Live from Cairoston

Osama Bin Laden was reportedly killed. I’m reading on twitter that Americans in Washington DC are singing the national anthem outside the White House. There’s a festive mood in the country and Muslim tweets are also celebratory. For some reason I did not feel the instant relief others are feeling. For one, Bin Laden became irrelevant after the Egyptian Revolution. Even so, he resided in my memory not as a villain nor as a hero. OBL was a symbol for Militant Jihad against Western Might and despite (and because of) the innocent lives lost on both sides, the fight itself is a fair one. The dialectic between Western Might and Militant Jihad, in my mind is a rational one, so to speak. No one celebrates the expected result of a rational process. Laughter and tears emerge from the tickle and surprise of the unexpected. I am able to understand, and sympathize with Western Might and Militant Jihad, and condemn them both, and thus I was able to capture the rational relationship. Thus I do not laugh or shed a tear of joy.

On the other hand, I celebrated the success of the Egyptian Revolution because I was not able to understand and sympathize with Mubarak. In other words, I did not encompass the dialectic between Mubarak and the Egyptian People the way I do between Western Might and Militant Jihad, for in the case of Jan25, I was on one side and not on the other. Thus the process was not rational… I did not encompass it… I was a participant… and I was thrilled. So today I do not laugh, and I do not shed a tear of joy. Rather, if anything, I shed a tear of pain. I stand at a distance watching two sides on a chess table. I see the fingers of the Divine advance one side, and then the other … knock one piece with the other, and then another. Yet each piece, whether on the side of the “West” or the “Muslim Ummah” is tied by a nerve to my heart. Each move brings pain, because I can see it all from afar… yet it hits home.

To be a piece on the chess table is bliss. For you are on one side and have the luxury of joy and sorrow. To be a spectator is a curse I cherish, for the loss is doubled, and the brilliance of Divine Wisdom is manifest. I will always be defeated watching, and God will be the Ever-Victorious. My only hope for a genuine sense of personal victory is that the relationship ceases to be a chess-match, and that both sides, with guidance of the Divine, start building a house of cards, however temporary it is destined to be. Amen.

Waleed Naïf (a pseudonym) is an essayist, poet and author of Ground Zero Mosque: The Confessions of a Western-Middle-Eastern Muslim (February, 2011).

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