Rosetta Stone

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Tattooed Prayer

Today, I wanted to pray and I ended up having a fight with a Soldier. How did it happen? I was having a brunch with some work colleagues in Nile Hilton hotel as a part of a business meeting, yeah even on a Friday, but it was casual. The weather is hot and dusty... so I was wearing a T-shirt and jeans. I thought that I won't make it to the Friday prayer due to the brunch timing, but the brunch turned out to be more of breakfast and we finished early. So a colleague of mine suggested that we "that we still have time to catch the prayer" so we went and washed... And ran like hell to the nearest Mosque which was the famous Omar Makram Mosque (famous for celebrities and politicians funerals). Usually when I go to pray in any Mosque, I would wear anything that covers my arms like a long sleeve shirt, sweat shirt etc., for no other reason than I have a tattoo on my right arm (eye of horus) and another tattoo (barb wire) on my left arm... I got them made during my rebellious college days LOL, but I like them so I won't get them removed! So I ususlaly hide them during prayers, as in Islam tattoos are considered body mutilations and I don't want to offend other prayers around me or get myself kicked out by rigid. My colleague offered to sit close on my right side because the eye of horus tattoos is more visible than the barb wire on my left, I agreed. As we were taking off our shoes and about to enter the mosque someone firmly grabbed my arm, I turned around rapidly to take a look at my grabber and there he was an "amn el markazi" (Central Security) soldier (they are famous for 3 things, Stupidity, Ignorance and disgusting BO). The following conversation took place on the Mosque doors (of course it was in Arabic and in the most vulgar vocabulary):-

MaGdee: What do you want? (pushing his hands away)
Soldier: What? Are you an Egyptian?
MaGdee: Yes... What the hell do you want?
Soldier: You don't look like an Egyptian. What's this shit on your arms?
Colleague: It's none of your business.
Soldier: How come? I won't let him enter the mosque.
MaGdee: What? Are you the Mosque director? or does it belong to your father? (a popular Egyptian expression)
(the voices are getting louder and some people who were about to enter the mosque are gathered)
Soldier: You don't look like a Muslim, you either wash this stuff on your arms or I'm not letting you in.
Colleague: They are unwashable you jackass... and you have no right to stop anybody from entering the mosque.
MaGdee: What does a Muslim look like?
Soldier: Show me your ID's.
Colleague: Why? Do you know how to read?
MaGdee: We won't show you anything. What the hell do you think you are?
Colleague: The only thing we gonna show you is our backs, when we enter the mosque. (I know... pretty lame)
Bystander: (to the soldier) Hey man, let them in, maybe they will repent inside.
MaGdee: Repent from what you Jackass??? Hey, it's also none of your business walk away please.
Another Bystander: Go and wash the drawings in you arms and enter.
Colleague: They are UN-WASH-ABLE!!! Why don't you people mind your own business?
(by this time we can hear the Imam's speech ended and the Prayer call started... they bystanders ran inside the mosque)
MaGdee: You are going to make miss us the prayer and Allah will not reward you for that.
Soldier: You either get away or I'll call my boss from inside and I'll have you sleeping in jail today.
MaGdee: That's it we are going in. Try to stop me.

This time the Soldier grabbed me from my T-shirt and pulled me hard backwards. My short tempered colleague, threw a punch that hi soldiers face. I felt like the soldier was reaching for his old rusty Russian rifle, so I leaped all over him pulling him from his vest and I teared down his vest buttons. Suddenly, out of nowhere, three fellows jumped between to break up the brawl. Two of them were holding the soldier the other guy approached us. I could tell from his clothes that he is some kind of a young Cleric or an Azhar student:-

Cleric: Are you insane? Fighting like that in front of a Mosque?
MaGdee: He wouldn't let us in...
Colleague: He was asking for our ID's
Cleric: OK... but for your own sake please runaway now, beating Government employee during his work time and tearing down his Military uniform... could get you more than a year in Prison.
MaGdee: But...
Cleric: No but.. I'm going to miss the prayer and you will be arrested if you stay.

He quickly ran inside the Mosque. There's a sarcastic Egyptian proverb that says" Running away is half of the courage", well we did ran away and as fast as we could till we reached my car in the Nile Hilton Park. I gotta say I never felt so angry in my life, not for causing a scene or missing the prayer. But because that idiot won and he didn't allow me to enter the mosque. This is never happened in my life or I've never heard it before that somone was not allowed to enter a Mosque. "What does a Muslim look like?" I completely understand the sanctity of the Mosques and religious places and I would never dress inappropriate. But do we have a dress code to count as Muslims? or is there a specific look for belonging any other religion? I know tattoos are taboos, but come on they don't make me an unbeliever. Right?

Folks please comment.

Posted by MG :: 6:51 PM ::