Thursday, February 10, 2005

Kul 'am wa antom bi-khair!

This Arabic phrase, meaning "May every year find you in good health" (or, perhaps "Many happy returns of the day", or "Good tidings to you and everyone you know" or just "Happy New Year") is one I wish to my Egyptian, Sudanese, Saudi Arabian, Indian, Pakistani, Ethiopian, Syrian, Iraqi, Lebanese and Palestinian friends and acquaintances on this day, the first day of the Islamic New Year.

I had the wonderful good fortune to live and work in the Middle East for 8 years. This was back in the '80's, when it was a very different world over there, and Americans were, for the most part, welcomed with open arms. I hope and pray that such a time will come again. I loved my time there. In many respects, it was the best 8 years of my life.

I now have a cousin in Iraq on business and a niece in the military being shipped over there in the next few months and I pray for their safety. It was so different for me. I could go anywhere, talk to anyone (well, except for the Saudi women, of course) without fear for my safety. I used to go running every night with never a worry. When my wife worked the night shift at King Faisal hospital and wouldn't get home until 2:00am, I didn't worry about her. She was safe.

So, Happy New Year to all my Islamic friends and acquaintances. May this Hijra year of 1426 be one where peace finally becomes a dominant force in the region.

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