Ethar El-Katatney

Amr Khaled at AUC

Posted in Dimensions (AUC) by Ethar El-Katatney on March 25, 2006

Greeted with an fervent standing ovation; Amr Khaled was the guest speaker at Sunday’s development forum hosted by the Student Union (SU), Alashanek Ya Balady (AYB), and the Entrepreneur Society (ES).

39 year old Egyptian preacher Amr Khaled started preaching in 1990, and his popularity amongst youth has soared since then. The two hour long event was only open to AUCians, and yet Ewart Hall was packed with excited students waiting to see Khaled an hour before the event even began. Emotions ran high and people were excited. “I’m glad he’s coming, and I’m so happy to be seeing him here at AUC!” exclaimed Lina Al Husseni, Business Administration senior. She was definitely not alone in her excitement.

Walid El Sallab, SU president, opened the forum with a brief statement of how important social work—and not just charity—is to our development. Ayah Ghoneim, fundraising head of AYB, then gave a brief summary of the activities of the club, followed by a short video of the club in action. Mahmoud Abd El Magid, president of ES, followed suit.

Amr Khaled finally got up onto the podium after a short introduction by Mohammad Dabour, Dean of Student Development. The audience was riveted from the word go, with his first words demonstrating how much significance he attributed to AUCians as a group. “The people I am addressing today are the hope of our country” he said. “I’m deeply aware of the opportunity I have today and of how important my words to you are…I hope that my three messages today reach you and are remembered.”

His first message was that we must define our goals in life, and to commit fully to those dreams. “People eat, drink, marry, live their lives and then die” he stressed. “I beg you not to do that, not to simply go where life takes you, but to have a dream that fills your minds, your hearts, and your very being.” He discussed the importance of having a goal and a dream for the rise of any civilization, and that once they have no goals then their demise is inevitable. “All achievement start with dreams” he continued. “Dubai was a desert and look at what it is now….Be ambitious and be persistent, and you’ll get there eventually.” He applauded AYB for their achievements, and stressed how their dream of a better Egypt is something we should all have. “When you die, don’t die having lived only for yourself; leave something to your community and your country. And if everyone lives for themselves, then you be the exception.”

His second message was to renew your loyalty to your roots, your faith, and your heritage. “Never feel that you are inferior” he emphasized. “Be proud of who you are. Imagine that you wake up one day with no facial features, how will you then know who you are? Your faith and roots are your facial features, never distort them.” This, he believes, in no way detracts from our ability to be open and receptive to the world around us and to other cultures and beliefs.

His last but equally important message was to never give in to despair or lose hope. “Instead of focusing on the pains of the past, Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) focused on the dreams of the future” he pointed out. “Let him be our role model. Don’t focus on what you don’t have and on the obstacles you face, but on what you do have and on the opportunities available to you.”

A question and answer session soon followed, with questions spanning a wide range of topics including hijab (the veil), boy-girl relations, the role of women, the conference in Copenhagen, and many more. Khaled dealt with the questions with his usual aplomb before thanking the audience for being there and for listening. Once again, he expressed his sincere wishes that the three messages be remembered and applied.

When asked why she thought the event was such a success, Nehal Talat, Arabic and English as a second language instructor, said that “Amr Khaled is always a source of encouragement; he helps boost my iman [faith]…Whenever I feel inactive, I only have to watch his programs and I regain my enthusiasm…Speaking on behalf of my students and all those I know—we simply adore him for his commitment and devotion to his message.” His conviction is clear to all, as evidenced by him saying “I’m talking to you with my heart, my soul and all my being.” He’s certainly an inspiration to us all. So let’s define our goals in life, renew our loyalties, and never give up.

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