Le conocí en un mercadillo de pueblo en el norte de Madrid, en Navacerrada. Mi amigo Paco, motorista como yo, gustamos de ver mercados y gentes en nuestras rutas y al ver su puesto nos sentimos claramente atraidos a observar y a tocar. Había pequeñas joyas artesanas de estilos poco habituales hoy en estos lugares, perfumes orientales, pequeñas obras en maderas nobles, sedas.
Pero lo que nos atrajo fue el dueño del puesto en si que nos recibió con una amplia sonrisa y una mirada profunda y sincera, como si fuera alguien de nuestra familia. Nos ofreció té o un refresco hecho con alguna fruta, no recuerdo bien, y un rato de charla sincera, informal, amigable; nos obsequió con un perfume varonil, a la manera de oriente. Pero sobretodo hablar, sobre la vida, sobre los sentidos y los sentimientos, sobre las ideas. Y desde entonces siempre ha sido así, desde entonces le he considerado un amigo, un ejemplo de vida.
Se llama Fathi y es como el ave Fenix, se ha hundido y recuperado cientos de veces, cientos de vidas. Ahora tiene un pequeño y sugerente ‘café’ en Toledo capital, junto a la catedral, en pleno cogollo de esa preciosa ciudad castellana, que vuelve a estar cargada de vida y de influencias y culturas a pesar de quien pese.
Ha soportado todo tipo de veladas amenazas y de malos gestos de otros comerciantes tradicionales que se sienten ‘inundados’, por su energía y su capacidad de trabajo, en definitiva los celos y las envidias, el miedo al otro.
Fathi crea su marca, da forma a su sueño, a base de ilusión y actividad. Los que le conocen lo saben y algunos también le ayudan, le visitan, charlan con él. La vida es cíclica, va y viene como un tornado, sopla a favor y sopla en contra, pero todo es vida, incluso la muerte.
Tengo algunas piezas de madera de Fathi y algunos pequeños adornos en plata y piedras. Pero lo que más valoro son esas dos cajas de madera simples y limpias, una dentro de la otra, que me envió el dia de mi boda, con un amable mensaje de amor y felicidad para mi mujer y para mí, para el resto de nuestras vidas. Fathi es un hombre fiel, sincero y limpio, y su nuevo café, renacido de sus anteriores proyectos, creo que será un sitio duradero y hermoso que mucha gente va a disfrutar. Su nueva marca, una extensión de si mismo, fidelidad, respeto, veracidad, permanencia y sobretodo humildad.
El nombre es Alqahira, El Cairo en lengua Arabe, ‘la ciudad victoriosa’. Ese es su espíritu, vencer la ignorancia y las malas pasiones, y ganar amigos, experiencias, y amor fraternal. Suerte de nuevo y cada vez.
Alqahira, esta en: C/ La Ciudad 7 Bis, Toledo
y en facebook: Alqahira Toledo. http://es-es.facebook.com/alqahira
Some about Al Qahira history:
In the year 969, Egypt was ruled by a group of people called the Ikhshidids, who were the descendents of Suleiman al-Katib, the general sent by the Abbassid Caliph to reclaim Egypt from the Tulunids. The Ikhshidids had quickly followed the Tulunids’ example and had quickly set themselves up as the more-or-less independent rulers of Egypt. The Ikhshids, unlike the Tulunids, cared little for the people of Egypt. They placed a very high poll tax on Egypt’s non-Muslim population, and around this time, barely three hundred years after Islam had first been introduced to Egypt, non-Muslims still formed the majority of the population. The tax on the non-Muslims effected the Muslims as well. Many of the merchants were Muslim, so if the non-Muslims were made poor by the high tax, they didn’t have money to spend, and then the Muslims became poor. And so, at this point, just about everyone in Egypt was unhappy, except for the Ikhshids, who had grown rich and lazy. Egypt had grown weak and vulnerable to invasion.
To the west, in what is now Tunisia, another group of people called the Fatimids had set up power. The Fatimids were Shi’i Muslims, unlike the Muslims in Egypt and the Arabian Peninsula, who were Sunni Muslims. The Fatimids wanted to expand Shi’ism to the greater Muslim world. To do so, they needed to conquer Egypt and Syria. So, they set off to the east, made hopeful by reports that Egypt was weak and easy to conquer.
There are lots of different denominations of Christianity – Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant — and different kinds of Judaism – Conservative, Orthodox, Reform. There are also different branches of Islam. The two main branches of Islam are Sunni and Shi’i (sometimes called Shiite – pronounced “she-yite”). The split between them goes back almost to the death of Muhammad.
When he died, Muhammad named as his successor his friend Abu Bakr, who became the first Caliph. After Abu Bakr came Omar, Othman, and Ali, who were also close friends of Muhammad, known collectively among Sunni Muslims as the four rightly guided Caliphs. The problems began when Ali was murdered in 661.
After Ali’s death, the Muslims split into two main factions: those who thought that the Caliphate should be kept within the family of Muhammad, and those who thought that the Caliph should be elected by consultation and popular consensus. The first group rallied around Ali’s son, Hussein. The second group decided that the new Caliph would be a man named Muawiyah, who had been the loyal governor of Syria for many years. Muawiyah moved the capital of the empire from Mecca to Damascus, where he lived, and he started the state that bears his name – the Ummayad Empire. He was succeeded by his son Yazid when he died.
Those who supported Hussein were not happy about this new development. They rallied around Hussein and raised an army to support his cause. Yazid’s forces met them at a place in Iraq called Kerbala, and they massacred Hussein, his entire family, and many of Hussein’s supporters. The remaining supporters of Ali and Hussein became known as the Shi’a.
The Shi’a differ from the Sunnis in some ways that they practice Islam. Their belief in the Qur’an and the hadith is the same as the Sunni, but the Shi’a also have an organized system of clergy, while the Sunnis reject an organized heirarchy. The Shi’a also have a greater emphasis on the hidden meanings of the Qur’an and the life of Muhammad.
Most Shi’is today live in southern Iraq, where Kerbala is still an important center for pilgrimage, and in Iran.
2) Al-Aqmar mosque, completed
in 1125, is one of the few
buildings that still survive from
the Fatimid period.
Under the leadership of a man named Gohar al-Siqili (a Greek who had been born in Sicily–Siqil is the Arabic name for Sicily–and converted to Islam), the Fatimid armies set out to conquer Egypt. There are two stories about what happened next, and both have to do with astrology.
One story says that the Fatimids set out on the campaign because the court astrologers saw that Jupiter was aligned with Saturn, the way it had been when the Fatimids had risen to power in Tunisia. The other is that, the night before the Fatimids were to attack, the planet Mars, in Arabic “al-Qahir,” was sighted in the skies to the west. In both stories, the planetary signs were considered to be good omens. And whichever story you believe, the omen turned out to be true.
The Fatimids had little problem conquering Egypt and taking over. Gohar planned to build yet another city, to the north (of course) of Fustat, on high ground. This city was planned to be an exclusive city for the rulers and their immediate family. This would provide a sense of mystery and divine guidance about the rulers, who would be inaccessible to the people. The new city was called Medinat al-Qahira, or “the city victorious.” This is the Arabic name for the city of Cairo to this day.
Cairo was built to be a grand city that would inspire awe in everyone that saw it and were deemed worthy to enter its walls. The new Caliph of Egypt, al-Mo’izz, was determined to build a city that would rival Baghdad as the most important and influential city in the Muslim world. He built a new port, repaired roads, sewers and canals, and refurbished the mosque built by Amr ibn al-‘As, which was still considered a very important place.
Al-Mo’izz also got to work on his new city. High walls were built around Cairo, with two forbidding gates, Bab al-Nasr (the Gate of Victory) and Bab al-Futuh (the Gate of Conquest) on the northern side, and Bab al-Zuwayla on the south side, from which a road led to the Mosque of Ibn Tulun and into al-Fustat. A grand avenue ran between them, separating the palace of the Caliph and the palace of his son, al-Aziz. The central section of the road is still known by the name “Bayn al-Qasrayn” or “Between the Two Palaces” even though the palaces themselves are long gone.