Saturday, June 22, 2013

My Country "Biladi"

Asalamu Alaykom,

Please stand for the National Anthem.

"Oh! Oh! Say can you see?""

Why aren't you standing?  Why aren't you singing with me?

I don't know all the words.  It's a long complicated poem that Francis Scott Key wrote during that bombardment of Fort Henry in the War of 1812.  I actually love The Star Spangled Banner.  My eyes tear up singing it.

Do you remember when Whitney Houston sang the American National Anthem during the Super Bowl?  It was during the Gulf War.

Mashallah what an incredible gift from God she had in that voice!  May Allah forgive Whitney Houston any of her faults and receive her into Paradise.

That Superbowl was 1991.  Now I'm in another country.  I'm in Egypt.  For almost four years I've been here and for three of those years I had not learned Egypt's National Anthem.  It wasn't a conscious decision necessarily.  It's not like I hid when the music started.  The deal was that, as a KG teacher, I was inside my class with little children while the older students lined up at the morning assembly to salute the flag.

Saluting the flag is mandatory in every school in Egypt.  You must.  It must be part of your routine.

Yet, it didn't have to be part of my routine.  In many ways, I was fine with that.  It wasn't my country, right?

Now, I feel differently.  I've been here from the end of the Mubarak era, through the Revolution and into the new Islamic Age.  I'm more in touch with Egyptian politics than with my home state.  I feel like I'm home here (and my rooms of furniture would seem to agree).

This year, I've been a middle and high school English teacher with a line of teenagers behind me as we stand together facing the flag every morning.  It's the Egyptian flag and I have had a choice to sing or not.

I'm singing.  I'm finding that I want to sing.  I want to be proud of this country and my part in it.

At first, I didn't know all the words.  It's a really short, easy song!  One line actually repeats three times!  So, I only had to learn four lines.  I didn't have to...I wanted to.  I really want to sing my black, white and red heart out.

I copied out the words on a little slip of paper. The kids saw my determination to learn.  Teachers need to show how they are learners too.  None of us should ever stop learning.  There's so much to learn!

Do you want to learn Egypt's National Anthem too?

Here is a FREE pdf of the sheet music.

You can listen and download a midi of the song here.

This video has the Arabic, the transliterated Arabic and the English meaning.

Here's a powerful video of Revolution images set to a very contemplative "Biladi".

I feel the power of those images.  Don't you?  So many people had so much hope.

I will say that there's one image I don't like.  There is a man standing to pray and about to prostrate over his makeshift prayer mat.  He uses an Egyptian flag for his prayer mat.  I don't like that.  It isn't that I care so much about flags on the ground---though I'm sure it isn't proper flag ettiquette.  I'm concerned that bowing down to a flag is akin to shirk; worshipping other than Our Creator.

I don't want to worship a country.  I want to live in a country which allows me the freedom to worship Allah.

Alhumdulillah, Egypt, "The Mother of All Lands," has allowed me this.

There's a lot of talk about June 30 being the next wave of the revolution.  We're preparing for next week like we would for a storm.  We make sure to have money, food, and the internet paid up.  We think about any appointments downtown getting done before next Friday hits.

Yesterday, was a show of support for President Morsi and the current administration.  There were a lot of people and it was inspiring to see a peaceful display.  I didn't hear any reports of violence.

Everyone wants to know where I stand.  Do I support Morsi?  What do I think of the Muslim Brotherhood?

Truly, I support Egypt's ability to govern itself.  Whoever can help Egypt regain its stature has my support.  I have watched the Ikwan; the Brotherhood, finding a way to help those in need.  I won't say they are angels (as people are only human) but they have been good to so many people.  Are they good governors?  Maybe this first year in office was bound to be difficult for whomever took power after 30 years of a dictatorship.

I lived through 12 years of the Bush Dynasty.  I didn't vote for them or like their policies.  I did, however, respect that millions of people voted for them.  I couldn't deny their right to the Executive Office.  So, I lived through the years and eventually the U.S. voted in someone else.  That's democracy.

I support democracy.  We need to go through a process and not throw out the results when they differ with our personal opinions.  If we can't respect the process of one citizen having one vote, then Egypt dissolves into a farcical game of "King of the Hill."  We can't knock down whoever we don't like.

I remain hopeful.  Inshahallah, the 30th will come and go without destroying Egypt.


Anonymous said...

Just want to say how much I enjoy your blog. I agree that democracy is messy, messy, messy. But also respect the process and believe (sometimes it seems in vain...) that it is the only way we can find solutions together. Your writing makes it possible for an outsider to see a more complete, balanced, and real Egypt than I might be able to find on my own. --Angelle

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