I rubbed my eyes repeatedly at midnight on the eve of the 28th of Ramadan. I desperately wanted to keep my eyes open to watch the Laylat Al Qadr sermon (the night Muslims believe the first verses of the Quran were revealed to Prophet Mohamed).
It’s known that Prophet Mohamed [PBUH] used to intensify his prayers and supplication during the last ten days of Ramadan, so I decided to follow suit.
Laylat Al Qadr has special signs, as indicated by Prophet Mohamed. One of these signs is that the sun would have no rays as they will be blocked by the angels who return to the heavens after the break of dawn. Another indication is that the night of Laylat Al Qadr is neither hot nor cold (“Peaceful is that night until the break of dawn Quran:97:5).
The preacher began praying to Allah that the Americans leave Iraq and the Israelis leave Palestine.
That night I slept like a baby, hoping that Allah would listen to this Sheikh’s prayers on this blessed night, which, as He describes it in the Quran, is “better than a thousand months.
I woke up the next morning feeling cheerful, and contrary to my normal habits, logged on to the Internet straight away. I came across a piece of news titled “This day in History about Ramadan 28th, of the Islamic year 92.
On that year Tariq Bin Ziad led a decisive battle after which the Muslims entered Andalusia. This was the Battle of Barbat, which was chronicled in great detail by pioneering Muslim sociologist Ibn Khaldoun.
I headed off to work so elated I felt I was hovering above the ground, but soon enough I fell upon news of a partnership agreement between Egypt and NATO in Brussels which could in the future allow NATO troops to police the Philadelphi Corridor between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, not to mention pave the way to closer military cooperation between us and our beloved Zionist neighbors.
The signing of the agreement was followed with a vacuous statement by the official Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hossam Zaki.
“The news that was just announced is a total shame, he said. (I naively thought he was referring to the actual agreement.) “It reflects a complete lack of understanding of the nature of Egypt’s relationship with NATO. He then went on about how this unilateral agreement with NATO would open the doors for stronger humanitarian efforts, providing hospitals in conflict zones or participating in UN-sponsored peacekeeping missions.
But, he stressed, there has been absolutely no intention to deploy NATO troops on the Egypt-Gaza border. (I think he meant Palestine.)I hoped that Ramadan 28th would last a little longer. We really desperately needed those Laylat Al Qadr prayers.
At around 2:15 pm I came across a more significant piece of news: An Israeli military affairs correspondent for Haaretz reported that the next few months will see stronger ties between Israel and NATO and that an Israeli navy intelligence officer will probably be heading the NATO contingent in the south.
I couldn’t have iftar that day, but then I decided to force myself to cheer up. I would meet my friend in Garden City then catch up with my wife at the club later on.
I tried in vain to flag down a taxi to Garden City. I asked one driver why they all refused to go there.
“They say His Highness is at the Opera House, the driver replied.
I finally succeeded at the twentieth attempt when I happened upon one driver who was luckily ignorant of the geo-political situation.
We headed towards Galaa Bridge but found it was blocked off by a group of high-ranking officers scowling down on the desperate motorists. So we tried another route but again were met with the same blockade. Minutes later my friend called me and it turned out that he too was stuck in traffic so we had to cancel.
But the traffic didn’t budge an inch. When I lost hope completely I left the taxi and decided to walk home. I called my wife, and learning that she too had been stuck in traffic for hours, I told her to park her car and walk home.
She was on the verge of tears as she recalled the endless harassment she was subjected to by every Tom, Dick and Harry on the street. The last “culprit was a 20-year-old on a bicycle who first made discreet comments then suddenly touched her breast then rushed off.
It was midnight when she finished her story, now completely in tears. All I could do was thank god for all His blessings.
Khaled El Khamissiis a political scientist and prolific social commentator who holds a PhD from the Sorbonne University.