Sunday, October 30, 2005

Voices of the Sublime

Sultan al-Munshidin, Shaykh Ahmad al-Tuni

Abida Parveen

Yasin al-Tuhami

Shahen-Shah-e-Qawwali, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (1948-1997)

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Invitation to Breakfast

We, the mothers, wives, and children of detainees in all of Egypt’s prisons, have the pleasure of inviting you to a group iftar on Tuesday, 22 Ramadan, 25 October 2005, in front of the Egyptian Interior Ministry. We invite you to join us in preparing for the iftar by starting our protest march at noon on that day.

The iftar is composed of:

1. Meals of anti-repression of our children who have been imprisoned for years, their youth and health wasted away.
2. Appetizers: for freedom and justice, simmered over the fires of 24 years of emergency at the hands of the chef and owner of the oven.
3. Barbeque: grilled on the fires of desire for justice and fairness.
4. Juice: sweetened with patience and the hope in tomorrow that we’ve been waiting for for years.
5. Dessert: Konafa stuffed with nutcrackers of emergency law, and Qatayef stuffed with slaps in the face of injustice and silence over the harassment we’re seeing.


After iftar, a night from the one thousand and one nights, but this time without the executioner. And an episode from the serial of our opposition to the detention of our kin.

Nota Bene

• No despair or dejection allowed, we’ve been holding a sit-in for four months and have not given up hope.
• Come participate with us, there’ll be no fear of soldiers' guns as long as we’re all together.
• Last week, we decided to extend the sit-in until midnight and stood alone, women and girls, unfortunately without anyone from the movements standing with us. This time, our sit-in next Tuesday will continue until we meet the Egyptian Interior Minister. We want you to join us, don’t leave us alone.

May you be free every year, and may God see to it that no one is deprived of their loved ones as we have been and no unions are sundered as ours have been.


Madam Hayam, Um Saleh (0126282829, 0127297574, 0126365994)

*AP Photo, October 18, 2005.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Ahlan Ramadan

Ramadan means dusting off my antique tin fanous with the tiny candle inside and burning my fingers while lighting it. Ramadan means the return of my beloved seasonal ritual of listening to Shaykh She'esha's sublime rendering of Surat Yusuf. Ramadan means abandoning all sense of conventional time, greeting the chirping birds at daybreak and sunset and withdrawing from the world at midday. Ramadan is Shari' Gala' miraculously deserted at sunset. Watching kunafa being made in Harat al-Megharbeleen at midnight, transfixed like a child. Hearing Shaykh Yaseen fil Husayn.

Ramadan is memories, of singing wahawi ya wahawi on the old basta, fanous actually in hand. Ramadan means official sanction to be crotchety and unbearable during the day, charming and mirthful by night. Ramadan means complaining about the ridiculous commercialisation of Ramadan; bemoaning Egyptians’ knack at turning a month of discipline into a festival of excess.

Ramadan is debilitating fatigue giving way to irrepressible energy in the space of an hour. Breakfasting on khoshaf and ending with qamareddine pudding (with shredded coconut and raisins on top, naturally). With the passage of time and the fading of childhood, Ramadan for me has come to mean stock-taking, introspection, asceticism, renewed resolve. Ramadan is the blurring of the spiritual and the profane, of cascading epiphanies in sleep and wakefulness. Ramadan is family, Ramadan is solitude. Ramadan Kareem.

*Mahmoud Said's al-Zikr (1936).