Oil, Cows, and Benevolence

I remember sometime in my educational process becoming aware of and wrestling with the term “benevolent dictator.” As a western, independent child of the enlightenment, I had assumed all dictators were bad dictators. I had only heard the word used in a negative context. But there are those in power who see it as a sacred honor and obligation to care for the people under their authority.

The Imam’s Daughter

Ruqayyah is nearly three. She is named after a daughter of Muhammad. She has dark eyes, long straight hair and a pretty smile. She loves her daddy, imam Wasif. We sat on the floor of the mosque with a Muslim heart doctor.

“Can you say,’hello’?” Wasif asked his daughter. She seemed shy but curious as she stayed close to her father’s side.

The afternoon prayers were about to start. The doctor spoke of patients who had died that week and the suddenness of death. “We had just finished examining her. She was getting her things together, had a heart attack and died.” He spoke of another young friend who had stomach cancer and had been given two months to live. “We just don’t know.” He paused. “I see death all the time. I don’t want to get so used to it that I don’t feel it anymore.” Wasif nodded as he considered what the doctor had said.

The FBI came to our Somali Peace Feast

The FBI agent was a sharply dressed young woman. I wondered why she was attending the Somali Peace Feast. Another friend who works with local internationals said this FBI agent had been a friend to the international community helping both the agency and the local police department be more sympathetic with the immagrant populations.