unlocking the secret behind the egyptian accent

Life is full of hard to answer questions like why did the dajaj cross the tareeq?

A few days ago i learned part of the answer to why Egyptians (and arabs in general) have an accent when they speak in English.

If you ask the closest Egyptian 3amu or 3amty near you to say “street” in English they will likely pronounce it like “estreet” (putting a hamza before the “s”).

The reason behind this is that in Arabic, the first letter always has a tashkeel (fat7a, kasra, or damma), so Arabs have a very hard time pronouncing an English word with two consonants in the beginning of the word. So they need to give the “s” in “street” an extra sound to pronounce it, hence they will say “estudy” , “estop” , “cerazy” or “berotherhood”.

Im sure that are linguistic explanations for other parts of the accent. If you know, blease share 🙂


July 26, 2007 at 12:38 am 4 comments

yousaf…my country… and a poem


Now that I have been in Egypt for 4 weeks I can honestly say that I have learned where I belong… in my country. Recently the brothers discussed the seerah of the Prophet (s) and we came to the realization that regardless of whether or not the Quraysh became Muslims, the Prophet Muhammad (s) always considered them ‘his people,’ meaning his responsibilty.  The Quraysh persecuted the Muslims, tortured them and even slaughtered them but the Prophet (s) never gave up on them.  Comparitively I am starting to see that instead of cussing out America or calling it the devil, I should instead accept it as my own. America is my country, plain and simple… And after seeing what I have seen here, and hearing what I have heard, my hope for Islam’s ‘Renaissance’ lies in the U.S. of A.  The oppurtunities we have to build a strong and balanced community are not found here in Egypt, or any other ‘muslim country’ for that matter.  I once sat in a khatira given by Sheikh Shakir Elsayed, where he told us to imagine an America where you can hear the athan on the streets of every major city.  At the time, I saw this as an unnattainable ideal, but now I see it as our burden and honor to make it a reality… My teacher at Diwan recently reminded us that victory for Islam is inevitable… After hearing this all I could really think about was making sure that I am part of this change for the better…I do not want to face Allah (swt) on that Day and have nothing to show for my life… ‘I sat back and watched as others struggled to raise the banner of your deen…’

So, at the end of the day, I am actually proud to be an American..and more importantly a Muslim American… Let’s make it our country… This is the country I want my children to grow up in and this is the country from which I pray the spark of Islam comes from.  I made a dua yesterday that I had never thought of before this trip:

‘Ya Allah, Make me the type of slave You deserve to have!’

 May Allah make us of the Musliheen…May Allah grant us the determination and patince required to sacrifice for Him.

I wrote this poem today from the perspective of our deen Al-Islam (personified): 


O Ummah of Muhammaad (s), Why do you hide?

O Ummah of Al-Sadiq, In whose hearts do I still reside?

O Ummah of Al-Faruq, Why do you run scared, why do you flee?

O my Ummah, Why do you lose hope when your victory has already been decreed?


I’m sick of living a life without purpose

Where any man with money and power can hurt us

I’m sick of an Ummah of cowards

Decomposing and fronting like flowers

I’m sick of hearing about orphaned children and widowed mothers

And ‘Islamic governments’ who incarcerate Muslim brothers

I’m sick of Kashmir and Sheeshan

Of death in Muslim Kosovo and the Sudan

I’m sick of an Ummah of big talkers and little doers

Of words just as good as the ‘stuff’ we find in the sewers

I’m sick of a people who can’t find the middle path

Of people who fall astray or fall into Allah’s wrath

I’m sick of hearing about Palestine


I’m sick of a community of mediocrity

Doctors and engineers trying to live in secular harmony

I’m sick of a media that is allowed to disgrace me

Of news tickers, Fox news and sean hannity

I’m sick of faithless muslimoon

Of hopeless mutawakiloon

I’m sick of hearing about victory

And tasting it only in books of Islamic history

I’m sick of brothers who’d rather play ball than pray

Of men who’d rather run than find another way

I’m sick of fifty year old boys and fifty year old girls

Who have done nothing in their lives except lived 50 yrs in their own little worlds

I’m sick of the Hijab being spliced with tight jeans

Of scarves as a statement for Muslim fashion queens

I’m sick of beards without heart

Of Muslim men who fold the second life gets hard

I’m sick of Muhajabas who expose everything except for a few hairs

Who walk like they’re on the catwalk, demanding lustful stares

I’m sick of leaders who oppress the people they are supposed to defend

Of Muslim men with Muslimah girlfriends

I’m sick of Muslim con-artists and righteous imitators

And of religious tyrants and blameless dictators

I’m sick of husbands who leave their wives beaten and bruised

Of a pathetic people whose only way out is to blame their shortcomings on the Jews

I’m sick of shaytan having his way with Allah’s slaves

Of cemeteries in Muslim lands full of infant sized graves

I’m sick of my Ummah’s tears soaking sacred grounds

Of my Ummah’s blood being spilled without protest or sound

I’m sick of empty masajid and dusty Quran pages



July 24, 2007 at 4:00 pm 13 comments

more than words

~Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem~

Salaam, hope this post finds everyone in the best of health inshallah. i sprained my ankle a little bit, lol, but its no biggy, it was worth it to play some ball 😛

MashAllah, from what i can see, which mite be a limited perspective because i never really knew anyone here before this trip with the exception of my brother, i’ve seen everyone here change and want to change so much… i dont think i really have to say this, its kinda known.. Some of the discussions we have had, SubhanAllah, amazing man.. in the beginning we all wrote down some of the things we wanted to change in ourselves, and some of the things we wanted to accomplish before we left here..  the reason im righting this post is basically to say that, i think we all know what we have to do to change ourselves, and now in our last two weeks here, its time for more than words(maybe i have been listening to too much 80s music lol)… its time to start implementing the changes… we gotsta wake up and realize that we were given this chance that not many people have either because they couldnt afford it financially or maybe because they didnt have the time to come all this way to egypt to study arabic and better our deen… so now since we were given this chance by Allah, what are we gona do with it?  in full honesty, one of my biggest fears of going back is that i will fall right back into it my old habits and stuff… its easy to say we will change when we go back, but to actually make those changes is going to be hard, but if we cant implement those changes, what was this whole trip for? we have to remember that the shaytaan will try his hardest to get to us right when we get back, to try and make us fall right back into our old habits and so on and so forth, and its up to us to take control of our own nafs… InshAllah we will all be able to accomplish our goals that we set for ourselves on this trip, and keep those changes goin when we get back…

goin on these trips that probably most of us wouldnt go on if we werent here.. like the trip to the orphanage, in full honesty its the first time i have ever gone to anything like that, not because i havent had the opportunity, just because it never crossed my mind to do it… that trip was life changing man its hard to describe in words… if we didnt feel something after that trip, then we gotta check our selves (stealing my brothers line:-P) , inshAllah i ask Allah to soften our hearts, and allow us to recognize all of the benefits we can possibly get from trips like this one, and the trip like the one to the graves,  crazy… and the trips to come in the future… I dont know about everyone else but im excited about the trip to Mount Tur inshAllah… stepping on the same ground as Musa (A)… mmmmm.. amazing.. lol

on a side note, this trip is becoming a love hate relationship for me.. i love all the things we are doing here and the people are awesome and everything, but i just miss home, a lot more than i expected man.. lol my family, friends, everything… and i came a week late!! so i cant imagine what everyone else is going thru lol, i ask Allah to keep us all strong inshAllah, and to help us keep our focus on the remainder of the trip… lol its getting harder and harder to follow some of the posts up, lol, their getting deeper and deeper, inshAllah keep them coming, cuz they are awesome to read, i hope mine can live up to some of the other ones… lol

July 21, 2007 at 1:17 pm 3 comments


Lately we’ve been bonding… the girls in our apartment. Well I can tell you that we seem to be learning a lot about each other, I can only speak for myself when I say that I’ve learning about myself too by sharing. The other day when we were at Masjid Bilal (the Masjid like less than a block away)… a lady gave the other girls who had come to pray I’sha and myself some gifts… subhana’Allah, she told us is was from the women of the Masjid. I felt like they truly liked us. On Monday, the same lady was at the‘other sisters’ apartment for iftar. Well, when I got there I couldn’t understand practically anything she was saying. I remember trying to make out her body/sign language (which I seem to be doing a lot of here in Misr). Also, someone mentioned that she was feeling bad because of the language barrier. So, they asked us to try and speak in Arabic for her sake. We all just kind of paused what we were doing and someone broke the silence with a statement that: if we are only going to speak in Arabic, everyone will just stay relatively quiet…implying just exactly how limited our Arabic is! Sad, but that is our reality. When we all gathered to pray maghrib, the same lady lead the prayer. And all I gotta say is Subhana’Allah! Right when I heard al-fatiha, this realization came over me that the one thing that we DO understand each other through is prayer. Seems like such an obvious analogy that probably has been pointed out an immense number of times…. But to me, an UNDERSTANDING along with its impact hit me then. I felt closer to her. Subhana’Allah. Because when I think about it more, prayer is the dearest act of worship for us as Muslims. We are standing in front of our Lord in the most respectful way we know. Plus, recalling divine words, seeking refuge, and just worshipping altogether. And Alhamdulillah! If we can’t understand our brothers and sisters around the world because of some cultural and situational differences… we can understand them in prayer. (which is our deepest, dearest act of worship) Yes… Allah (An-Noor) has indeed blessed the Ummah.  May all the Muslims on this trip and around the world striving to learn Arabic for the sake of Allah (swt) receive great reward, patience, strength, and knowledge…aameen -lisa                           


July 18, 2007 at 6:54 am 2 comments

Something cool about arabic

Although I’m only in level 1 and maybe I’m only seeing the tip of a very huge iceberg, Arabic seems really really elegant and efficient to me at the moment.

 For example, the way you take one root word and make a whooole bunch of words from that one word. In English, you have completely different words for very related things. For example, to cook, chef, and kitchen all don’t sound anything alike. In Arabic the words (yudbukh, tubakh, and mudbukh)  all sound very similar. And the coolest thing is that (and correct me if I’m wrong, once again I’m only level 1), you can make an occupation out of ANY verb and it would be correct.

Also so far there aren’t a whole bunch of crazy verb tenses like in English.

 Somebody please let me know in the comments if Arabic is really as elegant as it seems to me right now or if in reality its a slumbering beast which I’ll wake up in later levels.


July 16, 2007 at 10:31 am 3 comments

My new experiences (part 2)

This post has been long overdue. I almost decided to not even post it because I was already so late.

 My last post had to do with some of the things that I’ve experienced outdoors, and now I’d like to talk about the significant but unexpected part of the trip: my experiences with the group I came with.

I’ve never spent more than 24 hours with anyone but family, so my expectations for this trip were way off.

 My initial expectation was that this trip was going to be a “you mind your business and I’ll mind mine” kind of thing. I thought that we’d all go to class every day, say hello to each other when passing each other in the hall, and retire to our respective rooms when we returned in the evening.

 Sounds dreary, right?

Well it was a good thing that I had these low expectations, because when things turned out to be so much more rewarding than I had initially expected, it was like finding a hundred dollar bill in an old coat pocket.

I know I probably make it sound like its all gumdrops and candy canes and that we frolick in flowers together, but thats not what I’m trying to get across. I’m saying we all have these different personality aspects that all have their place and contribute and help us all to grow.

Some of things that are most memorable for me

It was really interesting and pretty incredible to see how we changed our interactions with each other as time went on. We went from “Where are you from? What do you do? Boy its hot in Egypt isn’t it?” to singing songs off pitch together, trying to freestyle, making up handshakes and nicknames for each other. The most telltale sign of how cool we’ve gotten is just how quirky it gets in here sometimes.

Also, we’ve had our share of serious talking too. If the topic is ourselves or our lives, I find that the brothers know how to listen well. If the topic is a serious political issue, or something having to do with religion, I find that each brother can speak well, has something valuable to add to the discussion. The mix of everyones different experiences and knowledge makes for a rich environment for growth.

And I think that is the word that describes what I’ve gained the most from this trip: growth. I was born and raised in Champaign, Illinois, and I’m going to college in that same town. So any new experience for me is a huge step towards becoming a better more well rounded person.

 Well that was kind of a quick post… maybe I’ll put more details in future posts.



July 16, 2007 at 10:23 am 1 comment

What’s happening with the rest of the world?

~Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim~


Whats goin on everyone? Hopefully everyone is good.. just wanted to make a few observations, lol nothing too spiritually insightful or anything lol…

anyone know whats goin on in the world? lol becuz i honestly have no idea.. there cud honestly be world peace (though i highly doubt it) lol, or america cud have started another war with another country, or there cud have been massive floods and stuff.. and the 6 guys here in the apartment would not know what is goin on.. lol our tv with 600+ channels has not been watched, not becuz we didnt want to, but becuz not one of the 600 channels actually works lol… but hamdulillah it has actually made me realize i dont need tv, and the fact that back home i watch SO much is crazy.. lol honestly who needs tv when u have Musa’s ability to tell stories? lol

so in full honesty, can someone tell me how the rest of the world is? and how it has been for the last two weeks?


~little Ittle

July 16, 2007 at 3:43 am 1 comment

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