•George: Kach, I’m ready to travel only to make you realize that the issue is a matter of principle, and not personal interest.
•Kach: Good, but I have one condition!
•George: Condition! What?
•Kach: That you send a message to the board of directors to tell them you changed your mind about the resignation, and that you’ve accepted to travel.
•Kach: To calm the storm you created.
•George: Okay fine; then I agree, but when shall I travel?
•Kach: As soon as we book the ticket, but where do you want to fly to?
•Kach (laughing): You seem to still be searching for the path to happiness. The director of public relations at the Reservation Department will meet you soon - and then go and find your happiness.
George headed to his office. A few minutes later - less than ten minutes - the director of public relations came to him.
•The director of public relations: I’ve booked a ticket for you to fly to Egypt the day after tomorrow. Will that suit you?
•George: What’s the rush?
•The director of public relations: I don’t know! This is upon Kach’s request, and I’m very happy with this since it means that you’ll continue working with us.
•George: And who told you otherwise?
•The director of public relations: There’s a strong rumor among the staff that Kach wants to fire you from your job.
•George: Perhaps I was afraid of that before, but now I get the feeling that if one of us were to fire the other, it would be me who would fire him. But thank you for your comments.
•The director of public relations: Kach told me to remind you about the email.
•George: He’s started to be scared of me, but he shouldn’t worry. I’ll send the email shortly.
•The director of public relations: The documents and the information will be sent to your email today, as they haven’t been processed yet since we were surprised by the news.
•George: Okay, I’ll be waiting for them. Thanks.
•The director of public relations: My advice to you as a friend is to be cautious about Kach. But in terms of my work, I’ve told you about the ticket and the paperwork, now please excuse me.
•George: Thank you, but believe me, morals and principles overcome cunning and deception.
George grabbed his phone and contacted Adam to inform him of his trip.
•George: Hello, O Egyptian friend! I’ve booked a seat on a flight to your country.
•Adam: Did you? Congratulations! What good news, I’ll tell Sheikh Bassem to speak to his brother for him to meet you because he speaks English, unlike my brother. When will you travel?
•George: The day after tomorrow. It seems that it was arranged sooner than expected.
•Adam: Can you come to me today? I’m alone in the hospital.
•George: If it’s okay I’ll come in a little while. I’m getting ready to leave now.
•Adam: That’s fine. I’ll be expecting you.
George arrived at the hospital and saw Adam on his bed reading.
•George: Hello Adam! You seem engrossed in reading. What have you got there?
•Adam: The book of God; the holy Qur’an.
•George: Haven’t you read it before?
•Adam: Yes I have - many times, as a matter of fact - but I love to recite it every day.
•George: Every day! Don’t you get bored of it?
•Adam: No, never! We read it every day, and we really enjoy reading it. Just as the miracle of Jesus (peace be upon him) was that he healed the blind and the leper by God’s Leave, the miracle of Muhammad (peace be upon him) is this immortal Qur’an.
•George: What do you mean by ‘immortal’?
•Adam: I mean that God has given a pledge to keep it secure forever. Haven’t you read the interpretation of the meaning of the following verse: [Verily We: It is We Who have sent down the Dhikr (i.e. the Quran) and surely, We will guard it (from corruption).] (Al-Higr: 9)? Tell me honestly; don’t you feel the miraculous nature of the Qur’an while you read the interpretation of its meaning?
•George: To be honest, while I was reading the interpretation of the meaning of the Qur’an, I wished I had the ability to read the original script, and not just the translation. And although I read only the translation, it mentions many topics which I feel are being addressed personally to me.
•Adam: I know the topics that address you most of all.
•George: How do you know?
•Adam: The Oneness of God, His names, attributes, majesty and His beauty remain the greatest thing that deeply move any human being, and I don’t need to know the unseen to say that.
•George: Yes, you’re right. In addition to that, since Islam is complete it deals with this life and the Hereafter, and its unique spirituality impresses me as well.
•Adam: Islam enables one to live their life fully; there’s no monasticism or living far from God in Islam. On the contrary, it makes the whole life a form of worship of God if you have the correct intention.
•George: But please, I’m traveling to Cairo the day after tomorrow, what do you advise me to do?
•Adam (laughing): Drink from the river Nile.
•George: Is drinking from the Nile a form of worship in Islam?
•Adam (laughing): No, I was just kidding. We say in Egypt that whoever drinks from the Nile would certainly return to it, because the country and its people are so beautiful.
•George: It seems that Egypt is the country you love the most!
•Adam: Oh, definitely. I love Egypt very much, and I really wish to return to it, but I love Mecca and Medina even more.
•George: Amazing! Why?
•Adam: They are the cities where our beloved Muhammad (peace be upon him) lived.
•George: Do you believe that your prophet is your savior, as we believe that Jesus is our savior?
•Adam: The concept of salvation does not exist in the Islamic faith at all. Jesus (peace be upon him) is a prophet and Muhammad (peace be on him) is also a prophet, and we are not supposed to differentiate between any of them with regards to our belief in them. We believe in all of the prophets, and whoever slanders or disrespects any prophet is considered as an unbeliever in Islam.
•George: Even if the person slandered Moses, the prophet of the Jews, or Jesus, the Christians’ prophet?
•Adam: Yes, didn’t you read in the Qu’ran the following verse: [Say, (O Muslims), “We believe in Allah and that which has been sent down to us and that which has been sent down to Ibrahim (Abraham), Isma’il (Ishmael), Ishaque (Isaac), Ya’qub (Jacob), and to Al-Asbat [the twelve sons of Ya’qub (Jacob)], and that which has been given to Musa (Moses) and ‘Iesa (Jesus), and that which has been given to the prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and to Him we have submitted (in Islam)”] (Al-Baqarah: 136)?
•George: I have read it and in fact this is one of the things that impressed me in the Qur’an the most. You appreciate Moses, Jesus, Lot and Adam more than their own followers. You have made me remember two things: the book that the Egyptian man gave to Katrina: “My Great Love for Jesus Led Me to Islam” which was written by a Venezuelan writer, and the prophets in the Old Testament.
•Adam: Well, God has sent all prophets with the religion of monotheism and with the message to worship Him alone, but interpolations were made and so polytheism entered some religions.
•George: Excuse me, but you can’t teach us our religion; you don’t know more about Judaism than the Jews themselves, or more about Christianity than the Christians!
•Adam: You’re right; maybe the Jews know their religion better than me, and the Christians know their religion better than me too, but it’s impossible, both according to reason and the rules of the religion, that there could be any other deity with God!
•Adam: The rational proof of which I’m speaking is mentioned in the following verse: God says: [Had there been therein (in the heavens and the earth) gods besides Allah, then verily both would have been ruined. Glorified be Allah, the Lord of the Throne, (High is He) above what they attribute to Him!] (Al-Anbiya: 22). So if the universe had two or more arrangers or gods, it would have become in disorder and its foundations would have been damaged, because the partners may have different opinions which could be incompatible with each other. And if one of them wanted to arrange a matter while the other one didn’t want it like that, then it would be impossible to fulfill what they both wanted simultaneously. At the same time, if one of them achieved his desire, this would demonstrate that the other one was unable to do what he wanted. What’s more, saying that all the gods could agree on the same thing all of the time is impossible. Hence, there has to be only one omnipotent God, whose wishes are the only things that are achieved, and whom nothing can stop or compete with; He is Allah, the One, the Prevailing. God has mentioned another proof about the impossibility of associating anything with Him in the Qur’an. He says: [No son (or offspring or children) did Allah beget, nor is there any ilah (god) along with Him; (if there had been many gods), behold, each god would have taken away what he had created, and some would have tried to overcome others! Glorified be Allah above all that they attribute to Him!] (Al-Mu’minun: 91)
•George: That’s wonderful philosophical logic, though it is contrary to Christianity and invalidates it completely!
•Adam: It’s not philosophical it is divine, actually. Besides, it doesn’t invalidate Christianity, but it invalidates paganism and polytheism, because Jesus (peace be upon him) came preaching pure monotheism. Let me ask you what Prophet Joseph (peace be upon him) asked his two companions in the prison, as it is stated in the Qur’an: [O [my] two companions of the prison! Are many different lords (gods) better or Allah, the One, the Irresistible? You do not worship besides Him but only names which you have named (forged), you and your fathers, for which Allah has sent down no authority. The command (or the judgment) is for none but Allah. He has commanded that you worship none but Him (i.e. His Monotheism), that is the (true) straight religion, but most men know not] (Yusuf: 39-40). Tell me, which is better – different separate lords, or Allah alone?!
•George: How can you say that Allah has sent down no authority to worship others beside Him, while the divinity of Jesus is repeated often in the New Testament!?
•Adam: Although you have deviated from the question, we’ll continue our discussion. You know more than me that the New Testament is full of distortions, and you know more than me that some copies of the New Testament have mentioned the monotheism of God. I don’t know how, even according to logic, there could be two gods; as perhaps they will clash or disagree with each other, so the heavens and earth would have been ruined, as God says in the Qur’an: [Had there been therein (in the heavens and the earth) gods besides Allah, then verily both would have been ruined. Glorified be Allah, the Lord of the Throne, (High is He) above what they attribute to Him!] (Al-Anbiyaa: 22), or they would have had disagreements, as God says: [No son (or offspring or children) did Allah beget, nor is there any ilah (god) along with Him; (if there had been many gods), behold, each god would have taken away what he had created, and some would have tried to overcome others! Glorified be Allah above all that they attribute to Him!] (Al-Muminun: 91)
•George: This is a very major topic. I really hate the pictures and the idols that we find in the Catholic churches, and I feel it’s a kind of paganism which reminds me of idol worship. Anyway, I haven’t come to discuss that with you!
•Adam: There is nothing as endearing in Islam as the beauty of monotheism and the tranquility, happiness and security it provides.
•George: The tranquility, happiness and security it provides!
•Adam: Yes, believe me! Because associating others with God makes one’s heart feel heavy and confused. Haven’t you read the translation of the meaning of the following verses: [It is those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah and worship none but Him Alone) and confuse not their belief with Zulm (wrong i.e. by worshipping others besides Allah), for them (only) there is security and they are the guided] (Al-Anam:82), [Those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah - Islamic Monotheism), and whose hearts find rest in the remembrance of Allah, Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest] (Al-Rad: 28), and [But whosoever turns away from My Reminder (i.e. neither believes in this Quran nor acts on its orders, etc.) verily, for him is a life of hardship, and We shall raise him up blind on the Day of Resurrection] (Taha: 124). But, I know you didn’t come to see me about this! I apologize; I may have gone on a bit, but you asked me.
•George: Before we end this discussion I want to ask you a question that frequently comes to my mind when I read the Qur’an. You mentioned in the last verse you cited that God threatened to gather some people on the Day of Resurrection blind. Isn’t this a sadistic act for God to do?!
•Adam: Exalted and high is Allah above doing anything sadistic! He is described as the ‘Owner of Majesty and Honor’ many times in the Qur’an. He is the Most Generous, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful, the Pardoner, the Forgiver, the Munificent and the Appreciative, and all the most beautiful names belong to Him, Exalted is He. He is also described with the qualities of majesty, power and competence, as God is high above all. He says: [Blessed be the name of your Lord, the Owner of Majesty and Honor] (Al-Rahman: 78).
•George: Maybe this has come to my mind because of what I remember of the commandments of God in the Old Testament concerning murder, robbery and cruelty.
•Adam: Yes, this could be a reason, and I can add another reason. The Christians are accustomed to the idea of salvation, which means that there is no fire on the Resurrection Day, except for the poor who cannot afford to pay to be forgiven.
•While he was trying to defend his point of view, George said:
•George: We Protestants don’t believe in paying for forgiveness, as the Catholics and Orthodox do, though we all have the idea of salvation.
•Adam: As you said, the idea and the belief of salvation and all its implications mean that everyone will survive because the Christ (peace be upon him) has redeemed them. But this would then mean that there is no reason for or benefit achieved from having a Day of Resurrection. This in turn means that your good deeds will not be considered as worship, because whether you did good or not, the Christ (peace be upon him) has already saved you. Don’t you see that this is a kind of reward that encourages people to not be careful to obey God and to not want to live according to their principles instead of their personal interests?
•George: Perhaps! Speaking of principles, you reminded me of Kach and work. As I’ve already mentioned, I’ll be traveling the day after tomorrow to Cairo, so what do you suggest I do?
•Adam: I’m expecting Sheikh Bassem to arrive any minute now because I called him after you called me to tell him you were travelling to Egypt. He told me that he’d join us in about an hour, and I think he is about to arrive. His brother will meet you there and he wants to know all the arrangements you want him to make for you before you travel. Consider that we are all at your service.
•George laughed and said: Why?
•Adam: Excuse me, I don’t understand!
•George: You don’t need to do this for me. What do you get from me in return?! Pardon me for asking, but this question comes to my mind a lot.
•Adam: You’re my friend, that’s why I am helping you, and Sheikh Bassem is helping you as a favor to me because you’re my friend. And there’s another reason that I’d like to keep to myself.
•George: But I’d really like to know the other reason!
•Adam: Honestly, I hope you’ll embrace Islam. In our religion it’s known that if a Muslim brings another person to the happiness of believing in the One God, that it’s one of the best acts of worship towards God.
•George: Sorry Adam, despite you being so eager, I think I’ll never convert to Islam, so I suggest that you don’t bother yourselves with introducing Islam to me or helping me.
•Adam: Don’t worry, we are rewarded as soon as we exert any effort, even if you don’t convert to Islam. And I am helping you as a friend, and I’ll have my reward from God for that as well. Serving people and helping them are one of the best acts of worship towards God, though whoever God wants to guide, He expands his breast to open it to Islam. I have a strong feeling that you will convert to Islam. You are intelligent and logical.
•George: Maybe, but I don’t think so. And I hope this doesn’t bother you, but why has your manner of speaking changed from how you used to speak?
•Adam: What do you mean?
•George: You have never mentioned anything about your religion or the Qur’an to me before, and now you’re talking about it all the time! Were you manipulating me and pulling my leg?
•Adam: I’m sure that you’ll find Islam, and leave all other religions. You’re passing through a path that will take you to Islam, so why would I stand in your way by talking about Islam before you had reached the appropriate point in your journey? I have never had a different view about this except for one single moment!
•Adam: When you were sick, before you had the operation.
•Adam: Frankly, I was afraid that you might die, and I would love my friend to be my companion in Paradise, God willing. Oh, this is Sheikh Bassem. He has arrived. Welcome Sheikh!
•Sheikh Bassem: Peace, mercy and blessings of Allah be upon you!
•Adam: Peace, mercy and blessings of Allah be upon you!
George exclaimed and said:
•George: Hello, what did you mean by what you just said?
•Sheikh Bassem: It is our way of saluting each other, and it’s also a prayer for the person we meet. First you ask God to keep him away from any physical and moral harm; the physical safety refers to keeping one’s body, honor and money safe, and the moral safety refers to keeping one’s religion free from any wrong ideas which would ruin one’s faith. Then you pray for him to have the mercy and blessings of Allah bestowed on him, because our religion is a religion of peace and compassion.
•George: Here we are starting to talk about religion again! I’ll be traveling the day after tomorrow, so what arrangements do you suggest?
•Sheikh Bassem: Whatever you want. My brother lives there and he can arrange for you whatever you want.
•George: I don’t know the work that is required to be done there yet, but I expect it’s already been sent to my email by now. But after thinking about it, I decided to visit and see some particular sites for leisure of course, not work, and I expect you’ll suggest some other places to go to and other things to do.
•Sheikh Bassem: What would you like to visit?
•George: I want to visit the pyramids, and the Orthodox Church and some of their priests. I also want to see some Muslim scholars.
•Sheikh Bassem: Everything you said is a piece of cake, and my brother will arrange it all for you. I’ve talked to him already, and I suggest that you meet and communicate with the normal man in the street there and chat with them.
•George: Fine, but how much are the costs of these tours that you will provide for me?
•Sheikh Bassem: We don’t work for a tourist company; you’ll pay for yourself concerning the cost of any tourist services, but for my brother, what he provides will be your right as a guest, and it’s one of the acts of worship a Muslim is charged with.
•George: Do all Muslims do this?
•Sheikh Bassem : Ha ha ha! Of course not.
Adam sat up, and intending to joke he said:
•Adam: Watch out and be careful of thieves, pickpockets, charlatans and the like. There is no perfect society in this life; utopia is in the minds and dreams of only those who day-dream.
•George: But doesn’t Islam encourage people to have morals?!
•Adam: Oh yes of course! Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was sent to perfect the manners, as he said: “I have only been sent to perfect good manners.” The commitment of Muslims to having noble and ethical traits is connected to the extent of their commitment to Islam. Ethics have existed even before the Prophet was sent to mankind, and he was only sent to perfect good conduct of the people. But you should be careful, because unfortunately our country has a weak economy and government.
Bassem put out his hand holding a card and said to George:
•Sheikh Bassem: Here, take this card which has all the information about my brother, and he’ll be waiting for you at the airport if you send him a message to his email with the time of your arrival, or if you call him. Don’t be afraid of anything; my brother speaks English.
•Adam: I also spoke to my brother a little while ago to invite you to our home, but he doesn’t speak English so he won’t be suitable as your guide.
•George: I’m forever grateful to you. I have to go now because I’m late, and I think I’ll have to spend the whole day at the company tomorrow to finish the travel arrangements. I also still have some work that must be finished today. I’ll be in touch with you from Egypt. I’m really so grateful to you.
•Adam: Egypt is eagerly waiting for you, good bye!
•Sheikh Bassem: God be with you!
George went to check his email to see if the details of the job in Egypt had been sent to him yet. He found two messages: the first was from Janolka, and the second from the director of public relations. He decided to open Janolka’s message first. “Dear George, I am having a very good time here in Libya - more than I expected. It is true that there is a security problem in Libya these days, besides the problem of the weather, but for me, I feel as though I’m on a pleasant, refreshing spiritual tour, despite its desert drought. I’ll write to tell you my news regularly, and I hope you do the same; until we both find the path to happiness, Janolka PS If you had told me earlier that you were going to travel to Egypt, I would have traveled with you there instead of Libya.”
Then he replied: “Dear Janolka, I apologize for not telling you I was traveling to Egypt; I did not think I would be going there, in fact my trip was just confirmed today. I’ll tell you my news when I get there, George PS I didn’t understand what you meant by a pleasant, refreshing spiritual tour. But as for me, I feel really dull spiritually right now.”
Then he opened the message from the director of public relations. He read the details of the job that required to be fulfilled in Egypt with great concentration since the task was very difficult. He was asked to open a commercial and technical office in Cairo and it was to be the main center in the Middle East as a whole. It was clear that Kach did not want him to return quickly, so he was keen to make the task difficult - or almost impossible. Therefore, George decided to devote the rest of that day and the next in preparing for the trip to ensure that he would succeed in the test that Kach had given him.
George began sending messages to technical recruiters in Egypt. He told them that he would arrive after two days, and that he wanted to have some job applicants ready to meet with him as soon as possible. He also booked a room online at a luxury hotel for the first night, and considered renting rooms for the rest of the days with the help of Jamal - the brother of Bassem who George had met in hospital when he was visiting Adam. Then he began to search online for any information that might help him succeed in his journey, preparing suitable phrases for the contracts and looking for other way to reach success.
Katrina entered the room while he was immersed in the details of his work and his mission. He knew that Kach had given him a difficult test, and that Kach would be looking at him to see how he would perform. Therefore, he had to be well prepared to rise to the challenge and do the job well.
•Katrina: It was a very hard day, make me happy and tell me some good news.
•George: I’ll be traveling to Egypt the day after tomorrow.
•Katrina: The day after tomorrow! What’s the rush?!
•George: Not only this, but also I have been given a long and difficult job. Maybe I made a mistake when I chose Egypt, or maybe Kach wanted to take revenge and distort my reputation in front of the board of directors.
•Katrina: I’m sure you’ll succeed in your task, regardless of how he tries to make things difficult for you. God is with you.
•George: I love you, Katrina. I’m afraid that this journey will take more than a month. I’ll have to stay all that time in a foreign country that speaks a strange language and has a strange religion, civilization and regulations.
•Katrina: Maybe, but I have a feeling that you’ll feel at ease on your journey.
•George: I hope so. Adam assures me that the country is beautiful; it seems that Adam loves his country very much.
•Katrina: All people love their country!
•George: Yes, but the strangest thing is that he loves Mecca more than Egypt, and the reason is that their prophet loved it most of all. What kind of obedience and love is this? Doesn’t it remind you of the love we Christians have for our monks?
•Katrina: No, it reminds me of our love for Jesus, though our love for Jesus is different from their love for him.
•George: Different in what way?
•Katrina: We see Jesus as one who is divine, and they only see him as a prophet and a messenger. We focus on our love for Jesus and that he sacrificed himself to save us, while they focus on the fact that he was sent from God, and he taught them all that is good.
•George: What are the good things he taught?!
•Katrina: Islam; they see that everything in Islam is good.
•George: Everything is good!?
•Katrina: This is how they see it, and they have an Islamic answer for all areas of life, saying that it comes from God.
•George: What do you mean by saying “they see, they say?”!
•George: You said in your last email about the Qur’an: “It seems that it’s from God.” Your message was a big surprise to me, by all standards.
•Katrina: My findings after trying to answer your question about the truth of the claims that the Qur’an is from God really surprised me; there is no doubt that what the Arabs read is from Muhammad, and it has not been distorted at all. But the question is: Was Muhammad truthful or not?
•George: What I understood from your message is that you think he’s truthful; and so you said: “It seems that it’s from God.”
•Katrina: I didn’t mean that, what I meant was that it isn’t like the Old and the New Testament, which has different, conflicting versions.
•George: Although I’m enjoying this beautiful discussion with you, dear, I have to stop for now as I have a lot of work to do before I travel. By the way, where are the kids?
•Katrina: They went on a school trip. They told you yesterday, did you forget? Anyway, I expect that they’ll be here soon and dinner will be ready then, though it’s very late.
•George: Oh I forgot. And I’m very hungry; thanks a lot, honey. Excuse me for now; I’ll get back to work until dinner is served.
George bid Katrina and the children farewell and went to the airport. He arrived at Cairo at six o’clock in the evening, and then he finished the arrival procedures and got his luggage. He made his way to the exit where he found someone carrying a board on which “George Neason” was written. It was written with large handwriting which indicated that the writer was not a master of English. George headed towards the man who signaled at him. The man smiled and called his friend, who came to welcome George.
•Jamal: Hello, welcome to Egypt. I am Jamal, Bassem›s brother, and this is Muhammad, Adam’s brother. Sorry, he isn›t proficient in English, but he was keen on welcoming you.
•George: Thank you. Let’s go to the airport hotel, I’ve booked a room there.
•Jamal: It›s up to you, but it›s situated far from the middle of the city, and Cairo is very crowded - besides it is very expensive.
•George: Okay then we can change it tomorrow, since I›ve only booked a room for one day. But I hope to move to another good hotel that›s close to downtown and the major companies in the city.
•Jamal: There are many hotels downtown, and tomorrow you can choose the one you want.
•George: Can I ask you to choose it for me and book a room for tomorrow please? If I like it I›ll stay there the whole time I›m in Cairo; because I›m going to be very busy.
•Jamal: Sure, anything that you need. Bassem insisted that I assist you to the best of my ability.
•George: Bassem›s hospitality for me is amazing!
•Jamal: It›s for several reasons: Firstly, because you›re a guest and the Prophet (peace be upon him) ordered us to be hospitable to guests. Secondly, because you›re studying Islam, so we must tell you about Islam. And thirdly, because you are friendly with my brother, so I should reply by being good to you.
•George: Why do you Muslims keep mentioning and quoting your Prophet every time I say anything?! And who told you that I›m studying Islam?
•Jamal: We mention the Prophet a lot because we love him and he›s our perfect role model, and concerning you studying Islam; my brother, Bassem, told me you›re searching for happiness.
•George: Exactly, I›m looking for happiness, not Islam!
•Jamal: I don›t see any difference between the two as there is no happiness without Islam; otherwise you would›ve been happy in the West. It›s not a secret that in a country like Sweden, where the proportion of atheists and people who don›t believe in any religion is nearly 80%, is the region with the world›s highest suicide rate, although it›s one of the wealthiest countries. Isn›t suicide the epitome of unhappiness and misery?
•George: But don›t Muslims commit suicide as well?
•Jamal: Unfortunately, yes! But they have the lowest suicide rate and it is much less than other places. In a comprehensive scientific study by Dr. Jose Manuel and the researcher, Alessandra Fleishman, which was based upon documented references of the United Nations about the relationship between religion and committing suicide, they found that the largest proportion of suicide is committed between the atheists. They make up nearly 25% of the suicides. They›re then followed by Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, and finally Muslims with less than 1%. The researchers own words read: «The suicide rate in Muslim countries, unlike all other lands, is almost zero, and the reason for this is that Islam clearly forbids suicide.»
•George: Does Islam forbid suicide?
•Jamal: Of course. It also forbids everything that causes any harm to man. The irony is that the Prophet actually mentioned 90% of the ways that suicide is carried out, according to the statistics. He (peace be upon him) said: «Whoever purposely throws himself from a mountain and kills himself will be in the (Hell) Fire falling down into it and abiding therein perpetually, and whoever drinks poison and kills himself with it will be carrying his poison in his hand and drinking it in the (Hell) Fire wherein he will abide forever, and whoever kills himself with an iron weapon will be carrying that weapon in his hand and stabbing his abdomen with it in the (Hell) Fire wherein he will abide forever.»
•George: It seems that your field of work has influenced you! That›s why you love numbers so much!
•Jamal: Thanks for the compliment. Actually, I majored in Maths as my brother told you, and mental maths increases mental reasoning, no doubt. But I first learned the scientific method from my religion.
•George: Everything is from your prophet and your religion! You›re exaggerating my friend!
•Jamal: Maybe, but don›t you think that the scientific method requires you to determine how much I›m exaggerating, and not to just directly accuse me of exaggerating?
•George: You won! How does your religion urge you to use the scientific method then?
•Jamal: Here are some of the axioms of Islam which are associated with the scientific method, for example Islam warned us of imitating anything without thinking: God says about the infidels: [When it is said to them: “Follow what Allah has sent down.” They say: “Nay! We shall follow what we found our fathers following.” (Would they do that?!) Even though their fathers did not understand anything, nor were they guided] (Al-Baqarah: 170). Regarding following conjecture, without relying on any scientific approach, God says: [And if you obey most of those on the earth, they will mislead you far away from Allah’s Path. They follow nothing but conjectures, and they do nothing but lie] (A-Anam: 116). Concerning following personal inclinations, which contradict science, logic and reason, God says: [And surely many do lead (mankind) astray by their own desires through lack of knowledge. Certainly your Lord knows best the transgressors] (Al-Anam: 119). Regarding hatred, which is far from justice, God says: [O you who believe! Stand out firmly for Allah and be just witnesses, and let not the enmity and hatred of others make you avoid justice. Be just: that is nearer to piety, and fear Allah. Verily, Allah is Acquainted with what you do] [Al-Maidah: 8]. Concerning scientific objectivity, God says about the Jews: [Among those who are Jews, there are some who displace words from (their) right places and say: “We hear your word (O Muhammad, peace be upon him) and disobey,” and “Hear and let you (O Muhammad, peace be upon him) hear nothing.” And “Ra’ina” with a twist of their tongues and as a mockery of the religion (Islam). And if only they had said: “We hear and obey,” and “Do make us understand,” it would have been better for them, and more proper, but Allah has cursed them for their disbelief, so they believe not except a few] (Al-Nisaa: 46). With regards to transgression and discord, God says: [The way (of blame) is only against those who oppress men and wrongly rebel in the earth, for such there will be a painful punishment.] (Al-Shura: 42) Regarding scientific integrity with regards to the trust of spreading research data and being just with the people, God says: [Verily! Allah commands that you should render back the trusts to those to whom they are due; and that when you judge between men, you judge with justice] (Al-Nisaa:58). Furthermore, concerning being persistent in being just and standing up for what is right God says: [O you who have believed! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even though it be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin] (Al-Nisaa: 135). Concerning the importance of searching for evidence and proof, and relying on sound arguments, God says: [Is not He Who originates creation and shall thereafter repeat it (better than your so-called gods), and Who provides for you from the heaven and earth? Is there any ilah (god) with Allah? Say, “Bring forth your proofs, if you are truthful”] (Al-Naml: 64), and…
•George: Okay, Okay! Enough said. I’m convinced. Are you a cleric like your brother?
•Jamal: My brother and I are not clerics like you have in the church. My brother studied Islamic Studies at university and I studied Mathematics. By the way, Mohammad, Adam’s brother, has invited you to dinner, and he wants to know what you would like to have for dinner; Egyptian food or some fast food?
•George: Egyptian food, but not a heavy meal.
•Jamal: We have here in Egypt a meal that we call ‘Koshari’. Would you like to try it?
•George: ‘Koshari’! I don’t know what it is; but okay, I’ll give it a try.
•Jamal: Koshari’s a dish made from pasta, rice, onions, tomatoes and other ingredients. Anyway, it’s very tasty and very popular. You’ll like it, God willing. Here’s a very well-known restaurant that serves it.
•Muhammad wasn’t comfortable with Jamal’s choice, so he said to him:
•Muhammad: Jamal, I don’t think it’s a good idea to let our guest from abroad have a plain dish like Koshari. This isn’t very hospitable.
•Jamal: Of course Muhammad, but this is what he asked for. George, Muhammad has objected to inviting you to a cheap restaurant, and he would like to invite you to an expensive restaurant, so what do you think?
•George: Please, extend my thanks to him for his kindness, and tell him this is what I asked for and I’m pleased with it.
•Jamal: That’s just what I told you!
•Muhammad: Jamal, tell him that we’ll give him what he wants, but with a strong apology; as we are accustomed to being as generous as we can with our guests; this is our custom, and also part of our religion.
•George: Everything you say or do is because of Islam or Muhammad; it seems to me that you Muslims are more religious than us Christians.
•Jamal: How? Sorry, I don’t understand.
•George: We limit ourselves to praying on Sunday, but you pray more than once every day. You admire and take your religion and your prophet seriously, but we don›t treat anything with such great respect, even our prophets. You see your religion as a complete way of life, and we see ours only as a spiritual relationship.
•Jamal: Is what you›ve said meant as a form of praise, or a way of criticizing Muslims?
•George: Ha ha ha! I’m only describing what I see; you become annoyed quickly at anyone who vilifies things which you consider holy. It’s enough to mention what the Afghans did when some Americans insulted a copy of the Qur›an and burned it!
•Jamal: Whoever does not attach importance to anything which is considered sacred and doesn›t revere his prophets has no worth. Don›t you revere the queen of Britain? Don›t Americans revere their founding superiors? Don›t Communists revere Marx and Lenin? Don›t Nazis revere Hitler? We Muslims revere the prophets, all of them. We even revere Jesus (peace be upon him) more than the Christians themselves do, and we love him more than you do, but we don›t honor him more than we should because Jesus (peace be upon him) is only a servant and a messenger of God.
•George: Oh yes, what you say is true, but I think you›re exaggerating!
•Jamal: We would be exaggerating if we said that Muhammad (peace be upon him) is a god, as you have said about Jesus!
•George: I mean you are exaggerating in connecting all of your life to religion.
•Jamal: As for the relationship between religion and life; I think that whoever considers the relationship between a person and his Lord to be just a spiritual temporary relationship through only prayer but continues all his life without thinking about his Lord does not understand life, religion or God, and - excuse me for saying this- he will remain in the misery, worry and distress that this worldly existence brings until he commits the suicide that we talked about a little while ago. In a nutshell, there is no meaning to life, religion or God if they are not in a permanent bond with each other.
They went to a restaurant that serves Koshari, and they sat down at a small table that impressed George. The restaurant was crowded, and the workers were working hard and meeting the demands of the customers quickly. They ordered three dishes of Kushari and they were served in only a few minutes.
•The waiter: Mention the name of God, sir, the Kushari has arrived!
•George: What did the waiter say?
•Jamal: He is reminding me to mention the name of God before eating.
•George: Why is that?!
•Jamal: To continue our previous conversation, we mentioned that one’s entire life should be a form of the worship of God. Therefore, before eating we mention the name of God; it means that he begins this act accompanied or assisted by (the name of God); seeking blessings from him.
•Jamal: Islam did not miss anything without stating the rule of God about it, as God, exalted is He, says: [There is not a moving (living) creature on earth, nor a bird that flies with its two wings, but are communities like you. We have neglected nothing in the Book, then unto their Lord they (all) shall be gathered] (Al-Anam: 38).
•Jamal: Ha ha ha, now you remind me of a narration of something that happened at the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Once a non-Muslim man said mockingly to the Companions: “Your Prophet taught you everything, even about excrement.” They replied: “Yes. He has forbidden us to face the qiblah at the time of easing or urinating, and cleansing with the right hand, and cleansing with less than three stones, or cleansing with dung or bone.”
•George: Is what your prophet’s companion said true, or is it just a debate and an argument for a non-Muslim? Is it true that the morals in Islam are set out in such detail?
•Jamal: Yes it is true, and all praise is due to God for perfecting the religion; God, the Almighty said: [This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion] (Al-Maidah:3). In addition, the Prophet (peace be upon him) was sent to perfect good manners.
•George: Why do you think that only Muslims possess good morals?
•Jamal: You probably didn’t notice what I said a little while ago: “The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: ‘I have only been sent to perfect good manners.’” Perfection means that people had good manners but the Prophet came to perfect them and make people follow a complete system of morals. And this is part of the beauty of Islam and shows how unique it is.
•George: What do you mean?
•Jamal: I mean that Islam completes and complements previous ethics, religions and legislations perfectly. It is integral to the message of Adam, Moses and Jesus (peace be upon all of them). Morals in Islam are not something marginal; rather they are an inherent issue in our religion.
•George: Is the Koshari an inherent thing in your religion?
•Jamal (laughing): It’s an inherent thing in Egypt, not in Islam. It’s food that both the poor and the rich eat.
•George (taking a spoonful of Koshari): Mmmm, the Koshari is delicious!
•Jamal: Bon appétit! Thanks to our host Muhammad who has remained silent; as he does not speak English well.
•George: Please, extend my thanks to him and tell him that it is one of the best food I›ve ever eaten.
•Muhammad: We still have the milk pudding desert, which has already been ordered.
•Jamal: Muhammad is telling you that we›ll have a milk pudding desert, and that he has already ordered it. It›s a kind of traditional Egyptian sweet.
After completing their food, they went to the airport hotel where George had booked a room. After he finished the checking in procedures, Jamal told him that he’d go to him the following morning.
George entered the room and arranged his possessions. After that he took a bath and then he checked his e-mail, where he found replies from his colleagues. He summarized the main points of the replies into one reply and sent it back to them. “The answers were surprising and useful to me, and they are as follows: Habib: I don›t like Islam, even though many of its theories are scientific. I advise you to visit the Orthodox Church. Levvi: When you discuss Islam you need to discuss the brutality, extremism, backwardness and corruption. Katrina: I don›t really know what keeps attracting people to this religion! Maybe it›s better to make sure of their love for Christ and that they honor women first. Adam: The best reference is the book of God, the Qur›an, and I wish that nobody would talk about Islam if he has not studied it and learned from it. Janolka: Islam has a deep simplicity, and a simple depth. But I don›t understand what the magic that is implied in these ideas is! I prefer to read some of the writings of the fair minded westerners about Islam. And now my view: I think that there are strange secrets in Islam, such as the stress on monotheism, comprehensiveness, reassurance, spirituality, knowledge, strength, rules for women, a credible reference and history. I suggest that the following message should be to try and make the confusing matters that I mentioned clear, so if anyone of you has any opinion or knowledge about any of them, please share it with us, George»
After sending this message he found a new message from Levvi: “Dear George, I hope you have arrived safely in Egypt and you are fine and doing well. I feel that you are moving vigorously and rushing towards Islam, unlike your previous studies of Judaism and Christianity. Take care of yourself and you should be on your guard from the Muslims; I fear for you, Levvi “
Then he replied: “ Dear Levvi, Thank you for your sincere feelings. I›ll be careful and write and tell you my news regularly. It might be as you have mentioned, but trust me I›ll never rush into any religion unless I feel fully comfortable about it, and I›ll consult you about it first. Thank you for your concern, George»
He also found a message from Kach, which he opened. “Dear George, I’m pleased that you kept away from the company, and that you took a task that you did not know about before you agreed to travel. I wish you success; I have arranged everything for you, but if you fail, you will take the result of your failure. I›m waiting for your success,. Kach»
At seven in the morning George went down from his room at the hotel for breakfast. He liked the hotel buffet, where a variety of different types of food, both international and Egyptian breakfast dishes, were available. He began tasting and coming across new dishes he had never seen before.
The waiter asked him in poor English if he would like to be served.
•George: Yes, please.
•The waiter: Where are you from, sir?
•George: And you?
•The waiter: I’m from Alexandria in Egypt.
•George: Could you tell me about Alexandria?
•The waiter: Alexandria is one of Egypt’s largest cities. It is an ancient city that was founded by Alexander the Great, the Macedon, in 332 BC.
George remembered what he had read about that ancient city. Alexander wanted it to bear his name, and to be a center of trade and Hellenistic civilization. Then many ages and civilizations passed through it. It has a lot of historical monuments; such as the lighthouse of Alexandria, which is considered to be one of the wonders of the ancient world, and the Library of Alexandria. Christianity had entered it through Saint Mark, the Apostle, in 45 AD, and then it became one of the scientific centers of development for Christians. It also contributed to the study of philosophy; it had the most famous philosophical school; the Updated Platonic School, as well as the Theological School of Alexandria that formed the parameters of thought and Christian theology in the world. Then he remembered its role after Islam as Alexandria remained a scientific fortress; it became a scientific center where scholars from Morocco and Andalusia received religious knowledge before returning to their countries ...
The waiter interrupted him and said:
•The waiter: It seems that you’re busy thinking about something, excuse me for now.
George took notice of what the waiter had said, and then said to him:
•George: Sorry, I was just thinking about Alexandria and its ancient history.
•The waiter: I didn’t finish my basic education and can hardly write, but I like Egypt and Alexandria in particular. Alexandria is undoubtedly an historical city. Have you ever visited it, sir?
•George: You have made me want to visit it. Are you a Muslim?
•The waiter: No, I’m a Christian.
•George: How is the relationship between Muslims and Christians? How did Islam enter Egypt?
•The waiter: A war between Muslims and the Byzantines broke out, and the Egyptian Copts were fighting with the Muslims against the Byzantines.
•George: The Christian Copts!
•The waiter: Copts are the indigenous people of Egypt, but this does not mean they are all Christians. When Muslims conquered Alexandria, its people enjoyed religious freedom. Muslims kept the Jewish community safe, and they never opposed the church.
•George: How come you haven’t converted to Islam if you admire Muslims?
•The waiter: I was born like this, so why should I change my religion and the religion of my fathers and forefathers? Is it possible for you to change your religion?
•George: Maybe… but what stops one from changing if he is not totally convinced about his religion; to change because of being convinced about a religion would be more appropriate.
•The waiter: But I don’t like change, and I don’t like the difficult conditions of Islam.
•George: The difficult conditions of Islam?!
•The waiter: Five prayers every day, alms-giving, fasting the month of Ramadan, pilgrimage to Mecca, don›t lie, don›t steal, don›t backbite and don›t commit adultery, and so on.
•George: But they enjoy Islam, and even consider that it improves life and one’s happiness.
•The waiter: Maybe they enjoy it, but I don›t. I›m sorry for taking so much of your time.
•George: No problem. I›ve finished having breakfast, and thanks for your time.
George went upstairs and arranged his luggage, as he wanted to move from that hotel to another one, and asked for a porter. His luggage was carried downstairs and he went down to the lounge to wait for Jamal. As soon as he had finished the checkout procedures, Jamal arrived to take him.
•Jamal: You seem ready and eager to work!
•George: Yeah, I have a lot of work that must be completed today.
•Jamal: Okay, we are going to put your bags in the hotel, and then I’ll take you wherever you want.
•George: So where is the new hotel?
•Jamal: It’s a hotel in a suburb called Al-Ma’adi, overlooking the Nile.
•George: Is it near my work?
•Jamal: Cairo is relatively large; I don’t know exactly where your work is. God willing, it will be suitable and close to your work. Anyway, if it doesn’t suit you, we can change it.
They arrived at the new hotel and finished the check-in procedures.
•Jamal: I’ll wait for you to get some rest and then we’ll leave.
•George: No, don’t worry, I don’t need any rest. I’ll go upstairs to the room and be back right away.
George came back quickly with vigor and a smile on his face.
•George: I want to go to this address, please. It’s a recruitment company I’ve contacted.
•Jamal: The company is situated in Giza, it’s not far away and is also close to the pyramids.
•George: Great! How I wish to see the pyramids!
•Jamal: Sure, you can’t visit Egypt and miss the pyramids.
•George: Were the pyramids built because of your religion too?
•Jamal: No, the pyramids were built by the Pharaohs. The era of the Pharaohs came before Prophet Muhammad and Jesus (peace be upon them both). Many people who lived at the time of the Pharaohs were monotheists and some of them were disbelievers. Don’t you know the story of Pharaoh who said to Prophet Moses (peace upon him), “I am your most exalted lord”? He also afflicted the children of Israel with the worst form of torment, until God drowned him.
•George: Yes, I read this story in the Old Testament (the Torah), and in the Qur’an.
•Jamal: Fantastic… please tell me honestly: which of these two books appreciate and revere Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) more?
•George: Honestly... the Qur’an; even though he a Jewish prophet, but ...
•Jamal: Sorry for interrupting, but please tell me honestly: which of these books appreciate and revere Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) the most: the Qur’an, the Old Testament, or what you call the New Testament?
•George: The Bible reveres him in one way, and the Qur’an reveres him another way.
•George: On the one hand, the Qur’an appreciates and reveres Jesus, mentioning his morals and only talking well of him, but on the other hand the New Testament also appreciates and reveres him but it honors him to the extent of making him a god!
•Jamal: Do you think that by making a human being a god you are actually honoring him, or are you lying against him?
•George: I understand very well what you mean, and I know you probably will say that some copies of the New Testament had stated that he’s a servant of God and not a god, and other things like that. And you have a right to say that, but you asked for my opinion on a specific point.
•Jamal: Did you hear about the research: “Was Jesus a Muslim?” conducted by the Head of Religions and Beliefs Department in Luther University in the United States of America, Professor Robert Shedinger?
•George: Yes, but I only skimmed over it quickly, and I think the author exaggerated. How can he claim that Christ was a Muslim when Islam came after him?
•Jamal: Whoever says that which is contradictory to what you are used to is accused of exaggerating, being an unbeliever, or in opposition to the scientific method. The writer is the Head of the Theology Department in a major University, and he did not change his words, besides the university supports him. Don’t you see that man needs psychological freedom and great courage in order to take some decisions?
•George: Maybe. I agree with some of what you said.
•Jamal: Well, we have arrived. Do you want me to go up with you, or should I return to take you when you’ve finished?
•George: Hmm, I don’t know… let’s go up together for now until things become clear, and then I’ll tell you.
They entered the global recruitment company’s office and asked to meet the director. The secretary told them that the director, Dr. Gerges, left and would return after two hours... so they told the secretary that they would return to meet him then.
•Jamal: We have two hours and we are near the pyramids. Would you like to see them to kill time while we wait, or do you have another engagement?
•George: Good idea, let’s go to the pyramids, and then meet Mr. Gerges.
•Jamal: Fine... by the way, the director of the recruitment firm is Christian like you, but he is Orthodox, not Protestant.
•George: How did you know? Do you know him?
•Jamal: No, but it’s clear from his name; a man named Gerges must be a Christian as only Christians give their children this name. I also know he’s Orthodox because all the Christians here in Egypt are Orthodox, and not Protestant... I know you each think the other is a disbeliever.
•George: Aren’t there any sects in Islam that think the other is a disbeliever?!
•Jamal: Unfortunately, yes there are.
•George: Like who?
•Jamal: There are sects that exceed the proper limits; they deny the Qur’an, insult the Prophet’s companions and his pure wives, and they perform a lot of mythical rituals.
•George: Where are they?
•Jamal: They are a minority in the Muslim world, and they are concentrated in Iran, Iraq and other countries.
•George: You mean the Shiites!
•Jamal: I rather mean al-Rawafed who reject the Qur’an and Sunnah, and others who say they are affiliated to Islam; such as Baha’is, Qadiani and others.
•George: So you have rival sects that think the others are disbelievers, like us?
•Jamal: No, we are not like you. Most of the Muslims believe that the Qur’an has never been changed, but as for you, none of the Christian sects, whether Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant or any other sect, have a copy of the Bible that has not been changed at all, and I think you are aware of this point very well.
•George: I understand the difference that you’re talking about, but I see there is some kind of similarity. Anyway, are there Shiites in Egypt?
•Jamal: Yes there are, but only a handful, even though they ruled Egypt for a period of time.
•George: What happened then? Did you kill them after that?
•Jamal: We are not like you. Their rule finished and then people kept holding onto the Prophetic tradition and their pure natural instinct, and the Shiites in the country returned to the Prophetic tradition and Islam.
•George: What do you mean by ‘We are not like you’?
•Jamal: I hope you didn’t misunderstand me, I really didn’t mean to offend you, but for example, just let me ask this question: where are the indigenous people of Australia? Where are the Native Americans?
•George: Can you please explain more?
•Jamal: You know how entire peoples were wronged and unfortunately some were even wiped out, but Islam has forbidden injustice and ordered people to be just… Oh, look! There are the pyramids. We can see them in the distance.
•George: How huge they are!
•Jamal: Their great size and the mastery of their constitution will become clearer when we approach them. We’ll park here and get out and take a carriage, but I advise you to take great care of your personal belongings.
•George: What do you mean?
•Jamal: Tourist areas in most countries of the world are places of theft and lootings, and this does not happen exclusively in Egypt, though methods of theft vary from one country to another.
•George: Aren’t Muslims not supposed to steal, as you say?
•Jamal: The Muslim is not an angel, he is a human; he has his faults, weaknesses and deficiencies just like others, but his religion prevents him from stealing things, while other religions encourage theft.
•Jamal: Some religions - even if they have adopted basic ideas which are sound - encourage injustice, killings and stealing from others. As for Islam, it categorically forbids such acts, but as much as people are far away from their religion, they will be far from the ethics and the spirit of Islam, and consequently many bad morals and qualities that have been forbidden by the Islamic Law have become wide-spread, such as theft, adultery, drinking alcohol, lying, breaking promises, selfishness and so on. Here we are, let’s go.
•George: It seems that it will be a fun trip.
Jamal rented two horses and they rode them to take a tour around the pyramids. The two men who were holding the bridles of the horses were not fluent in English, so George asked Jamal to ask them to finish their tour quickly to ensure they would complete it during the two hours. At the end of the trip they went to the car to go to their appointment.
•George: Thanks a million, Jamal! It was a really enjoyable trip. Shall we go back to the office now?
•Jamal: Sure, or if you want you can call him to meet you at the hotel as it’s one o’clock now.
•George: Good, I’ll do that.
George put his hand in his pocket to take out his mobile phone and found that some money that was in his pocket was missing! He checked his pocket well, but he could not find it…
•George: It seems that I’ve been robbed!
•Jamal: Everything will be just fine God willing, maybe you dropped it.
•George: No, I suspect that the man who was leading my horse put his hand in my pocket and took it while I was getting off the horse, but I’m glad he didn’t put his hand in the other pocket where my wallet and credit cards were.
•Jamal: Thank God. Didn’t I tell you to be wary of thieves and to be careful!
•George: The amount was not much. Anyway, let me call Dr. Gerges, the director of the recruitment company.
George agreed to meet Dr. Gerges at the hotel at about two o’clock, and told Jamal about the meeting. When they arrived at the hotel, George asked Jamal to go upstairs with him to the room to continue their conversation…
•Jamal: Excuse me, but I prefer to leave now and let you have your work meeting with Dr. Gerges.
•George: I expect that it will be a short meeting; it’s just to prepare for a lengthy meeting tomorrow. Besides, I want to discuss some important topics with you, unless you’re busy.
•Jamal: No, I’m not busy. I’ll come with you then.
They went to the room and George made them two cups of tea from the guest’s table in the room. They sat and talked for a few minutes until the phone rang; it was the receptionist who told George that the director of the recruitment company was waiting for him in the reception area.
George took some papers quickly and excused himself to meet with Dr. Gerges. Gerges, a man of medium build who was in his fifties, warmly welcomed and greeted George...
•George: If you find it suitable, we can quickly discuss the preparations for tomorrow’s meeting now.
•Gerges: Certainly, it’s very suitable.
•George: As I mentioned to you in the e-mail, I need to employ a number of technicians and even though they will be working here in Cairo, I want to have distinctive well-qualified employees.
•Gerges: I’ve already arranged for you to meet with some applicants tomorrow, if you like.
•George: Great, so how can you help me in the selection process?
•Gerges: There were many applicants, but we have already picked out the best to meet with you.
•George: What kind of criteria did you use in the selection process?
•Gerges: According to their professional abilities, of course! Sorry, but I don’t understand what you mean.
•George: Is one of the criteria that the applicant must be a Christian like us?
It became apparent on Gerges’ face that he had become angry...
•Gerges: First, how did you know that I’m a Christian? Second, the owner of the company is a Muslim and I’m only the manager. Third, the candidates are ten and only one of them is Christian, and the rest are Muslims. Forth…
•George: Sorry for interrupting, but I really didn’t mean to offend you – I just expected that there was a crisis and conflict between the Christians and Muslims; I just wanted to make things clear.
•Gerges: Actually we live together in harmony and not as you imagine in the West, or rather, as you like to think of us. In fact, no one protected the Christian minorities in Egypt but the Islamic rule, and so, according to history, Christians used to fight with the Muslims and they were included in the Islamic army.
•George: Fine, I just wanted to make sure that the criteria used in the selection process were not racial.
•Gerges: Please be rest assured, candidates were judged according to their professional abilities, although the percentage of Christian candidates that applied was greater than the percentage of Christians in the population here.
•George: How is that?
•Gerges: As one out of ten is more than the percentage of the Christians in Egypt. Anyway, I might tell you something extra concerning this tomorrow, though I don’t know if you’ll like it and be pleased about it or not.
•George: Great! Excuse me for now; I have to go because I have a friend waiting for me in the room upstairs. By the way, he is an Egyptian Muslim. We’ll meet tomorrow at nine o’clock at the company, and I hope to meet as many candidates as I can to be able to choose the new employees.
•Gerges: Agreed. I’ll be waiting for you tomorrow then, and you’ll be satisfied, God willing. Egypt is a country that has very many qualified cadres.
George went up to his room and apologized to Jamal for the delay. He suggested that they go downstairs to have lunch in the hotel restaurant..
•George: Can I ask you a direct question?
•Jamal: Go ahead, George.
•George: Excuse me if I may sound bold, but what benefit do you gain from staying with me, giving me lifts and accompanying me?
•Jamal: My benefit is very great and clear.
•George: What is it?
•Jamal: In our religion, serving people is very important; it is one of the best ways to worship God.
•George: Is this your only benefit?
•Jamal: No, there are other benefits, such as serving a friend of my brother, and there is also something that is more important than all that; inviting you to Islam.
•George: Sorry; but as for the last benefit, I don’t think you’ll receive much from it. But tell me what financial benefit is involved, how much do you want for these deeds?
•Jamal: Believe me, I didn’t think about that. Fix the sum as you like, but only after the first three days since I owe you the first three days as you are a guest.
•George: It has been a long day though it’s still early, but I want to finish some work in my room and sleep early. I’m grateful to you. We can meet tomorrow at eight o’clock to go to the company, because I agreed with Gerges to meet him at nine o’clock.
•Jamal: Okay, that’s suitable, God willing.
George put his hand in his pocket to take out his wallet in order to foot the bill, but he did not find it…
•George: It seems that I forgot my wallet in the room; I’ll go upstairs to fetch it then come back. Can you wait a few minutes?
•Jamal: Hold on; tell me why you need your wallet now.
•George: I want to leave a tip for the waiter who served us.
•Jamal: Here is one hundred pounds, take it for now since you don’t have Egyptian currency and pay me back tomorrow, God willing, when you change some money, so that you only need to go up the stairs once. Besides it’s nearly five o’clock now and you said that you wanted to prepare some work.
•George: Thanks, Jamal, I’m really grateful to you.
George went up to his room and turned his computer on to finish his work. Then he remembered his wallet. He searched high and low, but couldn’t find it. He was then sure that it was not in the room; he became very worried since it contained his credit cards and cash. He kept thinking about it for a long time and then he called Jamal...
•George: Where’s my wallet?
•Jamal: You said you left it in the room.
•George: Please be more specific about that, I left it in the room and I left you there as well, but when I came back I couldn’t find it.
•Jamal: What do you mean, George?
•George: Listen, you can’t deceive me with that hundred pounds you gave me, bring me back my wallet now. Do I make myself clear?
•Jamal: Excuse me, but I didn’t take it!
•George: You were alone in the room and it was there too; who else could have possibly taken it then?
•Jamal: I’ll repeat what I’ve just said; I never took it!
•George: And you say: “I do this to earn the reward from God and to serve my brother.” Things have become clear now, it seems that your religion is the religion of theft; I have been robbed twice in one day!
•Jamal: Please, don’t attack Islam, and I didn’t take it.
•George: Where did it go then? Did it grow wings and fly away?!
•Jamal: Why are you speaking to me like this?
•George: If I don’t find the wallet before nine in the morning, I’ll call the police. And you keep saying that serving people is an act of worship in your religion; it seems that robbing people is an act of worship in your religion too. I don’t want to beat around the bush; our appointment will be at eight tomorrow so bring the wallet with you, and that’s my final word on the matter.
George finished the call and threw himself on the bed. He was angry and very confused..
•George: It seems that Kach will defeat me! What brought me to this country? To be introduced to Islam, the religion of theft! I have been robbed twice today… moreover, Jamal comes to tell me that he wants me to convert to Islam! What kind of nonsense is this?!
•George kept thinking deeply about the matter for nearly an hour. He was tense and very upset, he was sure that the tension was not actually because of missing the sum of money or the credit cards in his wallet, despite their being important, it was all because he felt that he was like a little child who was being manipulated by others in the name of religion. It crossed his mind that he should send a message to the bank to deactivate his credit cards, but then he realized that it’s not a bright idea because he would need them, and he hoped that he would get his wallet back the following day and finish this dirty play … Suddenly, he remembered the following day’s appointment, so he murmured: “It’s a good thing that tomorrow’s appointment is with a Christian and not a Muslim, it means he will be more sincere with me.’”
He then decided to call him and tell him what happened.
•Gerges: Hello George, appointment canceled?
•George: No, not at all. I’ve been robbed by my Muslim friend who was in my room during our meeting, and now I would like to consult you, what should I do?
•Gerges: Are you sure he robbed you?
•George: Unfortunately, yes. I left him and I left my wallet in the room, and when I came back I didn’t find it.
•Gerges: Maybe you should search the room well, or maybe you dropped it in the hotel.
•George: No, I’m sure. How stupid I was when Bassem was making a fool of me in the name of religion. I threatened to call the police if he did not bring it back by tomorrow morning.
•Gerges: We’ll just have to hope for the best, but I’ll tell you something: the police won’t help since you haven’t got any concrete proof about him, as I understand from your words.
•George: Yes, there’s no proof, but what’s the solution?
•Gerges: What time will you see him tomorrow?
•George: We agreed to meet at eight.
•Gerges: Okay, can you give me his phone number to talk him round?
•George: Here, write it down.
•Gerges: I hope that you’ll rest now, and tomorrow we can discuss what we’ll do. Anyway, I hope he brings it back.
George: George ended the call and felt a little quieter. So he checked his e-mail and found a message from Janolka: “Dear George I hope you are happy in Egypt as much as I am in Libya. The people here are very friendly, very well-mannered and very religious. Perhaps the difference between the western nature and the nature of these Arabs is that ethics to them are part of their religion, and not just a utilitarian characteristic one has to gain benefits from the people, like it is in the West. I’m waiting for good news about you and your health, Janolka”
Then he replied: “Dear Janolka, I am so glad you are happy in Libya, but I hope you are very careful about these Muslims; for me, I have been robbed twice up to now by the Egyptian Muslims - one from a person who was even calling me to Islam, and no one supported me in my plight but a Christian like me. How I wish to finish my work quickly here and go back to Britain, George”
He then wrote a message to Levvi as a reply to her message in which she told him to be wary about the Muslims: “Dear Levvi, Unfortunately, what you warned me against has happened; I have been robbed in Egypt! Despite what you have mentioned formerly about being impulsive towards Islam, I have become certain that it is an immoral religion. Maybe Islam is not distorted like Judaism or Christianity, but it is not a moral religion at all. I’ll write to you regularly and tell you my other news soon, but I just remembered your words of warning to me and that I didn’t benefit from them, George”
He also found his friends’ replies to his earlier questions, but he had no desire to read any of them. So he switched off his computer and lay down on his bed to try to sleep, but he couldn’t. He rose from the bed and turned on the TV on the BBC English Channel, he watched the news a little and then he kept changing from one channel to another until he came across an Islamic channel in English.
The program was talking about the good qualities in Islam, and that Muhammad (peace be upon him) was sent only to perfect morals. In the meantime, he said to himself:
•“Maybe these Islamic peoples have schizophrenia and double standards. How I hate this religion with double standards!”
He could not complete the program, because he began to get increasingly irritated at it, so he decided to try to sleep again. He kept moving about in the bed until he fell asleep. Then he awoke suddenly at about three in the morning. He went to the toilet and when he came out he came across his wallet, next to the sink! He remembered that he went to the toilet before going downstairs to meet Dr. Gerges in the afternoon, and because he was in a hurry to leave, he took the official papers and did not notice that he had forgotten his wallet until he missed it – and the rest of the story is clear!
He sat on his bed, shocked, and began to feel dizzy. How should he apologize to Jamal for what he had done? He abused him and accused him of theft before making sure of his allegation. The real catastrophe is that he accused him without any proof. Adam warned him many times of being impulsive and becoming annoyed. What should he do now?
At eight in the morning Jamal arrived at the hotel and asked the clerk at the reception desk to call George and tell him he had arrived. The receptionist said to him:
•The receptionist: George, the British?
•The receptionist: Sorry, he was taken early in the morning to the hospital because he had a sharp drop in his blood pressure.
•Jamal: Has he come back?
•The receptionist: Yes, he came back almost two hours ago, but I don’t know if he’s asleep or not?
•Jamal: I hope you can call him now and tell him that there’s someone named Jamal who wants to see him and make sure he’s fine.
The receptionist called George informing him of the presence of Jamal. George asked him to let Jamal go up to his room. Jamal went up to the room and George opened the door. He looked exhausted and obviously fatigued.
•Jamal: I’m so sorry George, but believe me; I didn’t mean to abuse you. This is my wife’s jewelry bag, keep it with you as a pledge of my honesty until the bank opens, and then I’ll go and bring you a sum of money as I could not get your wallet and I don’t know how much money you had in it!
•George: Is this all out of fear of the police?
•Jamal: I’m sorry for what happened, but the police will not be able to do anything.
•George: So why did you bring your wife’s jewelry?
•Jamal: You are a guest and you have a right to be honored; besides, your means are confined and we must help you. Moreover, I don’t want to discredit the image of Islam in your eyes.
•George: Are you still insisting that it was not you who took it?
•Jamal: I didn’t take it, there’s no doubt about that. But I don’t want to discuss that now so that you don’t get tired.
•George: What would you do if you were me?
•Jamal: Actually, I don’t know, this is based on how important the wallet was for me and on my needs and my psychological stability. Perhaps being specialized in mathematics makes me turn everything into calculations.
•George: What if you behaved like me, what would you expect me to do if I were you?
•Jamal: Please excuse me from answering that.
•George: Do you expect me to do what you have just done?
•Jamal: No, actually. But you deserve it.
•George: What if you found your wallet after all, what would you say to your friend?
•Jamal: Have you found it?
•George: It’s just an assumption; try to continue with me in my mental assumptions.
•Jamal: I would have to apologize to my friend, and I think that the issue would be very difficult and it might grieve me.
•George: What if you apologized to him but he did not accept your apology and he did not forget what you did?
•Jamal: He has a right to do that, although it is better to forget mistakes, and forgive and pardon them. God is forgiving and loves forgiveness.
•George: Then I have an apology to make to you, Jamal - I found my wallet, and because of that, my blood pressure dropped and I was taken to the hospital. I didn’t know what I should do. I repeat my apologies to you. Please forgive me; God loves forgiveness, as you said.
Jamal began crying, and he wiped his tears that wouldn’t stop.
•Jamal: I forgive you, but all I can say is that I could not sleep since yesterday up to this moment, and neither could my wife, my brother Bassem, and Adam in Britain.
•George: Did you tell them?
•Jamal: The earth felt so restricted although it is vast as I tried to look for a solution, and Gerges also called me trying to preach and teach me how the ethics of Islam should be. Besides, I didn’t want to be a test or trial for you, making you go astray. God says: [“Our Lord! Make us not a trial for the disbelievers, and forgive us, Our Lord! Verily, You, only You, are the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.”] (Al-Mum’tahanah:5)
•George: I’m so sorry, it was all my fault.
•Jamal: Despite the wounds that have been caused, I consider that the situation has ended as if it had not happen, just let bygones be bygones. How are you now?
•George: I’m fine, but I’ve made a big mistake.
•Jamal: I have forgiven you, but on one condition.
•George: What is it?
•Jamal: To forget what happened and to care for yourself, otherwise I’ll not forgive you.
•George: I agree on your condition, but on the condition that you forget the error which I made.
•Jamal: Done! Have you had breakfast?
•Jamal: I’m inviting you for breakfast, but try to get ready quickly so as not to be late for the appointment with Gerges. I’ll go ahead to the restaurant and wait downstairs.
•George: I’ll be with you in five minutes.