Inspiring story of Rais Bhuivan

A Muslim immigrant from Bangladesh has taught us how love can be an antidote to hate, and how violence against violence is not the answer to our ills.

Rais Bhuiyan’s story starts nearly two decades ago, when he first came to the U.S. as an immigrant. In one of his talks, he tells about his experience as he was first coming to the U.S. from Bangladesh, just three months before the 9/11. The pilot of the plane he was flying let him go up to the cockpit and that they had a friendly conversation. He says that something like this happening today is almost impossible and that he can’t even speak Arabic because it is considered as a security threat.

After 9/11, he spoke about an incident in which a man, holding a gun, walked into a store of a gas station he was working at. Thinking it was a robbery, Rais offered him the money in the cash register. The gunman asked him where he was from and even before he could reply, he shot him in the face. Rais lost one of his eyes. His assailant was convicted of murder and was sentenced to death. Luckily, he survived, unlike two of his friends in the gas station.

What Rais did next was very inspiring. Instead of watching him be killed and going on with his life, he fought for his assailant to not be executed. He thought that violence wouldn’t be solved with violence and that this person had to be taught.

When his assailant found out about him fighting for him not to be executed, he wrote a letter telling Rais that he was sorry and that whoever raised him raised him right.

When he was going to be executed he wished to talk with Rais. Rais told him that he never hated him and responded: “I love you bro.” It is amazing how someone who wanted to kill Rais out of hatred was saying that he loved him and even called him brother. Rais then founded a website called “worldwithouthate.org”, where he is fighting against hate.

I think that this is a very touching and powerful story. Just by not hating and loving, he changed the mindset of a man who, if not for the love, might have gone to his grave with full of hate. But with a single act of kindness, this man’s mind was changed forever — even though he was eventually executed.

Nice Attack and things that come to mind.

A horrific event happened in Nice, France during the Bastille day celebration. About 84 people were killed and 50 people are in critical condition. This is the third biggest terrorist attack in 19 months. The terrorist ran people over with his truck zig-zagging to take out the most people as he shot at the crowd as well, the name of the terrorist was Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel.

French president Francois Hollande was quick to label this as “Islamic terrorism.” This might seem true, however does terrorism have a religion? Hollande Stated in response to the carnage that: “All of France is under the threat of Islamic terrorism.” After the Orlando club attack, presidential candidate Donald Trump said that This problem of Islamic terror will continue as long as Obama doesn’t recognize the terrorism as Radical Islamic terrorism. As a response to this Obama said such a stance would “make us less safe, fueling hatred toward us.”It also makes “Muslim-Americans feel like their government has betrayed them.”

I think Obama’s reply to Trump was very well said.  Hatred and otherization makes the society “split” and causes an internal conflict between groups . The last thing the world needs is a conflict like this.

Terrorism is not a new thing, terrorism in America has been happening since 1837. However to understand terrorism, we need to look at the dictionary definition of the word. Terrorism literally means: “The use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes”, so basically it’s “war” fought by people that aren’t representing a country. In the 21st  century, the term that comes to mind when the word terrorism is heard, is “Islamic Terrorism”. However does terrorism have a religion? Does Islam or any other religion provoke terrorist approaches?

No religion would order a person to massacre people. The whole idea of religion is happiness here and hereafter. Religion gives something that one can be devoted to. In no religion does it say to go out there and massacre tons of people. Religion is an excuse used by terrorists and an explanation to terrorism used by governments. If we take a look at any book from the three Abrahamic religions, we can clearly see that killing of the innocent is a HUGE sin, and what most terrorists are doing is just that.

“…Anyone who murders any person who had not committed murder or horrendous crimes, it shall be as if he murdered all the people. And anyone who spares a life, it shall be as if he spared the lives of all the people. …” [Quran 5:32]
 
“There are six things that the Lord hates, …a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,” (Proverbs 6:16-19)

“Thou shalt not murder.” (Ten Commandments)

Murder cannot be justified by something that condemns murder. People like Hitler didn’t kill millions because of their religions, it was their own ideas that drove them to do these things. People’s ideas are to blame in situations like this, not religion. For, if one classifies a type of terrorism as religious terrorism it’s like putting every person from that religion under the same roof.

Home Sweet Home!

Finally I’m home! I came back from Egypt a while ago and have been enjoying my summer vacation. After many days indoors I decided that I needed to go out and do something so I started thinking. Many long thinking sessions later I told  my dad that I wanted to buy a bike, so I could see the America that I missed and get some exercise. I looked online for some bikes and realized that if I wanted a good bike I’d have to “buck up” a lot of money, and if I knew myself I wasn’t looking to pay more than 50 dollars for a bike.  My next resort was to check online with websites like Craigslist and realized that this was more a fantasy than something I would actually do, I wouldn’t get my parents to drive all the way to some place 30 minutes away and meet up to buy a bike with somebody (the prices were also pretty expensive, a bit too much for my taste 😉 ). The next resort was one I had never gone to before: the flea market.

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Just bought my bike. Another seller is packing up.

You can find anything at a flea market; weird, life-sized dummies, ancient weapons, knives and antique stuff like teapots and plates. It is very interesting that the parking lots of Flea Markets are full, and you can see Ferraris or Porsches parking. Some rich collectors visit flea markets to hunt for some antiques. Summer is the unofficial flea market season.

Now, I’ve never been to a flea market before, however, have heard that you can get many things at a cheap price. I asked my dad if he knew if there were bikes there, he said “of course”; apparently the flea market’s full of that sort of stuff. The flea market is a place similar to “Bazaars” in the Middle East, where you can buy almost anything directly or with a little bit of haggling.

It was a Sunday and we went to the flea market which was conveniently on the side of a road. There were many people who had set up shop with their trucks or with stands that were already there. We were a little bit late, It was almost the closing time. Most sellers were putting their stuff into the trucks. I saw many antique things like the first PlayStation and even older, the SNES (super Nintendo entertainment system). My dad and I took a walk around the flea market and arrived at the place that was selling bikes. Some chainsaws on the ground caught my attention, you could buy almost anything.

After looking at all of the bikes we chose two bikes that were great. The man said that the price was 100 dollars for both of them, which was good by my standards but my dad thought otherwise. After some haggling we got both of the bikes for 80 dollars, which was even better by my standards. After we got the bikes we rode them back to the car and loaded them in in the back and headed home.

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Green all green!.

About a week after buying the bikes I went to a nearby trail and rode with my dad which was also a very fun experience (a tiring one too). I’m happy that I could have this much fun without wasting an insane amount of money and look forward to riding again. In the meantime I’ll be at home recovering from yesterday’s long and tiring ride.

It’s good being free from all the yellow and coming to a place that’s green…

An Abrupt Leave – Syrian Refugee Crisis

By the time he returned home that night from his job at a healthcare company, he had resolved to flee Syria. He talked it over with his wife, informed his mother, and then reached out online to an underground group known for smuggling Syrians into Jordan. Again he was fortunate: the smugglers had space in a private car to carry him and his wife to the border the next day. The couple packed their bags with clothing, photos from their wedding and a few keepsakes, they walked out the door and left their life behind…

This is the story of Faez al Sharaa, a 28 year old Syrian refugee (Time Magazine)

You’ve probably heard about  the big tragedy in the world today: The Syrian Refugee Crisis. Whether it be taking in refugees or about the refugees themselves, this big tragedy has probably been in most country’s current events. We also hear about this crisis, from Internet, from the news, from our friends. Everybody knows about it now. The problem is, getting people to take action about this crisis, which people have started doing, with the help of fundraisers or actually going to the refugee camps and helping them.

kids How did the crisis start? You might’ve heard of The Arab Spring which is when most of the Middle East countries revolted against their tyrannical leaders. The same was going on in Syria, however the peaceful protests escalated to something far more extreme, after the governments violent crackdown, rebel groups started attacking the government which led to the government fighting back. About 250.000  lives were lost, half of which are thought to be citizens.

This fight resulted in the people fleeing their homes for their lives. That was a total amount of 3.8 million Syrian refugees in 2015.

This fight resulted in the people fleeing their homes for their lives. That was a total amount of 3.8 million Syrian refugees in 2015.  The Syrian refugees make up the biggest refugee population in the world. A problem this big cannot go unnoticed, which it hasn’t, the IRC (International rescue committee) has assisted 1.4 million people in 2015. Many efforts are being made daily to make these people’s lives better. man gets down on his knees

sad kid Lets Imagine ourselves in their shoes. I can’t imagine myself leaving my home, leaving my country to go live somewhere that I know will probably be worse, where I know I can die. However that decision has to be made, you either go or get killed by your own county. Taking with you only enough, leaving all of your luxuries. Making your world worse for the better. fenced in

What can we do to help these people?There are ways we can help them.  We can inform the people around us about this crisis and donate money. On savethechildren.org you can provide the refugees with 1,000 gallons of safe drinking water for only 15 dollars. We can also start our own fundraising on these websites, I started one myself and invited my friends to donate, here’s the link if you’re interested. Or we can write in our blogs and make a difference about this subject.
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By doing these kind of things we can make their lives better and more comfortable, especially for kids. According to the UNHCR more than 50% of all refugees are children; these people don’t deserve this.  It is up to us to make their lives better.

Lets sacrifice a little bit from our comfort to make others world better.

 

CLICK FOR MY UNHCR FUNDRAISING PAGE

 

 

 

Will I return to Egypt after Arabic?

A common saying I’ve heard throughout my time in Egypt has been “One who drinks the water of the Nile comes back for more”. Many people here have told me their own stories, proving the truth behind this saying. One person told me that he came to Egypt in middle school for a month in Arabic classes; then not long past and he found himself here, in Egypt studying high school. This is yet one of the many stories of people coming to Egypt. There seems to be this magical feel of Egypt that draws people back to it. I think that’s why they call Egypt “Ummud Dunya” or mother of the world.

Would I come back? I truly do not actually know what the future has ahead of me, however…

Would I come back? I truly do not actually know what the future has ahead of me, however if I were to find a chance I would come to Egypt. I’ve even thought about retiring in Egypt even though I don’t even have a job yet. The small slice of a time I’ve been in Egypt has convinced me about the beauty of this country. You might not see it at the first glance, but when you dig down in the heaps of trash in the streets you find a truly beautiful country. The liveliness, the culture, the food, even the annoying sounds.This country has a lot to offer if you dig deep enough.

I’m not even gone yet and I feel Egypt pulling me in and telling me to come back later on. I miss The States right now, I miss my family. However Egypt, the sandy trashland, which doesn’t have much that would make it better than The States still manages to reel me in.

If a country is not comfortable and normally wouldn’t attract anybody manages to attract you, you can consider that country is a good one.

7000 Years !!! Cairo @ night

Cairo Facade

The Grandma Khan El Khalily, Cairo, Egypt

The Bakery. "Al Azhar" "Bab Zweila" Cairo, Egypt

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Shopping for a model boat, coming home with an ashtray!

-Be kam? (How much?)
-Khamseen geneeh (50 LE)
-La’a, da ghaali awy. (No, that’s very expensive)
-Mumkin be talateen? (Is it possible for 30 LE)
-Laa mush mumkin… Arbaeen geneeh? (Not possible… 40 LE ?)
-Laa, ma’aya talateen bas. (No I only have 30 LE ) *

You might hear this in an Egyptian shop. Haggling and bargaining is not a rare sight in the middle east. The example above is exactly what might happen in an Egyptian shop where in this case the people are speaking “Ammiyah Arabic”.

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If you’ve been to another country you know that sometimes the shops try to take some extra money and take advantage of you being a tourist. This isn’t really familiar to western people but they do this a lot in the east. Haggling is also something very widespread in the east, and to get the best deal it is a must!

My story starts when we went to “Souq Al-Hussaini” which is a Bazaar near the Al-Hussein Mosque. We went there to buy gifts for our families. Our Egyptian friends also came with us, which is kind of a must to bring a native with you when you’re shopping.

We first went to buy clothes. We had to do a lot of haggling to lower the price from 150 to about 100 LE. After long negotiations  we succeeded. This was very weird because in The States the price is set $19.99 is $19.99, it doesn’t change. However in Egypt the price starts from 100 LE and goes down from there. I’ve also indulged in this practice from time to time as I got used to it.

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The rest of the time we bargained our way through the stores and bought what we wanted. Souq Al-Hussaini bazaar was also a very crowded place. There were many people out with bracelets and things on their wrists trying to speak English with us and sell their products. Everybody was trying to sell us things. However I remember there was this one guy, and he wasn’t selling stuff. He saw us and told us to smile and be happy, that alone made me smile, and I thanked this nice guy.

As funny and nice some people might be at Hussaini, there are some people that are very desperate to the point which makes them scary.

One of our friends wanted to see if there was a model boat that he could buy. A guy saw them and said he had one. He made them go through alleyways until they arrived at his shop which was in a very weird place where no one would really find it. After looking around in the boxes he gave, what my friend described as: “the closest thing he could find that resembled a boat”. He had given him an ashtray for cigarettes that looked little to nothing like a boat. Not only had he brought them to his shop and made them walk the long distance but now he was convincing him to buy the ashtray for 40 LE. After going home the thing broke in less than half an hour.

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I do have  some shopping  tips for you.

  • Don’t feel like you have to buy something, if you feel the guy is trying to force you tell him no or just walk away.
  • know what you want beforehand, these sorts of Bazaars aren’t really the best places for browsing.
  • If you feel that the price is high don’t hesitate to try and negotiate.
  • Know the language or have somebody with you that does

These Bazaars in Egypt are very good places for buying things for cheap if you know how to haggle for them. If you aren’t a native of the country it is always better to have a native with you. These places can be good places or bad places; however you make it. You should always be smart and know what to do in a haggling situation, otherwise you can find yourself holding an ashtray and thinking about life 🙂

Cairo

* Taken this conversation from http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/haggle.htm Thanks 🙂

How I eat “Asab”, the Sugarcane

First time I saw “Kasab” it looked like bamboo. “Kasab” is just sugarcane, they call it “ ‘Asab” in Ammiyah (their local language).

In Egypt they sell these on the street and make sugarcane juice. Sugarcane also very cheap like anything else in Egypt. The first time I drank sugarcane juice was when I first came. One of my Egyptian friends brought us to a juice shop. There we drank watermelon juice, orange juice, peach juice, and mango juice. All was good.  then our friend ordered the sugarcane juice.

kasab ; sugarcane juice

We didn’t know what it was at first.  He gave it to all of us to try. My first thoughts were that it tasted like grass (you might ask how I know? but that’s another story for another time 🙂 ). When I drank it I got disgusted and asked him if he was making us drink grass and if this was a joke, he laughed. He said that it was just sugarcane. I thought that I would never drink it again. My friend Hussam said that it gets better every time I drink it. So I decided  to drink it again. He was right, this time it tasted better. I drank one more time, then drank it again and again.  Now I like how it tastes. I am used it.

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I even went a step further and bought a stick of sugarcane.  One of our Egyptian friends showed me how to eat it by peeling the outer skin with your teeth and biting and sucking on the sugarcane juice. It was like chewing on this bamboo, wood thing but you get greeted with a sweet juice instead of a wood taste. It might seem weird but you get used to it.

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Just Bought…
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Trying to gnaw sugarcane. If we can’t  we will fight with them.

To make the juice in juice stores they have special machines that squeeze the juice out of the green stalks. The machine is an Egyptian invented device, the first people to come up with the idea are Egyptians. This thing is very popular in Egypt and they drink it because supposedly Egyptian Islamic scholar Al-Shafi‘i (767- 820) said that sugarcane is very healthy .

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Sugar cane juice is extracted by introducing the sticks into machine http://www.egyptianstreets.com

Whether you drink it for fun or for health purposes “Kasab” is a very tasty refreshing drink and I would recommend it to anybody that visits Egypt.

Egypt moving Experience

Moving in Egypt is way different than moving in America. It is harder than moving in America (At least compared to Pennsylvania). The biggest reason for that is because most of Cairo is apartments. Once I saw these elevated platforms going up to the apartment and taking down couches and other furniture through the window.

So our old house had many problems: such as mice and mold and other nasty things. One day we got sick of these things and it was time to move. So we decided to move to a house on the same street but bigger and better.

We hired these guys which showed up in a big white truck and loaded our couches and tables to the back. Then they went to the other house and brought the things up to our new apartment. This was the first time I’d seen something like this, they were loading our stuff into a truck, with the back open.

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Photo Credit: jamminglobal.com     The moving truck looked exactly like this except it didn’t have this many things on it.

We offered them juice and soda after we were completely done moving and they thanked us took their money and left. See in America  there wouldn’t be much interaction with the moving guys, but it also would be way more professional, they wouldn’t be using trucks and stuffing the furniture onto it. So there are good differences and bad differences.

Our new house

Our house is a pretty new house which was painted and cleaned right before we moved. However we noticed that whoever painted the walls didn’t paint them pretty well, the paint was good but it was splattered all over the ground.

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I remember scraping off the dried paint from the ground with a knife, oh what troubles we had to go through to make our house good…

Our new house is great, bigger, better, cleaner. The only thing that I still haven’t gotten used to for the 3 weeks I’ve been here is the location. When I first came I didn’t get used to the place right away. This might sound weird, but I couldn’t get used to the calm surroundings. Our old house was in a more colorful and noisy surrounding however this house is in a more quiet and dull one. I already miss the sound of the steam from the ironers across the street that iron clothes the whole night, that is the sound we used to sleep with. The only thing I don’t like about this place is it’s calmness.

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Inside Our House
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Inside Our House

Other than the silence, our new house is way better and way bigger. There’s three good-sized rooms and three bathrooms. You can imagine what a delight it is having three bathrooms in a house of six students. We used to have only one in the old one and now the struggle of arguing for bathroom turns is over.

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Our Balcony View

And yes it does get better than that, our new house is in 5 minutes walking distance from our house. You might be thinking why this this is better than the bathroom struggle, it’s better because it gives us 5 more golden minutes of sleep. This might not seem too important however a last 5 minutes of sleep for a student is like the last 5 minutes of a soccer game, it can make a world of difference before shooting that last goal and waking up. 🙂

Was me coming to Egypt been my plan since 2nd grade?

When I was in 2nd grade I wrote a book. Nothing big, but still a book. It was about 12 pages long, illustrated by my brother. It was “published” by “Dad&sons Co.” in Staples with 100 copies mostly for distribution.

Some paid for the book and I got my first Nintendo DSi with that money. I also won 3rd place in Scholastic Achievement Awards with this book, and judging by the name of this post you can guess what it’s about… Well, I wouldn’t tell you what it’s about, you have to read it! But I can say that my ties with Egypt go back to long long ago: in second grade.

 

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Now that I read it again it seems very embarrassing, but it was definitely worth it for the DSi. That made me very happy back then, and I still remember those good times….

I almost flew off a horse

Egypt has been a home to many firsts in my life. First time I rode an ATV, the first time I’ve seen the pyramids, the first time I’ve seen a summer this hot, and the first time that I spoke Arabic.

Going to a new country really does expose you too many firsts. Somethings that I’ve done in Egypt, I couldn’t have ever done in America. My “first” this time was riding a horse.

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When I was small I rode a horse before. Well, if you call it riding, it was more like sitting on a horse while someone dragged it. But now I was in Egypt, risks! Danger! Nobody cares if you break a part of your body, because you signed up for it! The Egypt aspect of the whole trip already had given me the idea that this was going to be a blast.

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So we got out early one Friday morning packed our stuff and a grill and took off to a place called 6th of October. After we arrived we set up our picnic spot and went riding; in total we rode 3 times. The first time I got on a horse with a brown saddle, it was good but the horses hadn’t went as fast as I thought they would. Then the second time I got another horse, this one had a yellow saddle and was crazy! Trying to bite other horses and throw me off,  and to top it all off the saddle was a little loose, so sometimes I would find myself about to slip off of the side when it was turning fast.

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Nevertheless that had added a fun sort of thrill to the ride. Finally after the second ride had finished we went back to our picnic spot and decided to eat. We grilled delicious meats and ate a wonderful lunch. Finally it was time to go but before we did we wanted to get on one last time. This time I had gotten my initial horse from the first ride, me and it exchanged glances of “aw-yeah we got this”. Once I got onto it, it could tell I was no stranger. We started and were going pretty fast and then out of nowhere the horse started galloping. It felt like I was flying and I enjoyed it. After a while though, it felt like I would fly off so I pulled on the reins, slowing it down. After that we continued normally occasionally going fast. Finally the time was up and we headed home.

The next day we all woke up with extremely sore backs, but it was all worth it. Like I said before a new country really does expose people to firsts, and I look forward to new firsts and another chance to ride a horse.