady flow, intrusions really,  of people– and always not men, btw– with long discussions of issues, matters, problems, complaints that I just don’t care about.  I can’t bring myself to care about them. I can’t even pretend to care about them.  And, I can’t even order them to leave cuz that is so not PC.

I’ve resorted alot to wandering off to NY while they regale me with their drivel.   I have even resorted to excusing myself from my own damn office and just leave. HS, what is this?  After particularly bad episode that just ended (intruding grievously on my lunch), I locked my door, turned off the lights and put on Gloria Esteban, just to decompress.  So my secretary and assistant (also not a guy) had to come in to see if I’m all right and hung around wanting to help and get me stuff and offer suggestions and get me to talk it out with them.  OMFG!!  What did I do to deserve all this.  I’m just sure I was an evil overseer of a harem in an earlier life.  And not one drop of Scotch in my whole office.

So I write to you, letting my fingers follow my mind, following my heart, to Cairo.  And, truth be told, I feel better.  Thx.  But a Scotch would still help. A hug would help ever so much more.  I can’t remember being so in need of a hug.  Hugs and scotches, in NY.  Yeah, that’s the ticket.

And yet, here I am.

I’m off tonight to meet with some friends– one of whom is going pay big time for getting me to buy that dumb-ass book about millionaires. I’m in just the right mood to meet with that bozo. (As you’ve no doubt
noticed, I’m transferring my stupidity to his cupidity.  I’m into cognitive dissonance and blame transference.)

Stay well, stay safe, and try not to get over me just yet.

Love,
r

In the afternoon, I invite Shannon, Clint, and Kevin to accompany me to our last Cairo Hash.  We start in an Egyptian neighborhood at a big unfinished villa.  The pool is finished, and it’s quite lovely, but the house is just a shell, like many houses throughout Cairo.  This time we hike out in the relentless heat of the desert; we’re all in complete misery.

Wesley the hash leader in the middle

Wesley the hash leader in the middle

Clint in the center

Clint in the center

Wesley's girlfriend in the center

Wesley’s girlfriend in the center

random hashers

random hashers

me

me

Kevin, Clint and Shannon on their first Cairo Hash

Kevin, Clint and Shannon on their first Cairo Hash

the unfinished house with the beautiful pool

the unfinished house with the beautiful pool

the pool at the house

the pool at the house

Shannon and Kevin

Shannon and Kevin

Kevin and Shannon

Kevin and Shannon

Kevin and Clint

Kevin and Clint

Crazy hashers

Crazy hashers

me drinking up with the others

me drinking up with the others

someone getting beer poured on them

someone getting beer poured on them

Clint and Kevin on the right

Clint and Kevin on the right

down down down!

down down down!

the beautiful pool at sunset

the beautiful pool at sunset

poolside

poolside

me with two Egyptian women

me with two Egyptian women

At the end of the evening, as we are leaving, Wesley, the head hasher extraordinaire, grabs me as I’m leaving and kisses me.  I am baffled.  I look at him, bewildered.  He says, “I just wanted to see what it was like.”

As far as what it’s like, maybe it’s no good.  Because I never hear from him again. 🙂

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Filed under Cairo, Cairo Hash House Harriers, Coptic Cairo, Egypt, Middle East, Old Cairo

another day of arabic classes & a meeting at the grand hyatt cairo

Wednesday, July 25:  Another day of Arabic & Tajweed classes at Al Azhar.  After class, I pose in front of the Al Azhar University sign and Lisa snaps a photo.

me in front of the sign at Al Azhar University

me in front of the sign at Al Azhar University

This afternoon, I get another nearly incoherent email from R.

cn’t cll tdy cz hv Dr. appt n a.m.  bt wl wrt asap.

l,l,l,
r

Apparently he’s been busy texting with his grown children and has adopted the method of omitting vowels when writing.

I write back:

Are you still seeing the doc about your spider bite?  Or is this some other ailment?

I have one more Arabic class, tomorrow, and the Quran and Tajweed test tomorrow afternooon.  Lisa and I are so utterly hopeless, it will be a cruel joke for us to have to take that test.  Then the weekend, Fri and Sat, and the final test and a TV crew on Sunday.  Monday we’re off to wrap up personal business and pack and then we fly out Tuesday, Insha’allah.  I am still not at all sure they have secured our return tickets home.

I guess i will have to break down and study.   I have to admit my learning here has been a little less than stellar.  Oh well; it was a great time anyway.  And I have sooooo many interesting stories to tell (at least to me, although maybe not to anyone else!)

The young Mohammad continues to call and beg me to see him.  He’s “in love with me,” I’m “breaking his heart,” etc.  I thought I’d never hear from Basim again; however he surprised me by texting me yesterday: “How is the American beauty?  Are you still mad at me?”

I’m still sure I’ll never see him, however.  I am apparently horrible luck for anyone remotely involved with me.  You better watch out if you continue.

Well, not much else here to report.  I got a long email from Mike about the boys and Sarah and the family activities.  He apparently spent time at Bill and Kema’s in VA Beach last weekend, and spent the night with my dad.  I told Basim I thought they were all commiserating about what a horrible, irresponsible woman I am and they were growing their membership in the “Hate Cathy Club.”  I think Basim has decided to join that club, as may you in the end.

Well, take care, dear lover, dear friend.

I hope all will be well upon my return.

Oh, btw, I got my security clearance, so I am set for State Dept.
C

In the evening, I meet Ahmed Seddick, the Egyptologist, for a drink at the Grand Hyatt Cairo.  I’ve heard this is a great place to get martinis, accompanied by a great view of the Nile.  Ahmed doesn’t drink, but he agrees to meet me so I don’t have to go by myself.  It’s really so lovely.  While I’m there, I get a call from Basim and he asks if he can pick me up from the Grand Hyatt to spend a little time together.

me at the Grand Hyatt Cairo

me at the Grand Hyatt Cairo

Basim comes to pick me up and we go back to the Muquttum Corniche, where we sit outside at the Virginian Cafe.  I always think this is funny, a Virginian at the Virginian, in Cairo, Egypt.  After our fiasco in Alexandria, I find it quite funny that I have developed a greater attraction to this brain surgeon.  This is quite the opposite of what I expected.

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Filed under Al-Azhar University, Cairo, Egypt, Grand Hyatt Cairo Hotel, Middle East

our tajweed class

Tuesday, July 24:  This morning, I get a response from R to my email of last night, which told him of my fiasco of a trip to Alexandria.

C,  Well, you just can’t imagine my disappointment that the trip to Alexandria was not everything that it could have been.  And I so wanted to hear of the life-changing, ‘Eureka’ moment that such a trip with a brain surgeon could bring.  C’est la vie.  I am so sorry.  But I’m very much looking forward to a wine-laden full post-mortem.  Indeed, many of them.  Hopefully more post than mortem.  But, we shall see.

As much as I love wine at the Tavern, I may have a suitable alternative (or at least additional) venue to explore.  Hopefully it is to your taste.  But, we shall see.

I appreciate the image of you hot and sweaty.  So thoughtful.  I’ll be carrying that around for some time.  And certainly II can identify with the idea of lots of showers.  I may need another one soon myself.  Oddly enough, the temperature here is quite pleasant.

All goes well.  I spent Sunday doing toilets and showers. I don’t like plumbing.  Some hiking, and I read a book for someone dying to to discuss it with me.  I’m dying to figure out just what in the fuck he thinks is valuable in this piece of shit infomercial of a book about having the ‘mind of a millionaire.’  I spent from pages 7-162 just trying to figure out how to get my $20 back from Borders.  Jeez I hate when I do something that stupid.  Other than that, just overworked, overcommitted, overwrought, overshowered, and overwhelmed.  But not over you.  Can’t wait to see you again.

Stay well.
love,
r

I head to Al Azhar again, after being absent for four days:  the weekend, the one day I skipped, and the National Holiday.  We had a crazy time in Tajweed class today with Mona.  As usual, Lisa cannot read Arabic, but she can understand it when spoken; I can read it but not understand it.  At one time today, we burst out laughing so hard we are almost in tears, because of our inability to learn these Quranic verses.

Lisa, Mona and me in Tajweed class

Lisa, Mona and me in Tajweed class

As I discussed in an earlier post, here is what Tajweed is all about:

Tajweed of the Holy Qur’an is the knowledge and application of the rules of recitation.  The goal is to read the Qur’an as the Prophet Mohammed recited it.

It is expected that you should have certain manners when reciting the Qur’an:

  • Purity of body and clothes and place.
  • Using sawak, a teeth-cleaning twig taken from the Salvadora persica tree. This is supposed to be used at every prayer or recitation of the Qur’an.
  • Facing the Qiblah, a direction that should be faced when a Muslim prays.  Muslims everywhere should pray facing this direction to achieve unity for all Muslims throughout the world.
  • Seeking refuge from rejected Satan and reading the basmalah, or the formula prayer in Islam “bismi-llāhi r-raḥmāni r-raḥīm,’ “In the name of God, the most kindly merciful.”  It is recited before each sura except for the 9th.  It is recited several times as part of daily prayers.
  • Not reading when yawning.
  • Avoiding cutting off reading to talk with people.
  • Stopping at a verse of warning and seeking protection with Allah, and stopping at a verse of mercy and asking The Merciful for His Bounty.
  • Humbleness and crying when reading.

The last rule is most definitely broken by us today with our uncontrollable laughing fits at our inability to do this recitation.  Oh dear.

Later in the evening, I get an email from R, but it seems to be quite unintelligible.

C,

Gttng rdy 2 hd hm + wntd 2 sy gnt. Bn txmging w/ sm tngrs + pkd up sm
nw trks 4 btr wys 2 cmmnct.  Isnt ths fn?  hddspf? m2. smmo.  thn I
sslfo!!! + i thgt, hly sht.  Its so comcal.  dnt u thk so?

wll, rly lvd tlkg w/ u.

s w!

l,
r

Obviously, he’s having a bit of fun acting like a teenager, omitting the vowels from words.  I have to admit I don’t even understand half of what he’s saying. 🙂

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Filed under Al-Azhar University, Cairo, Egypt, Middle East