Category Archives: Muslim Education

Loosing My Heart in Egypt

Loosing My Heart in Egypt: Amr Kassem 1987-2013

By Sister Asmaa Hussein
17th August 2013

“Think not of those who are killed in the Way of Allah as dead. Nay, they are alive, with their Lord, and they have provision. They rejoice in what Allah has bestowed upon them of His Bounty and rejoice for the sake of those who have not yet joined them, but are left behind (not yet martyred) that on them no fear shall come, nor shall they grieve. They rejoice in a Grace and a Bounty from Allah, and that Allah will not waste the reward of the believers.” (Al Imran;169-171)

My husband, Amr Mohamed Kassem who was 26 years old, returned to his Lord on Friday after Asr. He was shot through his chin and the bullet exited the back of his neck. He was at a protest in Alexandria, calling for justice for all those who had been killed mercilessly by the army in the previous days and weeks all over Egypt.

Yesterday morning I went to the morgue at a nearby hospital in Alexandria to see Amr before he would be washed and buried in the next few hours. When I arrived, there were many people waiting outside the doors to see their own family members as many people were killed the same day as Amr. Some of Amr’s friends and relatives were there, too. After waiting for a while, I entered the room where his body was lying on a table, covered by a long blanket. I stood beside him and uncovered his face, and there he was, my love, lying there cold even though I had seen him strong and happy and smiling less than 24 hours before that moment. I stroked his beard, part of it was still soft, but part of it felt hard because of the dried up blood. His nose was bloodied and he had a cut beside his eye but he was beautiful, even in death – silent as though sleeping. I touched his lips and his cheeks, they were cold.

I stood there for some time looking at his face, feeling as though my heart was being repeatedly run over by a truck. I refused to cry loudly but tears were streaming down my cheeks, and I told him “I love you Amr, I know that you always wanted to die for the sake of Allah, and you got what you always hoped for inshaAllah, and I’m so proud of you. Ya Allah forgive his sins and accept him as a shaheed and reunite me with him in the hereafter. Ya Allah make me patient in knowing that it was his appointed time and that, by Your will and Grace, he is alive with his You as a shaheed.” I didn’t leave him until I was ready, I’m not even sure how long I was standing there. At the end, I kissed his cheek and told him that I would see him later inshaAllah, then covered his face and left the room.

The janaza was after Asr, there were hundreds of people there – his friends, his colleagues from school, extended family. He was a very beloved person to many. There was no dry eye, but everyone was speaking only good words and saying Alhamdulillah that Allah took him in the best way anyone can die in this world. We prayed on him, and I went outside to see a crowd of hundreds of men carrying his shrouded body towards the cemetery. The women didn’t follow, we were waiting until he was buried to go to his grave and make duaa. After some time, his mother and I and some female relatives walked towards to cemetery and were making our way to where he was. Suddenly I notice all the men around me yelling for us to go out the side door, to run. I didn’t understand what was happening but I started hearing loud bangs behind me, rocks being thrown at us and all the men telling the women to run. So I ran and ran without looking behind me, I was hit on my cheek by a large rock while I was running, but alhamdulillah, some of Amr’s friends saw me and told me to run ahead of them so they could be behind me and make sure nothing happened to me. The people who attacked us were thugs who had heard there was an “ikhwani” funeral (although my husband was not from the ikhwan, he was just a religious man who believed in something called right and wrong). Many people were injured, some with stab wounds, but as far as I know, there were no casualties alhamdulillah.

Even in death, Amr’s enemies hated him and all those around him! But their hate means nothing to me, after all if an enemy of God hates you, then that is a sign that you are, God-willing) on the right path.

Dear friends, my heart aches in a way I never knew a heart could ache. I miss him whenever I am awake and dream about him when I’m asleep. He was the best kind of husband a woman could ever hope for, kind, generous, soft and loving, but also strong and brave. His clothes are still hung up on the hooks in our room, as though he’s going to walk through the door and change into his pyjamas before he sleeps. His friend gave me Amr’s wallet and cell phone at the janaza, but his wedding band was missing, we still don’t know where it is…I wish that I had it.

But through all this, I can’t say anything except innalillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un, and continue to make duaa for him. I refuse to dishonour him or myself by asking God “why” he took him or thinking “if only he hadn’t gone to the protest on Friday, he would be alive.” No, it was Amr’s time to return to Allah, I know that beyond a shadow of a doubt. And although I wish I had more time with him in the dunya, I sincerely look forward to reuniting with him and being his wife, if God allows me, in paradise. In jannah time does not end, there is no fear of being separated from your loved ones. I believe with every inch of my that our love was truly a love that can last from this world to the next.

Ya Allah, You reunited Musa’s mother with him after she put him in the river, ya Allah You reunited Yaqoub with his beloved son Yusuf after many years of painful separation. Ya Allah You are the Only One who can reunite me with my beloved in the hereafter, so Allah I ask you to not prevent me from being with him again.

Last night after we came home, we received a call from a friend of a relative – someone who had witnessed first hand what happened to Amr after he was shot. She told us that he didn’t die right away, he was alive for a few moments. His left hand was holding his chin where the bullet had entered, and his right index finger went up, and he said clearly “ashhadu anna la illaha ilAllah, wa ashhadu ana Muhammadun rasoolullah” and he had a huge smile on his face, as though it was his wedding day. When I heard this, I couldn’t help but cry that Allah had honoured me just by letting me know this wonderful person and allowing me to have his child.

My friends, your words of encouragement have not gone unnoticed. I have nothing but love and respect for you all, and I know now so much more than before that as Muslims, although we have many faults in our community, when we come together we are truly a force to be reckoned with. Your support and love and duaa have touched me greatly. I will undoubtedly need your continued duaa and support when I return to Canada inshaAllah.

I ask Allah to let me never stray from His path, for my own sake and my daughter’s, and also for Amr’s sake – to honour him in the way that Allah chose for him to die.

Ya habibi ya Amr. Ya habibi ya Amr. Ya habibi ya Amr. I hope that right now your soul is in a green bird, and you are flying through Jannah, eating and drinking from its provisions and are close to the throne of Allah, where you will never shed another tear or ever feel any sense of loss or suffering. You are my love in this world and the next inshaAllah, you are in my heart always, you are in my prayers always.

-Sister Asmaa Hussein

Asma Beltaji
17 year old Asma Beltaji was the beloved daughter of Mohamed Beltaji, one of Egypt’s first ever democratically elected leaders. She was shot and killed by the Egyptian security forces


Confusing ijtihadi matters with non ijtihadi issues

One of the reasons why many people fall into condemnation is due to them confusing ijtihadi matters with non ijtihadi issues. Most of the shariah is ijtihadi, in fact according to scholars around 80% (and more) is predicated upon ijtihad. We need to acknowledge and understand that in matters of ijtihad it is not permissible to condemn or shun anyone because they hold opposing views to us. This is a principle in and of itself as mentined by Imam al Suyuti:

Below are some statements by the scholars on this:

1. Imam Sadr al Din Ali Ibn al Izz al Hanafi: ”If the dispute between the Ummah in both fundamental and subsidiary issues was not referred to the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger, the truth would not be clear. Rather the disputants would not be upon clear evidence regarding their matter. If Allah gave them mercy, they would acknowledge each other’s (evidence), and no one of them would wrong the other, as was the case with the Companions at the time of Umar and Uthman when a dispute in some of the issues of ijtihad arose. They would acknowledge one another without any oppression. But if they were not given mercy, the dispraised kind of dispute would happen.” (Aqeedah at Tahawiyah, p 288)

2. Shaykhul Islam Ibn Taymiyyah: ”Praise be to Allah: In the issues of Ijtihad, the one who acts upon the saying of some of the scholars should not be condemned nor deserted; and the one who acts upon one of the sayings should not be condemned. If there are two opinions about the issue and one could see the preponderance of one of them, he should act according to it. Otherwise he should follow one of the scholars who are trusted in showing the more preponderant of the two sayings.” (Majmu’ al Fatawa, 20/207)

3. Imam Muhammad Ibn Abdul Wahhab: ”Since some of the scholars allowed Tawassul (to Allah) with the righteous people, and some considered it to apply in particular to the Prophet and the majority of the scholars forbade it and disliked it. Therefore, this question is one of the issues of fiqh. Although the correct position, in our opinion, is the saying of the Jamhur that it is makruh, we do not deny and condemn the one who dd it, and there is no denial and condemnation in the issues of Ijtihad.” (Al-Sheikh’s publications, Division 3, Fatawa: 68)

Al that is summarised in the famous axiom among the scholars:

لا إنكار في مسائل الإجتهاد

‘There is no condemnation in matters of Ijtihad’.

-Imam Abdullah Hasan

Timing is Everything

The Prophet said: ”Take advantage of five matters before five other matters: your youth before you become old; your health, before you fall sick; your wealth, before you become poor; your free time before you become preoccupied, and your life, before your death.” (Tirmidhi)
I was recently speaking with an old college friend of mine and we found ourselves reminiscing about the good old days on campus. How often do we find ourselves wishing we could turn back the hands of time? How often do we fondly recall our carefree college days and wish we could go back? Yet, at the time, we could not wait to move onto the next stage in life. We would spend hours wondering who we’d marry, what our future careers would be like and what the future would hold for us. It is human nature to believe that the “grass is always greener on the other side.”
A sure fire way to wake up each morning with heavy eyelids and an even heavier heart is to focus on that which cannot be changed. We are often so preoccupied with feelings of sadness and regret regarding what has passed and with anxieties surrounding what is yet to come, that we completely devalue a piece of treasure that Allāh provides us every second of everyday: the present moment. Every matter that the Prophet mentions in the hadith above involves taking advantage of the present moment. As imām Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah refers to it- “the time between two times.” He states, “Your attention must be directed to your life in the present – the time between two times. If you waste it, then you have wasted the opportunity to be of the fortunate and saved ones. If you look after it, having rectified the two times – what is before and after it – then you will be successful and achieve rest, delight and ever-lasting” (al-Fawaa’Īd, pp. 151-152).
So what is it about living in the present moment that promotes success and happiness? Reaching the point of being content with our current state and what we have can make all the difference in our perception of our lives. This reminds me of a quotation I read in Mitch Albom’s novel, The Time Keeper, “We all yearn for what we have lost. But sometimes, we forget what we have.” We also yearn for what we do not currently have. One common denominator I’ve often noticed about my clients who have been afflicted with anxiety and depressive disorders has been a tendency to ruminate, meaning thinking constantly of negative incidents in the past, and a tendency to catastrophize, meaning expecting something terrible to happen in the future. In doing so, not only have we squandered a precious gift provided to us by Allāh , but we have also underestimated Him . The Prophet related to us Allāh says, “I am as My servant thinks of me” (Sahih Bukhāri & Muslim). The Prophet also said, “None of you should ever die except while assuming the best about Allāh.” (Sahîh Muslim) In ruminating continually on regrets from the past, we underestimate the Mercy and Forgiveness of Allāh . And by catastrophizing about the future, we forget that the One who created us is, indeed, all-Powerful and Able to do all things.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s totally normal to worry about the future and to experience feelings of sadness associated with the past at times. Particularly as new life milestones approach (a new job, the birth of a child, marriage, graduation, etc.), we may experience a mixture of apprehension and excitement- apprehension about leaving the comforts associated with the status quo and excitement about the potential for positive change. However, although humans have the capability of thinking outside of the present moment, this does not mean that this is to our advantage. A study conducted by psychologists Matthew A. Killingsworth and Daniel T. Gilbert of Harvard University found that people spend 46.9 percent of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they’re doing, and this results in feelings of unhappiness. Focusing on the here and now can lead us to be increasingly content with our current state- as well as increasingly accepting of the fact that the present moment is all we are truly guaranteed.
With this realization comes the following benefits:
Doing as many good deeds as possible without delaying due to not knowing how many more “moments” we have left.
Repenting for a sin and moving past it by replacing it with good deeds.
Putting forth effort to make the most of the present rather than expecting things to magically change in the future.
Taking personal responsibility for situations rather than wasting our time and energy shifting blame onto others.
Realizing that no benefit arises from focusing on the past due to our inability to change it.
Improving our time management skills.
Savoring the beauty of the sights, sounds, tastes and feelings around us and thanking Allāh for the ability to experience them.
This Ramadan, challenge yourself to live in the present moment. As Omar Ibn al-Khattab said, “Hold yourself accountable before you are held accountable and weigh your deeds before they are weighed for you.” Hold yourself accountable for how you spend each second of this blessed month. Use every moment to draw closer to Allāh and actively seek His pleasure. Show gratitude to Allāh for each breath He grants you during this blessed month by considering ways to positively use every moment of your time, whether it is while you are driving, waiting for an elevator on your way to work, cooking a meal for your family or as you fall asleep at night. Challenge yourself to live in the here and now and reap the feelings of peace, tranquility and freedom that comes from this achievement.