Today, as jubilation erupted in Maydan Tahrir, a parcel of land the world has come to know as Liberation Square, the same feeling of exhalation washed over the rest of the nation, the ummah, the world.
As trite as it is to say, today was historic. A long standing dictator was toppled on the continent of Africa, in the context of the broader Middle East, by an almost entirely peaceful and broad coalition of everyday, average people. There were no bombs dropped from on high or marines sent in to forcefully depose an illegitimate regime. It was students, professionals, academics, doctors, doormen and farmers all coming together to loudly and – again, because it warrants emphasis – peacefully proclaim ENOUGH.
Were there transgressions? Of course there were; Egypt has a population of 80 million, after all. The burning of property, the assaults on law enforcement and the tragic clashes in Tahrir between protesters and regime supporters are all regrettable, to say the least. They are, however, among only a scant few, if nonetheless noticeable, blemishes on an otherwise pristine revolution.
For each of these tragic and chaotic scenes, a hundred can be found of life, faith and liberty. For every moment of trepidation and fear, the hope that a brighter tomorrow would come never abated. And all praise is due to Allāh for granting us this victory in the end.
So what's next?
The predictions on what lies ahead range from the unequivocally optimistic, to the cautiously optimistic, right down the spectrum to the unduly pessimistic.
Are there challenges ahead? Sure. No one rose up in the streets of Egypt's cities and rural towns simply to oust Mubarak – and certainly no one was chanting for the installment of a military junta. People marched, fought and (Allāh yerhamhum) died so that they can have a say in the way their country is run. Key political reforms laid out by the youth movement that initiated the #Jan25 protests have, understandably, yet to be implemented. After decades of corruption and manipulation, many social and political institutions need to be entirely overhauled if not assembled anew. As the leaders and people of Egypt will soon find out, it is much easier to tear down than it is to build up.
Yet there are already hopeful signs that the coming years will be fruitful. Throughout their many days camping in Maydan Tahrir, the protesters were mindful to clean and otherwise take care of their surroundings because they finally felt a connection to and responsibility over their homeland. This same sentiment has permeated the psyches of many Egyptians the nation over – my sister in Alexandria has already received numerous text messages from her friends suggesting they form groups to clean their neighborhood and scout for hazards in the road. What's more, Egyptians living abroad – who perhaps never gave any serious thought to relocating back to the country that their parents or grandparents immigrated from in search of a better life – are now infused with a newfound sense of pride and are determined to help rebuild their motherland.
The momentum, passion and vision and all are there. It's still uncertain, however, whether they will remain – and remain pure. By the grace of Allāh though, tomorrow looks brighter. So tonight, we celebrate.