Lama was a very smart and curious nine-year-old girl, who despite her age was very cultured and knowledgeable about the world. Lately, the religious channels she watched on TV had been mentioning the word “humanity,” mostly apropos of charity work. She had also read the word on Facebook. It had been brought up in association with Daesh’s beheadings. Seeing it written and hearing people talk about it again and again made her ponder over the word’s meaning. She knew it implied something positive, but was there more to it?
She spent the rest of the day in a brown study, cudgeling her brain in an effort to crack the secret to what the word stood for, and before going to bed that night she went to her mother and asked her, “Mum, how would you define ‘humanity’ in a few words?”
Her mother smiled and replied, “That’s something that everyone has to figure out how to define for themselves. You know the meaning already. You just have to be reminded of it, like most of us nowadays. Think about what makes our country great and our human experience of the world so much longer than the one we would be able to have if something of the individual human being didn’t outlive the short amount of time each of us actually spends on this world. Tomorrow I’ll take you to Al Muizz Street, which is one of the oldest and most vibrant streets here in Cairo, so that you can see by looking at the people what humanity means to you.”
The next day, as promised, she took Lama to Al Muizz Street. As soon as they arrived on the colorful and bright road, Lama was bowled over by its magnificence. Thus, she started taking pictures of it. Both sides of the street were awash with small shops selling souvenirs made of brass and wood. The shop owners greeted everyone cheerfully and were so kind as to allow the passersby to take pictures of their goods. Further down the street, Lama and her mother were greeted with smiles from the jewelers, who seemed eager to lend one another a hand whenever opportunities presented themselves.
Then Lama and her mother stumbled across a pastry shop with delicious basbousas and hawawshis. Located across the way was a park with benches where people could sit down to enjoy their grub. In the park itself a street vendor was selling boiled potatoes to the public. After enjoying their treat, Lama and her mother moseyed on. Along this part of the street lay beautiful mosques of great historical value, such as the Al-Hakim or Al-Aqmar Mosque. A family asked Lama’s mother to take a picture of them in front of one of the mosques, and she was happy to oblige. They also came across a small gathering of people chatting with one another in a very friendly and laid-back manner.
Later at home Lama’s mother asked her whether she had learned anything new about the meaning of the word “humanity.” Lama’s response was as follows: “We have to welcome people into our lives, and in order to live peacefully with one another, we have to delve into our hearts and find a way to forgive the people who we believe have wronged us. Furthermore, we should rush to the aid of those who might be in need of it. We shouldn’t wish harm on anyone and must stop discriminating against others, because we are all equal.”
“Very good, my dear,” said her mother. “That is all we have to do to preserve our humanity. At the end of the day, most of humanity’s problems can be solved by having a fresh pair of eyes cast an innocent look at the world.”
Written by Shaden Khalil.