i attended the writing of a book...

yesterday after 3isha (friday) i attended the “writing of a book” (katb kitab, aka “nikkah,” aka “marriage contract,” aka “engagement”) of one of my friends (mahmoud) here in alexandria.  the gathering was done at masjid 3omar ibn al khattab in alexandria.  a few brothers gave short talks (islamic in nature - one brother was telling the unmarried people to “not worry about resources and get married because Allah provides” and quoted the hadeeth, etc), one brother read some Quran (some verses from surat al nur in 2 qira2at), etc.

the legal marriage paperwork was signed, and shortly thereafter, the ma2zoon (the person who is authorized to do the marriage) asked the guardians of both the bride and the groom repeat the words of marriage, sweets were given out, and that was it!  afterwards, we took pictures with the groom and then left.

simple, but everyone had an awesome time.  masha’Allah, i really like this model, and i look forward to mahmoud’s wedding insha’Allah! we tell mahmoud what the Prophet (saw) taught us to say (as reported by abu hurayrah (ra) in sunan abee dawuud):

أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم كان إذا رفأ الإنسان إذا تزوج قال بارك الله لك وبارك عليك وجمع بينكما في خير

khutbah with sheikh 7atem

my 5th khutbah in alexandria was with sheikh 7atem farid.  sheikh 7atem is famous for his beautiful recitation of the quran.  it is said that during ramadan, an incredibly massive number of people come and pray taraweeh behind him, especially on the 27th night of ramadan.  i attended the khutbah at masjid bilal, which is a very short walk away from the mediterranean sea and is right next to san stefano.

anyhow, the khutbah was about life insurance companies and how, as muslims, we know that there is no such “insurance” except that given to us by Allah - that a muslim does good deeds, etc and Allah promises to protect them, etc (as can be seen from many verses in the Quran) - for example:

“They who believe and do not mix their belief with injustice - those will have security, and they are [rightly] guided.” (6:82).

in this masjid also, there was only one khutbah.  i asked my friend, may Allah protect him, as to the reasoning, and he explained that during the time of the Prophet (saw), sayidna Abu Bakr (ra), sayidna Omer (ra), and part of the time of sayidna Uthman (ra), there was only one athan.  however, during the time of sayidna Uthman (ra), people complained that they didn’t have enough time to get to the masjid because they wouldn’t hear the athan, etc.  as a result, sayidna Uthman (ra) ordered for a second athan to be given (before the first athan) in the market.

this practice stayed and as thus, there remain 2 athans in many masajid.  wa Allahu a3lam.

khutbah from masjid al salam

masjid al salam is the masjid next to the place i am currently staying.  most of the people who go there are the people who live or work in assid, where the masjid is located.  i am not sure if the masjid has a full time imam or not, because the same subset of n people always lead the salah - some are good, some are okay (in terms of qira2a, etc - not that i am one to judge).

anyway, the 4th khutbah i attended in alexandria was at masjid al salam because i was running late and didn’t have time to go to al hedaya.  the khutbah was about the story of sayidna musa (as), and more specifically, about the beginning years of his life.

the only different/notable things were:

1.  i walked in the masjid and found a tape player playing surat al kahf with loud volume.  i never experienced/encountered this before, but turns out it’s common in some masajid in egypt. 2.  only one athan for salah - my friend later told me why (i’ll discuss this in the next khutbah related post insha’Allah). 3.  the khateeb, at the end, after the khutbah, stood up and said that whoever doesn’t thank people doesn’t thank Allah (hadeeth i guess) - and then proceeded to thank the egyptian president for opening some route for supplies to the palestinians.  i found it odd, even though he did say something to the extent of, “in the same way that we have to point out when they’re wrong, we have to give them good feedback when they are good.”

setting up a blackberry dev environment under linux

i recently had to look at the blackberry sdk for something. to my disappointment, the blackberry sdk is only available for windows - no linux or mac versions in site. my first attempt was to run a windows vm under virtualbox, but that brought my system to a screeching halt.

so i started doing some research (see sources at the bottom of the post) and found an easier way.  i did this all under ubuntu linux (lucid).

1.  install wine (sudo apt-get install wine)

2.  get winetricks from here (see http://wiki.winehq.org/winetricks for details).

3.  chmod +x winetricks; ./winetricks gdiplus; ./winetricks msxml3

4.  download and install the jdk for windows from sun (oracle?) under wine.

5.  update your windows path to contain the directory of the sdk - do this by editing ~/.wine/system.reg and searching for PATH= and appending your path to it.

6.  ensure that java works under wine (ie run wine javac and see if it works - if it doesn’t, try doing a wine cmd followed by a path to see what the path is at the moment).

7.  download the 32 bit eclipse for windows - unzip it and move it to ~/.wine/drive_c.

8.   install the blackberry sdk (wine BlackBerry_JDE_PluginFull_1.1.2.201004161203-16.exe).

9.  mkdir /opt/rim; cp -r ~/.wine/drive_c/eclipse/plugins/net.rim.ejde.componentpack5.0.0_5.0.0.25/components /opt/rim/sdk

10.  download the sun java wireless toolkit for linux and install it in /opt/rim/WTK2.5.2

11.  finally, set up a /opt/rim/tools directory and add the following files in there (make sure to chmod +x them):




PATH=$PATH:$PREVERIFY java -jar $SDK/bin/rapc.jar \
   import=$SDK/lib/net_rim_api.jar \
   codename=$1 \
   $1.rapc \


cd "`dirname $0`"
/usr/bin/wine /opt/rim/sdk/simulator/fledge.exe /app=/opt/rim/sdk/simulator/Jvm.dll /handheld=9550 /session=9550 /app-param=DisableRegistration /app-param=JvmAlxConfigFile:9550.xml /data-port=0x4d44 /data-port=0x4d4e /pin=0x2100000A

and that’s it! now let’s compile a sample app, say the helloworld sample (from /opt/rim/sdk/samples/com/rim/samples/device/helloworlddemo/). to do this, copy the helloworlddemo folder somewhere and add a HelloWorldDemo.rapc file in that folder that looks like this:

MIDlet-Name: HelloWorldDemo
MIDlet-Version: 0.9
MIDlet-Vendor: Research In Motion Ltd.
MIDlet-Jar-URL: HelloWorldDemo.jar
MIDlet-Jar-Size: 0
MicroEdition-Profile: MIDP-2.0
MicroEdition-Configuration: CLDC-1.1
MIDlet-1: Hello World Demo,img/helloworld_jde.png,
RIM-MIDlet-Flags-1: 0

now you can compile it by running /opt/rim/tools/build.sh HelloWorldDemo - if all is well, you should see a HelloWorldDemo.cod file.

then run 9550.sh, which should launch the simulator. you can choose to install the cod file from the menu.

btw, if you want to use other emulators, run wine fledge.exe /help under /opt/rim/sdk/simulator and you’ll find what valid parameters there are for the device type. then edit 9550.sh and change it to your device type.

one other note - another way to compile applications involves using the blackberry ant tools. i haven’t tried this yet, however.

sources - Eclipse + JDE + Linux - a working environment - How to use BlackBerry Device with Linux - BlackBerry Development on Mac OS X

weather: alexandria versus cairo


sufi sufi, where's your kufi?

an interesting thing happened a few weeks ago…  i was walking with my friend heading to the excellent restaurant, dahab.  on the way, we heard the adhan for maghrib and decided to stop and pray.  we saw a sign for a masjid, so we started walking in that direction.  to my surprise, as we closed on the masjid, i saw a brother with a big beard walking in the opposite direction - away from the masjid.

i was confused… “wait, this guy has a big beard, why would he be walking away from the masjid when the salah is about to start?” - so anyway, i ignored the thought and continued walking with my friend towards the masjid.  when we approached the door, the masjid seemed empty… i saw one guy inside praying maghrib (leading himself and only himself), so my friend and i went in and joined him.

the odd and eerie thing was that we were the only 2 people to pray in that masjid with him.  after prayer, i turned around, thinking, “maybe there’s a grave here?” - but i didn’t see a grave or anything suspicious.  we walked out, puzzled at what had happened, and continued our journey towards dahab.

on the way, we passed a huge gathering of people leaving another masjid - and i saw the same guy with the big beard that i had seen earlier.  i went up to him and asked him, “brother, we prayed at the masjid over there and there was no one else there - what is up with that?” - and he said, “the person that leads there is sufi and has lots of bid3a - we tried to advise him but he won’t take our admonition.  in addition, he’s not very polite with the people - for example, someone will pick up a mus7af to read and he’ll say, ‘shouldn’t you ask permission before taking that?’ - etc.  so as a result, we no longer pray there.”

well, i guess that explains that…

dude, give the electricity a break!

electricity is human too, you know.  it works really hard, so it deserves a break.  let the people walk up n flights of stairs (where 0 > n > 14) in the pitch dark.  i asked someone at a store, “why is the electricity cut off in this entire area?” he said, “because the circuits get hot, so they turn off the electricity in one area for 1-2 hours every period of time to give the circuits a break.”

the return of the electricity was greeted with cheering that i could hear a good distance away.

a story from the second khutbah

today is friday…  and in just 2 hours, i’ll be attending my 5th khubah here in alexandria insha’Allah.  unfortunately, i only mentioned 2 of the prior khutbahs in a previous blog post, and still haven’t talked about the other two yet.

so the 2nd khutbah i attended in alexandria was also at masjid al hedaya.  the sheikh was visiting the masjid and gave a good khutbah about the tafseer of surat al 7ujurat.

as is the seeming norm for masjid al hedaya, the sheikh gave an additional (optional) talk after the khutbah.  during this, he mentioned a story that i’d like to share.

there was once a sheikh who was invited somewhere - so he went, sat down, had a good time, good chat, etc.  when all was done, the sheikh needed a way to get home (he didn’t have a car, etc).  he was too shy to ask any of the people with him to drop him (especially since those people had their family with them, etc) so he went down to the street and tried to decide how to get home.

he thought, “i could take a taxi, but i don’t have any money…” - not knowing what to do, he raised his hands to Allah and asked, “oh Allah, give me x money” - afterwards, he found some money that he had missed in his pocket or bag.  he said, “great, i can go home now!” - but there was one problem - no one would stop for him (no taxi would stop to drop him home).

he then realized his mistake - so he raised his hands again and said, “oh Allah, i want to go home!” - a short while later, a brother was driving and recognized him - he said, “oh, you’re sheikh so and so!  come let me drop you!” - and he dropped him off, refusing to take any money from him.

moral of the story - instead of just asking Allah for the means, ask Allah for the end that you want to reach!

اللغة العربية في عصرنا الحديث

over a year ago, my ex-roommate and i published a link, entitled “Lughat ul Arabiyya fi asrina” - today, over a year later, i am happy to announce a new set of words and phrases to add to the given list.  most of these, mind you, have come up in the past 5 weeks in which i’ve been in egypt (i don’t take all the credit - this list was devised by my friends and i).  so without further adieu, here is the list:

  • khashabat ul ba2 - خشبة ال-ب

  • 7ashara - حشرة

  • shafra ta7t al nashra - شفرة تحت النشرة

  • ye-akkel wara - يؤكل وراء

  • 7awd fawq yawmi - حوض فوق يومي

  • zawed 3amood fel tarabayza fe qa3edat al ma3loomat - زود عمود فالتربيزة في قاعدة المعلومات

  • shabakat al fool - شبكات الفول

  • khusoof - خسوف

  • nenafa2laha - ننفألهة

  • lam7a mofeeda (sample usage: sebna lel garsone lam7a mofeeda) - or 7arf (sebna lel garsone 7arf) - لمحة مفيدة

  • thalj ishta (or, if you’re s3eedi, 3yoon ishta) - ثلج إشطة

  • anhu raml (extra credit, anhu raml ghabi - requires a l2 parser) - أنه رمل

  • nas al qahwa (sample usage: a7yanan, astakhdem 7asharat al nar fee tha3lab al nar le ajid al 7asharat fe nas al qahwa) - نص القهوة

  • fawq al 7ijr - فوق الحجر

  • fo2 al tareekh - فوق التاريخ

  • ana a7shu (or ana kashkool) - أنا أحشو

  • hadhib al khayt (sample usage: matensash te samkar el khayt 3ashan lama teegi tehadhib al khayt fel khayt, maye7salsh mashakel lel khayt) - هذب الخيط

  • 3aqeedat ul 7ashasheen - عقيدة الحشاشين

  • 7alet al hawa (or shart al hawa) - حالة الهواء

  • ijtima3 wenta wa2if fo2 - إجتماع و إنت وإف فوق

  • mujamma3 al ma2kolat (or muqri2 al ma2kolat) - مجمع المأكولات

  • baskaweet - baskaweet

  • toot al aswad - توت الأسود

  • sena zar2a - سنة زرقة

  • yasooq al barq - يسوق البرق

  • 3adee al mina - عادي المينة

stay tuned for part 2!

الشيخ الدكتور شهاب الدين محمد أبو زهو

when i came to alexandria, one of my newly made friends suggested that i come with him for jum3ah rather than go to the masjid near my home, and offered to pick me up - may Allah reward him!

my friend picked me up, and together we went to masjid al hedaya, located close to the hedaya medical facility on the path of the tram.  the masjid had two people outside sitting with a huge box of clear plastic bags for people to put their shoes in.  after the prayer, people would return those bags to the people outside for use the following week.  the masjid is a nice masjid with no cell phone reception - apparently because they installed a reception-blocking device in there.

needless to say, the khutbah by Dr. Shehab was a breath of fresh air given the previous khutbah i had attended in cairo.  in the first khutbah i attended for Dr. Shehab, he talked about “علو الهمة” (which i can’t think of a good translation for) - it was masha’Allah a really awesome khutbah.

two weeks later, Dr. Shehab gave a very moving khutbah in which he spoke about our role and duty towards the people of Palestine, especially given the then-recent flotilla incident.

during the khutbah, Dr. Shehab was talking about justice and how we have to help those who are being transgressed against and such.  immediately after the salah, a man stood up and said out loud, “Sheikh, you talked about justice, help me get my right from this man - he  stole my life’s earnings during the many years i was away in Suez…“  an argument erupted, and the sheikh took them both to his office to resolve it, thereby skipping his normal post-khutbah talk.  sub7anAllah.

sadly, Dr. Shehab apologized from his lectures, classes (he teaches in Tanta, in a university that is part of al-Azhar), and khutbas until the beginning of july for medical reasons.  may Allah give him shifa’!

for more info on Dr. Shehab, see his website or facebook page.