Monday, April 23, 2007

In Memory of Bilal

I sat with my sister in law yesterday, and we replayed some of our memories of Bilal. Surprisingly, it made us smile, not cry. Here's a small tribute written by Bilal's cousin in law, a young doctor who knew Bilal well (edited to maintain some anonymity). I'm doing this more for myself than for anyone else, to remember. I apologize to my non-Arabic readers.

طوبى بلال

خواطر ملتهبة، في عهد الازدهار الديمقراطي في عراقنا الجريح !!.. في رثاء الاخ الحبيب (بلال) ابن لعشرين* ربيعا.. الذي اختطفته يد المليشيات المجرمة من حرم كلية... بجامعة .. ليعثر عليه بعد اربعة ايام شهيدا في دائرة الطب العدلي ببغداد....

تقبله الله بواسع رحمته...

هذه الخواطر تشبه مسيرة بلال الشهيد بمسيرة الصحابي الجليل بلال بن رباح رضي الله عنه وارضاه...

* * * *

في عتمة الليل البهيم ،

وتصارع الأضداد في دنيا الوحوش..

قلبٌ يلوّعه الحنين..

للخلد، للجنات، للحق المبين..

وعزيمة مضاء تأبى تستكين..

تصرخ في أذن الزنيم،

رغم سياط الحاقدين:

أحدٌ ... أحدْ !!

* * *

طوبى بلال...

قد كنت تهتف صادحا :

أن لا إله سوى الأحد..

وأن الخلد طريقه، لما يزل إلى الأبد

دوماً مورَّد...

بالشوك، بالآلام، بعذاب السجون..

بجهاد المخلصين..

ودموع العارفين..

وبأكوام النعوش!!!

* * *

طوبى بلال...

قد كنتَ تحرس فكرةً..

قد كنتَ تنشر دعوةً..

قد كنتَ ترفع راية ً،

شماء تعلوها النقوش..

بأن دين الله لا يغلبه أبداً .. أحدْ

* * *

طوبى بلال...

أسرتَ قلوب العاشقين..

تيـَّـمت كل الحائرين...

حتى إذا أزف الرحيل،

وأتممتَ ذا الدور الجليل..

لم يجف دمعٌ بعين فردْ !! (1)

* * *

طوبى بلال...

أنعم بـ (إبن رباح) قائدَ للطريق..

وبـ (سلة الرمضان) (2) تمسح كل ضيق..

ذي (المرتقى) (3) الوسناء، تبكي ذا الرفيق..

(باب المعظم) (4) مغلقٌ، حَـزَناً على الأدب الرقيق..

تبكيك حتى (...) (5) ، بل كل أعضاء (الفريق) (6)...

كفكفتَ كل دموعهم..

وكتبتَ بالقاني الثمين..

واضحا.. وبلا رتوش :

(عجلت للمولى الكريم ،

شوقاً إلى البر الرحيم،

عجلت للفرد الصمد...

أحدٌ ... أحدْ !! )

23/ نيسان/2007

  1. اشارة الى الاذان الاخير الذي رفعه بلال بن رباح قبل وفاته والذي ابكى الجميع وقتها.
  2. مشروع (سلة رمضان) .. حملة خيرية رائدة تبنتها رابطة الطلبة والشباب العراقية بتوزيع الآف السلات الغذائية على المتعففين في عموم العراق.. وقد كان لبلال قصب السبق في اعداد وتنفيذ هذا المشروع..
  3. جريدة طلابية كان بلال يديرها ويزينها بمقالاته وكتاباته
  4. مجمع باب المعظم من جامعة بغداد..

  5. فريق كرة القدم
* Actually, turned 21 yrs old three weeks ago.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Day Six: Bilal's Burial

'A's friend brought Bilal's body to his family today, because its dangerous for Sunni men to pick their dead up from the city morgue. They washed his body and prepared it for burial in our house. This might sound morbid to some people, but for me, I feel that my house has been honored by having this shaheed cleansed in it. They prayed the janazah prayer in another neighbor's yard.
Bilal had been in the morgue for three days, but not in a fridge, because the morgue had run out of space. He had no smell coming from him. InshaAllah, that is a sign that he is a shaheed, accepted by Allah. He has a smile on his face. Looks very serene and comfortable. Like he has rested from this world's burdens. I saw his picture. He is beautiful and shining.
His mother is holding up well. She's tough. She told us that she's patient on the outside, but her heart is burnt up on the inside, torn asunder. She told us that when she saw him, she kissed him and told him how much she missed him. She told him, "You don't have to study anymore, your finished with your college studies." And it seemed like he smiled. Then she told him, " And you are a shaheed- a martyr," and it seemed as if he smiled even more. Allahumma taqabbalahu.
They took him to bury him next to his grandfather, in a cemetary near Abu Ghraib- a very dangerous area to travel to now. My husband told me there were masked men with kalashinkovs along the way, with arbitrary check ups set up. My mother in law was afraid for them making this journey, but alhamdulillah, they came back safely. And Bilal was left behind buried under the ground. In a much better place.
I have a picture of his older brother, 'A', sitting near his grave, pondering at the ground. It's such a moving picture. It shakes me to see 'A' so sober, so worn out; 'A' who is always laughing, making jokes.
It's been six days, and the ordeal is finally over. Six hellish days. A week ago we never imagined that a week later we'd be left with broken hearts.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Day Five: Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'oon: To God We Belong and To Him We Will Return

I don't feel like writing this post, but at the same time, I want to record this history down for my daughters and myself to remember.
They killed Bilal on Thursday, April 19, 2007. His body was found today, Saturday, April 21, 2007. He was shot in his arms, chest and head. He is our martyr. May God accept him.
We're worn out by our tears and sadness. But what I'm feeling is nothing compared to what his poor mother is living through now and what she will face the rest of her days.
She was very patient when I spoke to her today. But she hasn't seen him yet. Tomorrow they will cleanse him and bury him next to his grandfather. Tomorrow she will see him. But she will have closure, alhamdulillah.
His younger sister sounded so different on the phone, I didn't recognize her. His older sister cried and told me, "He was the best of youth. He truly was a man whose heart was attached to the masjid. He truly is a youth who grew up fee ta'at illah."
t night, his mom told my sister in law, "I miss him so much. Khattiyya, he's there (in the morgue) by himself. I miss him. I just want to hold him and kiss him and kiss him." Aaaakkhh, Khalei.
My husband made me cry and cry. When you hear a man quiet, sobered with pent up tears, you cry.
There's so much to say. But I can't concentrate now. Remember him in your prayers, always. I will remember you in my prayers, always, ya Bilal. Our Bilal. Our martyr.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Hoping for Bilal: Day Four

My heart is heavy and I don't want to write this. I thought almost for sure that by today I would be writing good news. Bilal is still not home. The family has basically accepted his fate. But there's always hope, until a body is found. There's always hope, even if the mind knows otherwise.
Tomorrow his brother, father, uncles, and cousin (my husband) will go search for his body in the city morgue. Please make duaa that he comes home safe and sound.
I spoke with Aunt N, didn't know what to say to her. She was crying telling me, "Bas areed aghsha'u, bas areed aghsha'u...hatta law....". "All I want is to see him, all I want is to see him... even if... all I want is to see him." Aaaah ya Khala N, I hope you see him well and alive.
Please pray for him.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Waiting for Bilal: Day Three

They paid the ransom today, at a designated place, unspecified till they arrived in a general location. Our neighbor, (father of two sons and a son in law kidnapped more than six months ago, and still missing) insisted on taking the ransom to the evil people. I'll give you more details later.
But basically, Bilal is still not home. The money was delivered noon time in Baghdad, and its now almost three am, and he's still not home. The biggest fear is that they took the money and the kid's life.
Bilal's uncle and my husband drove around separately today, in an area they thought he might be in. But he wasn't there. Basically with these kidnappings, as has happened in the past, the ransom is paid, and the kidnapped is released in a separate location, away from anyone's eyes. You pay the money with the hope that your loved one comes home safe and sound. Many hours later, usually later that day, your loved one finds his way home, with the help of strangers. That's what happened with our two other relatives who were kidnapped.
The family is frantic, depressed now. Please keep them in your prayers and thoughts.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Crying for Bilal: Day Two

It turns out that Aunt N wasn't the one who answered her son's frantic call, but his ten year old brother, Ch. Ch picked up his mom's cell phone and heard Bilal screaming, "Wal, Ch tell mama they are taking me, they kidnapped me, leave me alone, leave me alone. Let me go!" Ten years old and having to live through this!
Anyways, the kidnappers called again today, and restated their demands for $25,000. Bilal's brother, A, started out at $12,000, telling them they couldn't pay more than that, but he quickly climbed up to $20,000. When I was in Baghdad during his two other relatives' kidnappings, A was doing the negotiations then. He was tough, he held hard to a much lower number than what the kidnappers were demanding. His sister screamed at him for putting her husband in a position of being killed, but he held hard, and it paid off in the end.
But with his own brother, he couldn't stay tough. My husband was telling me that A has been crying for his brother, and just melted in front of the negotiators. One day into it, and he couldn't hold out. After this call, a relative took the next call, and they agreed to paying $22,500. That's US dollars! It's more than Bilal's family can afford in their lifetimes, but if Bilal comes out safely, it's worth it. Anyways, hopefully tomorrow, inshaAllah, they will agree on the place of payment. Until Bilal is safe in their hands, no one can trust these kidnappers. So until then, we need everyone's prayers for his safety.
My hubby was telling me how tense it is in the house (he's staying at his aunt's, at Bilal's house). Everyone is screaming at each other. When my husband insisted that they stick to paying $12,000, before they had come to an agreement, his aunt yelled at him, "They'll kill Bilal." It's scary for everyone, because they're basically bartering for their son/brother's life. Maybe their insistence on a lower sum will save them thousands of dollars, and maybe it will kill their loved one. It's kind of funny, but Iraqi families have started talking about what they would do in the case of a kidnapping. My husband told me long ago, should anything happen to him, not to ever pay more than $10,000. I always tell him, whatever, but when it comes down to it, everyone loses their minds. Bilal's brother, A, was always the smooth, smart negotiator. But when it touched him directly in his home, in his heart, he melted. Aaakkhh.
Bilal has been sleeping in the same bedroom with my husband for the past month (a displaced family was staying at our house). Last night, my husband couldn't sleep, was emotional all night. He kept on thinking that Bilal was in the bed behind him, as he has been every night. But then he would realize that Bilal was in a cold, dark, uncomfortable place. Kaan Allah fee '3awnak ya Bilal, wa fakka 'asrak, wa raddaka ilayna saaliman ghaniman. Aameen.
, tomorrow, I will have good news to write.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Crying for Bilal

Today I had to write this post. I've been away for so long, feeling myself a bit distanced from the events happening in Baghdad. But these past few weeks, ever since my husband went back to Baghdad, event after event have touched too close for comfort, bringing me back, by no choice of mine, to Baghdad and its misery.
Today I shed my first real tears for Baghdad. Every day my heart cries for what's happening there, but today my eyes joined my heart in sadness.
Today I found out that Bilal was kidnapped from university. Yes, his name is Bilal, not B, because the world has to know this good boy's name. My husband called me earlier today and told me the bad news. His cousin, Bilal, went to his university, Baghdad University (Bab Mua'dham campus), for an exam. A while later, his mom got a call, the call that every mother dreads, from Bilal himself. He was screaming into the phone, "they got me, they got me," and yelling at his kidnappers at the same time. I can only guess what my dear aunt in law is living through right now, recalling that call over and over in her head.
Bilal is not only a cousin to my husband and me. He's our neighbor in Baghdad, living two doors away. He's the kid who came over all the time, and the one who we visited all the time, at his parents' house. He played with my then one year old, carried her around with him when he went out, took videos of her entertaining the family. He came over to our house when we were out and needed someone to sit with the workers fixing the house. He's the one we sent on odd errands.
The other day, I heard my father speaking on the phone to a guy named Bilal, another Bilal. I don't know why my heart grew nostalgic for this kid, for my cousin in law, as if I knew no other Bilal in the world. As if the name only belongs to him. Maybe my heart felt something.
Please make duaa' for him. Please pray for him and his family.

UPDATE: The kidnappers called his family and asked for $200,000. A few hours later, they downgraded it to $25,000. Bilal's brother is hoping to bring it down even more, the next time they call. It's reassuring that they are asking for a ransom, and that they seem pretty desperate for quick cash. May Allah protect him.
When I spoke to his mom today, all she could tell me was, 'He always told me his friends loved him, and would never hurt him. He never gave me their names or numbers; I don't know who to talk to." Apparently at school, the Sunni students have stopped attending university, b/c its been taken over by Sadrists. And likely that's who kidnapped Bilal. A friend sold him out to the Mahdi 'army', as a Sunni student on campus, for a small share of the profits. Sad world.