July 6, 2007
I have known Habib for some time. He works hard, keeps to himself, obeys the speed limit and loves his family.
You have already probably made a judgment or two about Habib, maybe. You think you might know what region of the world he comes from and what religion he follows.
Yet Habib, though an immigrant, is an American citizen who loves his new home. He votes and pays his taxes. His children go to the American public school and not “The Arab School” as some around here call it.
An educated man, he is familiar with the teachings of both Islam and Buddhism. I spent some time taking Habib to lunch, and slowly, as if prying open a can of tuna with a mall screwdriver, I started to learn more about the man, and, I dare say, the world.
Once Habib began to speak, his enlightened thought process amazed me. He said, “Americans are moving further and further away from Human Spirit.”
“What the heck does that mean?” I asked.
“In the Qur'an,” he began, “Allah said that He is a hidden treasure longing to be known. Allah made man so that He himself, Allah, would be known and appreciated.”
In my naivety I asked, “And Allah is God?”
“Allah is God,” he said. “Allah teaches that death is only another chapter. Not a beginning or an end but a passage.”
“And between the beginning and the end we must seek peace and tranquility and happiness.”
Between the beginning and the end, I thought, we make money. He with the most toys at the end wins. But I quickly buried this thought.
After an awkwardly long silence, I again chimed in perhaps from ignorance or naivety, “How about the suicide bombers?”
“They have bastardized a great religion, a great way of life and happiness,” said Habib.
Maybe this guy Allah isn’t so bad, I thought.
Habib then said, “Listen to the reed flute. It is made from the reed growing in the river. But after it is cut down and removed from its rightful place, its home, you can hear it crying tender agony.”