Sunday, December 29, 2013

Yousra's Brother

Asalamu Alaykom,

Take a look at Yousra's brother Khaled.  I wrote about him before.  This is a picture from her wedding party when Khaled was full of life.  This is how their family wish to remember him.  It is his mother's favorite picture of her son.

Background Information

Yousra and I emailed this fall because I wanted to understand what it meant to be Yousra.  Though our names are so similar, she was going through a pain unimaginable to me.  Her brother had been shot dead in the street by his fellow countrymen.

In September, Yousra graciously accepted my request to an interview for this blog.

I will be honest with you and tell you that I dropped the ball.  I stopped working on the interview.  I can quote 6-day weeks during Term One.  I can say I got too busy.  In truth, I put it aside because I could.  I didn't have to face the pain like she did.  I had the luxury of forgetting---or choosing to forget.

Now, the Egyptian government has made it a crime to remember what happened on August 14th.  As 2013 draws to a close, I want to give some time and space to what was a horrible day in Egyptian history. This doesn't mean that I endorse the power grab from President Morsi or the dangerously disruptive sit-in that occurred.  I won't assume that, as a foreign guest in this country, I know what is best for Egypt moving forward into 2014.  What I do know is that many people died needlessly on that summer day and one of them was Yousra's brother Khaled.

The Interview

Yousra:  Salam alikom.   It's nice to have such a thing with you.  Thanks again for your interest with my beloved Khaled.

Yosra:  Wa Alikom Alsalam Sis.  Yousra, I hope that my questions are OK for you.  Wallahi, I don't know if what I'm asking is too much.  Forgive me if it is.  I'm not sure of your age.  If you are still very young, then please get your mom and dad's permission.

Yousra:   I am 27 years old and I have a little boy named Hamza.  I wish that he will grow up to be brave like Khaled.  

Yosra:  Alhumdulillah you are “UmHamza” with a little boy who can emulate his uncle.  Through your son, your beloved brother can live on.  Those pictures on Facebook of little boys at the Kabba with his picture:  is one of those boys your son Hamza?

Yousra:  The boys at Kabba none of them is Hamza. They are sons of a Muslim guy who made Ummrah for Khaled .

This is Hamza's photo saying a message to protesters before the massacre.

Yosra:  Mashahallah for Hamza!  He looks a little unsure of what's going on.  Habibi!  

Yoursa:  My family is okay with your questions.

This is what you asked for and if you want to revise some words it's okay.  Forgive me if my English isn't perfect.

Yosra:  Don’t worry about what you’ve sent as no one’s English is perfect.  What I’m going to do is clean up any grammar and spelling mistakes.  As a teacher, I’m used to editing so it’s no problem.  My slight corrections, inshahallah will make it more readable without losing the intense feeling you’ve put into your words.

Yousra, one thing I really admire about your family is the decision you've made to share your brother's story with as many people as you can.  What does sharing his life and death do to help you?  What does it do to help the situation in Egypt?  What does it do to help the world?

Yousra:  We want to tell everyone in the world about Khaled; tell them his story and how brave he was.  We want to publish his story to express to him and the whole world how much we love him; to show the world that the coup kills anyone against it under the name of “fighting terrorism”!  My brother wasn't a terrorist.  We want to deliver a message to the world that Egyptian media is lying about the terrorism issue.  The only terrorism in Egypt is being carried out by the coup authority against peaceful demonstrators.

Yosra:  Could you tell us who your brother was to you while he was alive?  Now that he has passed, what is it that you still carry with you from him?  Maybe it's something actual that you can hold but maybe it's something intangible.

Yousra:  Khaled was my best friend and my soul mate.  We shared every thing together--our dreams and our interests.  I never will forget his sense of humor; he always had a way to make me laugh and relieve my pain.  He stood by my side and now I carry Khaled in my soul.

Yosra:  When he was younger, did you feel that his life was any different from the others?  Did he have anything remarkable about him which made him stand out?

Yousra:  Khaled was different from the rest of the young people in that he could not bear to see any person subjected to injustice.  Khaled felt it was necessary support the oppressed.  He was saddened by the unjust killing of innocent people in Iraq, Palestine and Syria and also the siege of Gaza.  He was always thinking of his ummah [the Muslim community] and was always talk about supporting them---even with duaa [supplications to God].

Yosra:  Though, I don't want to focus on politics, were you concerned for his safety and well-being when he became more vocal against the ouster of President Morsi?

Yousra:  Sure we were afraid for him, my brothers and all the demonstrators, but did we have any options?  We refuse the kidnapping of our president and we had to demonstrate against the coup.  Abandon freedom and democracy?  No, we will never be afraid because Egypt is more important than our life and souls.

Yosra:  What were some of Khaled’s hopes and dreams---personally and professionally?  What did he hope for his future?  Was he thinking of his future or was he too much in the current situation?  What did he hope for the future of Egypt?

Yousra:  He always dreamed of living in a beautiful place.  He was sure that he deserved a better place.  He was a vet and wished to finish his college and then open his own horse farm. far from the pollution, noise, and injustice.  He wanted Egypt to be an advanced country that respects human rights.

Yosra:  Was your family involved in medicine or animal science?  What made him interested in becoming a vet?

Yousra:   My father is a doctor, as is my brother Ahmed, and I am a pharmacist.  Khaled was interested in horses and animals, but lately he was interested in graphics. Khaled was in his last year of college alhamdolelah.

 Yosra:  How did you learn of his death?

Yousra:  I knew about his martyrdom from his friend who was beside him when he was shot.  For sure we accepted it with tears but we said, “Thank God who honored us with his martyrdom.”  Then we began to think how to bring Khaled's body before they burn him like others!

Yosra:  Where do you believe your brother is now?

Yousra:  I believe that Khaled inshaallah is in Jannah and the highest place in the Paradise.  This is a promise from Allah to martyrs in the cause of Allah.

Yora:  Are you living your life normally once again?  When are the moments that you are hit with sadness over Khaled?  Is there a certain time of the day or a place or an activity?

Yousra:  I miss Khaled in every single moment.  Our life changed upside down.  A piece of us is under the grave!  I miss him when I wake up in the morning and I don't find him around.  I miss him when I see young men protesting; when I see his pictures; when I smell his perfume.  He adored perfumes.

Yosra:  How have your parents coped with losing their son?  Is there a favorite photo of Khaled that your mom holds dear?  What is that?  Is she thinking of him as her baby that she's lost or as the young man that she's lost?

Yousra:  About my mom, for sure she miss her son.  She remembers and misses every moment in his life from his birth till his martyrdom.  I asked her about the picture that she loves most she said the one in my wedding.  I'll send it to you.

Yosra:  Mashallah, that is a good picture of your brother.  I'm going to put it at the top of the posting.  He looks so healthy.  Now that I know he loved cologne/perfume, I can imagine that he had put some on with that suit.

That was a precious time for your family.  All of our times with our families are precious----but sometimes we don't realize it until the people are gone.  I believe you knew it always, Yousra, because you are very sensitive.  People who feel so much (and that's me too), we do appreciate the moments.

Did Khaled have a girl who is mourning him now?  Was he engaged or talking about getting engaged?

Yousra:  Khaled wasn't engaged to any girl yet.  He always says, 'I 'll fall in love only with my future wife." 

Yosra:  Your brother Ahmed tells me that Khaled was celebrated, “like a groom”.  I don't really understand this fully.  Does everyone do this?  Is it unique to your situation?

Yousra:  Khaled is a martyr and we, as Muslims, believe that a martyr isn't dead; he is alive in Jannah. Prophet Muhammad [peace be upon him] promised us that a martyr marries Houris after the first drop of his blood.  So we, as believers, made a wedding procession of cars for him.  This concept isn't very common in Egypt but it's very common in Palestine.

Yosra:  Do you mean, "...a martyr marries hours after the first drop of his blood."?

Yousra:  No, I said Khaled will marry 'Houris' not hours.  Houris are the women in Jannah (الحور العين ). 

Yosra:  Many people reading this will have never met your brother.  If they could take away a better understanding of him, what would they need to know?

Yousra:  If you meet Khaled for the first time, you would feel as if you knew him.  He is a brave, free, handsome young man who participated in the January Revolution.  He was never afraid from anyone or anything.  Khaled isn't a terrorist.  Khaled was the best thing in our life and they killed him because he refused to call the coup a revolution!

Yosra:  Though Khaled was martyred, you are still alive.  Do you feel an added weight to your life, knowing that you have something which he does not?

Yousra:  Khaled is the one who has a thing I don't have:  he is in Jannah.  He is a hero.  I wish to be like him .

Yosra:  That is a really powerful statement.  Every time I re-read what you've written I am shaken to the core of my Islamic belief.

What is it from Quran or from Sunnah that gives you strength during this time?  How do you remain strong through this time of grieving?

 Yousra:  From Quran and sunnah in Surat Ali Imran:

Those who said about their brothers while sitting [at home], "If they had obeyed us, they would not have been killed."

 Say, "Then prevent death from yourselves, if you should be truthful."

And never think of those who have been killed in the cause of Allah as dead. Rather, they are alive with their Lord, receiving provision, rejoicing in what Allah has bestowed upon them of His bounty, and they receive good tidings about those [to be martyred] after them who have not yet joined them - that there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve.)

 From Sunnah:  A man asked the Prophet, when he had put his leg in the stirrup, "Which kind of Jihad is best?'" He said, "A word of truth spoken before an unjust rulers."

 Only Allah bless us with patience and feeling proud with Martyr Khaled Ben Elwalied.

 Yosra:  What is your hope and prayer for Egypt?

Yousra:  We believe that Egypt deserves to be a good place to live in.  Everyone has the right to say his or her opinion without being killed or thrown in jail.  So we will complete the road of democracy and never give up---even they kill us all.  Glory to the martyrs.

Yosra:  Is there a prayer readers can make to help the situation---either with your family or with Egypt?

There is a duaa from Quran we always say we ask Allah to bound our hearts like mother of Moses

Surat Al-Qasas

And the heart of Moses' mother became empty [of all else]. She was about to disclose [the matter concerning] him had We not bound fast her heart that she would be of the believers.

Yosra:  If you could give advice to someone who is not feeling motivated to live fully, what would that be?

Yousra:  I say to everyone that you have only one life to live so be thankful to Allah for his blessings.  Be brave; be a good model to your friends; love Allah and worship him with all your heart; help people even if you don't know them; express your good feelings to all your family; and don't judge people since you don't know who is better! Don't be on the wrong side and don't support killing people even if they are against your opinion . Be a good Muslim that prophet Mohammad will be proud with . 

Mashaallah your questions touch my heart deeply.  May Allah bless you for your efforts.  Take care my friend after yourself. 

Yosra:   Alhumdulillah you were able to answer from your heart.  Ameen to your du'a.  

May God bless you and your family, Yousra, and grant you the ease after the hardship.  For those who don't realize it, "ease" is the meaning of our name.  In the Quran's Surah Al-Inshirah there isn't just one yosra; there are two. 

After hardship, there is ease.
Surely, after hardship, there is ease.
There are also the two of us.  You are my sister in Islam and I deeply respect the sacrifices your family has made.  I wish better for all of us in 2014.    


My world of love and life - Marie said...

I remember reading your first post on this tragedy.
Thank you Yosra for sharing this woman story with us, full of humanity and wisdom, showing us the world need true believers to fight for freedom and human rights to be respected.
May Khaled rest in peace.

Yosra said...

Asalamu Alaykom Marie,

Thanks for reading. You and I feel love and loss deeply. I think this resonates with us even if we haven't experienced the same events.

Isn't Yousra amazing?! She has such a connection to her brother which is only topped by her love of Allah.

Ameen to your du'a for Khaled's peace. Inshahallah he's been accepted to Jannah.

Love and Light to you and yours :)