Dreams to Allah
Posted on November 24, 2007
At least it was cool, living on the rooftops.
And it was quieter. The teeming noise of the Cairo slums was always present, but muted somehow. After the horrible, fume and grime wracked journey home from work, and the tiresome trudge up a dozen staircases, worrying about the cracked masonry and the rotten boards, it was a relief to be back at home. His young daughter would greet him with a squeal of delight, and rush to her papa’s embrace. How he loved his daughter! He would hold her lovingly, caressing her soft hair, and musing quietly into her ear.
“There now, my little flower… have you been helping your mother today? And how is your little brother been behaving? “
Photo: A gift from Allah
And she, proudly, all of eight years old, would tell him how she had been washing shirts, and helping her mother run their small laundry business. It brought in a much needed dollar-and-a-half a week, and together with his meager earnings as a laborer, they managed to make ends meet. Their four dollars a month rent was his chief worry, and once the first of the month had passed, and he had managed once again to pay the rent, it was with a feeling of relief that he could relax on that score for another four weeks.
His little girl, his happiness, his beautiful gift from Allah, was bubbling on happily about her day’s work, and about her little baby brother, whom she adored. He nodded and smiled, and winked at his wife. She smiled back, cradling their four year old son, who was asleep in her arms. His angelic face, peaceful and innocent in his dreams, radiated that quiet bliss, that simple trusting, that children have in their perceptions of the goodness and infinite love of their parents.
At night, after their simple meal, as the children would fall asleep, he would busy himself around their humble home. Arranging the corrugated iron sheets a little better, or propping cardboard in some cracks. It didn’t rain very often, but when it did, the water poured in through a dozen small cracks, and they would have to frequently empty the plastic tubs and the old Coke cans they used to catch the incessant drops. He had found some old plastic sheeting, and that addition, weighted down with four worn out truck tires, had improved things a lot. Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate, was good to them. His wife and he were lucky, compared with many others. At least they had a home, and a roof over their heads. They had two beautiful children. His gaze would slide over to the two little bundles of loving huddled beside him, in the unsteady flickering light of the kerosene lamp, and his pride and delight as a father would overcome him. When the call to the faithful came, echoing and melodic, he would leap to the task, and roll out his prayer mat with joy in his heart. He would pray to Allah in gratitude, and thank his God for all his many blessings. He would pray for his children, and their future. He would pray for his people, and the nation of Egypt. And he would pray for the people of the world as he knew it. Even the Americans were included in his prayers. Those infidels, the strange ones, the aggressors against the Arab people. The providers of guns and tanks and missiles to the Jews. Even for them, he would pray.
Photo: The Quran by Amoor
Perhaps, one day, they too would come to realize their need for Allah. Perhaps, one day, even the Americans, would come to know the depth, the magnificence, the infinite mercy…of Allah. He would frown in his prayers, as he thought back to the events that had transpired. The attack on America of September the eleventh. Their big buildings, proud and tall, tumbling down into the dust. He had seen the pictures on his rich cousin’s black and white television set. His rich cousin, who had electric. And running water. He even had his own toilet. And the television. Propped up on the table, with the room overflowing with people, he had stared at the destruction with his jaw sagged open. Around him, his friends and neighbours had cheered and danced, and gone hysterical with delight. He too had tried to feel elated and exultant, swept along with the emotions of his companions. But later, whenever he had prayed, the pictures of burning people leaping to their deaths from the towers would come to his mind. It was hard… to hate those people. Who were dying, so horribly. And he would pray for them. Allah…was merciful. Allah… would forgive them. For being Americans. For being so proud.
He knew in his heart, with an utter certainty, that Allah…would receive them.
And then there were the Jews. Everybody hated the Jews. They had stolen the land of the Arabs. They oppressed their neighbors, and they used American money to hold on to their ill gotten bounty. Yes, everybody hated the Jews. But he would frown again in his prayers. The concentration would be etched all over his face, his eyes shut tight, as he poured out his heart in silent praise to Allah…
“But you, Oh Great One, you have all powers…
Photo: the All Seeing One
With your hand you could smite the Jews if you so wished! You could rain lightning and thunder on their heads! Yet you do not! Is it because they too are your people? Like all the people of this dark world? “
And his fingers, trembling with devotion, would search through his treasured Koran, for the verses he loved. He would recite them quietly to himself, and then be silent, letting the words trickle through his thirsting spirit. He knew, Allah was good. Allah was wise. Whatever Allah was doing, or waiting for, it was Good. Allah would deal with the Jews, in His own time. Maybe they too, for all their evil, for all their sins, for all their thievery, maybe they too.. were His people.
Maybe, one day… it was his dream. Maybe, one day, all the people on the earth would see Allah. Maybe, one day, all the people would come to realise they were brothers and sisters. Maybe, one day… there would be peace. Oh, these dreams… How he cherished them! To be friends with the Americans! To be friends with the hated Jews!
His lips moving in silent prayer, he would gaze up into the heavens, and watch the contrails, high, high up in the sky. What were those long, shining white lines, that criss-crossed the dome above his head? Oh, he knew they were airplanes, with people on board, but what made those long white plumes? Sometimes, if he squinted his tired eyes, and looked very carefully, he could just see the tiny tip of the spear. The bright pin at the head of the plume. Tearing across the pale Egyptian sky.
How wonderful it must be to be up there! In his dreams, he too would go on a flight to America. Would he be able to see Allah from up there? How much would it cost? Thirty dollars? More? That was an impossible sum. He was lucky to make that in three months.
How long would it take? An hour? Two hours? A week? How wonderful it would be to spend an hour or a week so close to Allah!
He would sigh, knowing full well he would never leave this district in Cairo. Maybe his children would have the chance. Maybe they would fly in an airplane one day. If he could afford an education for them. How he loved his children. His gifts from the Compassionate One…
He would finish his prayers, and return to his humble abode. A quiet man, a modest man, a poor man by Western standards.
And a man wholly unaware… of the immense richness of his spiritual life.
* * * * *
At thirty five thousand feet, in the first class cabin, the sour faced man in the Saville Row suit in seat 1A was being whispered about by the cabin staff. He was demanding and surly, and complained about everything. He rejected the wine, and was snarly about the Caviar. His steak was tough, and the silverware stained.
Beside him, his beautiful companion, displaying immaculate make up and a gaggle of diamonds and glitter, pretended to be asleep. How she hated him! How her children hated him! How everybody hated him! She would bide her time, but when she did strike, she would go for the jugular. Her lawyer was already quietly compiling the case. Pre-nuptial agreement or not, she would have his financial guts before she was through….
Photo by a_kartha
He gave up on the steak, which was utterly inedible. The fools! The service was once again abysmal! That was it! At the next board meeting, he was making it an urgent priority for the company to bite the bullet and invest in their own private commuter jet. With their own staff. It was simply intolerable to expect him to travel under these tiresome conditions. It angered him to suffer such appalling cabin service. The fact that he couldn’t just relief his frustrations and summarily fire somebody, as was his habit, annoyed him even more.
He looked out the window, and realized they were passing over Cairo. Cairo! How he hated that place! With its stinking, sprawling slums. With up to seventy thousand people per square mile. With no running water, totally inadequate sewerage, massive congestion and hopeless education system. Cairo! A nuclear strike would be the best thing that could happen there. It was full of Arabs anyway. It would be doing the world a favor.
He continued to gaze out the window, morosely, and looked down, quite oblivious to the fact that another human soul was, at that precise moment, gazing up… at him.
From a kneeled position.
On a tired, well used prayer mat.
Last edited by Francis Meyrick on June 7, 2009, 6:34 am