by Khaled Hammad
Khaled’s fascinating story is serialized on this site every Thursday. You can read it here:
A Journey Through Hell Fire
Chapter 7: “A Recovery from the Trauma”
Hearing Mustafa suggest killing Ahmed and the fact that he had already talked to “righteous” people was not easy for an average Egyptian university student who just wished to have fun, play music, sing, and generally find out who he was. I had just discovered a couple of nights before that a friend of mine was an atheist, and now I am asked to get involved in a serious crime! I must say here, as horrific as it sounds, I did not think much of Ahmed’s safety. I mean, why would I? He should be dead anyway. He is an apostate. However, I did not want that to be through me. The dialogue in my head was about me. ‘It is a crime. There will be investigations. I do not want to be a guest in a police station. The Egyptian police, the court, the prison, my future, my family. So how am I going to respond to Mustafa now?’
The Righteous People
I’d known Mustafa for a few years at that time. We were in the same classroom for three years at the secondary school. We weren’t really talking at that time. He was a stocky guy, a bodybuilder. He was very sharp in dealing with us, his classmates. He had only one close friend. I had different interests. I was involved with a religious group, preaching for God, and was never part of a gang. However, when we joined the university, We got on really well. I found him to be very sincere. He was religious and straightforward, a reasonable character to befriend. But now, I thought the only way I could get out of this was to deny any knowledge about Ahmed’s details and just hope that those “righteous” people would not ask too many questions of me. Luckily, that is what happened.
Mustafa gave me a book to read about the scientific miracles described in the Quran and how it predicted events and current scientific ideas that were not known about when it was written 1400 years ago. That book was my best friend for a few weeks. I found my peace between the pages. It served the purpose of restoring my confidence in my faith after the significant trauma that I had been subjected to. I managed to forget about the matter for a couple of years. I graduated and got a job as an accountant, and at the same time, I joined a course to learn how to play my favourite musical instrument, the oud.
The Rich in Cairo
It did not take me long until I mastered many classic songs and started playing and singing after my working hours. I enjoyed that part of my life a lot more than my tedious 9 to 5 job. This type of music had a niche market. Gigs were usually in a rich person’s villa, a 5-star hotel, or a yacht for an Arabic sheikh who was coming to enjoy some freedom away from the strict traditions back home. Cairo can cater for every purpose for a wealthy Arab. There are Iconic mosques and other historic sites to visit, alcohol is allowed, and girls are available, but only if you are rich. Being in the music industry, which Ahmed and Nolan, our mutual friends, were involved in, made bumping into each other unavoidable. I never lost contact with Nolan. And we often worked through each other. Nolan was a committed Coptic Christian who had known about Ahmed’s beliefs long before I did. We did not have many great things to say about him when we met. Until I was asked to record a song in a studio, and Ahmed was there. The devil again!
[To be continued.]