A Good Neighbor

SharaaI have known Dr Nermin Al-Houti for quite some time through her columns and lectures, but never seen her in person until about two years ago when I was invited to Sharja, the United Arab Emirates to attend a festival when the city was the Capital of Arab Culture at the time. When I met her in person, I was really impressed with her presentation about education in the region and in Kuwait. Our relation continued since then, and we are exchanging views and I seek some advice and information from her, and she never let me down.

I learned from Dr Houti that her uncle had died recently, and I came across a column By Dr Humoud Al-Hattab in a local Arabic daily that spoke about him. I decided to go ahead to write about the man through this column.

‘The good man Abdullah Ibrahim Al-Houti was a respected personality in Shamiya, who died a few days earlier. We knew him as a righteous neighbor who loved good deeds, was humble with people, generous to the poor and needy and a worshiper who did not miss a prayer at the mosque.

He was our neighbor for fifty years in Shamiya, with a small street separating our houses. Our house and theirs was in block 9 on Wahran Street. Al-Houti, Al-Muqahwi and ourselves were the first to live in Shamiya when it was a semi-desert with only signs of home borders. Next to Al-Houti’s house, was Al-Zanki on the same street along with the Al-Jinahi house, and they were the first to live in this neighborhood, followed by the Al-Saad family, while there is another home of (uncle) Abdullah on the same street across from the female teachers’ institute.

Abdelwahab Al-Houti is the eldest son of (uncle) Abdullah, and he is a very close friend and a schoolmate during various stages. We sat on one desk in the third secondary class, the first desk on the left side of the classroom, and we had lots of memories in this class, and whoever wants to enjoy them can ask Abu Omar about it.

Uncle Abu Abdelwahab, may Allah bestow His mercy on him, was a truly self-made businessman, as he depended on himself, after Allah, in his trade and supervised it himself, and moreover, he used to clear goods at the customs by himself without relying on agents, so he was seen to be active and vibrant, going to ports to process his transactions, and also supervised the sale of his goods personally.

Our relation with our Al-Houti neighbors was like a family, and contacts and visits linked the two families. I personally had close friendships with the children of ‘uncle,’ and there was no effect of any age difference between me and all the children of (uncle) Abu Abdelwhab, as his children, may Allah bless them, are known to being warm in dealing with others and characterized by their ability to understand and communicate, and that is what (uncle) Abu Abdelwhab instilled in them in good attributes. They are religious and keen on implementing the teachings of Islam in their daily life. Abdelwahab, the eldest son, was an official at the Awqaf Ministry, and (uncle) Abu Abdelwahab is the father-in-law of Dr Nasser Al-Sane.

Shamiya residents know ‘uncle’ Abu Abdelwahab with all his traits. He was loyal to this area, and did not leave it since the ’50s of the last century, and their beautiful home, which is a piece of art, still stands witness to the taste of ‘uncle’ Abu Abdelwahab, as he built it according to the beautiful architecture of that era and it got more beautiful with the good manners of its people.

Uncle Abu-Abdelwahab Al-Houti frequented the Al-Saqer mosque since it was opened, and used to go there on foot, and did not miss a prayer. The diwan of (uncle) Abu-Abdelwahab is a cultural one, where everybody meets on Tuesday every week, and mostly you see Shamiya residents go to the diwan as a landmark of Shamiya.

Al-Saqer mosque lost ‘uncle’ Abu Abdelwahab, and Shamiya lost him with his death. “Truly, to Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return.” “There is no might nor power except in Allah.”‘

By Abdellatif Sharaa
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