The city was long ago, let alone nowadays, life’s nightmare and not its pleasure as is thought. If it had been a pleasure, it would have been so planned. But the city has never been established for luxury, pleasure, or joy. Rather, the city is a scavenging multitude in which people find themselves by necessity, as no one ever comes to live in the city for pleasure. so much as for a living, greed, toil, want …and employment, which forces him to live in the city.
The city is a cemetery for social ties : whoever sets foot in it has to swim over its waves from one street to another, from one quarter to another, from one job to another, and from one associate to another, And by the nature of city life, one’s purpose becomes self-interest and opportunism, and one’s norm of behaviour becomes hypocrisy. The Koran says,
“And among the Medina ( i.e city ) folk there are ones obstinate in hypocrisy “.
Thus everything needs its own material price, which city life requires. The more the city extends and develops, the more complicated it becomes and the more it moves away from friendly spirit and mutual social ties to the extent that dwellers of the same block of flats do not know one another, especially when the block of flats grows and entity becomes a mere number: The dweller is no more referred to by his name or the tribe he belongs to, but by the number of his flat. City folks do not address one another by their social or even human entities but by numbers .. you, who live in such and such flat number on such and such floor number.. owner of such and such telephone number.. and car bearing such and such registration number .. etc. Inhabitants of the same street do not know one another, because they had no chance to choose their neighbours. They just found themselves living in a certain street, lane, or block of flats haphazardly with no connecting relationship. On the contrary, the city scatters relatives by the force of necessity and causes fathers to separate from their sons, mothers from their children, and sometimes husbands from their wives. It gathers opposites as well as outsiders together in the same manner that it scatters relatives and makes rivals come together.
The city constitutes a mere worm-like ( biological ) living where man lives and dies meaninglessly … with no clear vision or insight. He lives and dies inside a tomb in both cases. There is no freedom in the city … nor is there rest or peace of mind .. walls plus walls in the houses, outside, in the blocks of flats, in the street and the place of work. You cannot sit the way you wish or walk in the direction you want or even stop when you like. If it so happens that you stop to shake hands with a friend or a relative whom you meet by accident, you are pushed along by pedestrians away from them; or they may hinder physical contact when your extended hand is brushed away by a heedless pedestrian who does not appreciate the situation or is unaware of it. It is not so easy to cross the street as you may lose a limb, or even your life, for the mere crossing of the street, unless you pay appropriate attention, and take proper precaution. You look left and right several times; you may find yourself stuck in the middle of the street, where you have to stay put among the dangerous waves of the city .. with cars, vehicles, trains, cleaning trucks .. etc around you.
Social chats, whether amusing or friendly, among the throngs of the city seem to be a kind of wishful thinking; and if they ever take place, they tend to be boring at times and self-hypocrisy at other times. In the city streets, men and cats are equal… in the flow of traffic and pedestrian crossings and sidewalks. When you hear the squalling brakes of cars, you break up suddenly and say spontaneously, ” Is it a man or an animal ?” because this is what happens when one of them crosses the road in front of you. So you brake up in the same manner in order not to run over either of them.
Even the traffic policemen will warn you, verbally or in writing, of accidents caused by a man or a cat crossing the street in the city.
This is what the city is like. There is no “after you ” but push on…push along with shoulders…push ahead with hands…push money out of you pocket…push any social consideration out… The city is ” push on ” and not “after you “. In the city you are more likely to get support from the walls than from the people: you may lean against a wall for rest. The wall will also guide you to your destination when it has signs, instructions, directions and advertisements on it – such information being extremely difficult for a townsman or a stranger in the city to give to those who need it. If you ask somebody about such things, he is sure to say, ” Sorry, I have no time … sorry, I’m in a hurry … Sorry, I don’t want to miss my train … my bus … my car at the parking meter” …etc. He may add, “Have a look at the wall !”
In the city only the wall is stationary, people cannot stand still as the wall does. The city would generate fumes … garbage and humidity even if it were in a desert; you would get dirty if you have a white collar job, you would get your clothes stains even if you were not a painter, a white washer or a repairman. As a toll to living in the city, you have to accept dirt and expose your collar to the smoke and dust… you have to perspire even when you are not working, dripping cold sweat … you also find that you have acquired some word, expressions and flimsy gestures which become necessary to have in order to communicate with the people and to manage in the city. In addition, you acquire ready made replies which you carelessly give out as answers to expected questions : no problem … no problem … an act of god … hard luck…no, Uncle…no, Brother…so they said…that was so long ago…please, keep walking …. make way…keep off. But if somebody asked what you said a moment ago, or you asked yourself the same question, you would not be able to answer, nor would you remember what phrase you uttered, because that is what things are in the city – utterances are produced casually to prove the insensitivity of life which lacks content in the city: what is it that is “no problem…and what is it that was not so?…and who is your ” Uncle !?…and who is your “Brother!”?…and what is “so they said “? and who said it?…what time…and what is it “That was so long ago”? and which way is yours in the city? If you encountered such inquiries, you would be bewildered, unable to give any comprehensible responses. That is city gibberish…just managing to get along… a sort of pastime. City life is really a mere waste of time until another time comes to pass…time for work… time for sleep… time for sleeplessness.
The city is a pretentious style…, a cry…an attraction…, a silly fashion, deplorable consumption…demands with nothing to give in return .. a meaningless existence…what is worse is the individual’s inability to resist in the city …townsmen are unable to resist new fashions even if they do not appeal to them …their inability to curtail wastage…and their inability to resist greedy, devastating consumption, If you were a recent emigrant in the city and not one of its aboriginal people, who got used to its life-style, you would always be the town’s laughing- stock. If you clung to your non-urban manners and values, you would become an odd man out, hardly finding any one to associate with. But when you try to change, you become boring. In the city the son can be unintentionally the cause of his father’s death or vice-versa, when driving a truck, a car, or riding a bike at high speed. That is speed in the city.. the crowded streets of the city…the selfish spirit of the city. The son may shout at his father unawares in the city when he hustles him off in the street, or when he blurs his father’s eyes with his strong car lights. More-over, it often happens, as a result of overcrowding, that individuals, religiously prohibited to unite in wedlock, mix up in the city. No sooner do they get together than they separate with the least of concern.
Townsmen should never be blamed for such behaviour, people are the same in the city or in the village; they are the same in almost everything: in values…in morality…especially those who belong to one race or religion. It is the nature of the city itself that is to blame for the gradual modification in people’s behaviour until, in time, it becomes an accepted norm. People need to construct the city by necessity; but it gradually becomes an unavoidable nightmare for those who have constructed it and lived in it… everything in the city has its price …and every item of luxury becomes a necessity…and every price has its own material or moral claim…and that is how the dilemma of living in the city begins. The nature of the city is incompatible with that of agriculture. It is built on arable land where fruitful trees are cut down…country folks are encouraged to quit farming and turn to the city, lazing away on its sidewalks, unemployed beggars; yet the city at the same time consumes all the agricultural product and asks for more.
But this agricultural product, required by the townsmen, needs arable land and farmers. The city is against production, because production requires patience and effort, but the nature of city life is against patience, seriousness and effort. The nature of the city is such that it takes but does not give and consumes but does not produce. It extends in all directions with no limit to its extension. It becomes a parasite to everything around it and spreads its tentacles to scatter its poisons and pollute the fresh air, converting oxygen to carbon dioxide, which in turn is converted to carbon monoxide, thus marring the natural scenery and blurring the clear mirror of nature. It emits smoke, fumes and gases which stifle breathing and pollute everything and blot out the stars, the moon and even the sun. It coos…it shouts…it clamours..and it growls to the extent that it deafens the ears, causes headaches and tenses up nerves.
It extends to devour arable land and neighbouring villages to envelop them under its dirty, breath-stifling wing. It presses its teeth in the form of roads, buildings, utilities as shoulders and finger-nails, presses them into those quiet, peaceful, small, far-away villages to become a suburb, then a branch and finally an integral part of it. Thus they are leveled down by the heavy weight of the city to change from peaceful, productive, beneficial, quiet, coherent, healthy and blooming villages to dark, gloomy and unhealthy cells…a part of a burdensome whole…sick…exhausting…unproductive…tiresome…jobless…living for nothing…existence with no purpose.
The city kills social sensitivity and human feelings, thus creating insensitivity and heedlessness, because townsmen have become used to repeated displays of behaviour and incidents which attract attention in the villages, oases, hamlets, and the countryside. In the city you do not ask nor are you asked about a quick commotion or crowding, or a slow commotion or dispersion…that is because you are used to seeing such things, and so you ask no questions as they arouse your curiosity no more…scenes such as a fight, a man crying or lying flat in the street, …a house on fire, provided it is not near your home, or walking past miserable groups, sleeping on pavements, or idly standing on street corners, or leaning against walls or tree trunks in the city, even if they accosted you and extended their hands to you in anticipation of help or sympathy …such scenes are often seen in the city and so eventually one becomes insensitive towards them. They become part of the overall picture of the city. They become by constant repetition, too familiar to attract your attention; even though at the beginning they might have attracted your attention, appealed for a solution or contribution towards one. But life in the city does not allow such philanthropy: He who concerns himself with such matters, cannot manage to live in the city; because of the frequent repetition of such things. If he involved himself every time they happened, he would be very busy indeed. Due to the ever-increasing number of people in the city of different groups with different social and cultural backgrounds; and as social ties and relations tend to disintegrate under the living conditions in the city, where the neighbour hardly knows his neighbour, because they are busy and change houses and have no choice to choose one another… therefore, this fellow in the city with whom you may sympathise, or share in his happiness and sorrow, or you are interested in his welfare… such fellow is but one of many, who do not care for you; so why should you care for them? It is for this very reason that responsible city boards are set up to tackle such matters. Fire is none of your business; it is the fire brigade’s. This is enough justification for townsmen not to concern themselves with fires blazing away here or there. It is the job of the fire brigade…I am not a fireman…I am busy. Also street beggars are the responsibility of charity organizations. If I gave every beggar I met in the street, I would spend all I have on beggars who are there in every street. Therefore, pay them no attention.
On the other hand, who knows if the beggar is really poor or needy. He could very well turn out to be a sluggard or a rogue. So do not let appearances deceive you, as the city is but a deceiving appearance, showing a different picture to the one it hides. Street fighting is the responsibility of the police, I am a policeman to keep the peace and separate brawlers. Townsmen do not seem to care at all even when honour is flouted in front of their eyes. That is the job of the preacher, or the job of the public morality police squad or that of anti-wrong doing societies. If you stopped at the fire, the street fight, the beggar, the one who is crying, complaining or suffering and other reoccurring daily scenes in every part of the city, would you then, be able to get where you want to be? Or would you have the time and ability to look into such matters and go back to your home? That is how, little by little, insensitivity grows in the city towards such matters leading to the conviction that it is none of your business….On the contrary, it would even seem so silly to behave otherwise, absurd as may be, in any other city in the world. Any employee, leaving his place of work to give first aid to somebody run over in a street accident in the city, would run the risk of losing his job: he could be accused of leaving his place of work without permission or interfering in the responsibilities of others such as the police and the ambulance-men. All such city departments would show little gratitude, if you did their work for them as helper or volunteer, on the contrary, they would feel jealous and take exception to your well-intentioned help, because you would seem to be competing with them in the sphere which justifies their bread-winning job in the city.
This is the city: a crushing mill to its dwellers, a nightmare to its constructors; it makes you change your appearance and alter your values so as to take on an urban character, which has no colour, taste, smell or meaning …a worm-like life ( biological ), which compels you to inhale other people’s breath without caring for them, though. If you sought their protection, they would not protect you, nor would you protect them. The city compels you to hear other people’s voices even when you are not addressing them and inhale their breath without asking them for it. You hear the noise of engines, motors and hammers in full swing even though you have nothing to do with it.
As for the children, they are more dejected than the adults. They move from darkness to darkness; from the three dark stages ( mentioned in the Koran ) to the fourth one… the houses in the city are not homes, rather, they are holes and caves enveloped in intermingling draughts raised by the heavy traffic on the streets and lanes of the city. People in the city are quite the same as snails in their shells, which protect them against the waves and the pressure of the sea. The city, too, is a sea with currents, waves, scraps, dirt, foam, and snails. The snails are the people and their miserable children, who are oppressed by everything in the city, their parents press them inwards…inside the shell for fear of the street current, which is useless to cross, as there are other snails, caves and petrified shells on the other side of the street. So where are you going, innocent children? Those are other people’s houses…you do not know them… The people, who were there, have left. Those are new people. On the other hand, the street is not only for you. It is for pedestrians and wayfarers as well. The street, my children, is not for play !.
The street, too oppresses children. Yesterday a young boy was run over in that street as he tried to play there, and last year some fast moving wheels ran over a little girl as she was crossing the street, and crushed her body into pieces, which were bundled up in her mother’s cloak, another one was kidnapped by professional kidnappers. They kept her for sometime and then released her outside her house with one of her kidneys missing. And yet another young boy was bundled up into a carton by other street children only to be crushed down by a motorist, who had no idea that there was a poor boy in it. Go back inside…to the darkness…to the filthy, hot dark rooms… May Allah help us ! The city is so filthy…so don’t play on either side of the streets….they are full of dirt and rubbish.
When all ways and means come to a dead end before the children…usually in a frightful way…from being crushed to death…to being torn to pieces…or to being kidnapped and having their limbs amputated…in this case the easier course of prohibition is dirt and rubbish….It is much less depressing than boredom in confinement to dark houses. But the outcome is one and the same – It is death by a different means. In fact, the sea of the city, like any other sea, has pitfalls, whirlpools and dangerous creatures…so how can children live in it ? But they are there. What can one do, then? The only way out is to put pressure on the children, punish them, compel them not to come out of their shells, dejected, spiritless…nip their natural growth in the bud….deprive them of light and fresh air. This is what life is like in the city….a queue….an ‘open-close’ car…none of the people outside your doorstep is a friend of yours…. The kindergarten is queuing, formalities, undertakings, and so is the school, the market, the hospital…they all ask you to open…push…close….stand in the queue…make haste. The child in the city grows up biologically, but he is the receptacle of all these restrains, repressions, and factors of rebuke and reproof. He is the model of man with psychic disorders, inferiority complexes, depression, and regression. This is the reason for deterioration of human values, social ties, indifference to others, lack of friendliness, cordiality and jealousy.
As for the village and the countryside, that is another world, different in shape and substance. There is no need there for repression, reproof or opposing pressures. There is encouragement and appreciation for blossoming and enjoyment of light. There you may imitate the birds and the flowers in freedom and opening up. There are no streets, no rubbish.. and no unfamiliar faces. People in the village, the hamlet and countryside are united in the bonds of neighbourliness, in all material as well as spiritual matters. There are free children of nature…of merriment and night talk… children of the sun and moon…children of the breeze and strong wind. There is no fear of enjoying freedom…there are no currents…there is nothing to open, nothing to close….everything is open by nature, much as there is no need to close anything either, because in the environment in which children as well as plants grow, there are no restrains…and no people with psychic disorders.
O, wise people…kind-hearted people…humanitarians, have mercy on children…do not deceive them by making them live in the city…do not turn your children into mice, flitting from hole to hole…from pavement to pavement. People in the city practise hypocrisy on themselves and on their children as well when they show love to them,…. because at the same time they set up breath-stifling barriers and cages to keep off their children’s lovely voices and keep them away from them, and consequently separate the children from their parents – This is because the parents’ living conditions, being fashioned by the city, compel them to get their dear ones out of their way and play tricks on them. In order to withstand the nightmare of life in the city, parents look for, create and even spend on occupations which ‘neither nourish nor satisfy hunger’ … insincere occasions…affected evening parties, faithless friendships. This is where children hold their parents back from practising such activities, while they try hard to get used to, overcome, and come to terms with the hellish living conditions, which the city imposes on its suffering inhabitants. Take nursery schools, childcare centres, swings and slides, children’s parks, kindergartens and even schools for example, they are just a trick to get rid of these innocent creatures, a modern means of burying children alive.
How hard the city is ! And how insipid it should be to its helpless inhabitants, whom it compels to accept unreasonable things, to forcibly swallow them, and to digest them as if they were natural and reasonable.
There is no better proof of that than the insignificant interests, which the city imposes on the inhabitants. One may see crowds of people watching a cock fight; let alone, sometimes, millions of other people watching twenty-two individuals, no more, running after a small melon-like sack full of air in meaningless movements. In similar absurd city manner, almost the same crowd come to listen to just one person, repeating before them in a parrot-like fashion twisted and sometimes inaudible utterances accompanied by a noisy instrument, which most of the audience do not comprehend. Someone, who happens to be drunk or insane, may clap and the audience, unable to comprehend, follow suit to show that they are enjoying the performance, which is, of course, untrue…unnatural modern hypocrisy, which people in the city have to practice. On the other hand, hundreds of people may sometimes watch a fierce fight between two seemingly fully grown-up sensible men, but they never exert themselves to separate them in order to stop the bestial fight, which they could do. But the city life does not allow that because such unreasonable fierce blood-letting fights are sought for their own sake in this barbaric way to complement the living conditions in the city. For instance, the abuse of animals in exhausting races, and exploiting their blind animal instinct to fight ….also the torture of people, hurting them, using them as a source of merriment, and betting on them…. all these things are ways of false entertainment in the city. Fighting as practised by wrestlers and boxers can in no way be justified. Investigations show that there is no enmity among them; but this is what is wanted and relished in modern city life.
Run away, leave the City quickly. Get away from smoke… From stifling carbon dioxide… From poisonous carbon monoxide… From sticky humidity… And from poisonous gas, which encouraged inactivity and indolence. keep away from the atmosphere of laziness, boredom, weariness and yawning. Keep away from the nightmare of the City, pull yourselves quickly out from under its crushing weight… Liberate yourselves from walls, catacombs and being locked behind doors. Save your ears from noise, clamour, hubbub, shouting, the hissing noise of wires, the ringing of the bells and the rattle and clatter of the engines. Abandon the disturbing atmosphere, the annoying places and that trapping enclosure where eye-sight is limited and one’s energy is spent in vain. Abandon the life and holes of mice. Abandon the life of worms. Abandon the city. Come to the village, where you can see the moon for the first time in your life-time, after you have changed from insignificant greedy worms and mice, void of social ties, to real human beings here, in the village, in the oasis, in the countryside. Get out of the catacombs for a living people and come to Allah’s dominion, which is wide, gay and delightful, where you can see the natural chandelier and come to loathe the artificial one, which is made of sand, sold in markets, fragile, likely to be destroyed at any time, and rendered dirty by the flies and the spiders in the city dens, called houses and flats.
Behold God’s lanterns in the countryside, hung in the sky, and not in the ceiling of a dirty grave in the city.
The village is peaceful, clean and coherent. The people there know one another, and are allied in time of prosperity and adversity. There are no thefts in the village and the countryside as the people know one another.
The individual there attaches great importance to the reputation of his family, his tribe and his all good name.
Any act of misdemeanour in the village does not come to an end on the day it is committed, as it does in the City, where the offence is usually registered against unknown person, because of the great number of different people living in the city – it does not even end by the death of the culprit. On the contrary, it remains a sort of stigma for his family, his clan and his tribe in the eyes of other clans and tribes, and constitutes a permanent insult to kith and kin. This restraining social factor is stronger than the power of penal codes or the police force. Furthermore, solidarity and association in the village and the countryside help the needy, and save them from having to beg or steal. On the other hand, the simple, humble and unpretentious lifestyle in the village and the countryside stays far enough away from pleasures and luxuries. The People in the village and countryside do not crave for such absurd desires as townsmen do. The village know little about fashion, style and ‘ Vanity FIR’. The taste of the people there is quiet, clear, stable and not easily influenced by changes in fashion. Countrymen do not suffer from complexity, tension and pursuit of excitement. That is why they they have a happy quiet life, which is free from harmful desires. Of course, desires as such are pleasurable. But when they are sought for their own sake, what comes before and after them is agony, pain, distress and misery; it is the agony of desiring unnecessary things, which is sought because it is scarce. Necessary activities, such as ploughing and harvesting to earn one’s bread, or planting trees and picking their fruit to use as food, are necessary. The amount of labour spent on such activities is not boring or, at least, it is not self-defeating. It is enjoyable labour because it is lawful and necessary. No feelings of remorse comes before or after it. On the contrary, it is associated with the pleasure of hoping to see its results and with the satisfaction of gain afterwards.
Life in the City is a quest for pleasure and unnecessary luxuries that cannot be avoided. When we see social diseases spread in the city, and hear sermons about them and make laws to keep them under control, we are neither astonished , nor do we think that we are going to succeed in uprooting them, because the nature of life in the city is unavoidably related to these diseases. As a matter of fact, the city is nausea …, giddiness …, catacombs …, nonsense …, wastage …, madness and fear of madness …, fear of confronting life and its urban problems and hence how to escape from it … how to ignore it … how to make up for the social and moral vacuum … and than inability to satisfy urban desires. Diversion is sought to forget about real-life; and drinking, madness and suicide become the only possible cures for the diseases of urban life. At times, for some people, or rather for a good number of townsmen, city life with all its wastage, unreality, superficiality and irresponsibility is considered as cure in its own right.
Will you, leave the earthly Hell, and go quickly and happily to the village and the countryside? There the physical effort one makes has meaning, necessity, benefit and pleasure. Only here, in the village can one enjoy social and human life. There are strong house holds, united families and great solidarity among the tribes in the countryside. Stability, faith and serenity flourish there. Country people like one another, each working on his farm, or attending his sheep and chickens, or in the service of the village. There is no room for delinquency there, because, unlike townsmen, country people know one another.
In the City delinquents feel quite sure that hardly anyone cares who they are. So he who tells lies can do so and fears no social repercussions, his family on this tribe. As townsman, he has no name, no surname and no pedigree. His flat number is his name… His telephone number is his surname, and his pedigree is the street and his place of work. These things he may change from time to time. Therefore, what he is at the moment is bound to be different afterwards.
How beautiful the village is!… and the countryside, where the air is fresh… the endless horizon… the pillar – less firmanental ceiling… the heavenly lanterns… and conscience! Morals are the source of moral obligation and self-discipline and not the fear of the police, the law, penalties or prison. There, one is liberated from the forced fetters of city life and the loathsome but necessary directions. There are no traffic police whistles hissing in the concerned ears as well as unconcerned ones… there are no compulsory traffic signs… no shouldering others aside… no queuing… no waiting… and no need to consult ones watch. In the village and the countryside, where there is extensive space , joyous expansion, a delightful world, an easy and quiet life. There is none of the narrowness and crowding of the city. There, the moon has a meaning… the sky is delightful… And the horizon excites one’s vision… the sunrise… The sunset… the twilight … and dusk are no less beautiful. Contemplate the superb picture of the village and the countryside, which the Koran depicts ” So I do call to witness the ruddy glow of sunset; The night and it’s homing; And the Moon on her fullness”.
The city has no moon… no sun… No twilight… and no dusk. There, day and night intermingle with no separating signs. We hardly see anything of nature there. We only see contradictions and deceptive colours. We get annoyed and harassed we put up with nonsense and sleaziness. We look down at our feet. We have to read posters and observe traffic signs and find ourselves by necessity caught up in a world of the trivial things, otherwise, we run the risk of getting killed. Any act of deep thought other than observing these minute things would certainly get you out side the fence of the flow of city life and could cost you your life or your urban freedom.
The Koran says, “By the Sun and his glorious splendour; by the Moon as she follows him; by the Day as it shows off the Sun’s glory; by the Night as it conceals it; by the Firmanent and its wide expanse” That is a wonderful picture of the world in the village and the countryside. The Koran also says, “by the glorious Morning light, and by the Night when it is still” When the Koran swears by Dawn, we know that Daybreak is seen only in the village and countryside. What daybreak is there in any city floodlit day and night? Who sees the firmanent with the zodiac signs!? “And in the Earth are signs for those of assured faith” What earth is there in the city?… Crowded pavements… congested streets… blind alleys… Narrow lanes… Bottlenecks… Friction… And limited vision… What natural signs can assure open-minded people in the streets of the city!? What contemplation can there be among the throngs of the city!? There is hardly any time worth mentioning in the city, nor is there a day or night; let alone sunset; dusk; dawn, or twilight!
You can afford to give up and do without anything except the planet Earth … Earth is the only thing you cannot afford to give up. If you destroyed any other thing you might not lose much. But be careful not to destroy the earth, because you would then lose everything. Biological life, including Man’s life, or rather, in which Man’s life dominates, depends on food … food in all its forms, solid, liquid, gaseous, Earth is the container of this food. So do not crush the only container there is of its kind. If you, for instance, ruined arable land, it would be the same as you wanting to cook after having smashed all your pots and pans. If you ruined arable land, it would be the same as you wanting to drink from your only drinking vessel, which you had broken. The Earth is like your lungs. If you ruined it, you would have no lungs to breathe with. It would not be much good to you if it rained heavily, where you had no arable land.
The sky is not very important to us without the earth. If it so happened that there was oxygen somewhere in outer space, it would be useless unless there was earth. Land was the cause of all historic conflicts, which Man waged against Man or against Nature. Land has always been a bone of contention. Even outer space is being explored for the sake of the land.
The Earth is your real Mother, out of whose matter you have been fashioned. It embraces you … nourishes you … and provides water for you, so do not abuse your Mother … do not pull your Mother’s hair … do not rip up her fingers, or cut her body, or tear up her flesh. Only gently clip her finger-nails … cleanse her, and remove the dirt and filth from her body, cure her of all the diseases you have caused her. Do not press her bosom by heavy constructions, or heap clay and stone over her ribs, show mercy to your Mother, whom if you misused, you would not find another one like her. Sweep her back clear of the heaps of steel, bricks and stone. Relieve her aging shoulders of what the recusants have heaved on them. Do not not look down on the cradle in which you grew up, and the bosom which cuddled you, when you were young. Do not smash your only abode and ultimate resort, otherwise, you shall certainly be regretful losers.
The Earth is worthy of its name only if you take particular precaution that it goes on giving, because productive earth is useful earth. Therefore, look after this Earth, the surface of which would be as good as dead once it became built-up areas, stone, asphalt, or concrete. Such earth could not be productive or useful, as it would then be areas of asphalt, tar, tiles, marble and concrete. These materials give nothing, as no grass or plant would grow there, nor would water spring from it. In this way it becomes useless to both men and animals; it becomes waste land. When you kill the Earth, you commit suicide indeed, because life is food and water; and the Earth, the surface of which has been turned into built-up areas, gives neither food nor water. Therefore, there can be no life on waste land. What sort of people are those who cause slow death to the earth by gradually burying it alive until it is finally dead?! What other earth could they rely on for living? Where would they live? And how would they manage for food and water? The Earth is unique. There is no substitute for it, nor is there anything to compensate you for losing it. So, where would you go?!
Paradise was a garden of trees and plants and not a network of roads, pavements, plazas and buildings. Abuse of the Earth is the unforgivable misuse of it by changing its nature into something unfit for producing food and water. Therefore, the people who change good earth into waste land are recklessly unaware of what may happen!
Suicide of The Astronaut
Having traveled far and wide in giddy outer space, and since budgets can no more support the great expense of outer space programmes, and now that man has landed on the moon but found nothing much except that the two astronauts have exposed the wild guesses and vain hypotheses of scientists that there were seas and oceans on the moon, which led to the competition to own them and designate names for them by the insolent great powers, who nearly went to war on the earth for the sake of dividing the Moon’s natural resources, especially the marine ones; and having roamed around the planetary system, taking pictures of all the planets; and after giving up hope of finding intelligent life, or any suitable place for living there, Man returned to the Earth frustrated and suffering from giddiness, vomiting and fear of perdition. He has now realized the fact that the Earth is unique and incomparable as a source of life, which, in simple words, means food and water; and that the one and only planet to provide them is the Earth. For Man, bread, dates, milk, meat and water are vital. Air, which is indispensable to life, is secured by the atmosphere of the Earth … etc. Thus Man had to return to the Earth from his outer space escapade.
Back on the Earth, the astronaut took off his spacesuit and put on his familiar one, which is suitable for walking and living on the Earth. Now that his mission with the space corporation had come to an end, he began to look for an earthly job. He applied for one at a carpentry workshop, but he failed the test, because he lacked the essential know-how of what he thought was a simple trade. Also he had a go at a lathe workshop, a blacksmith’s forge, building and plumbing. He even tried painting and white washing .. He had not studied fine art or music or weaving, as they had nothing to do with his scientific specialisation. So he had to leave the city, a frustrated failure, and set off for the countryside, where he looked for work as a farmhand in order to support himself and his family. One of the farmers asked if he was attracted to the earth by which he simply wanted to know if the astronaut liked farming. But the astronaut answered, ” The attraction of the Earth decreases as we go up, and our weight also decreases gradually until we get to the point of weightlessness. Then and there we get free of the Earth’s attraction or gravity as we call it. But soon afterwards we get attracted by another planet, and our weight begins to increase gradually … and so on. I hope I have answered your question “.
The farmer showed signs of someone who did not comprehend and looked as if he wanted more explanation; and the astronaut, hoping to impress the simple farmer in order that he would take him on as a farmhand, went on parading his space knowledge: The volume of the Earth is about 1320 times less than that of Jupiter’s, and that 12 years on the Earth equal one year on Jupiter, and that the Jupiter spot is big enough to hold the Earth in its centre. You may also be interested to know that Saturn is 744 times bigger than the Earth, yet it is only about 95 times heavier than the Earth. The diameter of the Earth is about 50 times bigger than that of the Moon’s and its volume is about 80 times bigger than that of the Moon’s. The pull of the Earth’s gravity is six times greater than that of the Moon’s. The Earth is about 150 million kilometres away from the Sun, whose light takes eight minutes to reach the Earth at the speed of 300 thousand kilometres per second. The volume of the Earth is about 1303800 times smaller than that of the Sun’s; and the mass of the Earth is also 332958 times smaller than the mass of the Sun whose density is 30 times bigger than that of the Earth’s. The Earth comes third in distance from the Sun. Mercury is the nearest planet to the Sun, Venus comes next, then the Earth … etc. Venus is about 42 million kilometres away from the Earth which is about 400 thousand kilometres away from the Moon.
If you had a car that ran at 100 kilometres per hour, it would take you 146 days to get to the Moon. But if you had no car and decided to walk to the Moon, it would take you eight years and a hundred days to get there. I think I have answered the question fully now. As you see, I am well informed in matters concerning the Earth. As soon as he heard the last repetition of the word ” Earth “, the farmer became aware of himself and closed his mouth, which had been wide open during the whole story of the astronaut’s journey from one planet to another, from the time he left the Earth until he returned home. The farmer did not comprehend much, but he too felt dizzy because he fell under the spell and felt that he also was coming home from a space journey with no tangible gains concerning his farm. What mattered to him was the distance between one tree and the other and not the distance between the Earth and Jupiter. He was also interested in the volume of the yield of his farm and not in the volume of Mercury. He felt very sorry for the begging pathetic astronaut and had the desire to give him some alms, but he was unable to take him on as a farm-hand.
And so, having lost all hope of finding any bread winning job on the Earth, the astronaut decided to commit suicide.
The Escape to Hell
How cruel people can be when they flare up together! What a crushing flood that has no mercy for anyone in its way! It does not heed one’s cry or lend one a hand when one is in dire need of help. On the contrary, it flings one about heedlessly.
The individual’s tyranny is the easiest kind of tyranny. He is only one among many, who can get rid of him when they wish. He could even be liquidated somehow by somebody unimportant. But the tyranny of the masses is the cruellest kind of tyranny.
Who can stand against the crushing current and the blind engulfing power?!. How I love the liberated masses on the march! They are unfettered, with no master, singing and merry after their terrible ordeals! On the other hand how I fear and apprehend them ! I love the masses as much as I love my father. Similarly, I fear them no less than I fear him. In a Bedouin society, where no government system exists, who can deter a father from persecuting any of his children? Yes. How much they love him, and how much they fear him at the same time! That is how I love and fear the masses. Exactly as I love and fear my father. How loving the masses can be when they are happily excited! They carry their favourite sons high on their shoulders.
They carried Hannibal, Barclay, Savonarola, Danton, Ropespierre, Mussolini and Nixon! But how cruel they can be when they are angrily excited! They plotted against Hannibal by poisoning him. They burnt Savonarola at the stake; they brought their hero, Danton, to the guillotine; they smashed the jaws of Robespierre, the beloved fiance, they dragged Mussolini’s carcass along the streets of Milan, and they spat at Nixon’s face as he was forced to leave the White House, where they had ushered him in ceremoniously before.
What terror! Who can talk the unfeeling entity into consciousness?! Who can argue with a mass mind not embodied in one individual? Who can hold the hand of the millions?! Who can comprehend a million words pouring out of million mouths at the same time ?! Who can talk sensibly to whom in this terrifying excitement ?! Who blames whom ?!. With this social flame burning your back, and a society that loves you but has no mercy for you, and people who know what they want from this individual but pay no attention to what the individual wants, they assert their rights but overlook their duties towards you; with the same masses who poisoned Hannibal, burnt Savonarola, smashed Robespierre; who adored you but failed to reserve a seat for you at a cinema house, a table in a coffee-shop … they love you, but they do not show their love to you in any tangible way, such as a seat or a table at a coffee-house. This is what the masses have done to such individuals. So, what can I hope for, a poor Bedouin, lost in a mad modern city, whose people bombard me with their demands whenever they get hold of me? have a house built for us better than this one … Get us better telephone service !… Have a road built for us in the sea! … Make public parks for us! … Catch enough fish for us! … Write out amulets for us … Make wedding contracts for us! … Get that stray dog out of our way! Buy a cat for us !!! They ask that much of a confused poor Bedouin, who hasn’t got even a birth certificate … who carries his walking stick on his shoulder, who does not stop at the red light, nor does he flinch when he gets into an argument with a policeman. He does not clean his hands when he eats. He would kick off anything that hampered his movements even if it landed on a shop window, hit a hag on the face, or broke the window panes of a smart white house. He has never tasted alcohol or even Pepsi Cola or Soda water …You see him looking for a camel in the Martyrs Square, a horse in the Green Square, or driving his sheep through the Tree Square. These masses, who have no mercy even for their saviours, seem to follow me everywhere, burning me … even when they applaud, they seem to prick me … I, being an illiterate Bedouin, do not know about house painting or the meaning of sewage disposal.
I use my hands to drink rain water and well water, and use my cloak to filter out the tadpoles. I do not know how to swim, neither breaststroke nor backstroke. I do not understand the concept of money, yet people ask me for it. As a matter of fact, I do not possess it; I only snatched it from the hands of thieves, from the mouths of mice and from the fangs of dogs and gave it out to the townsmen under the name of a benefactor from the desert and in my capacity as a liberator from bondage and fetters.
What has been stolen and misused by guilty hands (one of them being a comrade of the cave dwellers and the rates) needs a long time and the effort of many a man to put right, but the inhabitants of the mad modern city ask me for it right away. I felt I was the only one who had nothing, and so, unlike them, I did not ask for the service of a plumber, builder, painter, barber …etc. And since I had not requested anything because I had nothing, I became well known, or rather an odd man out. That is what bothered me and still does almost every hour. But I must admit that I am to blame as well. I did myself a great wrong when I stole Moses staff with which I struck the desert where a spring gushed forth, because, as I have already mentioned, I do not know sewerage, plumbing or narrow water mains, and hoped that this spring would relieve me of all such demands, and the root cause of them. Even my defiance of the policeman caused such sensation in all quarters of the city, where my name became popular: some applauded me, and others called me bad names. The police wanted to get rid of me. The mother of the policeman with whom I had a row, rejuvenated, took a fancy to me. When I refused her advances, she tried to get me into trouble. The police would even set their silly dogs at me … and yet I encouraged them to go in for seafood by learning how to fish, so that they might leave me with my sheep alone in peace.
I am a simple poor man, I have no degree and I do not like physicians simply because they are called doctors. That is why I have not been inoculated against sensitivity. So I grew up to be very sensitive unlike townsmen, who have been regularly immunized for a long time at historic intervals beginning with the Romans, then the Turks and finally the Amelicans. Much to your amusement as you read this, you see I do not pronounce the word ” Americans ” with an (R) as you do, I use (L) instead because I do not know the meaning of ” America”. As far as I know, it was discovered by an Arab prince and not Columbus. But then, it has great power, it has agents; it has bases in places under its influence, and it has the right of veto, which it willingly uses for the benefit of Israel. It has recently acquired a house at the head of the Delta, where the River Nile splits into the Rosetta branch and the Damietta branch. There is a buffalo farm surrounding the house. It practises imperialist policies; therefore it is AMELICA. This is what my cousin, Hajji Mejahid said. He is the son of my aunt Azza, daughter of my grandmother Ghanima, who is the sister of Countess Maria.
On the whole, I did myself a disservice when I came to the city out of my free will; there is no need to say why, the thing is: it was a time of challenge, no more. Therefore, please let me tend to my sheep, which I have left in the wadi bed under the care of my mother, who has died recently, and so has my sister. I was told that I had brothers and sisters killed by mosquitoes. So leave me alone with my own anxieties! Why do you follow me and point me out to your children? They, too, harass me now.
They run after me, shouting, ” I swear it is him!” Why don’t you let me have some rest or, at least, stroll undisturbed in your streets? I am a human being like you, I like apples, so why don’t you let me walk about at the market? And by the way, why can’t I have a passport? But then, what good is that to me?! I am not allowed to go abroad on holiday or for medical treatment, I can go abroad only when I am on official business. That is why I have decided to hurry away to Hell !. I shall now tell you the story of my escape to Hell, and describe the way leading to it and then describe Hell itself to you and how I came back from there along the same road. Indeed it was an adventure, a very strange factual story, which, I swear, has nothing to do with fiction. As a matter of fact, I have twice escaped to Hell just to get away from you, hoping only to save myself.
Your breath annoys me, invades my privacy, violates my inner life and viciously craves to squeeze me in order to thirstily drink up my essence, lick my sweat and inhale my breath. Then it pauses … it stops molesting me only to attack again as vigorously as before. Your breath chases me like a rabid dog … dripping saliva in the streets of your mad modern city.
They chase me wherever I go through cobwebs and esparto paper. So I have decided to hurry away to Hell to save myself. The way to Hell is not what you may expect, or as described to you by the sick imagination of some equivocators. I, having twice walked through it, shall describe it to you. I had some peaceful sleep and rest in the heart of Hell. I have experienced Hell, I tell you; and the two happiest nights of all my life were those two nights I spent in the heart of Hell. That was a thousand times better than living among you. You harass me and deprive me of my right to peace and quiet, and so I had to escape to Hell.
The road along which I merrily walked to Hell is covered with the natural carpet all through the horizon. When the natural carpet gradually came to an end, I found the road carpeted with fine sand. I saw flocks of wild birds of the kinds you know and even found some domestic animals grazing and grooming. But I was astonished to see slopes and areas of lowland before me which made me halt hesitantly and look in the distance. And there was Hell showing up against the horizon. It was not red like fire nor glowing like embers. I stopped not out of fear of approaching it. On the contrary, I adore it and love to be in physical contact with it, because it is my only sanctuary when you harass me in your three-cornered city … when it appeared to me in the horizon, I nearly went wild with joy. I stopped to contemplate the short cuts to it, and chose the nearest one to its heart, and listened to find out if it had any raging sighs.
To my delight I found out that Hell was very quiet, quite peaceful and steadfast like the hills surrounding it. A strange kind of silence fills it with a solemn awe-inspiring atmosphere covering it. I saw no flames in it, only clouds of smoke rising above it. I slid along the slopes towards it joyfully in a hurry to reach it before sunset, hoping to secure a warm bed in its heart before I got hemmed in by the guards of your hell, who were pursuing me crazily, using up-to-date means of detection and pursuit. At last I came within range of Hell and was able to see it quite clearly. And now I can describe it to you exactly as I have seen it, and answer any queries concerning Hell, which I came so close to.
Firstly – Hell has craggy, tortuous, dark, mist-capped hills whose stone has been burnt black since time immemorial. I was struck with astonishment to see wild animals on their way to Hell before me. Apparently, they too were deserting you: their life is in Hell; their death among you. Everything around me had melted away except my own self-existence, which I felt stronger than at any other time or place before: The hills broke up and dwarfed away; the trees dried up; and the animals shied off and plunged into the jungles of Hell, seeking sanctuary away from Man. Even the sun seemed to peter out when it was shut off from me by Hell. There was nothing else prominent except Hell, whose heart was the most interesting part of it. So I went headlong towards it without much difficulty. I melted into myself, which in turn melted into me to protect and cuddle each other until we became one new entity for the first time. Not because myself had ever been absent from me, but because your hell gave me no chance to be with it, to contemplate it and to talk lovingly to it. I had always felt that we – I mean myself and I – were like two dangerous criminals in your city, whom you subjected to constant surveillance and interrogation. Even when we were proved innocent and our identity was known, you kept us in prison under special surveillance. Your purpose being to keep me away from myself at any cost so that you might live in peace and quiet. Oh, how sweet hell is … much sweeter than your city! Why did you drag me back once more ?! I want to return to it … and wish to live there.
I do not need a passport to go to Hell … all I need is myself … myself, which I discovered, you have mercilessly maimed in an attempt to spoil its innocent nature !. You tried to separate me from myself, but by escaping to Hell I have retrieved it from you. I wish for nothing from you, … I leave you with rubbish and dustbins … I have also left you my gold helmet in Cairo … that authoritative helmet which I grabbed from its guardian after I had heard and read so much about it … and learnt that magic rings (desire-satisfying rings) are made of its gold parts … and that whoever put it on would become sultan immediately … and would conspicuously sit on the throne … and that kings, presidents and princes would have to disappear before him. He would be able to bring the little girl Meitigah to life. He would be able to bring back to life all the martyrs, even Omar Al-Moktar, Saadon, Abdul Salam Abu-Meniar, Al-Jalat and others who died honourably as unknown soldiers … And that whoever put it on would have about four thousand million Dinars in cash, which he could spend as he wished. On the whole, he would possess the ( Shobeik Lobeik ) ring which would satisfy all desires: Ask for any kind of weaponry from an ordinary gun to a sophisticated missile, and you have it … call forth even a mirage and it is there at your service, let alone a Mig fighter or whatever you wish … and you could lock up any Englishman and have Mrs Thatcher suffer a snub. At the same time if you put on this magic helmet you could go to sleep lazily even if you saw with wide open eyes a wolf about to attack your sheep.
So there you are, you could slumber away among the heaps of litter and rubbish of which creative hobby you seem to be deprived as I hear from the Voice of the Arabs. I have also read and heard that this steel … sorry, I mean magic authoritative helmet was once claimed by Iblis who, bore number 0+1. He laid a claim to it on the pretence that he was an angel, and that Churchill and Truman bore witness to his claim. You were taken in by that lie and fooled by the trick with perdition as the resultant end of your naive conduct until I felt with you in your sorry state of affairs and heard the Friday preacher in your mosques say this prayer, ” O, Allah, our sorry state cannot be hidden from you, nor can our helplessness be unclear to you. There is no shelter for us but with you. To you we return. Labbayek! Labbayek!”.
The Blessed Herb and the Cursed Tree
Good news for the emotionally disturbed of both sexes. A herb has been discovered in the Benghazi plain, and it is now sold at Hajji Hassan’s shop. In a television interview watched by no less than three million people, Hajji Hassan stated that the herb was an effective cure for the emotionally disturb.
He said nothing about those who are not emotionally disturbed yet. But, naturally, should they develop such symptoms, the blessed herb is there, an effective balsam and medicine for them … so much then about the blessed herb for the emotionally disturbed! For other diseases and ailments, there is also enough other medicine at Hajji Hassan’s shop besides the blessed herb. There are other herbs: There is one for all kinds of sterility, (as he himself affirmed) infertility, lack of productivity and perhaps even intellectual barrenness. There is also medicine for headaches. If you got a headache or felt dizzy for any reason, even if that was when you were looking for a shirt for your son that cost one dinar at the state-owned markets, but had found it now for twenty dinars at a private shop, which made you hurry back to the state-owned market only to find that it had gone.
So you had to go back to the private shop, but only to find that the price had gone up to twenty-five dinars during your absence for five minutes – Hajji Hassan confirms that he has got a medicine herb for such giddiness, which he had extracted from the grass and numerous plants on the village common … Not only this medicine but also another effective medicine of a particular strain of cactus has been discovered by the same Hajji Hassan growing in profusion in graveyards. People, taking this medicine, gain patience similar to that of the dead, and become immune to any local exploitation and international weakness, which is the secret of its growing in graveyards. There is also at this shop a long list of other herbs, which, as Uncle Hassan has explained, help you to resist diseases and dispense with treatment, which entails the problematic frequenting of private and public clinics and hospitals. If only we had godlike common sense to make a beeline for this shop and queue for hours and days or even months to procure these medicines, we would be well-rewarded … much better than anything else. Why can’t we be patient enough to stand in the queue and wait for our turn to buy this medicament? We have cut down the trees on our farms to change them into built-up areas … We have slaughtered most of our animals and, no doubt, we shall kill the rest on the feast day of sacrifice. Our children go to free-of-charge public schools, and we receive free radio and television programmes, which we can listen to, watch and criticize as we wish.
In order to oblige us, they purchase cartoon programmes to keep the attention of children away from us, no matter if these cartoons are harmful, or western or who has made them and what their subject matter is … what is most important is that we needn’t undergo any hard labour, fatigue, or worry because of our children since everything is being looked after by the state. And he who does not work, does not produce, yet he still consumes. Defence, too, does not seem to be any of our business, which clearly shows that we had lied to ourselves when we proclaimed that defence was the responsibility of every citizen. It is obvious that we are doing our best to shun this sacred duty. We stand for peace and love.
Our motto being, “Peace, mercy and the blessing of God be upon you.” So from us may there be peace, mercy and the blessing of God upon the Israelis, the “Amelicans”, NATO, and the Pact of David, who we expect, should wish us the same, or better. Every day we wait for the Israelis and their allies to say, “May there be peace upon Rabta, Tajura, Ras Lanoof, Jerusalem and Baghdad “.
Anyway, what use are the medicine factories at Rabta and Ras Lanoof for us so long as Hajji Hassan has gathered for us enough herbs, which cure all diseases even those of the brain, the heart and eyesight … and … dysentery or … dignity … one or the other … because reception was poor at the moment when Hajji Hassan was explaining the magical effect of a particular herb … if I heard him right, he said it was an effective cure against dysentery or dignity, perhaps even old age, as I think I heard him say that it also cured senility or self-respect or something like that which seemed to have some connection with senility.
Therefore, we are really lucky .. we have got ourselves free of everything … Poor are the people who, unlike us, have to sacrifice themselves and shed blood in defence of their homes.
They also sweat blood to enhance production and dig up the earth with their finger-nails … in order to plant it with trees and cucumber and garlic .. poor are the Israelis who spend their lives with their forefingers on the trigger in order to keep Palestine occupied … Poor are Noriega and Orthega … Poor are the ” Amelicans ” too, who spend billions on space armament to protect America.
Is Death male or female? God knows … But the ancient pre-Islamic poet, Tarafah Ibn Al-Abd considered it male when he said : Death, I notice, hovers over generous people to choose The best of what the strictest of them has hoarded up.
But the contemporary poet Nizar Al-Qabani, who is pre-Islamic in his own way, says that death is female, because it has snatched his son, Tawfiq. But then why ask the question? What purpose does it serve to know if death is male or female? Death, whether male or female, is death. By all means, it is most important, or rather one is morally bound to specify the sex of death and decide whether it is male or female.
Because if it were male, one ought to challenge it to the bitter end. But should it be female, one had to give in to it to the last breath.
Anyway, the word death (Decease) appears in a lot of books, sometimes as male and sometimes as female.
I, judging from my own experience and troubles with death, know this for a fact: Death is a male who is on the offensive all the time. He has never been on the defensive even when he is beaten. He is brave, fierce, cunning and sometimes cowardly. Death attacks but gets beaten off badly at times.
He does not emerge victorious in every attack as some people seem to think. Many a duel was there in which death lost courage and had to retreat blood-stained and defeated. But despite the cuts, stabs, blows, smashes and kicks which he receives, when his opponent is a relentless fighter, he never gives in, or is ever imprisoned; nor has he ever been finished off.
This is his dangerous secret; and this is his incomparably destructive superiority to all life supporting factors against death. Death is really a unique combatant who has a deep, long breath and endless patience. His confidence in himself is limitless no matter how strong, relentless or winning his opponent seems to be. No matter what fights he loses, wounds he receives, or rounds in which he is defeated, he is never adversely affected by the resounding noises of celebration, held by his unimaginative, short-sighted, winning opponents.
Such displays of rejoicing do not make him despair of attacking again. One can’t help admiring such an overbearing adversary who never needs to alter his clear-cut decisions! The might of death does not lie in his decisive blows, nor in his fatal stabs or in his successful attacks, because he hits and misses, wins and loses, attacks and suffers defeat. Not all his blows are exceptionally well-aimed, nor are all his fights successful. His real might lies in his hellish ability to receive, bear and neutralize all the arrows and spears directed at him, and in his inhuman appetite to lick the blood and pus of his wounds, and in his capability of transforming all this into fiery ferocious fighting energy which eventually overwhelms his opponent. Death’s entitlement to victory lies in the fact that he is impartial and that he seeks help from nobody. To do that would indicate a fault in character when death is faultless; and it might imply that he could be a stooge. Death manoeuvres and changes his colour to suit his own purpose, but he can never be someone else’s stooge. Were he to depend on anybody; he would have to give hostages to fortune and become a doll to be thrown away in the dustbin after play. If death were a stooge, a lackey, a hostage or a doll, his ultimate victory would arouse considerable suspicion. On the other hand, death, as I have already said, is not a mythical hero with high moral ideas, social and tribal manners or a noble family background which make the possessor of such ideals morally bound to behave properly in order not to blemish inherited values. On the contrary, death is a dodger, chameleon-like, moody and capable of taking on different personalities with different roles. He may appear on a tall white horse, brandishing his weapon at his opponent face to face, and he may stab in the back as does a woman untrained to use weapons; he may come at you fearlessly on foot; and he may turn up crawling or prone under the cover of earth or any other means of deception and camouflage. Many a victim had he claimed when they were peacefully and quietly unaware of him! And many others had he snatched away when they were having happy dreams in sound sleep. And many more had he grabbed when they were merrily laughing and oblivious of him! So, do not expect any mercy or pity from death. He will not exchange intimacies with you or consider your circumstances or respect your lives.
He may tear off a suckling from its mother’s breast to butcher it before her; he may even get it out of her womb dead after a long wait for it to be born. He may steal either one of a newly-wed couple on their wedding night. He may assault the parents and leave the children alone or vice-versa. In other words, he is, as yellow books depict him, the terminator of pleasure and the orphan-maker of boys and girls.
Therefore, do not show mercy to death, nor expect any mercy from him.
There is no love lost between him and us. He is our deadly enemy; there can be no peace with him or hope in him. So, as just tit for tat, show no mercy to him and no lack of unity, because he will show you little mercy no matter how disunited you are or what concession you make. He accepts no compromise at all and peaceful coexistence is foreign to his nature.
He cut off my brothers and sisters in their prime, and starved my family until they had to surrender to his will, and allured my brothers and sisters to play with him in the quagmire, where he poisoned them; four boys and two girls.
Then he had several hot duels with my brave father. He came to Gordabia under the banner of Miani’s campaign, disguising himself in the clothes of Italian and Eritrean soldiers in order to kill my father, who fought him openly since he had killed my brothers and sisters. My father had vowed to have his revenge on death for what he did; and that was why he had killed a good number of col. Miani’s soldiers in whose clothes death disguised himself so perfectly that everyone of them seemed to be death himself … and how bewildered my father was to see the endless falling of martyrs, death’s victims, on his right and left, when, at every shot he triggered, he thought he had done away with death till he ran short of ammunition.
He cried out, “Can I have some more ammunition to relieve you of death?” A young man, lying prone in a nearby trench, answered him that he had enough to spare. My father spirited, hurried towards him, but death was faster. When my father crept into the trench, he found the young man dead!.
Therefore, death can hear and see, but my father, like death, was a fierce fighter. He took the young man’s ammunition and continued the duel until he felt weak with thirst.
He asked his uncle Khamis for a drink of water to go on fighting. His uncle who had no water himself, leapt at one of the enemy’s water-carrying mules to get some water. But death, as usual, was faster. He directed his fatal shot at Khamis just above the right eye-brow where it pierced its way through to the brain, which oozed out all over his body as he fell a martyr to the ground. This infuriated my father, who sprang out of the trench to fight standing up. He challenged death face to face when he shouted at him. “We’re the children of Moussa“.
If you are a real male, come out and look me in the face, you, cowardly death!
But death did not answer this challenge or even put up a hand to show where he was or reveal a brave face. It was not death, but a group of brave young men who answered my father, saying, ” We are the children of Al-Haj … children of Al-Haj ” They sprang up on their feet to face death fearlessly. My father hurried to join them, but death was always faster. He had gunned them dead before my father reached them.
When the struggle between death and my father became so intense, his fellow fighters asked him not to draw nearer to them so that death might not ambush them as he did to Khamis, the Al-Hajji’s sons, Al-Atrash, Assohbi, Mohamed Ben Faraj … and many others. My father continued his persistent struggle all day long. At sunset death’s strength began to wane and consequently his will to continue the duel abated! So he decided to withdraw in order to gather strength for another round. But this time he succeeded in firing nine bullets at my father, which hit him and tore his clothes but luckily they were not fatal.
As I told you, death is defeated and withdraws but never feels ashamed or loses hope, because his self-confidence is much stronger than despair itself, his belief in ultimate victory is greater than temporary defeat or passing adversities; and the secret lies in his self-sufficiency that needs no help or support from any quarters, not even from America. Hardly had three years passed when death attacked again, hoping to have done with my father this time. He engaged him in a ferocious duel that was much worse than the one at Gorabia.
He, being a deceiver as usual, appeared in this battle disguised, both in entity and attire, as one of the Senussi soldiers, who were pro-Italian in Sirte and Ejdabia.
He was exceptionally defiant this time, self-complacent at being superior in men and weapons, and confident of victory. But my father, who was as defiant, though less self-complacent and less-hopeful, was obstinately rash and more reckless. He laughed at death when he saw the Senussi soldiers crawling like locusts to occupy the high and low lands surrounding the Klaiah wide pit near the salt-mine.
They changed the colour of the golden sand into black and white after the colour of their formal costumes. The whole area was filled with men conscripted in favour of death. And there was my father among a much smaller number of lion-like men … in fact, a very humble number! It was an ill-fated day of distressful agony from sunrise to sunset; death in full preparation; my father in full bravery, death heading the hosts of the pro-Italian Senussi soldiers; my father among a band of brave honourable men. Since the situation was so critical and survival was so hopeless and the battle so un-balanced; my father decided to fight it out with the least of precaution, openly showing his contempt of death, by rushing at his army … He dug no trench, nor did he fire from a reclining position, he preferred to fight sitting or standing. Bravery and despair seemed to intermingle.
What an awesome sight that was! And how hard it had been to survive! But exactly as it had happened at Gordabia. Death’s bullets hit my father’s companions only: There was Abu-Osbaa, hit at the heart … next to him lay Gheddaf Addam, giving up the ghost … and now the sun was falling headlong towards the earth as if hit by a stray bullet! It was getting dark now and death’s lost chance seemed to slip away.
This made turbulent death swell up with anger at my father, who had been challenging him all day long. He aimed his Mosin-Nagant rifle, supplied to him by the Tsar of Russia, at my father’s heart but missed and hit him at the shoulder instead . The bullet, passing through the shoulder from the front to the back, had left a dangerous deep cut at his left side. I have already told you that not all death’s shots are well-directed, nor are all his stabs fatal.
He hits and misses, succeeds and fails. True, he rendered my father unable to continue the fight this time and partially paralized him for life, but he could not manage to finish him off. I have already told you that death is not always brave or a challenger. On the contrary, he is sometimes a coward, stabbing in the back, stinging in the foot and sinking into the ground. Death, as I have already explained, does not despair and never leaves his opponent alone, no matter how beaten he may be. So despite growing pale with fatigue after engaging many intrepid heroes in hot duels, such as at Al-Malh and Gordabia, where he failed to defeat my father.
Death appeared this time disguised as a striped snake hiding in the dead thorny trunk of a desert bush in a cut off wadi that had neither water nor trees, to bite my father’s heel in an abominable, treacherous, and cowardly way under the dark cover of night. This is frightening death! He rides a black horse when he is most furious and rides a white horse when he challenges openly and defiantly. Here is death, who has brandished his sword at great leaders, skulking away to come from behind, not face to face, from beneath, not from above … he comes to bite not to fight, he shrinks into himself rather than show himself, and he cuts heels rather than necks.
This is how mighty death, whose terror, reaches far and wide, had transformed himself this time into a treacherous snake that stung my father’s strong rough foot, which had stamped on it. Death thought that that was the fatal trick and the cunning plan. Having failed in face to face duels, death resorts to cunning and deception; and after confrontation in day light, he lurks under a camouflaged screen.
No doubt, a desert snake stinging a lonely man in a distant wadi, where no one could hear his call for help, was definitely quite enough to kill him. The arrangements and expectations of proud death, who was cocksure of ultimate victory, were such that he overlooked the fact that the will to live could upset his arrangements and frustrate his expectations; and that will to live was able to neutralize his fatal poison with the simple means of a strong brew of ordinary black tea without sugar.
Several doses of this strong sugarless black tea made my father throw up a few times. No sooner had the vomiting spasm stopped than he sprang up on his feet again to overcome death, which seemed victorious only a few minutes earlier. Jeering at death and gloating at his misfortune, my father crushed the head of the venomous snake, in the form of which death had disguised himself in that distant desert place. Death, as we know from this story, neither dies nor despairs however badly hurt or beaten he may be. My father killed the snake with his foot, which had always been strong and unshaken in the battle field or on the head of other serpents. Hardly had my father’s foot fallen on the head of the snake when death left it for another one, which happened to meet my father on his way home one day. He was gathering some dead branches from a desert bush to make a fire, when the second snake attacked him, injecting a stream of fatal poison into his hand.
As my father had no tea this time, and the place was neither distant nor desolate, death thought these were factors of weakness on the part of my father, who would not be so challenging as he was when the place was distant with no one to help him, where his demise could have been a catastrophe. The situation then made my father put up a strong resistance, mobilizing all his inner strength to frustrate death’s wanton intention. But this time with people nearby, and the idea of depending on others for help bound to soften my father’s spirit for defiance and resistance, death thought that he had trapped his intrepid opponent at last.
However, death apparently forgot that his treacherous plan was really stupid, because by frequent snake bites he had immunized my father against their poison. Thus this second bite, painful though it was, did not finish him off either. The longer my father lived, the more enterprising death became. My father kept up his stubborn courage, and death never gave up hope of catching him. Having followed the incidents of this dramatic story so far, we can say that death is really a male in the former situations and a female in the latter ones.
Thus the whole thing is so confusing, because even when death changed into a female snake, she had to be fought back as though she were a male. A poisonous female snake is a contentious enemy, hence categorized as male, and had to be fought just like any Eritrean or Italian soldier at the Gordabia battle. But since we are dealing with the subject of deciding death’s sex, male or female; and as we said when we started this story, “If it were male, one ought to defy it to the bitter end. But should it be female, one had to give in to it to the last breath.” So far in this story, my father had kept up the resistance and never thought of surrender, which makes it reasonable to think that death is a male. But I have recently come to the conclusion that death is a female, because on the eighth of May 1985, my father gave in to death, moving no limb to resist her.
For the first time in my life I saw him give up resistance, and at times, even refused any outside inference between him and death, whose cause he seemed to defend as well. This made it clear that death was a female of the classical type of whom the Koran says ” brought up among trinkets, and unable to give a clear account in a dispute,” So now, there was my father, defending death against any outside intervention when he was quite able to put up a strong resistance. On the contrary, he gave in to death quietly and wholeheartedly as though death had never been a bit frightful or had ever been that fully-armed fighter, whose appearance infused any brave man like my father with defiance.
Death’s drums, which got louder, as they drew nearer, sounded just like one of Om Kalthooms’s hypnotizing songs. The nearer death’s procession, drew with the increasing and annoying noise of its drums, the more my father seemed to relax on his bed, smiling like a newly-born baby in a way that was incomprehensible to us. He became quieter and more placid to the extent that made us think that the noise of death’s procession which frightened people in good health, was to the sick like a hypnotizing song by one of the popular Egyptian songs. It made me think that perhaps there was no need for any chemicals to anesthetize the sick as a long Egyptian song was quite capable of having the same result. But the doctor objected to this method, and expressed his displeasure at my meddling in his sphere of specialty. He assured me that all my conclusions were erroneous and had not a shred of truth in them; and as such, they could not be taken seriously. I was embarrassed talking about anesthesia of which I knew very little and saved the doctor the embarrassment of telling me that by saying myself what he should have told me, but he preferred to keep silent: So I added, on his behalf of course, that I was completely ignorant of even the simplest facts of anesthesia and its applications and that I had mixed up anesthetizing the sick and hypnotizing the ones who were not ill, and that, perhaps I had exaggerated the effect of Egyptian songs when I thought they affected the sick. In fact, they affected only healthy people. They have been well-known to be so effective and so influential since 1948. They gave exciting results when they were experimented upon more than one million Arabs; but unfortunately, contrary to what I was expecting, it was necessary to use chemicals to knock out sick people needing surgery and other medical treatment as the songs were proved to have no effect on them. On the contrary, doctors advise, that sick people should not listen to these songs, for fear that they could cause complications, such as nausea.
But people in good health and their like, such as the emotionally disturbed and mentally sick are advised to listen to these songs if they want to get into an artificial state of lethargy or a non-chemical anesthesia. Doctors affirm that these songs have no complications for these people. Of course, if they had any non-chemical complications, the effect would be on these people’s productivity and welfare; but as far as their bodies are concerned, there is nothing much to worry about. When I hinted that they might affect the spirit or the mind, the doctor replied in a casual manner, ” Spirit … mind …mood … etc … abstract things … as a surgeon … they mean little to me “. On the whole, the weaker my father became, the more nervously tense we got … agony stricken and worried about him. Our tears flowed and now and again we wept, while he smiled and relaxed as he went deeper into the coma of death. Who knows?! Was it the death he fought in the battles of Gordabia, Talla and Al-Malh? Was it the snake which ambushed him in a forlorn desert and on other occasions?! Was it death, the proud, bold, defiant and treacherous enemy whose self-confidence and arrogance infused a fresh sense of provocation and recklessness into his opponent? I do not think it was him. If it had been him, there should have been no one to rival him in the art of cunning and camouflage; because my father had hardly put up any resistance as he used to do all his life when he always defeated and beat him off despite the numerous fatal chances and occasions death had. Therefore, death is a female; and as such one ought to give in to her up to one’s last breath, and that is what my father now did. The conclusion is that death often fails in battle when he comes under a clamorous cloud of dust with black banners fluttering in the heart of the storm. In this case death thinks he is riding the favourite horse in the race, when, in actual fact, he is riding the horse of his own vanity, because in this way he drives his opponent to the extremes … to defiance and recklessness, which eventually result in his defeat. Death in this manner, appears as a very brave fighter, who ought to be resisted to the bitter end; and resistance often leads to victory. But the fatal cases in which death wins easily are those in which death appears as a female. As we have affirmed in the beginning of this story, one ought to give in to a female up to the last breath. Surrender never leads to victory.
When death changes his tactics by appearing as a female he expects his opponent to surrender in order to beat him with the least of resistance. Thus death is sure to achieve his purpose in the end, however long the struggle lasts, and will show no mercy to his opponent no matter how submissive, cowardly, feeble or weak-kneed he may be; even if he were a Sadat kind of person! Therefore, if you wish to live long, you have to contend against death as did my father, who never gave in to him even for a single day and fearlessly fought him till his centennial birthday, despite the fact that death tried to humiliate him at the age of thirty, but was thwarted in his plans and had to suffer a snub. So, the right decision to take is confrontation, because fleeing one’s country does not save one from death. The Koran says “ Wherever you are, death will find you out, even if you are in towers built up strong and high, ” But if death himself weakened and transformed himself into a non-Jamaheriate or a non-Latin woman and came forward peacefully unarmed, entered quietly and walked calmly in slow and voluptuous movements until she invaded every inch of our bodies, and made us ecstatic with charm and delight and began to tickle us to mirth in the rapture of her love … in such case, it would be unmanly to resist her, much less to defy her … and the proper course of action to take, then, would be to surrender to her pleasure completely till one’s last breath of life … and that is what happened.
The Cursed Family of Jacob and the Blessed Caravan
Which of us hasn’t heard of Jacob’s family? Or rather, who doesn’t hold it in high esteem? Any why not when its off-spring world-wide take great pride in being descendants of Jacob, peace be upon his soul, and his son Joseph, prophet of God and the secretary of the store houses of the land in ancient Egypt?! How could anyone in his right mind ignore Joseph or be ignorant of him or his accurate divination?! We all know this, and the whole world knows him. He was tomorrow’s predictor, interpreter of visions and dreams, truthful and trustworthy and chosen by his Lord who taught him how to interpret stories and events.
His attractive appearance was well-known and so desirable that the wife of the Aziz of Egypt in her passionate desire, tried to seduce him and tore his shirt at the back which proved that she was a liar. He was extolled by the city Ladies who, in their amazement, cut their hands with the knives they happened to be holding and said, “God preserve us! This can’t be mortal! This is none other than a noble angel!” He nearly felt inclined towards them.
In addition, he foretold how the fortunes of Egypt would fare, its dreadful years after its prosperous ones and the period of arid countryside after the period of green meadows.
Therefore, Jacob’s offspring have every right to be proud and feel honoured. They are descendants of a great and blessed family whose father was melancholic, Jacob and her distinguished son Joseph. So don’t they deserve to be honoured and revered? And aren’t they entitled to be treated as celebrities at airports, at weddings and other several occasions … even at conferences, if so it happened, and to be pointed out as Joseph’s brothers with admiration?! What a great honour conferred by God as a favour upon this family! This much we know about Jacob’s family, which makes it worthy to win our respect and be held in higher esteem …! But we should also know that this family is cursed and is neither noble nor blessed. This aura of holiness in which it is vested has been faked; and it does not deserve the veneration accorded to it. May the family of Jacob be cursed even though Joseph had been their son and Issac their grandfather. It is one of the basest families and the worst in unbelief and hypocrisy, and as such, they deserve disgrace and contempt. Didn’t they lie about protecting Joseph from the wolves, pretend to be his sincere wishers and falsely promise to take every care of him? Didn’t their father say to them, “I fear lest the wolf should devour him while ye attend not to him “.
They said, “If the wolf were to devour him while we are (so large) a party, then should we indeed (first) have perished ourselves!” May the family of Jacob be cursed! They contrived a vicious plan inspired by their guilty souls. They engaged in intrigue against Joseph, God’s prophet. They said, “Slay ye Joseph or cast him out to some (unknown) land.” They argued among themselves, squabbled and had different views on how to intrigue against Joseph and be unfaithful to their father, Jacob, may peace be upon his soul.
One of them said,
“Slay not Joseph, but if ye must do something, throw him down to the bottom of the well. ”
But Joseph knew about this affair while they (Knew him not) “They stained his shirt with false blood” The cursed family of Jacob are traitorous, treacherous and liars. They (I mean its sons) stripped Joseph off his shirt which they stained with false blood and took Joseph away from the attention of people and threw him to the bottom of the well. They did all this while Joseph saw and heard all that was going on around him but he did not shout at them or said,
“You, filthy traitors …!”
How can you be my brothers?!”
Joseph was quite patient as God put into his heart this message.
“Of a surety thou shalt (one day) tell them the truth of this, their affair.”
He was as innocent as was the wolf of his blood; rather, he was smiling at them in a joking mood while they were lowering him into the well.
He knew all this and was sure of their failure and that was why he did not say to them,
“You’re being unfaithful to your father when you treat me like this!”
Neither did he say to them, “Do you worst but I will tell you of this affair of yours one day when your faces will turn black with shame, guilt and transgression and you will be the laughing stock of the whole world!”
But in an attempt to give their treason and unsuccessful trick full force, they too were smiling back at him while in actual fact they were intriguing against him.
“They plot and plan, and God too plans, but the best of planners is God”
May the family of Jacob be cursed! And may the caravan be blessed! Yes, it was the caravan who got Joseph out of the well. They came soon after his brothers had cast him into the bottom of the well. The caravan let down their bucket and when they hauled it up, they found Joseph in it.
The blessed caravan saved him and the city treated him kindly. May the family of Jacob be cursed and may the caravan be blessed! Which of us, after this scandal, will have any respect or reverence for the family of Jacob? Who can trust them with Joseph any more? On the other hand, Joseph’s brothers did not kill him when they could have done so, because they were entrusted to take good care of him. It is true that they did not kill him, perhaps because they argued his death but failed to come to a decision about it, as is mentioned in the Koran; or because they lacked the courage to do it; or because being his brothers, they could not bear in their hearts the sight of his real blood and found out that they could endure the sight of false blood other than his; or perhaps they preferred that he should gradually die in the well, or perhaps being his brothers, they had not planned his death in the first place by any means and simply wanted to leave him to his fate with the caravan which they seemed to know that it would come and pick him up.
One of them said,
“Slay not Joseph, but if ye must do something, throw him down to the bottom of the well: He will be picked up by some caravan of travelers.”
It is most probably that the fear of their father and others was the real deterrent. May the family of Jacob be cursed and may the caravan be blessed! And how deceived we were when we honoured the family of Jacob because Joseph was their son … and we were so dazzled by the awesome procession of stars, the sun and the moon kneeling to Joseph that we said, “What a great halo surrounding Joseph’s family!” And we preferred, or rather we were made to admire the scene at a distance with open mouths, which if we closed, we would vehemently applaud and inwardly repeat,
“I did see eleven stars and the sun and the moon: I saw them prostrate themselves to me“.
“Verily in Joseph and his brethren are signs (or symbols) for seekers (after truth). ”
But what if this family was exposed … when Joseph’s brothers began to plan this abominable treason at which hearts recoil in terror, “The skies are ready to burst, the earth to split asunder, and the mountains to fall down in utter ruin “, and a shudder of violent revulsion possesses the people who hear it?
Indeed the family of Jacob “have put forth a thing most monstrous .” What if the family saved their honour and stood distinguished among the other people, and Joseph’s brothers lived to serve him as apostles, taking good care of him, managing his affairs and listening to what he had to say to them?! However, Joseph implored God to forgive them in spite of what they had done! And he provided a home for his parents with himself, and said, “Enter Ye Egypt (all) in safety if it please God “, and raised his parents high on the throne (Of dignity) and they fell down in prostration, (all) before him.
He said, ‘O my father, this is the fulfillment of my vision of old. God hath made it come true! He was indeed good to me when he took me out of prison and brought you (all here) out of the desert.“.
However, it was good the way Jacob’s family had behaved, because, but for this abominable scandal, or scandalous abomination; or in other words, the family of Jacob is notoriously detestable, even though we used to think of them as a blessed and respectable family, not because they had a glorious history in the past, abundant resources, constantly flowing water, a much frequented fane, or a ” canopy raised high“; it is quite the contrary because, originally, it was an unknown, detested, debased and dependent family living in the desert – as is mentioned in the Koran – and by the nature of their living circumstances, they were mere shepherds; and the biggest victory Joseph’s brothers could have achieved, would have been to kill a fox or a wolf and could have never dreamt of victory over imperialistic or retrograde regimes.
This great universal glory had never occurred to any member of Jacob’s family, who have never as much as dreamt of the glory of Egypt and its storehouses, except Joseph who could see the future and specialised in the interpretation of visions. But for this shameful act what could Jacob’s family be like now? or rather, how would the whole world treat this family? People could have carried them on their shoulders in sincere reverence! Hadn’t they begotten Joseph, who received revelation from God, who made him prophet, secretary of the store-houses of the land, interpreter of visions and passionately desired by women? Thank God who showed us in the Glorious Koran what Jacob’s family were really like and explained that they were not guardians of Joseph, rather, “they were plotting a scheme” for him in a hellish slow way.
In other words, they were digging up a well to cast him in when he was endeavouring to create a glorious history for them. The sons of Jacob’s family were, in fact wicked as well as insipid: Joseph tried to erect a fane of fame and renown for them which they sought to destroy by their own hands. However, it is only fair to give justice to any member of Jacob’s family who deserved it – if there were any who deserved it, of course. Yes, it seems that the eldest and youngest – who, as the Koran mentions, was their half brother on their father’s side – of them were. The eldest brother was the one who suggested to the rogues of the treacherous family of Jacob not to kill Joseph but to throw him into the well from where he would be picked up by some passing caravan.
As for the youngest brother, who was their brother on their father’s side, he was on the side of Joseph, and hence he was unpopular with the other sons of the cursed family who tried to make trouble for him as well and finally got rid of him as they had done to Joseph before him when they left him as a pledge in Egypt where they sought their measure of grain from Joseph whom they did not recognize.