Arabs Together: Disunited

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Credits to “Getty Images”

How many times have we heard the word “unity”? For me, I have heard all kinds of it. “Christians & Muslims are one! we are all the same”, “Arab Unity”, “Egyptians and Syrians are one”… and the list goes on. Now I stop here and think; what if we are not really one? What if unity is not the answer? But then I stop here and think again, is the way you define unity the same way I define mine?

Have you ever thought why the west is so diverse, yet very successful (relatively)? As Arabs, we share culture, religion, history, location and language, yet we still feel so distant. We have focused so much on unity that we left acceptance to rot.

We want people to think like us, to act like us; we even subconsciously shape the people just to fit our views. No wonder why we argue all the time and get defensive when someone opposes our opinion. “If you are not like me, then you have something wrong with your brain” this became the unspoken norm.

We don’t have to be the same, if we were all the same, we would just be an army of robots, always seeing one side of the box. What we really need to do is to learn tolerance. All the people killing each other on the streets are just a bunch of ideas competing to dominate, screaming to be heard.

I believe that the greatest strength we have is our diversity. All we need to do is accept each other, with our flaws, imperfections and different perspectives. We don’t have to agree we just have to understand. We don’t have to judge, we just have to listen. But that’s just what I believe, and I could be wrong.

Moufti 

 

 

 

 

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7 Steps Towards Change

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I don’t take credit for this image

I miss being here so much. I have been writing a lot lately, but it all goes to the magazine, its things that unfortunately I can’t post here. Lately everything has been falling apart; nothing seems to be in place. Every time things start to be back in place, something just happens. My life is witnessing a very high rate of turn over. People/Things just keep going in and out of my life. I don’t think bitching about things will get anything better, so I’d rather spend that time working on alternatives.

Today, I realized that change happens gradually. One day you wake up frustrated and you think things got to change. You do your best, and then you realize your best was not enough to make that major change that you expected in your life.

The only way you can realize change is by looking backwards and I quote Steve Jobs here, “connecting the dots”. Today I look at my life and say, wow…things have really changed. 2-3 years ago I was just a completely different guy, someone who has very little resemblance with the man I am today. I am glad I am the man I am today, I am glad I have worked on changing and I slowly did.

Now my life is collapsing again because I have stopped changing. I see this as a wake-up call. There is no going back, there is no staying still, our life is collapsing behind us and the only way to escape is by running forward.

 But how do we know that we have changed? It’s the social mirror, it’s how the people respond to us, the feedback we get. So if you really change, but the people still treat you the same, wouldn’t that make you feel like the same old you?

Now many people (including myself) struggled with that. You try change, but everything around you is still the same. The thought of giving up slowly grows in your mind.

On a side note, the social mirror is the most realistic distortion of reality. It includes the people who we trust the most. It has our close friends and even our family. Those are the people who we get our feedback from; those are the people who reflect our change. But how come they don’t give us the right feedback?

Many of us tend to think that everyone sees the world the same way we do. We expect that they see we have changed the same way we see that we have changed. This gap between what we expect and what they see is what I call “the distorted reality”.

 What we fail to realize is that this gap keeps getting smaller by time, and this is why we can only see change when we look back. This is why many people just quit changing. Because they just cant see any progress going right now.

People who surround us gradually adapt to our change, just like we-subconsciously- slowly adapt to theirs’. So how can you replace that broken social mirror to see your own change?

First, you have to reach peace with yourself. You must be dedicated enough that you really want to change your life.

Second, try seeing change as a form of improvement. Many people start worrying as soon as they hear the word “change”. They just fear losing “their self” a long the way.

Third, to change, you don’t need to change who you truly are. You don’t need to change your values; you just need to find them and align them with your habits.

 Fourth, differentiate between your values and your habits. Your values are the core beliefs that you have, while the habits are the implications of those values.

Usually we have a large gap between our values and our habits, and the whole point of change, is realigning the habits with the values.

 For instance, if “not judging other people” is one of my core values. But when a close friend of mine is sharing a personal story, I interrupt them with my advice and how I see things, instead of really trying to understand them. Then my habits would not be aligned with my values.

Fifth, make a written list of your values and core beliefs. Don’t worry, as you get to change, you will get to know yourself better, so you can add/remove a few items from that list.

Sixth, that list will be your new mirror. You can always juxtapose this list against your daily habits. Every day, wake up and look at your list of values, how close are you to that list? Do you treat the people in a way that aligns with your values? Do you treat yourself in a way that aligns with your values? 

Seventh, make a promise not to your family, not your friends but to yourself; that you will do your best to improve, even if the whole world will try to prove you otherwise.

Finally, be patient, be truthful with yourself and know that we are all imperfect humans. We make mistakes, we learn and we grow; it is part of our lives and human nature.

Moufti 

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Where Are We Now?

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I don’t take credit for the image

As I cruise around the heavily crowded train, I feel an unhealthy vibe of despair all around me. Everyone’s temper seems to be more fragile than the usual. Everybody looks like they are having very little faith.

Politics was the most discussed among passengers, and the talk was floating around June 30th upcoming protests.  To many people, June 30th represents an opportunity for Egypt to change and become the long awaited –so called- world leader. While for others, it marks the beginning of chaos.

 Before you jump into conclusions, I don’t really have a robust political opinion. First of all, the information available about the current situation in Egypt seems unclear. The shadow of uncertainty has been/still is, taking over; which makes me unable to form a well-rounded opinion. Secondly, the knowledge I have regarding politics is that of the average citizen, which makes my opinion less credible to the others and myself.

For now, all what we have is indicators pointing nowhere. Which makes the following argument simply futile.

 First expected scenario for 30th of June: According to the optimists, June 30th protests will be very powerful, that the current president will have to either be kicked out by force, resign or submit to the protestors demands. Not only the optimistic theory is least supported by indicators (history of presidential decisions), but also the word “optimistic” needs to be questioned.

Lets assume the president resigns, which makes the president’s spot vacant. There are many people who want that spot, regardless of their reasons or intentions. There are the Islamic parties, which became a power that is surprisingly still under estimated by many. There are the liberal parties, who work over-ground and they relatively lead the urban public opinion; however, their intentions still seem unclear. There is the Muslim brotherhood, which will try to re-capture their presidential spot. There is the ex-Mubarak- regime, which recently has been gaining points due to the unfulfilling performance of the current government. Last but not least, there are the individuals with power/ wealth/ publicity, who also want the presidential spot.

 The second the president leaves is also the second everyone will go after power; now what is the expected outcome? Yes, you guessed it right, Civil War.

The other side of the argument may hint that by forming a government from different perspectives, the civil war could be dodged. Now that raises 2 questions. First, last time I checked, all presidential candidates had the words “representative government” on their forehead; until–obviously- it was time for the elections. Secondly, if you are opting for a representative government, why not work on getting places in the parliament?

Within all probabilities, the civil war seems more than likely, which makes the optimistic theory a chance for the army to make their comeback. I am not saying the army is bad, I am just saying it is a few rectangles before square one.

Second expected scenario for 30th of June: The second expected scenario is widely recognized as the pessimists view. Maybe the protests will fail miserably, the people will give up, go home or just let it go (which I doubt) or the president will come up with an innovative idea to redirect the people’s attention away from the protests (which is very likely but I wonder if it will be effective). Shortly, the pessimists’ scenario contains all the reasons why/how the protests can fail. The pessimistic scenario results in stagnation (staying at the current square), which will eventually lead to another movement of protests with repeated optimistic/ pessimistic outcomes.

So where are we? We are lying in the middle of the cycle. We are standing right here slowly losing the life that is left in us, and we can do very little about it…

 I write this out of frustration. I neither have a point that I want to prove, nor have a solution that is a promised fix. I lie down here just like you, floating around in a closed circle, searching for certainty, hoping to find a way out.

-Moufti 

 

 

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Goodbyes

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So here I am. Looking from the window, as the sun is slowly descending. Everything seems beautiful. The short time I have spent here flashes before my eyes. I remember all the smiles I have shared, the good times I have spent, and all the things that made my day.

The noise is fading away, as it’s getting darker and darker. I am feeling nostalgic already. I don’t know if I want to stay any longer, I don’t even know if it matters. All I know is that I miss home; I miss home with all its imperfections, and it’s so far from being perfect.

I am happy I have not taken this place for granted; I cherish every moment I have stayed here, knowing that it is far from eternal. I have always expected a lot from people, and they have always let me down. It’s my fault setting high expectations, not theirs; and that I understand. It is very sad how we only want the things that we cannot have. But if we stop thinking of what we have and what we don’t, we may find happiness in giving instead of having.

I hate goodbyes. Lets just not make a big deal out of it shall we? But who am I kidding; goodbyes are goodbyes. But let’s just not worry of what we are about to lose, and cherish this moment we have. Let’s just not take this moment for granted, because for now, its all what we have.

Moufti 

 

 

 

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Who Am I?

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How much can you say about me if you don’t know me? I mean, what is it that defines me as a person? We always want to know who we are. Some of us fail, others succeed, and the rest are left in denial.

I tried to search for things that define me as a person. Is it the color of my wallpaper? Is it the brand of my boxers? Is it the type of my car? Is it how much money I make? Is it the type of friends that I have? Is it the color of my skin? Is it the place that I was born at? Is it my past choices? I couldn’t find an answer, because all the factors I have considered were coming from the outside. I needed something more profound, something I can sense; something that takes part of me. I tried to search within myself, and it was harder than I thought. I tried to search for what makes me happy, and I thought about travelling; travelling makes me happy. But how can travelling define me as a person? Travel is for those who are searching for themselves outside. So I came back to square one.

I wanted to judge myself, but I couldn’t. I mean, who am I to judge myself? I don’t even expect others to judge me. I tried to find something that is powerful beyond human nature. Is it my belief that defines me as a self? Then I remembered how different people have different beliefs, so I couldn’t find that one definite truth that would guide me.

I thought it might be the society. When we are born, the society slowly shapes us, that we don’t even notice it. Some of us choose to conform, while others choose to write their own story. But how can the society define who I am? I mean, listening to that entire BS is a choice, isn’t it? I know for sure that consensus is an illusion; consequently, I know that society does not define me.

I over thought it, I have searched inside out, but I always came back to the bottom. There is a missing piece for the puzzle, and I don’t know if it exists. I thought I might be a combination of all the questions that I ask, but questions remain questions, and i wasn’t looking for questions.

I do not know who I am, but there is one thing that I know for sure, I am that young kid who wants to explore, I am the missing piece of the puzzle.

Moufti 

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Egypt reaches a new ‘high’

gious, and business leaders undertake treatment abroad, what message does that send?The country that once built the Pyramids, the Sphinx, and two-thirds of the world’s monuments cannot build a modern road system that does not lead to the deaths of more than 10,000 Egyptians per year. The country that was once the Arab world’s cultural, technological, and industrial hub, has become one that is unable to provide adequate medical services to its citizens.The problem is that the middle-class dominated society is stuck in the past: they are stuck believing that the revolution was the answer to all their dreams, when in reality it has become nothing but a political power play by all those hungry for control over Egypt.The revolution should have been the answer to Egypt’s societal problems: to high illiteracy, the decaying public health network, and to the increasing polarization of women in society. It should have broken the ‘desensitization’ you feel when you see a one-armed beggar on Cairo’s streets with barely enough clothes to cover him. The revolution – Egypt – should have become a beacon for real, ground-breaking, inspirational change.The point is, this is not the future we dreamed of, but it is not impossible to achieve an even greater future. The first step is by recognizing and challenging

via Egypt reaches a new 'high'.

The Truth

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   I don’t believe in Politics, I don’t believe in chanting “freedom”; I mean, why would I go ask someone, a human just like me to give me freedom? Politicians only have the power that we give to them, and it seems we gave them too much. Its all like a movie, where everyone is doing role play; politicians play the roles of rulers, while we play roles of servants; but we played the roles for so long, that it became a self fulfilling prophecy.

   I believe in the need for a government, I believe in capitalism within equal chances. I don’t believe in good will, I only believe in systems, I only trust in institutions. Politicians are servants, servants guided by their self-interest, but why do we blame them? It’s us who are still playing the roles.

   I don’t believe in democracy, I believe in the day when there is no poverty. I don’t believe in equality, but I believe in justice. I don’t believe in punishment, but I believe in incentives. I don’t believe in promises, but I believe in history; I believe what I trust, and I trust what I sense.

    If you think that a politician will fulfill your dreams, think again. If you think politicians are initially evil, think again. If you think power won’t corrupt you, you might be right; but if you think power wont corrupt those around you, think again.

   Different people want different things, everyone believes in someone, and everyone think they are right; so does that make them all right? Or all wrong? Does it even matter? People fail, Humans are imperfect, we expect so much out of those in control, but we forgot, they are humans, humans just like us.

   All empires fail, and absolute empires fail absolutely. Eternity doesn’t exist, not in this life; time can’t be bought, and it will never change. The more we know, the more we realize that we don’t. The more we invent things to make our lives easier, the more we make our lives complicated. The more we have, the more we need.

   We are 7 billion people, each one has a different life, a different look, a different perception, we all think life revolves around us, guess what, you are not special. We all know the truth, and the truth is not absolute, it’s a 7 billion truth.

   If you believe in someone’s good will, well wait till they run out of options. If you believe people are evil, well wait till you meet yourself. If you believe that after reading this, your life will change, it won’t. If your seeking freedom outside, you will remain forever lost.

 

Make sure that you write your own story.

 Moufti

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“Be truthful, nature only sides with truth”

Adolf Loos

“Be truthful, n…

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Deep Down A Lion

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(Ivanovic 2008) credits to National Geographic 

Deep down in the woods, lived just another lion, a lion that is not in possession of any skill making him substantially better that the other ordinary lions; just another lion trying to survive in a world were competition is fierce. He was born within laws of the jungle, where the fittest survives, and his options were not so many. His utmost pleasure is in exploring the unknown, but his knowledge of other lands was limited by the horizon, as far as his eyesight could reach. All what he knows about the distant lands was what he heard from the other lions, but he only trusts in what he could see. Every day he stood on top of a cliff, where his toes slightly extended from the edge, he wanted to see as far as he could, but he was afraid of falling into the sea, he feared the unknown.

This lion had a secret, a secret that he kept away from all the other lions; he grew up in a place where the greatest virtue was obedience, a place where all the other lions conformed to those of greater strength, a place where disagreement was punished, a place where acceptance was wrong, but judgment was righteous; he secretly knew deep down inside, that he was a rebel.

All the other animals feared him; after all, they were just potential victims, but none of them knew of his struggles, none of them thought of his reasons; they only saw what they wanted to see, just another lion.

One day, the lion wanted to learn of the other lands, he shared his thoughts with other lions, so they warned him that he will lose all the great things that he owns, they accused him of treason, because he took all the good he has for granted, and they told him he will lose his high status hierarchy as a lion.

On the next day, he woke up earlier than any other lion, he walked towards the cliff like any other day, and he slowly placed his feet at the edge; he looked towards the sky, as the young sunlight reflected across his eyes, and he thought of everything he owns and every single memory he had at this place; he wanted to be free, but his freedom came at the cost of losing all what’s in his possession; he turned back, he walked away, then he ran as fast as he can towards the edge, and he took a leap of faith.

No one knows what happened to the lion after he went into the unknown; all what we know for sure, is that deep down inside, he hoped to find what he was looking for, he hoped to find freedom as he pictured it. Every lion views freedom in a different way, but not all the lions are willing to let go.

 

 

 -Moufti

 

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