Egypt Independent: Life Style-Main news en Not yet resolved <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>Hamlet in the famous shakespearean play &ldquo;Hamlet&rdquo; said to himself &ldquo;To be,or not to be: that&rsquo;s the question&rdquo; and this is still one of the noblest unresolved statements that&rsquo;s ever been stated.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>No matter how hard we try to understand life, there are always things that stay lingering unanswered. Even if answered we don&rsquo;t usually find the answers satisfactory enough. Yet we still try hard to understand the incomprehensible. Einstein once said &ldquo;what&rsquo;s incomprehensible about this world is that it is incomprehensible&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>However, I still find confusion as a driving force towards living life to the fullest. Once someone is puzzled about something, that means he or she is really trying hard to find an answer. That, in fact, means that there is a deep search for the truth. And if this deep search is our journey in life, that makes our life a beautiful ride.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Confusion is one step forward to reach the truth, and truth is relative. This truth is your truth, the one that you truly have worked hard to get to and once you get there you feel tremendously happy and satisfied.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Confusion is negative when it is only a state of mind. If nothing is happening in our life, and the person is just confused. The one who doesn&rsquo;t work really hard in order to change reality will definitely blame other external factors on his failures. Hard work is always needed to change this state of mental confusion. Work is a state of action, that where the confusion may change into clarity. Whether one works to clarify the ambiguity or to just take an action, so take an action never ever stand still for this will take you nowhere.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Hard work does need academic as well as practical side in order to verify any given information. You can&rsquo;t verify any given information by brooding over it. Action is always a must.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>This process of clarification is all about hard work. It is a mental process that begins by confusion, and confusion is a state of honesty as well as disturbance that will eventually lead to clarity at some point in life.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>So in to order to answer the question of Hamlet, you really have to work hard on it yourself. No one helps you become happy, it is only you who can do it. Confusion impedes happiness, yet working hard when you are confused to resolve the puzzling situation you are in is part of the happiness you are trying to reach. So once you are working on it, it paves the way towards enjoying the search itself.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In this case you&rsquo;ve become part of the realities you are creating as you are the one who really has dug deep to get it. If you totally depend on others to show you the way, you eventually find out it was not your way, it was theirs, but you are the one who has trodden in.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>For life is in only worth living when we choose how to live.</div> Mon, 17 Feb 2014 12:18:00 +0000 Sherif Rizq 2434391 at sites/default/files/photo/2014/02/18/484151/dsc00918_1.jpg It’s the simple things that really matter <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>People who travel a lot see the same things; yet, they react differently to the same encounters. More often than not, the way we react reflects who we are. Among our most prized possessions are our own simple things that stay in our mind and heart forever.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>As soon as I arrived in Caux, Switzerland, Elizabeth caught my attention as she reminded me of my grandma; not only with her beautiful features and majestic white hair, but particularly with her resilience and obvious love of being around people. At 82 years young, she enjoys life to the fullest and insists on being relevant and of service to others around her. Being blessed with many talents, she agreed to speak with me and show me around her work area during the Learning to Live in a Multicultural World Conference. As we walked around the old palace, we enjoyed her exquisite flower arrangement creations in so many corners and adorning so many pieces of furniture. It is these creations that Elizabeth is mostly known for at Caux. A trade she teaches to her talented and appreciative apprentices.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>She told me how she enjoys teaching people how to produce beautiful paintings by just using a hot iron: &ldquo;You apply wax to the hot iron and then apply it on a piece of cardboard,&rdquo; she explained. She says people are usually amazed at how simple the process is and at what they just produced and that makes her smile in joy.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>It&rsquo;s that same generous smile my grandma had on her face every time she told our housekeeper, Bolbol, to join our family for a meal. As a child I had always wondered why my grandma did that. It was much later that I realized the symbolism of her gesture and the love and appreciation in her beautiful smile. I&rsquo;m grateful for this life lesson. Bolbol was very nice and everyone liked her. I was quite astonished at the request as a kid and it never occurred to me to ask my grandma why she insisted on inviting her to eat with us. With the passing of time, I have seen a lot. I matured and realized that my grandma really did the right thing and created love in her own way.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Proud of her 82 years of life, Elizabeth taught me several lessons too. &ldquo;There is magic when you like someone and when you trust someone.&rdquo; she says. She was once at Morrison&#39;s buying flowers when she realized she forgot her purse at home. Surprisingly enough, the female cashier offered to lend her 5&pound; although they didn&#39;t know each other. To be trusted like that made her happy!</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>When Elizabeth talks about her late husband Brian Loy, it is quite the love story. She remembers how he drove his motorbike and how well he played the piano. When they got married, they couldn&#39;t afford to buy a piano, so she bought him a guitar as a birthday gift instead. The memory becomes reality for a brief moment through Elizabeth&rsquo;s eyes. &ldquo;It doesn&#39;t matter what you buy for your loved ones. What really matters is to show love all the way through the tough journey of life where we always need love and compassion.&rdquo; Words to be cherished and lived by forever.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>One day Elizabeth wanted to buy a Magnolia Stella. She liked it a lot but found it to be very expensive. She was amazed when Brian insisted on buying it for her because, &ldquo;When you love someone, money doesn&rsquo;t count,&rdquo; he said. The Magnolia was the last gift he gave her. She remembers it as well as the first gift. Bath salt in a fancy box? Not really. She says she was a bit taken back by the surprise but found a necklace underneath. When Elizabeth told me the story, her face lit up like a young woman who was talking about her boyfriend. It is always a great pleasure when the memory of others brings joy to our life. Story after story showed me the mystery of life only resolved through love and compassion. Once we show love and compassion, surely we get them back.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>We sometimes regret things, we feel happy about others. We still have what really makes a difference in our life. We must choose whether to create love and compassion around it or to leave anger, guilt or agony as our trail.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Think about what really makes you happy, and you may find many answers in both my grandma and Elizabeth.</div><div>&nbsp;</div> Wed, 18 Dec 2013 02:50:00 +0000 Sherif Rizq 2432673 at sites/default/files/photo/2013/12/17/484151/img_0532.jpg Eighty thousand die of heart disease every year: Egyptian Cardiology Society <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-video_thumbnail" /><div>Dr. Sherif al-Tobgy, head of the Egyptian Society of Cardiology, said that 80,000 patients die in Egypt every year of heart disease, which constitutes 22 percent of the total deaths in the country.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>At the first workshop in Egypt about the treatment of coronary artery disease, Tobgy said that heart diseases are the leading cause of death in Egypt and all over the world, and that the coronary artery disease is the most prevalent. &ldquo;Egyptians are more vulnerable to coronary artery disease,&rdquo; he said.&nbsp;&ldquo;They need stents.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>He added that 27 percent of Egyptians suffer from high blood pressure.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Society Vice President Ahmed Nassar, former dean of medicine at Ain Shams University, talked about a new &ldquo;dissolving stent&rdquo; that keeps the artery open, thereby increasing blood flow and oxygen to the heart. &ldquo;The body then absorbs the stent, which dissolves within two years,&rdquo; he explained.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;This technique will be applied in the hospitals of the Health Ministry in a few months,&rdquo; he said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div> Sun, 24 Nov 2013 14:43:00 +0000 Al-Masry Al-Youm 2338926 at While atheism in Egypt rises, backlash ensues <img src="" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-media_thumbnail" width="152" height="114" /><div>In a religious country such as Egypt, despite atheism being a taboo highly frowned upon, atheists say their numbers are on the rise. But with any new movement taking hold, a cultural backlash is bound to ensue.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In an attempt to understand the tribulation faced by Egypt&rsquo;s atheists, Egypt Independent met with 15 atheists, mostly in their 20s, at a café in downtown Cairo.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Atheists are all around Egypt,&rdquo; said Othman Othman, pointing to a group of young people sitting at the table next to us.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The number of atheists in Egypt is not less than three million, Othman claimed, but they do not label themselves &ldquo;atheists&rdquo; as society would disown them.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Those who have come out publicly as atheists have been not only isolated by their friends and families, but also society in general. However, others who turn down their familial religion have faced many worse trials than mere isolation.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Asmaa Omar, 24, who has just graduated from the Faculty of Engineering, said that once she revealed her beliefs to her family, they began to physically and mentally torture her. Her father slapped her in the face and broke her jaw. She was not able to eat properly for seven months.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Both her immediate and extended families began to insult her. &ldquo;You just want to have free relations with boys,&rdquo; they would say, or &ldquo;You used to be the best girl in the family,&rdquo; and &ldquo;Now you&rsquo;re a prostitute.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>By now, she said, most of her friends have cut their ties with her and other girls no longer speak to her after she took off her veil.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Milad Suliman, or better known as Evan, was fired from his company over his beliefs. His boss confronted him with the ideas he shared on his Facebook page and told him the company could not have an atheist among its employees.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>His family was not happy either. They told him his ideas were shameful and this was the reason their home was no longer blessed.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Another atheist, Sarah al-Kamel, 24, fears this very isolation, thus has chosen not tell her family of her beliefs after her newly adopted ideas created a wedge between her and her friends.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Despite the risks of coming out, many atheists I spoke to claim their numbers have slowly been on the rise following the 25 January Revolution. The rise in atheism could be seen as a by-product of the revolution pushing the boundaries of commonly-held belief systems and breaking down previous political, social and religious restrictions.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>While there is no official census of atheists in Egypt, some put their number at more than four million, while others say they are around two million.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>What draws attention when speaking to the atheists I have met, is that most of them are no older than their 20s, except for one who became an atheist as a young man, but is now over 40. Being young and atheist can be particularly difficult, especially those currently financially dependent on their families, for fear that revealing their true beliefs will cause them to be alienated and financially cut off from their parents.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Each person has a unique story, and a journey from confusion to certainty. Some define themselves as atheists, others as agnostics, nontheistics, antitheists and religion skeptics, while some would not have an exact definition.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Though they come from various backgrounds and religions, for some atheists, the spread of the religious trend in Egypt has pushed many people in the opposite direction, after failing to answer pressing questions they have harbored since a young age.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Kamel says that her doubt in religion began to rise when she asked her mother a few questions related to religion and the mother replied with a verse from the Quran saying, &ldquo;Do not ask about things which, if they are shown to you, will distress you.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>For Kamel, this was the beginning of an internal conflict, which resulted into her siding with what she found more logical. The conflict had reached its peak after the 25 January Revolution.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Ayman Ramzy Nakhla, 42, comes from a Protestant background. He worked in preaching Christianity with the church, but then decided to abandon religion altogether. He is now not very much concerned with knowing if God really exists or not.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Nakhla&rsquo;s father was a priest, and Nakha worked for ten years as librarian in the Theology College of the Evangelical Church, and as an assistant to a priest, which is an administrative position. Ramzy says that this background was the one that actually led him to lose interest in religion, getting so close to the truth of the Church made him decide to leave it.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Evan comes from an Orthodox family and is active among atheists. He is not embarrassed to openly express his thoughts.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Evan believes prophets might be just reformers, but cannot be sent by God. Bringing holiness to their followers is linked to the impact, influence and financial outcome, that they achieve through worshippers whether at the church or the mosque.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In fact, many atheists I spoke to, argued atheism was the logical choice after weighing it against the logic of religion. They say they do not seek to impose their point of view on society, nor involve themselves in any attempts to preach their beliefs, which they said they have reached through long journeys of reflection, comparison and analysis.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Othman, who first started considering atheism at the age of 16 after reading a blog written by young Palestinian man, thinks that religions rely on illogical myths. &ldquo;How would an animal ascend to the sky? And how would a prophet live for 900 years?&rdquo; he wondered.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Othman believes that religions are based on exaggeration, especially on what are called &ldquo;miracles,&rdquo; which are something against logic and reason.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Othman also finds the books compiling Prophet Mohamed Hadiths to contain some illogical ones, which he thinks would drive anyone to certain atheism. The writer of one of the most refined Hadith book, Bukhari, comes from a non-Arabic background and has written his book over 150 years after the death of Prophet Mohamed, which makes Othman wonder about the originality of the Hadiths in his books.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Kamel thinks believing in God is an absurd idea, wondering how would he would create children in Africa who have no access to food or water, in addition to the injustice of the world and the millions killed in wars.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Kamel argued that if God really has a plan for everyone&rsquo;s lives, then her opinion was never her decision to make in the first place. God simply would have made her life part of &ldquo;His plan,&rdquo; which makes it unfair to hold her accountable for what she had no say in. She said if this were true, life would be like being a robot made and run by someone else. If this robot came to life, it would be unfair to hold it responsible for choices that were made for it.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>She also questions the afterlife, because if there was nothing before life then there will be nothing after. &ldquo;If life is a test, then it is just torture, and turning to God in that case would just be a sedative, and would get to nothing,&rdquo; she said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Other atheists say they believe atheism is in fact more moral than the old, rigid moral codes offered by traditional religions.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Omar says her journey began when prominent cardiologist Madgy Yaqoub managed to treat a two-year old relative of hers in open heart surgery. Rahman, the child, had a valve that did not work and another with malformation.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The successful operation led Omar to wonder how a man such as the doctor, who had lived his life saving many children like Rahma, could be thrown to hell for not being a Muslim. Omar found that religions just chose its followers to end up in heaven, and say that other people would go to hell, regardless for whatever good deeds they do in their life.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Omar says she believes in God, but is against all religions. She says she is still looking for Him and is not aware of His truth.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>She also believes that religions defy women, and made all of a woman&rsquo;s body a sin to shown, which makes it against religion for a woman to look and feel feminine. &ldquo;I dropped that religion because it was trying to defy who I was made,&rdquo; Omar says.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Omar adds that Islam is not fair to women. She tells her own experience when her father received part of the fortune his brother left when he died, because the brother only left female offspring. She says her father inherited this fortune instead of his nieces because they are females, and all in the name of religion.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>She also despises religions for not complying with human rights, in addition to taking away the right to have sexual intercourse, and abolishing the rights of homosexuals. &ldquo;If God created these instincts, then why would these restrictions be made in the name of religion?&rdquo; Omar wondered. &ldquo;Is the goal to torture humans?&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Othman rejected religion because he saw it as a reason behind killing people, since thousands of people died over the history in religion-driven wars. Meanwhile, he says, atheists have never took part in such wars.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Nakhla believes that the restrictions of freedom are far harder than chaos, and that freedom demanded by atheists is only an expression of maturity. He rejected the link between religious freedom and chaos. He sees his freedom as an internal commitment, stronger than any external constraints imposed on behalf of society or traditions.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Another link many atheists have is they often have a high regard for science and furthering mankind. Nakhla calls himself a &ldquo;humanist&rdquo; and is plans to donate his body to a medical school after his death to benefit science and help cure others. He sees this as a better use of his body rather than being eaten by worms.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Kamel links between her readings in geology, cosmology and the theory of evolution in particular, and her rejection of religions, which she describes as human-made and have no sanctity.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Some atheists, however, still feel without religion, they are missing something. Despite her rejection of religion, Kamel still misses the spiritual side, resorting to Sufism as she attends Sufis meetings and listen to sufi music, especially those of al-Naqshbandi and Nasr Eddin Tobar. She also enjoys listening to Christian hymns and is massively affected by them. She says, however, that this is just a need for spirituality, nothing more.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Kamel goes back to saying that she has not yet reached a final result for her inner conflict.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>When asked about doomsday and being held accountable for one&rsquo;s deeds before God, Kamel said she would ask the same question to God.</div><div>&nbsp;</div> Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:19:00 +0000 Mounir Adib 2159776 at sites/default/files/photo/2013/01/04/229/hzm_bd_lhmyd_10.jpg