On Leaders

How quickly the world is changing. It seems there is hardly time to take in one reality and then another unfolds, or breaks down, whichever way you want to look at it. First, the fall of one dictator in Tunisia in four short days. Hardly reported by the International media until it was over. Perhaps the pace of it all was too much to catch the attention of the air-wave controllers. Then the long protracted battle in Egypt. Seemingly long when it was going on as we all watched the news endlessly and felt the length of the days in empathy with those camped out in Tahrir square. Only then when the ‘Pharoah’ fell, to realize it was only 18 days. 18 days to end 30 years. Subhahana wa ta’ala. Perhaps Mubarak too celebrated the advent of 2011 without an inkling as to where he would be scarcely two months in to the new year. And now the situation in Libya.

Libya is shocking. One felt one could identify with the people on the streets of Egypt. Not only because I too come from a country with complex power politics and a long (too long) history of corruption, but because I think the world could identify with the ordinary people on Cairo’s streets. But then again we also had a better idea of what was going on in Egypt. And so it was an immense victory and a lesson, a deep lesson to a watching world. But Libya, Libya is so painful it almost numbs the mind. This type of killing of the innocent, that it takes place is numbing, that no one does anything to stop it (myself included)…is this forgivable? God forgive us all. If all we can do is pray, let us raise our hands and pray.

Pray for tyranny to end. For old men to be able to see past their own crusty and old perspective, that has rotted in to a putrid mess long past the time it was cast out. For the bloodshed to stop. For people to stop giving themselves the right to kill other people. What a great sin, are they not afraid? Allah protect us all. I do not know much of the politics of Libya, so I am afraid to comment further. But I do know that what is happening there is a great wake-up call. Not just that it seems these type things can take place. But as to the state of the people of the world.

When the revolution was ongoing, a dear Egyptian friend posted this on facebook, ‘if we are good, we will get good leaders’. A sweet sentiment that holds a very very deep truth. As Allah says to us in His immense communication, in His Holy book
“Truly, God does not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.” (Quran 13:11)

So this then what my friend was saying. And how beautifully the people of Egypt upheld that.

Today in the news, we hear of many Libyan top brass, ambassadors, emissaries, army colonels, ministers… all resigning. God bless these people of conscience. It takes great courage to stand up to tyranny anywhere, but more so in a country as autocratic as that, knowing there is not much hope of a way of escape from retribution should it come (God forbid!). May we all be of those people of conscience and join our voice to the voice of reason.

Many great people have said, that the only reason evil triumphs is because good is silent. 2011 seems a year, when Allah azza wa’jal is sending us wake-up call after wake-up call, in the natural world and the working of the human sphere. Sending us opportunity after opportunity to stop being silent and to join our voices to those who need us. One way of doing that is to join your voice to AVAAZ, the global online community. But more so than the outer manifestation of doing our part. I think what we really need to do is to examine our inner beings at this time. After all Allah won’t ask us about why we didn’t solve the global financial crisis or some such, we will only be asked as to our own self. Therefore all that is going on seems to be a great and urgent reminder that we (especially us Muslims, in whose lands all the present tumult seems to concentrate) revisit all we believe in and really make sure we are living in tune with our beliefs. This then a reminder first to myself, for I need to ‘clean up a lot in my cupboard’. Allah help me and help me keep my intention pure.

On another note, but related (to me at least), is a great lesson in how ignorant I am. Today I’ve learned how deeply the tribal system is still rooted in some parts of the world. And I wonder at it. Today I understand once more what a marvel it was that one man, could unite all these tribes under one banner in such a short time. Allah bless and elevate our beloved Muhammed.

May Allah help and guide us all.

Salimhum (grant them peace)

The child is father of the man
Truth upheld
Patiently praying

Water canon roar
drenched backs
They prostrate, only prostrate, only prostrate

A great peace
Settled in the heart

Of a lion rearing its head
A great eagle has taken wing
A great dove above it

Upon this land
The mother of civilization

Salimhum, ya Rabb
Salimhum

Like Pharoah

This poem was a result of many musings stimulated by dear friend’s facebook status posts as the crisis in Egypt unfolded. While that in itself is something to blog about (and inshaAllah reflections on it to come soon) here is in verse form a few of those thoughts; on power and absolute corruption of it, and on arrogance and how it blinds one’s reason.

Dedicated to those beautiful people who have lost their lives being good citizens… God protect them, forgive them, and grant an eternal peace, and God help us be better and help those who need our help.

***
Like Pharoah

Like Pharoah
who knew the truth
But could not accept
Could not bow.
Shed arrogance for humility
Shed ego to say ‘forgive me’

That his people hated him
Oppressed their lifetime
‘enough’ they cried
‘justice’ they cried
Freedom. Now.

Like Pharoah
Sign upon sign
you ignored, and
puny waves of retaliation
you unleashed
Shock and awe
you thought would muffle a nation.

Like Pharoah
You were wrong.

Truth stands clear from error.
we all know
who read the signs in the times
Your people hate you and you will go.

There is no prophet to lead them
And there is no need.
Prophet upon prophet has come and gone
left history in people’s memory
established lessons in people’s conscience.

Stand up for what you believe in
Stand up. Now.

The world recognizes
Not only your bravery
‘O people of Egypt
Not only your truth,

But the hypocrisy
of those who cloak their tacit approval
in intricate phrasealogy
careful meandering words, that mean nothing.

Speak the truth. Be clear.
Learn a lesson

From those dying on the streets
In honesty.

We can bear no more
‘enough’ they cried
‘justice’ they cried
Freedom. Now.

****
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