Piercing through the silence of the night, the whirring of a helicopter was nearing every minute. It was 3 am in the morning, and despite the tiredness of the previous day, I was fully awake. Yesterday’s events were reeling in my mind like a film. Not that the scenes are unusual for us; this time, their intensity had quadrupled. Now was our turn – I and my family were the victims.
The streets of Gaza witness the same catastrophes almost every day. Only the names and individuals are different. Yesterday, while walking back from college, my two elder brothers and I were stopped viciously by security personnel. They harassed us, hit us with their guns, pushed us and tried to shove us in their van. As they held Abdullah and Talha, I managed to escape. Running from home to home and hiding behind corners, with a trembling body I returned back to my parents.
We have been praying all night. I quietly watch the faces of my parents, as they withhold their tears. I know – they are here to get me. I know – only an hour, and the home, where I am sitting this moment, will be turned down to mere rubble. I know – I will be taken away, my parents will be pushed out, and this place will be no more. I know – because this happens in our country day and night, something we dread and wish to escape, but we cannot.
I am their desired terrorist today, a boy hardly fifteen years old. Yes, I have committed a crime: I’m a Muslim, and I have refused to leave Palestine, my home. We are the defenders of al-Aqsa.
“They (the disbelievers) had nothing against them, except that they believed in Allah, the All-Mighty, Worthy of all praise!” (Surah Buruj 85:8)
Minutes later, an army of commandos was thrashing the main door with their heavy boots. My heart sank, my limbs were giving way. The heavy metal door was only a matter of two boots for them. As my mother shrieked and pushed me under the bed, I could hear them hammering down the kitchen door.
I’ve seen blood around me since childhood; of uncles and cousins, near and far. My heart was throbbing with terror. I am not a coward, no, but have you ever faced such a thing? I would’ve loved to be martyred, yet indeed the sword hanging above the head of a martyr is enough pain, enough a test. Martyrdom may comparatively be easier, but being locked off to dungeons of miscellany for years and years was an unbearable thought.
The stone fitted hearts started dragging my father by his hair. They hurled him into the wall. “Where is your son?” was their demand. They were pushing him around; however, he refused to say a word. This was unbearable. I decided to reveal myself, but before I could do so, they ruined my world. Amid the cries of my mother, a complete round of bullets was emptied in his chest. In just a couple of hours, from having everything I was left with having nothing.
They searched and re-searched every room. Clothes, books, bottles, boxes; everything was strewn across the house. They emptied literally everything and every valuable made way into their pockets. Alas! Alas! They found me… A heavily muscled soldier pulled me, as I kicked and resisted. The screams of my mother intensified. They hit her, but how could this have silenced her. The memory of her sobs still causes pain to my heart.
I was handcuffed and brutally dragged off. The last glimpse that I caught of the house was seconds before they blindfolded me. Two bulldozers accompanied the tyrants. I knew that nothing would remain of my dear home but debris. Later to be inhabited by oppressors and illegal occupiers.
“…and your Lord is never forgetful.” (Surah Maryam 19: 64)
Three years have passed as I lay in a cell, accompanied by some others with similar stories as mine. There is no news of my family or what remains of them. My mother is not allowed to visit, nor do I know when I would be released. A melancholy monotony fills the prison air around us. I hear the same sounds: rockets, shelling, bombs, whirring helicopters and bulldozers.
And amidst all that, I can also hear the chants of ‘Allahu Akbar’ and of prison mates finding peace in the Quran – indeed Allah (swt) is our hope. Verses of the Quran come to soothe us, as we tread the path of patience and resistance. One can only understand the true value of these Ayahs, as they comfort us, while going through the struggles that we go through, in the footsteps of the righteous. All is but for the religion and the word of Allah (swt) to prevail.
I’m sure you now regret reading my miserable story, which will ruin your mood for the day. Instead, there could’ve been a thrilling novel or a mystery story. I apologize for disturbing you.
Do you wish this dilemma would cease for me and for the countless others being oppressed throughout the Muslim world? Yes, there is a Gaza everywhere! Do you care to know, when this tyranny will stop? It will, the day you start paying more attention to us than your branded bags and shoes. It’ll stop the day you start caring for us, more than you do for your lavish dinner parties and designer wear. Things will get better, once you are ready to sacrifice your extravagances, your comfy armchairs and your tension-free lifestyle for the sake of the Ummah; the day we become YOU.
Prophet Muhammad (sa) long ago diagnosed the problem of this Muslim Ummah and also pointed out the solution for us. All we need to do is ponder on his words and act upon them. He said: “If you deal in usury (Riba) and hang onto the tails of cows, being satisfied with cultivation and ceasing to take part in Jihad, Allah (swt) will inflict a humiliation upon you which will not be removed, until you return to your religion.” (Ahmad, Abu Dawud)
“And what is wrong with you that you fight not in the cause of Allah, and for those weak, ill-treated and oppressed among men, women, and children, whose cry is: ‘Our Lord! Rescue us from this town, whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from You one, who will protect, and raise for us from You one, who will help.’ ” (Surah Nisa 4:75)
(This fictitious account is based on true stories from Palestine.)