Monday, February 20, 2006

On the way to Redmond 1

Hello all,

Starting from now and until I find my-self out there in Redmond, I'll write a new post every couple of days to discuss what I've done during this period before traveling, now let's start with the first one.

So, from where I'd start?!

Let's start from the last time's end, in my previous post regarding this issue; I stopped on the embassy interview.

After that with 3 days, I received my passport with the visa stamped in it, so during this period I called the shipping company to ship my goods and stuff, they took my passport to make some arrangements with it in the Airport (I don't know really what are these arrangements), and returned it back to me and I told them that I'll call them again as soon as I decide to ship my stuff.

Then I send to my candidate move specialist to reserve me my seat, she sent me a word document containing a lot of questions about my preferred seat position, my preferred food on the plan, my preferred place to leave my temporary car for me, if I prefer to have a hotel room during the period between my arrival and going to my housing, my preferred housing and how many rooms I want, etc.

I sent her the document with all these questions answered and asked her to reserve the next seat with me to my friend Mostafa who's traveling with me and who's working with me in the same team, and also asked her to make the travel date and time any where beyond March 02, 10:00 PM GMT because I've a special event which I need to attend.

Then I got an email from her telling me that she has reserved the seats and this is the confirmation email and I'll receive the tickets by DHL service within several days, so my travel date and time has been reserved to be March 03, 2:55 AM.

I'll go first to Amsterdam through KLM airlines in a trip which is taking 5 hours and stay there for about 6 hours and then through Northwest Airlines in a trip which is taking around 11 hours directly to Seattle.

After that I went to make the international driving license, and after spending around 2 hours (and paying additional money to get it finished quickly, as you know Egypt ;) ), I got it.

I was thinking about it to be something like the local driving license, I mean good and small license covered and looks clean, but here you're what it's looking like:

After getting it, I went to the "El Shahr El Akary" (Don't know its meaning in Arabic) to make a general permission to my father "Tawkel 3am we shamel" to use it in any thing here in Egypt which is in need for me without my physical existence.

After that I went in a small outing with my friends (college friends) into Pizza King El Mereland and spent some time with each others.

Next day, I went to the Army to get my travel permission, and I really admit that this is the first time in my whole life to find that making a paper in the Army is the easiest part in this whole post, it was really so easy and so quick, I just filled a paper with my info, pay the fees, and wait for about 10 or 15 min and get the permission!!!
Really it's nothing when compared with my old adventure in Hykesteb ;)

And here you're a photo for how the Travel Permission is looking like:

That's all for today, soon I'll continue talking about what I've done next, also I hope if I could get an entry visa during my transit in Amsterdam to visit the City in this 6 hours.

So stay tight ;)
To Be Continued.....

Sunday, February 12, 2006

The final countdown to Redmond (Part 3)

After I got there, I found a very very very long queue of people, actually there were 2 queues, one for those whom supposed to enter to the embassy at 9:30 am, and those like me whom are supposed to enter at 10:00 am.

It was about 9:40 am, so I found my place in the 10:00 am queue, and I have waited for about 15 min till someone got out from the embassy and told us to show him the photos we've.

Once she has seen the photo I've, she told me this is an invalid photo and I must get a photo of 5x5 cm size!!!

At this point I didn't know what shall I do, shall I get another interview time or what?!

Until she told me that I've 30 min only to get a photo and come back, for my good luck, there was a man very near to the embassy who's working on this type of photos only, so I went there, and found as much people as any one could imagine waiting there to take a photo too!!

After waiting for about 45 min (at this point I was sure that I missed the interview time), and after paying the big fees (when compared with any photographer in whole Egypt, it's about 2x, I went back to the Embassy and found that the 10:00 am queue is about to enter in few seconds, so I got my self a place with them and entered into the embassy.

Without talking with more details about how many queues I have found inside the embassy and how much time I've spent inside and how many interviews, let's skip all this to the final interview, it was so simple, just few questions about what I'll do in Microsoft, and when I've joined it, and when I've been graduated, ..... Etc

The final question was about my base salary, when she knew about it, she told me ohhhhhhh, toooo much money!!!

It was the first time for me to know that envy is not a special feature in the Egyptian culture, it's exist too even in someone who's working in a very good position in one of the embassies for the biggest country all over the world :D

Really weird :P

Now, what I'll do next:

  1. Get my travel permission.
  2. Get an international driving license.
  3. Ship all my stuff with the moving company MS has provided me with.
  4. Send them an email to book my flight for me.
  5. Enjoy my time in Redmond inside MSFT :D

Stay tight ;)
Catch You Later.....

The final countdown to Redmond (Part 2)

After that the process for my training visa (H-3 Visa) has started, and at the same time I have scheduled an interview with the US Consulate in Cairo in February 09.

Few days (exactly at February 03), I got the visa petition approval notify, on February 08 mid-night, I knew that the visa package has arrived to the airport, and so I need to go there to pick it myself to be with me in the next day in the embassy, so I went to the air-port, take the package, went back to home, open it and oopppssssssssss all the papers surname is meshref and my surname in the passport is Moshrif, ohhhhhhh my God, what shall I do?!!

I picked my mobile phone and called Lori the attorney for my case in US, and for the continues bad luck she was away, so I left here a message on her answer machine to call me back.

Few moments later, I went back to my papers, I noticed something, only one paper has this phrase:
Surname (As in Passport)
And the rest aren't having the same phrase, also I noticed another paper which has this phrase:
Surname (list all different spellings)

So I think I got it, in the first paper I changed my surname to be Moshrif like in passport, and in the second one I put Meshref and Moshrif, and left the rest as they are.

After that it was about 4:30 AM, so I put all these papers aside and went to my bed to take some sleep because I must wake up at about 8:00 am, so I have slept and then woke up at 8:00 am, then left at 8:45 am to the embassy.

After I got there, I found .....

But this is another part, stay tight ;)
To Be Continued.....

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The final countdown to Redmond (Part 1)

Hii all, Iam back and ready to blog again, I've just group all things together and post them after I finish them all because Egyptians are very good on Envy and such bad manners like no other nation in the whole world!!!!

As you you noticed all from the title Iam finally in my way to Redmond, but how this happened?

Before any thing, I knew from weeks ago what shall my position in MS be, it'll be working on the SQL Server Engine Performance Team, that's for my position as FT employee in the SQL Server team, But, I got an email from MS telling me that my new H-1B visa won't be ready before the end of the year as usual (as US system stated), so I've two options, either to leave to US at the early begining of March with training visa to attend a training program there (but with the same benefits plan like the FT position), and after completing it at the end of the year, my new visa should be ready and then get into my FT position again, or I could simply wait till I get the FT directly.

When I heard the word training, I've decided at first not to accept it, but after knowing that this "Training" is like a full post graduate diploma which is containing very amazing topics and very good Syllabus which made me accept the offer immediately :D, also I'll have the same benefits plan, and every thing I was gonna get in the FT position from A to Z.

After that ....

But this is another part, stay tight ;)
To Be Continued.....

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Sunday, February 05, 2006

A Message to the World, Who's Prophet Muhammed?

This is just a brief message to the world about who's prophet Muhammed, for more information about him, please visit:

There exists a cultural vagueness in the West. This vagueness results from the presence of two different concepts. The first is a great Western concept that we respect, appraise, and need. That concept is freedom of speech. This is a great humane and civilized concept. On the other hand, there is the great Islamic concept of dignifying Allah’s Messenger (SAWS). The problem arises due to the lack of understanding of the Islamic Civilization and the Western Civilization regarding these two concepts. The non-Muslims cannot value the rank of dignifying the Prophet (SAWS). On the other hand, due to the below-average quality of practical application of freedom of speech, Muslims have a vague understanding of the concept of respecting freedom of speech.

Accordingly, what is required now? We do not want to refuse the concept of freedom of speech, absolutely not. However, the West should alter the freedom of speech so that it does not collide with the very important Islamic value of dignifying the Prophet (SAWS). Here lies the vagueness and ambiguity. The West understands very well the freedom of speech (which we appreciate) but it does not understand Islamic values, such as dignifying the Prophet (SAWS) and other Islamic sanctities. This is where the Western cultural vagueness lies.

I clearly say to the West, you have a problem. You cannot comprehend how much the Muslims love Prophet Muhammad (SAWS). You are still unable to understand this point. If you had really encompassed its significance, you would never have accepted what happened. The West, in general, governments and people, does not apprehend that Allah’s Messenger (SAWS) is dearer to us than our parents, dearer to me than my father and dearer than my mother. I am sure that any Muslim woman listening to me now, be her religious or not, will swear on that fact. Just ask, what does Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) mean to you? It is not even necessary to do that because it is so evident, but you may conduct surveys for yourselves, and you will realize how true what I am saying is. Ask any youth, be he heedless or pious; ask any Muslim anywhere, in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Yemen or in Egypt. Ask any Muslim in any village regardless of how religious he is, be he an obedient Muslim or not, a drug user or not, successful in his life or a failure, old or young, ask them, what does Allah’s Messenger (SAWS) mean to you?

O West, I affirm that Allah’s Messenger (SAWS) is dearer to all Muslims than their own parents. O West, Allah’s Messenger (SAWS) is dearer to us, Muslims, than our children and grandchildren. O West, Allah’s Messenger (SAWS) is dearer to us than our money, dearer to us than our own selves. He is dearer to us than our own countries. O Egyptian, who is dearer to you, Egypt or Allah’s Prophet? O Saudi, who is dearer to you, Saudi Arabia or Allah’s Prophet? O Yemeni, O Moroccan, O Algerian, who is dearer to you, your country or Allah’s Messenger (SAWS)? O West, comprehend that meaning, Allah’s Messenger (SAWS) is dearer to Muslims than their children and their own selves.

We can never forget the hadith that I repeatedly mentioned during the episodes of “On the Path of the Beloved”. O West, listen to this hadith[1] as it forms part of the sentimental make-up of the Islamic personality:

“We were with the Prophet and he was holding the hand of Omar Ibnul-Khattab. Omar said to him, ‘O Allah's Messenger! You are dearer to me than everything except my own self.’ The Prophet said, ‘No, by Him in Whose Hand my soul is, (you will not have complete faith) till I am dearer to you than your own self.’ Then Omar said to him, ‘However, now, by Allah, you are dearer to me than my own self.’ The Prophet said, ‘Now, O Omar, (now you are a believer).’”[2]

Being a true believer is conditioned with loving Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) more than our own selves.

O West, this is our notion and this is our love for Prophet Muhammad (SAWS).

I know that the West resists racism as they realize very well what it means. I also know that they stand up against any anti-Semitic assaults as they recognize the serious consequences of such acts. Yet, true contradiction lies in respecting Semitism and resisting racialism on the one hand, while humiliating the most valued figure for Muslims, the Prophet (SAWS), on the other.

Six months ago, a famous journalist of the BBC attacked Arabs describing them as a worthless nation. In spite of being a renowned figure with a daily program in Britain, his slandering was rejected by the British as racist and he was fired from the BBC. At that time, I was preparing a program on family matters, and knowing that he had articles and shows tackling this subject, I wanted to refer to them. To my surprise, none of his works were available due to his intolerant views against Arabs. There is no way to compare the Prophet (SAWS) to the Arabic nation, as slandering them is of a diminutive nature when compared to offending the Prophet (SAWS). My message to the West then is that freedom of speech, which we indeed respect, honor, and actually need, should be modified so that it does not clash with the highly revered Muslim value of dignifying the Prophet (SAWS). The West respects monarchies, Semitism, all races, and different ethnicities, and its respect to the Prophet (SAWS) and to sacred Muslim values should be no less.

Thus, my message to the Muslim ummah is that we should not forsake dignifying the Prophet (SAWS) under any circumstance. On the other hand, my message to the West is that the value of freedom of speech should be adapted to Muslim values.

My third message is to the whole world. This offense does not aim at the Prophet (SAWS) alone, but rather to one billion, two hundred thousand Muslims; or rather to all humanity. To explain this further to everyone, whether Muslim or not, I believe that Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) is the greatest personality that existed on earth. There is no doubt that his model of reform was most successful so far and whoever denies this fact is indeed most ungrateful. Slandering him is actually slandering humanity. Great men that existed throughout history were qualified as such due to a certain trait in their characters. Gandhi for example, was a great politician, Shakespeare a great dramatist, Voltaire a great writer, Napoleon a great military leader and so on. They were all great in one aspect or the other, while the Prophet (SAWS) was great in every aspect of his life. He was so great morally that he never hit or humiliated a soul, never beat a woman, never betrayed or lied, never went back on his word or avenged himself. He was always called 'the truthful and honest one' before bearing the message of Islam, and after becoming a prophet, the values and principles of the Qur’an were the model for his behavior. He was also great in his political insight. After the Battle of the Trench, for example, he knew that it was a turning point that would not be followed by a defeat. Moreover, he was great in his submissiveness to Allah as he bowed when praying, saying,

“O Allah, it is for Thee that I bowed. I affirm my faith in Thee and I submit to Thee, and submit humbly before Thee my hearing, my eyesight, my marrow, my bone, my sinew.”[3]

He (SAWS) also used to stand (in prayer) until both his feet swelled. When asked why (he offered such an unbearable prayer) he said,

“Should I not be a thankful slave?” [4]

He was great in the way he believed in freedom of opinion. In the Battle of Badr, he changed the location of the battlefield upon the advice of a soldier. He also agreed to dig the trench around Madinah according to Salman al-Faresy’s suggestion, and changed the fighting plan of the Battle of Uhud to respect the opinion of some of his companions. This is how he respected freedom of speech 1400 years ago!

He was great at forgiving others. On the day of the Conquest of Makkah, his companions were rejoicing saying, “Today is the day of a great battle and today Quraysh will be humiliated by Allah”. Conversely, the prophet's (SAWS) response was that today is the day of mercy in which Allah will bestow honor on Quraysh.

He was great in his voluntary renunciation of worldly luxuries when he could have been the richest man on earth had he wished to be. He was also great in the way he dealt with young people motivating them to exercise. For example, he once passed by some of the young companions of the tribe of Aslam practicing archery and he said to them,

“O offspring of Ishmael! Practice archery as your father was a great archer. I am with (on the side of) the son of so-and-so-.” Hearing that, one of the two teams stopped throwing. The Prophet (SAWS) asked them, “Why are you not throwing?” They replied, “O Allah's Apostle! How shall we throw when you are with the opposite team?” He said, “Throw, for I am with you all.”[5]

His enemies were never able to slander him due to any bad trait. He lived with them for 40 years before the divine message and another 13 years after it, and never were they able to smear him with a single bad trait that marred his character, or doubt his outstanding abilities. They even testified that he had never lied in his life. That is how great he was and that is how humiliating him smears every American, Indian, Pakistani etc.; everyone, whether Muslim or not. It is an insult to all humankind when such a great man is insulted.

He was great in his mercy. When he was persecuted by the people of At-Ta’ef and stoned until his feet kept bleeding, the angel of the mountains asked for his permission to destroy them. Yet his response was to supplicate Allah to guide them and to save them. Furthermore, in the Battle of Uhud, he was injured, overcome by his enemies, had his front teeth broken, and fell into a pit with blood gushing from his wounds. Nevertheless, when his companions asked him to curse them and to invoke Allah to punish them, he declined stressing the fact that he was sent as a mercy to all of humankind. He even invoked Allah to guide them to the right path and to excuse them for their ignorance.

He was merciful even with animals narrating that,

“A man saw a dog eating mud from (the severity of) thirst. So, that man took a shoe (and filled it) with water and kept on pouring the water for the dog till it quenched its thirst. So Allah approved of his deed and made him enter Paradise.”[6]

Similarly, he (SAWS) said,

“A woman was tortured and was put in Hell because of a cat which she had kept locked till it died of hunger.”[7]

This is our Prophet and this is how great he was. Unlike that of other great human figures in history, the Prophet’s greatness is lasting throughout the generations.

He believed in co-existence. He trusted the Jews and gave them all the rights of citizenship in Madinah, guaranteeing that no one would harm them, take any of their money, force them to convert, or intercede with their freedom to worship. He was also great in co-existence when he was against using the Muslims loyal to him in Makkah to create tension among the people of Quraysh, even during the war between Makkah and Madinah. At the time of the Hudaybeya treaty, he could have waged war against Quraysh but resorted to peace instead. He could have turned it into a bloodbath, but he chose peace and forced it on his enemies.

The human race should be proud that Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) existed one day, whether they were Muslims, Hindu, Jews, Christians, believers of any kind, or even non-believers. He is a turning point in the course of humanity. This is Muhammad (SAWS) and this is how humanity was humiliated the day he was. People around the world are demanding an international law that protects the dignity of this great Prophet.

That was my message to Muslims, to the West, and to the whole world.

One final question remains here, which is, what is it that we want? We do not need speeches. It took me some time to deliver this speech, as I believe that speeches alone cannot solve this problem. We do not even want superficial apologies that are not as deep as our wounds. We do need effective actions that denote Western respect for the Prophet (SAWS). We will not stop our protests until our Prophet regains the dignity he duly deserves as our great leader. Thus empty words and shallow apologies are not enough, actions must be taken. Until then, I need everyone to convey this message to their families and friends. I want it to be translated by Dar al-Tarjama to all languages and to be distributed everywhere to reach the West. This speech will be broadcast on Iqraa’ channel soon and I want as many people as possible to watch it. Meanwhile we should do our best to let the people know about our Prophet (SAWS). ‘On the Path of the Beloved’ for example, a program about the Prophet’s life, is being replayed now on Iqraa’ every Tuesday and Friday. Dr Tarek Suweidan, A’aed al-Qarny, Al-Habib Aly al-Jifry and Dr. Al-Buty are all renowned modern Muslims scholars who have speeches and articles about the life of the Prophet. Please do your best to make good use of their works as well as the tapes of ‘On the Path of the Beloved’ to enlighten the whole world about the Prophet (SAWS), until this predicament is unraveled and until Muslim requests are answered with real actions. Thus, what I am asking everyone to do is to distribute this message everywhere and to let everyone know about who the Prophet (SAWS) is. Our duty is double fold, we need to distribute this speech and make it available everywhere, and we need to introduce the Prophet (SAWS) and tell his story to everyone, among Muslims and non-Muslims. This speech is to be continued and I am indeed not done yet with this issue. Thank you. May peace and Allah’s blessing and mercy be upon you all, and let us get to work.

Source: Amr Khaled

Friday, February 03, 2006

Photo Album Instructions

Hello all,

Back again to posting (soon I'll continue posting because as I said before I've a lot of news).

So any way, what's this post for?

As you probabily saw that I've put a link titled by Photo Album in the links section for my blog, I've put some of pictures I've here on my PC, also I'll post any new photos I got into it especially those related to Redmond :)

So here you're the instructions to access the Album:

  1. As you may guess it starts by simply clicking over the link and wait for the new windows to pop up :D
  2. You'll find some directories and each directory will contain some photos, click over any directory to open it and view images inside it.
  3. You'll find thumbnails for all images inside the directory, and at the top you'll find pages if the number of images can't be fit into just one page, click over any thumbnail to open the medium-size image (low quality version).
  4. Now you could either:
    1- Click over the lower center of the image to return back to the index.
    2- Click over the left part for the image to go to the previous image, or click over the right part for next image.
    3- You will notice a new button added at the top of the page to run slide show of the photos.

That's all.

Enjoy your time reviewing my photos ;)

Catch you later.....