For some reason, they decided to send him to Al-Azhar. At the time, the prestigious school, connected to the Fatimid mosque, was a viable destination for Arab scholars seeking higher education, but probably not very suitable for one of his background. It is unknown how many “classes” he attended there, or whether he was ever seen near a mosque. Nevertheless, following a persisting traditional fascination with titles, the minute he headed to Egypt, he was declared a “Sheikh”. He tells the story of the waiter who seemed to be getting more confused with every round of drinks that the “Sheikh” and his party ordered, until he finally snapped in a playful yet angry Sudanese accent: “Daa Shikh Aih Dah ? (What kind of Sheikh is that?) SHEIKH STELLA??!!”. Stella is the local Egyptian brew.
Naturally, his stay in Egypt built and shaped his political character, which helped him play a significant role in the struggle against Zionists upon his return home. Of course, this landed him in the jewish occupation jails and torture chambers. In her book (With My Own Eyes), Felicia Langer dedicates a section to parts of his story under the title (A Communist under Interrogation). He was eventually issued an order of expulsion and kicked out of his homeland, but that was not all what he has lost.
The story goes that one method of “interrogation” was to lock the him up in a pitch-black cell for days, followed by sudden direct exposure to the bright sunlight. The repetition of that practice, his medical history of eye problems, and a few hard blows to the side of the head left him blind. Next to giving up life for a cause, giving up eyesight has to be a close second.
He would settle in Syria for the next couple of decades, but when he visited his family in Amman, it was an occasion worth celebrations. Everyone wanted to get his “blessings”. Daily family gatherings for lunches, dinners, afternoon visits were held to meet and greet him. The best part of any of these get-togethers was when he brought out his Oud. Even little kids will quit whatever they were doing and gather around the blind old warrior to listen and sing along for the struggle, the country and the freedom.
Katyucha was by far everyone’s favorite. Once he teases the crowd with the first few notes, the anticipation grows, until the crowd explodes in unison, in deep voiced Russian: “Rastsvetali yabloni i grushi...”. Clapping starts slowly and escalates in speed and intensity. The verses would alternate between the Arabic and the Russian lyrics, and the voices will get a little louder for “شعبنا الابي لن يقاوم وطنا اشاده لينين: our tenacious people will not resist the country Lenin built” and louder for “قدسنا كانت هي الضحية قدسنا كانت هي الجريح:Our Quds is the victim, Our Quds is the wounded”.
In the mid-nineties, and following the Oslo agreements, the Sheikh, his wife, and his daughters returned home. It must have felt great to return home after years of struggle and estrangement. He put some documents together, contacted some Palestinian Authority parasites, forged some signatures, hired a lawyer and sold his mother and brothers' properties and LAND in Jericho and (Al Quds).
He lived happily ever after.