Our Journey to Smile

The trap in Shereef’s Journey to Smile : A response letter from an Arab Muslim Egyptian man to Hakim, my peacemaker ‎friend in Afghanistan ‎


Please read previous post A relational response to Obama’s Cairo speech from peacemaker in Afghanistan to Egyptian Arab Muslim friend

Dear Young,

Can you believe my luck? You were the first foreigner I met or took to. You are the nearest friend to me in soul but the farthest friend in body. Thank you for the letter and the love.

Let me share some of my thoughts of freedom with you for I believe that freedom is the most precious thing in life and that it is not a gift.

Man created gods to answer his questions of what he can’t understand and to complete and fix the unjustified and incomplete life (like the idea of life after death and judgment day). But that was not possible without the wild imagination of the human mind and this is where legends and myths came and flooded the simple beautiful heart of religion. Islam today is surrounded by all kinds of illogical and untrue stories that I can’t accept and that hide the human core of religion. And today these legends are the real source of how Muslims look and act and think (or don’t think) and when you are an average man in the third world, you will have to have religion in your life. As you can’t see the real heart of it, you will hang on to the external shape and that makes you legalistic.

In history, western civilizations took two important steps which we (Muslims) aren’t able to take. One is to separate religion from politics. Two is to free the mind, that is, to have no authority over the authority of the mind. This keeps us a thousand years behind and as I see it, we won’t start changing in another thousand years. And the political system in Egypt, like in the Islamic world, is a tyrant who makes the best use of the ignorance of the crowded majority and the cultured minds of the lonely minority. It has an education system which I see as the biggest destructive tool a tyrant has and I’m sorry that I’m a part of it. This education system trains someone who has no thinking skills or skills of expression or ethics or even work skills, and sends him to the market and a world that doesn’t need him, to a country owned by the general president and his family. At the same time, this young graduate has a mind full of religious legends which offer pain killers in the form of some after-life promises of justice, paradise and revenge. All he needs is to wait for death and act properly (dress white, stop shaving, pray, fast, hate any one who doesn’t look like him). For the political system, it’s always easier to rule sheep than to rule humans.

My dear friend, I told you why I feared visiting Afghanistan. It’s the Egyptian security authorities. No one there will understand that my real motive is to walk with you in the journey to smile for peace and if he does, he won’t believe it. He won’t let me go without making use of me as a ‘terrorist suspect’ or as a ‘possible informer’, to get credit for his personal career advancement. You know my responsibilities. There’s too much to lose.

For the future, I imagine the scenario which Life is writing for us as having a horrible end, through a virus or global warming or a nuclear explosion. This end can be a slap on human conscience and a step for the evolution of the human race. I mean we are expendable in these hard times for planet earth. Maybe, when we face the ugliest face of man and nature, we will participate in creating a better world and a more intelligent, humane and united Mankind. I’m optimistic. Don’t laugh that this is my optimistic view of life. Can you imagine my feelings when I face loneliness, and the fact that I can’t move out, the fact that brought my two girls to this world, that the things which tie me down are the same things I love, that I’m afraid to get into the window seat of a plane, and see the clouds and the sea and the mountains, to find you, my best friend, waiting at the airport and to participate in a noble thing, maybe find new ideas for my writings. Afraid of my own people. But the reality is that you are ‘my own people’, not them.

Thank you, Young, for existing. And caring.

You can put this letter on the website if you think it is worth it. If so, correct my English please.



June 15, 2009

traps and spaces

Thanks for your thoughtful, ‘trapped’ response.

The Spaces are the same

“Can you imagine my feelings….”

I don’t have to imagine because I share with you the great agony of Space, the huge Space of loneliness and discrepancies. Every human experiences this emptiness, whether in the ‘first or third world’, whether ‘Muslim or Christian’.

I have always considered Space and its emptiness. Space in the skies. Space on the plains. Space in our hearts. A Space which is not as much of dimensions as it is of meanings. A Space that is sometimes lonely.

I see its face in all others. I’ve tried to figure it out. But it remains there, un-dissectible.

Naturally, in these eons of wars, the possibility of a horrific death disturbs it.

SO, I often think wordlessly, “Why bother at all with this Space? “

The Traps are the same

Take heart, Shereef. Traps are like Spaces, so we may find true freedom yet.

All of humanity inhabits many ‘unrecognized traps’.

It is a fallacy that ‘western civilizations’ have separated ‘religion’ from ‘politics’ ( Constantine! ) or that their minds are ‘free’. It is also a fallacy that ‘Christianity’ is not as ‘trapped’ as ‘Islam’.

Despite the things which ‘threaten’ to ‘imprison’ us, in your village in Egypt and in my village in Afghanistan, I hope we can practice the ‘simple heart of religion’ and live by ‘the authority of our understanding’. If we couldn’t, the ‘heart’ would no longer be simple and our understanding would no longer have any trace of authority.

As you say, freedom isn’t a gift; we have to work at it.

Come ‘super-optimistically’! J

I understand the sad realities, but I ask that you come to Afghanistan anyway, ‘super-optimistically’, for friendship and peace!

Please keep writing. And ‘give Space to those Traps’!

Love always,

Hakim/Young in Afghanistan

June 20, 2009


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