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Friday Morning Run - February 3, 2012
Written by Jay Fares   
Friday, 03 February 2012 17:29

Friday Morning 10 Miles Run - February 3, 2012

"You are nearer to my heart than my smile to my lips", so goes the song of Umm Kulthum. Umm Kulthum (أم كلثوم), known as the Star of the East was unarguably the Diva of Arabic Song during the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and until her death on February 3, 1975 (36 years to the day). How wonderful it is to listen to such expression of love in the Arabic Language delivered by Umm Kulthum's angelic voice!

Why am I writing about Umm Kulthum? I was reminded of her by Mike Henley during our long run together this morning. Mike lived in the Middle East for a long time and he knows a great deal about the Arab World and its contemporary history. One of the fables he told me this morning was about Umm Kulthum. It goes as follows:

Umm Kulthum used to sing for King Farouk of Egypt before he was deposed by a military coup staged by Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1952. Because of her relationship with King Farouk, Umm Kulthum was afterwards ostracized by some of the ruling military officers at the time. Gamal Abdel Nasser loved Umm Kulthum, as he grew up listening to her songs. So one day he heard that one specific high ranking officer was harassing her. He called him and told him that he wants him to destroy the Pyramids of Giza. The Officer was very surprised and refused. He then told him that Umm Kulthum is one of these pyramids and he should treat her as such.

It is a well known fact that Nasser adored Umm Kulthum and often attended her premier concert performances in Caro.

Another story that Mike shared with me this morning was that he taught at Baghdad College in Iraq where Ahmed Chalabi went to school. I told him that Ahmed Chalabi taught me Calculus in 1971 at American University of Beirut (AUB). Chalabi was a nice young man, as I remember, and he drove a very nice white Jaguar E-type car. What a small world we live in? It is amazing what unexpected subjects come up in conversations during these long runs! it seams that working the muscles frees the mind. Mikey - I enjoy running with you.

Let me go back to Arabic song and poetry. Arabic is such a wonderful and rich language for expressing matters of the heart - If only the world knew?

Recently it was in the news that a Texas school district has canceled Arabic classes after complaints from parents about Islam. Apparently, parents were afraid that if their children learn Arabic they will become Muslim. I posted the news on my facebook page and it was read by a distinguished Arabic teacher in Lebanon, teaching for over 40 yeas at the "Collège Protestant", one of the most prominent schools in Beirut. Her comment was "These people are ignorant! It's a shame that some human beings still live in the Middle ages". My son Michael who had originally brought the news to my attention and who is presently working on his masters in Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies at UT Austin, commented by saying: "there are millions of people in the Middle East who speak Arabic and are not Muslim, what are these people talking about?"

I love these Friday morning runs, as I learn so much form all of you. I am always amazed to realize how much people around me know and how enriching the communication experience can be with them.

When I was younger, that is a year ago, before running, I used to think I knew so much and never paid attention to others. In other words, I was full of myself. Now after running with others, I realize how much better they are than me. It is a humbling experience. It enabled me to listen more to others and learn from them. Also it made me think that every individual has strong characteristics that can benefit others, if only they could discover them in time.

I love running....

Photographs from Wellness Running 3K Race/RAK Trials - Jan 31, 2012

1. Jihad Mekhael Fares
2. Jihad Mekhael Fares
3. Jihad Mekhael Fares
4. Sulaiman Binmalik
5. Jihad Mekhael Fares
6. Jihad Mekhael Fares
7. Jihad Mekhael Fares
8. Jihad Mekhael Fares
9. Waleed Modra
10. Hamad Balhareth
11. Coach Ian Wilson At
12. Race Winners - Men
13. Before Race Satrt
14. Getting Ready To
15. Start Of Race
16. Jihad Mekhael Fares

More on the news story referenced: Texas schools nix Arabic classes over fears of Islam

Data for this Friday morning run is at the URL:


Michael L Hanley - Beautiful story Jay. Very enjoyable to read. Only one small correction. I did not teach Ahmed Chalabi. He attended Baghdad College where I taught. You therefore cannot attribute your knowledge and skills in calculus to me in anyway. Very enjoyable morning. Will start working on next weeks story right away.

Pete Crisi - Jay Fares, you have an amazing mind!


Last Updated on Saturday, 04 February 2012 05:31
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