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July 4, 2005

When Will the Sun Return Above Us…

Ni dyar’izuba, Rizagaruka, Hejuru yacu,
Ni nduzaricyeza ricyeza.
(When will the sun return above us?
Who will reveal it once again to us?)

–chorus from the song “Million Voices” by Wyclef Jean, “Hotel Rwanda” soundtrack.

Million Voices – Wyclef Jean

Last night I finally got a chance to watch Hotel Rwanda, a movie that I had been wanting to see for quite some time. For those that may not be familiar with the movie or the historical events that the movie portrays, the movie is based on the true-story of Paul Rusesabagina, a hotel manager who became a hero for his courage during the Rwandan genocide of 1994 when more than one million Rwandans, mainly Tutsis, were killed in the Hutu-Tutsi civil war. I always liked Don Cheadle, and after watching his performance, I think it was a shame that he didn’t win Best Actor for this movie. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it; this is how movies ought to be made. I think the greatness of this movie was that they took a resounding story line and made it even more powerful. The entire movie is stunning, but there’s one particular scene, as all the Europeans are being evacuated, and the Rwandans (mainly Tutsis) are left standing in the rain… Joaquin Phoenix’s character and another reporter are reluctantly leaving the hotel lobby and walking towards the bus that will take them… as the rain falls on them, one of the hotel staff rushes out with an umbrella to shield them from the rain. Joaquin Phoenix is so ashamed that even in the midst of such horror, human compassion still exists from those that were victimized the most. As they board the buses, the Europeans who are evacuated are ashamed at being members of their native countries that turned their backs to the plight of the Rwandan people… and the Rwandans are left standing in the rain–both groups feeling helpless at their powerlessness in the midst of this genocide.

Genocide. A very powerful word, if one thinks about it… a term which the world agreed was so heinous to the very nature of humanity that a treaty was signed wherein the world agreed that genocide would never again be tolerated on the face of the earth–every nation was bound to intervene militarily and stamp it out if it were ever to happen again. In the midst of the Rwandan civil war of 1994, the world watched and did nothing. Despite the fact that the Hutu-Tutsi conflict was a direct result of the Belgians’ arbitrary division of the Rwandan people into artifically constructed “tribes”, the world turned its back and refused to bother. The so-called U.N. troops who were there as peace-keepers weren’t allowed to fire their weapons. Josef Stalin once said, “A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic.” In the case of Rwanda, a million black deaths wasn’t even worthy enough to be a statistic as the world remained wilfully oblivious to the situation going on there. I think the worst part was how the world superpowers refused to call the situation a “genocide”, and thus extricated themselves from being bound to the terms of the treaty. The movie replays a radio interview of Madeline Albright who referred to the Rwandan crisis as “acts of genocide”; the rest of the world too, didn’t have the courage to label it as genocide to force action. In fact, perhaps even more heinous was the fact that the “Hutu power” radio station that served to co-ordinate the killings on Tutsis was not shut down or jammed by outside forces because some American lawyers said that this would be a violation of the right to free speech….

Subhanallah, if that’s not terrorism, what is?

It definitely was the best movie I saw this year (sorry Batman Begins and Episode III) and while I learnt many things, I’ll share the following:

1. In times of utter oppression and sheer chaos, even the smallest acts of compassion serve to remind us that humanity still exists within human beings. Despite the signs that we oftentimes see that would make one believe that mankind has forgotten how to be human, humanity still exists. Paul Rusesabagina (a Hutu) not only refrained from the atrocities that his people committed, but he sacrificed his own life to save others. One man alone may not be able to save the world, but that didn’t stop Paul from saving those he could (over a thousand people when it was all said and done). And while there probably won’t be a holocaust museum or days of remembrance for the Rwandans, at least those who stood up in the face of overwhelming horror can say that at least they did something while everyone else did nothing. In the song above, the chorus says, “When will the sun return above us? Who will reveal it once again to us?”–something that many may wonder during such horrific times. I guess the answer to that question is that God will return it and reveal it… with the caveat that we take the first steps, no matter how small they are. In short, we may not be able to save everyone, but there’s nothing but ourselves stopping us from saving those we can.

2. Seeing as how this inter-African conflict (as well as the majority of the intra-cultural and intra-religious conflicts) was a result of outside forces who created such a conflict… I wonder if we’ll ever live to see the day when the people who are suffering from such conflicts (such as the Africans, the Arabs, etc) will ever realize, “Hey, we’re such idiots for hating and fighting each other based on differences that others made for us” and join together as a powerful statement against those who started such conflicts. In the movie, there’s a powerful line from Nick Nolte’s character, and while explaining why the world will not intervene, he says: “You’re black. You’re not even a ni****. You’re an African.” I wonder how long it will take the African world, the South American world, the Arab and Asian world to realize that this is how the West will always look at these third world countries. Instead of being quick to sell out in an effort to “be like the West”, I wonder if these respective peoples will ever take pride in being themselves, revive and embrace their rich histories and traditions, and flourish in the knowledge of being true to themselves.

(edit: 1:22 PM, Monday) In the “Million Voices” song, Sidi Wyclef says:

If America, is the United States of America,
Then why can’t Africa, be the United States of Africa?
And if England, is the United Kingdom,
Then why can’t Africa unite all the kingdoms
and become United Kingdom of Africa?

Hmm, as cheesy as it might sound, why cant the Muslim nations become the United Nations of Islam Till Yawm-al-qiyaamah (UNITY)…

3. As for justice… I only feel resentment and hatred (rightfully so?) to those leaders and officials who had the power to do something about it but chose to do nothing. In the end then, I’m comforted by the words of Allah and desirous that He saves us from being amongst the unjust or complicit with oppression.

Hani Rifa’i lays down some truth.

14:42 And do not think Allah to be heedless of what the unjust do; He only grants them respite until a day on which the eyes will fixedly stare (in horror)

14:43 Hastening forward with necks outstretched, their heads upraised, their eyes not reverting to them and their hearts vacant.

14:44 And warn people of the day when the chastisement shall come to them, then those who were unjust will say: “O our Lord! respite us (if only) for a short term, (so) we shall respond to Thy call and follow the messengers.” What! did you not swear before (that) there will be no end for you!

14:45 And you dwelt in the abodes of those who were unjust to themselves, and it was clear to you how We dealt with them and We have made (them) examples to you.

14:46 And they have indeed planned their plan, but their plan is with Allah, though their plan was such that the mountains should pass away thereby.

14:47Therefore do not think Allah will fail in His promise to His messengers; surely Allah is Mighty, the Lord of Retribution.

14:48 On the day when the earth shall be changed into a different earth, and the heavens (as well), and they shall come forth before Allah, the One, the Supreme.

14:49And you will see the guilty on that day bound together in chains.

14:50Their garments of liquid pitch, and their faces covered with Fire;

14:51 That Allah may repay each soul (according to) what it has earned; surely Allah is swift in reckoning.

14:52 This is a clear message for mankind in order that they may be warned thereby, and that they may know that He is only One God, and that men of understanding may take heed.


From → Uncategorized

  1. Anonymous permalink

    I’ve been wanting to watch Hotel Rwanda forever! I didn’t read this cuz’ I’m afraid your gonna give away the ending but 2 props for writing such a loooong post about it! j.k., I’ll read it after I watch it.

  2. Anonymous permalink

    damn that post was too long KR…you should be slapped…and according to nazim bhai…i have a fatwah to slap you with the back of my hand! haha…props…

  3. H R is such an AMAZING movie! watching it reminded me of scenes from american history x and that new movie, crash. maybe im weird to make those parallels, but oh well… “In short, we may not be able to save everyone, but there’s nothing but ourselves stopping us from saving those we can.”….very well said.

  4. i watched this movie and was depressed for weeks after it, subhanAllah…. may Allah help us to wake up from all this.  i wonder if this affected people enough for them to donate, volunteer, etc.

  5. Anonymous permalink

    how do you expect me to keep my concentration through this entire post?
    Heres two for you to keep you happy. lest I incur youre wrath later

  6. Anonymous permalink

    haha i love hisham…

  7. Deep stuff:
    >>>>Instead of being quick to sell out in an effort to “be like the West”, I wonder if these respective peoples will ever take pride in being themselves, revive and embrace their rich histories and traditions, and flourish in the knowledge of being true to themselves.
    kr, I was watching that NASA live feed, and at impact time….instead of showing the impact…they showed the NASA folks all hugging and jumping and stuff like that…dude….that was so wrong…someone should be fired for that…

  8. I can’t comprehend how justice will be served for all of the atrocities that are/have been committed in the world throughout history, especially the last hundred or so years. It completely boggles my mind. Probably a limitation of the human mind or just a lack of understanding. At the end of the day, the Promise of Allah(SWT) it True, and He says that there will be justice, so there will be. One day, Insha’Allah.

  9. beautiful entry bro, hotel Rwanda was an awesome movie.

  10. “The International Community wasn’t there for Rwanda 11 years ago…but we can be there for them today.http://www.rwandapartners.orghttp://www.internationalfundforrwanda.orgwell-posted,IJB

  11. Anonymous permalink

    hotel rawanda z i n d a b a d

  12. Anonymous permalink

    I especially like point #2. Wouldn’t that be good?

  13. In fact, perhaps even more heinous was the fact that the “Hutu power” radio station that served to co-ordinate the killings on Tutsis was not shut down or jammed by outside forces because some American lawyers said that this would be a violation of the right to free speech….
    damn good post

  14. That was a great post KamKam…now go back to boards studying!

  15. still have to see the movie (should have seen it last march with my MSA). anyways, nice nice post masha’allah.

  16. Anonymous permalink

    jazakamAllahukhairan.mmad beneficial post.

  17. Anonymous permalink

    Great movie. However the movie end too happy. Viewers are left to believe that everything is well and good. The main family with Cheadle gets to go off and live in Europe. There is no emphasis on the violence, poverty, and death that is still a horrible problem in Rawanda and in other parts of Africa. It is great at getting the truth of the massacre out to the general public, but it is very disingenuous in its portrayal of how the issues in Rawanda have been “resolved”. If you are interested in this issue check out the documentary called Shaking Hands with the Devil. Sorry to rant on your blog…by the way what is a broke kuthba? Does that mean that the Khateeb is bankrupt?

  18. to hisham/alti: ive said it before, and i’ll say it again… you both need to develop attention spans longer than those of goldfish
    to salma: the post doesn’t give the ending away. besides, it isnt a surprise ending, so even if you read this post, it won’t ruin the movie for you.
    to mawlana nazim: i KNOW man, that was terrible… i sat there for 40 minutes, all hyped up that i’d see a big explosion… and instead, i see all those NASA people celebrating like they just won the super bowl.
    to everyone else: thanks for the kind words
    to rooji: boards? study? why?
    to ishiwud: thanks for putting that link up, i was meaning to do that but forgot.
    to azthebaz: welcome to my stupid xanga. thanks for commenting (unlike the 150 other people who don’t…)… but yeah, i agree with you on that. i think the violence wasnt AS emphasized because it not only had a pg-13 rating, but the point of the movie was mainly (i think) to show the power that one human has in the face of overwhelming odds… the actual coverage of the conflict was only in the movie so as to set up the delineation of this main theme. thanks for the recommendation, i’ll check that out soon, inshallah. finally, “broke khutbahs” refers to a khutbah that is… well, boring/broke… a subtle pun to a serious problem that i think is plaguing muslim masjids across america.

  19. hmmwell it got me thinkingsad stuffprops on your reply as well

  20. Asalamu alaikum,
    Yea bro genocide. Its been happening all over the world. Especially in Africa. I know that the anniversary of the genocide in Srebrenica is coming up I think the 12th of July. I recently found out about that. Almost 8,000 muslims were slaughtered there. Innocent or not. The men and boys were seperated from the sisters and their female children. All the brothers and the children brothers were killed. Also many sisters were raped. This was just 10 yrs ago in Bosnia. Its jsut so horrific if you think about it. Man I cant believe people are so barbaric. This is life. Subhan’Allah. Inshallah I will check out the movie.

  21. Ma shaa Allah, the first paraghraph is a very decent analysis (this coming from a past english lit major)… the contrast of the people was represented really well with your words barakAllhhu feek. I’ve heard this movie is an absolute must see for everyone  (close to must anyway)- many mashaayikh recommend watching it… and my friends keep bugging me about renting it.
    The concept of genocide gets you thinking as a Muslim – and I’m surprised at how many ask the question “how can you believe there is a god when he allows these things to happen?” or if they’re muslim “why should we still belive in Allah when He doesn’t stop these things?” .. subhanAllah. Ya3ni, it’s not Allah SWT who’s lacking in mercy – it is us human beings whose compassion at these times reach below a female spider eating her children if she’s hungry.
    Also.. imagine if Allah SWT did not spread His mercy on us, how much worse and more rampant things like genocide would be in this world .. but He has decreed that His mercy would be more than His wrath. TabarakAllahu a7sanal khaliqeen.
    lastly, my man Rafa3i is off the hook.
    wasalaamu’alaykum warhamatulahee wabarakatuhu …
    in the end, we’re too blessed to be stressed =>blessedmuslimah

  22. the two-facedness of what happens around the world in the name of religion and race is sickening.  as for United Nations of Islam Till Yawm-al-qiyaamah (UNITY) 🙂 …we can only pray, insha’Allah.
    btw – nice Qur’an recitation.  I think I found another favorite recitor. *thumbup*

  23. Hey Kamran if you haven’t read “The Oath” by Khassan Baiev, take a look at it when you get time. It’s about a doctor so it might appeal to you.And yeah I watched HR when I was in Bangladesh this summer. It’s by far one of the most important movies recently filmed.Favorite line: “People will watch this stuff on their TVs, say OH MY GOD!, . . . . and then go eat their dinners.” (phoenix’s character)

  24. this is just because you whine about eprops so much..
    i dont even read your entries anymore you jerk.
    go back to hydrobad.

  25. Powerhouse, you mean Bangwhore…but yes, HR was a beautiful movie. And KR, quit being an eprop junkie…sheesh mahal dhabba! you seem to fall apart from the realization that everyone isn’t giving you eprops…hehe, so here’s 2 because I love you. Next time you need a hit just let me know.

  26. Well, first off, Jazak’Allah for the technical tip. I was just messing with the colors, and it was confusing me, so I just shut the computer off the wrong way. You can come back now, it’s fixed.Excellent entry. I haven’t seen it yet, even though I want to. I mean I know this is totally off topic but I saw this Indian movie called Mother India and it was majorly depressing. I couldn’t even finish it. Everyone is really busy raising awareness for South Africa latley, good for them. Nothing is funnier then U2’s (it’s a band) charity event! So they decided to have a concert with the intentions of raising awareness. It turns out, they didn’t donate any money to the cause! All they wanted to do was “raise awareness”! LOL .. what jerks.AsalamuAlaikum

  27. good post….

  28. no i meant hydrobad

  29. I’m disappointed that he didn’t win Best Actor too. That was a wonderful performance
    Great post, MashAllah

  30. I thought the movie did a really great job explaining what happened in Rwanda and showing how Paul went about trying to save the people around him….there’s so much more to Paul’s story though and while this movie was exceptional, a more complete profile of Paul was written by Philip Gourevitch in “We wish to Inform you that tomorrow we will be killed”…the book contains interviews and information about people from all sides of the genocide… from the victims to the genocidaires to UN workers who simply stood by and watched while the genocide occured….the book is very eye opening and changed my previous ideas about people like Bill Clinton, Kofi Annan, and other Western leaders that had knowledge of what occured there but refused to take action for political reasons.

  31. thanks for the info on that book. inshallah ill check it out after boards

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