Monday, December 19, 2011

Dubai - their National Day, ours and our way forward

This Thursday I am here… last Thursday I was in Dubai. I saw both nations interact with their national days; I saw both countries interacting with their nations. In Dubai it was like a wedding, everyone was happy. People enjoyed celebrating their national day. Here, some people enjoyed celebrating this day, while others did not. In Riffa for example happy people are carrying the Bahraini flag, celebrating and enjoying the day and expressing their love to the country. In Diraz, people are carrying the same flag, but they are engaging into fights with riot police, throwing Molotov's at the police and receiving tear gas back.  Another part is worried about the future of this country and decided to celebrate this day by gathering at al Fateh mosque to pass their anger to the Government.
Dubai or the UAE in general walked towards the right steps until they reached where they are today. UAE leaders cared first about the people of the country, invested in the people and then invested in the infrastructure. With those solid steps, they will reach a day when they become the world's number one country. So what can we do today to be on the same path as our neighbor Dubai?
Today, our situation is unfortunately misty. We do not know where we are heading. The country is moving "3ala el Baraka" as we can describe it. How much did we lose in the last 10 months? How much money (just imagine how much did MOI utilized in the past 10 months which should’ve been used for housing for example)? How much effort? How much strength wasted which could’ve been used in something better? A lot… So, again I will raise this question… what can we do today to be on the same path as our neighbor Dubai or even better.
Political reform? Elected government? Use more security forces? More power to the Parliament? No, these are all shallow solutions and will only pause problems and make them worse.
 Six major steps we must take in order to become a better nation. Start from the inside, move to the family, civil chill, law enforcement, cut the corruption and give the people their rights.
Start from the inside
It is known from the very old days that change begins from the inside, most or all influential people around the world say this. Even the holy Qur'an stated this when God said ((إِنَّ اللَّهَ لا يُغَيِّرُ مَا بِقَوْمٍ حَتَّى يُغَيِّرُوا مَا بِأَنفُسِهِمْ)) "Allah does not change a people´s lot unless they change what is in their hearts". It is simple to understand, challenging to implement. When we start to become better people from the inside, when we begin to thank God, respect others and be better people in doing everything from being dedicated at our jobs, expanding our knowledge, being punctual, doing things with conscious, adding to the society and helping others then we will be able to see the real change in the society. So before we start marching the streets for our rights, we have to know and do our obligations toward others.   
Move to the family
When we start correctly from the inside, then we will automatically start influencing the people we interact with directly, our families. If the father and mother teach their children the principals which I have mentioned in step number one and teach them how to accept and respect others, then we will end up having better families, leading to better neighborhood and a better country. When children learn that it is okay to have people around us who are different from us, it is okay that other people don’t believe in what we believe in (as long as they respect us). We can live with them and we can also be their best friends (and they are neither traitors nor infidels).  When the father teaches his children that a book (not a Molotov) is the weapon and dialogue is the way forward (not roads blocking or garbage dumping in the streets). When the father is the first protector of his wife and children, protecting them by not letting them to be in the wrong places at the wrong times. Then we can say that we have better families and move to the next level.
Civil Chill
History has always taught us lessons to learn from, and one who reads the way Imam Ali (R&P) wanted to deal with the incident of killing of khalifa Othman bin Affan (R) and how he didn’t want to cause more tension between Muslims themselves. But the reason why he failed to stop a Muslim-war between them is the act of Mu'aweya bin Abi Sufyan (R) who insisted on escalating the situation and takes justice from whoever killed Othman without waiting and overseeing the whole situation. Although Imam Ali and Mu,aweya agreed that they won't go to war and that they will work together to bring out whoever killed Othman to justice. But the act that Mu,aweya did (coming to Madinah with his troops) was enough for the people who didn’t want unity to Muslims (Munafeqeen) to make their move and make sure that the war starts between the two. We must learn from history that we must not give any chances for the people who want Bahrain to be separated, the people who wants to see Bahrain destroyed (Our version of Munafeqeen). We must learn that we all have to be the Imam Ali of the nation and to be wise, and always put the unity of the nation ahead of us.
 There is one thing that everybody must remember, we live all together in this country and we have no other solution other than to live together or else start a civil war where all parties will lose. This is very important; this goes to all political societies, all religion scholars, and all the figures that are heard in this society. This is the time that we MUST forget everything. Forget your demands, forget what you want, and forget your political reform point of view. Focus on one thing; focus on how to bring the people back to one again. Anyone who doesn’t acknowledge that there is a very big sectarian tension in this country is either blind or pretending to be blind. Bahrain has always been known for the kindness and hospitality of its people, and losing this today means losing Bahrain. What is the point of all political reform if we have two sects that hate each other? The first step as I see it toward ending this tension is to bring back the faith between the two sects. This only can happen when both sects admits what mistakes they have done and apologizes to the other, only then people can turn the page and start a new chapter. But if we only see escalations, if we only see that people are carrying the BICI report and extracting what they like from it and ignore whatever wrong doings happened from their side, if we see that societies are only talking about the reaction and ignoring the action, then how can we pass this tension zone? Political societies must take responsibility for the wrong events that happened from their sect and apologize. We do not need excuses or explanation, the people only need acknowledgment and an apology to the nation. Religious figures must also meet together, sit and show people that they are together. How do you expect people to get back together if their leaders and ideal figures are fighting between themselves every other day?
Law enforcement
Dear Government, this goes to you. Dear Government, this is simple! Enforce the law! This is a country, this is not a playground where you apply the law on some and ignore the law on others. We need to see that law is enforced on the whole nation, and not excluding any. It is simple! When someone is innocent, release him! When someone is guilty, don’t release him! When someone steals, cut his hand! When someone kills another, he must be sentenced to death! Yet, you do not have the right to torture anyone! This is what our religion taught us. Some laws are applied on the Shiite's but not the Sunnis while other laws are applied on the Sunnis but not the Shiite's, we want the rules to be applied on everyone. It is simple! Enforce the law, don’t differentiate between people, and restore security and safety to people.
Cut the corruption
Our country is drowning with corruption, and no one is doing anything about it. All corrupted figures are left without judgment. The country's wealth is being cut into pieces since a long period of time. Millions and millions throughout the years are disappearing, at the same time some figures are getting richer, richer and richer. The Government must take a very serious investigation and stops every corrupted person or mafias and take them to court. This is the nation's wealth, and all this wealth must go back to its people. We need a proper investigation with steep sentences for all those who are corrupted and stole from this nation; so that all who will come next will think a million time before they touch a small tiny part of our peoples wealth.

Give the people their right
Every Bahraini wants a descent living. A respective home that he can get once he's married, and not wait for 30 years until he gets one. A descent job with a descent salary that will make him cope with today's prices of goods. Every Bahraini wants to be proud of being a Bahraini.  Every Bahraini wants to be able to enjoy full facilities provided by the country such as proper public parks and beaches. Every Bahraini wants to grow up in a healthy environment. Every Bahraini wants to raise his children and not worrying about their future.

When we achieve achieving the previous six steps, then we might move to the next phase and start talking about political reform, democracy or whatever. And then only we can be like our neighbor Dubai or even better.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Remember remember the fifth of November
Prayer in Arafa, it was hot...
I see no reason why this Arafa season
Should ever be forgot…

After all, it was the season where God chose me to be one of his guests to attend and perform the Pilgrim. I still don’t know why God was so grateful with me, to choose me among the millions of Muslims who are dying to go to Hajj. I can only think of one reason "the mercifulness of God".

To explain the level of soul comfort that I was in is impossible to address with a pen and paper because only God knows the way I felt back there. Add to that the total shift in time and history of my soul and body throughout the trip. When I did my Tawaf around the Ka'aba, it was like me with the Prophet when he did his Tawaf and destroyed the idols surrounding the Ka'aba the day he entered Makkah. When I prayed in the Haram, it was like me watching Prophet Ibrahim putting the bricks and building the Ka'aba. When I drank Zamzam water, it was like me watching Abu Taleb digging Zamzam after years of it being missed. When I did the Sa'ai between Alsafa and Almarwa mountains, it was like me running with Prophet Ibrahim's wife Hajar searching for water for Baby Prophet Ismail. When I cut my hair, it was like me watching the prophet the first time he cut his hair when he was not allowed to enter Makkah to do his Omrah. Going to Mina camps, Spending the day in Arafa and heading to Muzdalifa, it all made me feel like I was part of Hujjat al Wada'a which was performed by the Prophet Mohammed (P). When I threw the stones in the Jamarat, it gave me this feeling that I was throwing a bad habit with each stone I threw. This was a small translation of the feelings that hit me during my visit to Makkah.

But I'm not here to write about this. I'm here to trigger a far more important issue, an issue that vanished from the minds of millions of people who performed Hajj this year and in the earlier years, wishing that this might wake up other people for the next years. This issue is raised with a question "Why did we go to Hajj?"

The amount of situations from people I've seen in Hajj that saddened me were much more compared to the situations which made me smile. Some are listed below.
Complaining: People complaining all the time about everything, anything, no matter how stupid or serious it's about. Traffic jam, little food, hot water, Hot weather, AC not working, the room is small, the bed is not comfortable, the bus is old, the pillow is not soft and you can name many others.
Respectful LESS: People tend to forget where they are and start acting with a negative attitude. They shout at each other, they push each other, they swear at each other. No matter where they are, even if they were near the Ka'aba.
Personal Hygiene: I don’t think this needs any further clarifications!
General Hygiene: I went to Arafa after the waqfa day and I was shocked! This holy place which is mentioned in the holy Qur'an was literally a big Garbage tank. The roads were full with garbage, litter, remaining of food, etc. The smell of the place was awful. Not only in Arafa, but the same situation was exactly in Mina camps.

After all what I saw, I go and remember my visit to Japan earlier this year and compare it to my Hajj visit and remember a quote said by a dear friend "In Japan they dont have Muslims but they have Islam… and we have Muslims but we don’t have Islam". We are supposed to be the Nation of Kindness, Respect and Hygiene. But unfortunately when comparing ourselves to most of the nations today, we are the worst. Don’t blame it on the Saudis, they are doing a great job in the organizations; also don’t blame it on the level of education of people because those are simple basic Islamic principles. Every country must educate, teach their people the basic rules and principles before sending them to the test, to Hajj, because Hajj is a test.

I go back to the question I raised, "Why did we go to Hajj?" what is it really about? Is it about going to pray and cross another pillar of Islam off the list? Maybe yes.
But if we want to know the real reason, the real meaning behind it we shall just read the first two verses of Surat Al Hajj
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اتَّقُوا رَبَّكُمْ إِنَّ زَلْزَلَةَ السَّاعَةِ شَيْءٌ عَظِيمٌ َ يوْمَ تَرَوْنَهَا تَذْهَلُ كُلُّ مُرْضِعَةٍ عَمَّا أَرْضَعَتْ وَتَضَعُ كُلُّ ذَاتِ حَمْلٍ حَمْلَهَا وَتَرَى النَّاسَ سُكَارَى وَمَا هُم بِسُكَارَى وَلَكِنَّ عَذَابَ اللَّهِ شَدِيدٌ
Translation: Oh mankind! Fear your lord and be dutiful to him! Verily, the earthquake of the Hour (the judgment day) is a terrible thing. The day you shall see it, every nursing mother will forget her nursing, and every pregnant one will drop her load, and you will see mankind as drunken state, yet they will not be drunken, but severe will be the torment of God.
This is it! This is the bottom line! Hajj is just a preparation for what is coming, for the real Hajj. When you only wear a white piece of cloth, when you are standing with millions of other people, this is all a preparation for the day where you will be standing with the whole mankind in front of God, in a very long day (50,000), where the sun will only be a mile away from your head!
People who go to Hajj MUST imagine and live that they are standing in the judgment day! They should not complain, they should not be negative; they should not be controversial and they should stop all acts of depravity.
People tend to forget that they are the guests of God, that he chose them among millions of others, that he wants to forgive all their sins, and that he wants to prepare them for the bigger Hajj. If you are going to Hajj, please do not forget this and be a better Muslim.
And for me, it surely was a fifth of November that I will never ever forget.

13th November 2011

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Angry Birds

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

I was holding my Blackberry device and going through the recent updates on my Blackberry messengers list, what I noticed is that mostly everyone in my list has changed his or her display picture into an anti Al Jazeera channel or a sarcastic picture of Qatar leaders. In addition to that I read many statuses which were furious about Qatar and Al Jazeera in particular. Minutes later I found out the reason behind this hate campaign, was a documentary released by Al Jazeera English channel about Bahrain's unrest since Feb 14th under the name of  "Shouting in the dark". Honestly, I did not watch the documentary in details, but I skimmed through it all and concluded what type of a report it was and why it has made so many people angry, yet it made so many people happy as well. Since I am concerned in this post about the angry people, I will not be discussing the others. I will only talk about the angry people, people like me.. or let me call them "Angry Birds".

This post is a message to the Angry Birds, a message to all the Angry Birds who did not feel comfortable with the type of report the channel has broadcasted.
In the beginning I would like to shed light on two reasons which I think made people like Angry Birds:

1. The documentary video broadcasted more than 50 minutes of a one sided story, the opposition side of the story, in addition to the total ignoring of the other side views. The documentary had many wrong assumptions and only brought the bright side of the opposition uprising, and to me, I do believe that saying half the truth is much worse than lying. The bottom line regarding that documentary is that it was unfair and one sided. (I will not go into the discussion of what agenda does this channel serves)

2. The report came from Al Jazeera channel which works from inside our neighbor country, part of GCC, a country that shares 95% of our culture and heritage if not 100%, Qatar. How can they approve such report to be shown on a channel that is supposed to be owned by them?

What was shocking to me is the way most Angry Birds responded to what they felt as an offensive report in their right. Since the video was shown on Al Jazeera channel, all I saw was furious hate messaging on social networks, swearing at the channel and at Qatar in general, hate and angry broadcasts, apart from few people that really touched the core of condemning this report. To me, how Angry Birds reacted to the above is just an emotional way to deal with their Anger!

I am sorry Angry Birds, but why don't we stop being angry at the channel, the opposition, and Qatar? Why don't we take a deep breath and accept the following fact: The Opposition won on this.. They scored a goal.. and we are another goal down.. Instead of blaming the channel and what ask for the reasons behind producing such a report.. before we blame the opposition for helping in such a report, instead of blaming Qatar's government or people for not taking any sort of action against the channel. Why don't we blame ourselves? Why don't we blame ourselves that we did not work enough to let the world know our part of the story? Why did not we have proper correspondences with Al Jazeera officials in the past? In the days of 2010 and before, when Budaya road was full with burnt tires every weekend (for example)? Why did not we contact any other international channels to work with to produce our side of the story? Why do we think that we should be waiting for them to approach us and to be fair with us? The opposition worked for years and years to approach those channels and reporters, they have established a strong relationship and contact with such organization and international media. It is about knowing the right people and having the right connections, and they have been the leading part in this area. What we need today is to stand up for ourselves and not wait for them to pick our stories and facts. International channels, national, youtube, any other sources can make ourselves heard. Lets Stop blaming other people just because they won or because they don't agree with us and lets start working hard to achieve our mission. It is a long long way, they started it many years before, we are in the beginning and the road is very long.
Lets stop blaming the others, Lets blame the right people by standing in front of a mirror. and then maybe we can finally hit the green pigs, win the three stars and free the eggs!

Ahmed Abdullatif

6th August 2011