Freedom Fighters
Grief in Section 60

The Hanging Gardens are described 
as a lavish home of exotic plants 
and animals, waterfalls, and gardens 
hanging from palace terraces, 
however the structure might never 
have actually existed except in 
the mind of Greek poets and 
historians. The Hanging Gardens 
were located on the east bank of 
the River Euphrates, about 50 km 
south of Baghdad, Iraq. 
Later yearsī language lessons by Elisabeth Gyllman

A tale of a car mechanic who became a global traveller
Oh fleeing night, oh eye, canst tho
see my sorrow, feel my grief?

She lost consciousness as the explosives went off around her, she had 
just gotten off the crowded bus in Baghdad on her way home from her 
uncleīs house at Yussufiyeh and was shoved onto the middle of Salal 
Street by all the people deboarding, which probably saved her life. 
The much sought after wild figs were scattered to the ground smeared 
by trampling running feet. She had spent the better part of the day 
gathering the fruit by the riverside on the country, where her uncle 
lived. The center of the explosion was actually on board the bus, to 
the rear. She had been close to a killer riding on the bus, maybe he 
had been sitting beside her, maybe she had absentmindedly looked him 
in the eye.

Leila remembered a feeling of despair just before the big bang, the 
sky was a purple pink with yellowish high streaks of clouds over the 
desert horizon, just before the bus on its shaky journey entered Baghdadīs 
dusty streets, death was called for by nature itself. She had thought 
about the sky looking like that, it was all those colors veiled by a 
blackish shine, as if someone was covering a torch, the sun died, the 
devil was over them.

Leila woke up lying in the midst of the dead bodies, people screaming
at the top of their lungs around her. In a daze she felt her left temple 
where blood was trickling down her face, a stone deriving from the 
explosion had hit her. Breathless she ran towards her house just beside 
the busstop and saw the walls had tumbled down, there was no house. 
The dust was just coming to rest and Leila knew her parents might be
under that pile of rubble. 

Two small contours crept out of the shadows, both her children 
lived, Nadia and little Ahmed were alive. But where was Mohammad? 
Where were her parents? Were they all buried alive or had they been 
struck by the explosives, bodies mutilated, no longer human, shattered
by the ferocious explosion. Gone from this world forever.

She was an innocent citizen of Iraq riding a bus to bring home wild 
figs for her family, how would any suicide bomber justify killing 
civilians? How could any suicide bomber claim to be acting in the 
name of Allah? They must concede they were the devilīs allies. 
Within her Leila called for help from the Great One and he gave 
her strength to stand up on her feet and walk. She didnīt know and
there was nobody to talk to, dead bodies shattered on the ground.

Leila took her children by the hand and walked thro alarm and chaos, 
trodded over deformed corpses that didnīt look human any more, 
stumbled over trees pulled up by their roots, screaming hysterical 
people were now running to and fro and the hooting of cars made the 
scene unbearable for all senses. Soon sirens of ambulances drowned 
all other noise and fire brigades tried to put out the ferocious 
fire set off by the explosion, a thick smoke made Leila and her 
children cough, fighting to get air, rubber tires were burning on the 
many cars on fire. She tried to shield off the horror sights by 
covering her childrenīs eyes by her hands, but struggling sometimes 
on all fours to get over more piles caused by the explosion, she used
her hands for balance and Nadja and Ahmed knew all too well 
what had happened. If there ever was hell on earth this was it. 
If Mohammad was gone, what would she do? She started crying, 
beside herself with worry, the faces of the kids were distorted 
by the horrendous happenings around them, Nadia kept screaming, 
- mama, mama - tho she was walking beside her and the little boy 
tried to climb on to her but she couldn’t carry Ahmed, still a 
baby, she had to keep her arms free to fight their way to get 
away from the fires that started to blaze, the heat and the smoke. 
A few blocks away they sat down resting with their backs to a wall 
at a street where there were no people, everybody was heading for 
where the war was going on now, a terror of a war that took place 
anywhere on earth, any time, the enemy was ever present. Leila felt
warm blood trickling down her face from her wound and was too exhausted
to do anything about it. 

They sat clinging to each other in the pitch black night, a mother 
with her two small children. Eventually the children fell asleep 
and Leila must have dozed off. She was gazing into a kind face as 
she woke up, and a man dressed in a priestīs clothes was talking 
to her. He reached out to get her to her feet.
- Can you walk, he asked. When she nodded, he continued:
- Here, come with me to the mosque. He took the boy in his arms and 
Leila grasped the tiny hand of little couragious Nadia and they 
walked towards the mosque. Tears were streaming down Leilas face again
and she held her darling girl Nadia in her hand, clasping it so fiercely
the daughter told her mum to loosen the grip, she was hurting her.
- Whatīs your name, the helpful stranger asked as they walked. 
Leila told him and she was numb with sorrow and sadness as she went 
on telling him she thought both her parents and her husband were killed 
by the suicide bomberīs explosives. She whispered in his ear not to 
upset the children.

The Abbas family were un unlucky lot. Mohammad had been tortured in 
Saddamīs prison tho he was totally innocent to all they accused him of 
having done. He was to have used his night garage as an assembly point
for the dissidents of Saddamīs rule. He should have planned to extradite
Saddam and some of his closest family from this world. Nothing could be
more crazy and untrue! Mohammad was a simple car mechanic going 
about his life to support his family and the elders. Once the Iraqui 
population were freed from the beast Saddam Hussein and his death 
squadrons, another hell was bestowed upon them with the religious battle 
between the two Moslem main directions sunnite and shia. The shia moslims 
comprised only 10 percent of the Iraqi population but were cleaverly 
executing their power by way of devoted suicide bombers, brainwashed by
relentless men who called themselves Godīs chosen, effective in escalating 
war and violence only. Where was the love of Allah and the prophet? What 
would they be doing on judgment day? Some day they would be accountable for
their deeds standing before the Judge of the Universe. Shia say they adhere 
to the teachings of Mohammad and the religious guidance of his family or 
his descendants known as Shi'a Imams. 

The sunnite larger part of the Islam faith, believe in Allah the creator 
of the universe, and the words and actions of the Prophet of Islam, 
Muhammad, those religious actions that were instituted by Muhammad during 
the 23 years of his ministry and which moslims initially received through 
consensus of companions of Muhammad, and further through 
generation-to-generation transmission. According to some opinions, sunnite 
faith in fact consists of those religious actions that were initiated 
by Abraham and were only revived by Muhammad. The sunnite represent the 
branch of Islam that accepted the caliphate of Abu Bakr due to him being 
chosen by Shurah. They accept an Imam, a church leader to be head of state
and head of religion simultaneously, the Moslem State. 

All true lovers of God know that both shia and sunnite are breaking the 
laws of God in their blodshed and fighting over who has the best right to
call themselves followers of Allah. 

In the Holy Koran the 38th verse of the 42nd Sura refers to the 
habit of consultation between all believers. It says: 
Those who hearken to their Lord, and establish regular Prayer; who 
conduct their affairs by mutual consultation; who spend out of what 
We bestow on them for Sustenance.

A suicide bomber is sent by someone. A suicide bomber has a master and it
is not Allah, the creator of the universe. Why would Allah kill the ones
he created? Why would Allah kill the sons and daughters of Muhammad?

- God have mercy on their souls, the helpful stranger said and Leila knew 
he included the suicide bombers in his blessings.
- God will not have mercy on the bomberīs soul, she shouted. 
- God will not condone killing of innocent people. The merciful Allah will 
send the bomber to hell, how could anyone kill another human being over if
he likes to follow Abu Bakr or not, she went on.
- Allah knows his ways and they are not for humans to ponder about, 
the priest said as any priest would anywhere in the world, lacking 
reason and common sense in his religion. No loving god took on 
responsibility for the killing, neither Moslem nor Christian. 
- Allah is not a killer, Allah is the ever merciful, he repeated and 
Leila sobbed and sobbed.
The man sat her down in front of him with the children clinging to her, a
woman all veiled in light shades of colors came to Leilas side and wiped the
blood away from her temple, she gave the children and herself drinks of water
and bread and goatcheese and they ate but little Ahmed fell asleep spread on 
Leilas lap.

The priest started to tell the congregation about Abu Bakr, reciting in his 
pious way, just to calm them down. His voice was low and loving for he was 
talking about how his God came to be known by people like her and himself.
- This is what we know from the Holy Koran. Abu Bakr was born at Mecca some 
time in the year 573 CE, in the Banu Taym branch of the Quraysh tribe. 
Abu Bakr's father name was Uthman Abu Qahafa nicknamed Abu Qahafa, and his 
mother was Salma Umm-ul-Khair nicknamed Umm-ul-Khair. The birth name of 
Abu Bakr was Abdul Kaaba (servant of Kaaba) and when he converted to Islam 
in 610 he was named Abdullah (servant of Allah) by Muhammad. Suyuti relates 
through Ibn Sa'd al-Baghdadi's report from Aisha her description of Abu Bakr:
"He was a man with fair skin, thin, emaciated, with a sparse beard, a slightly 
hunched frame, sunken eyes and protruding forehead, and the bases of his fingers 
were hairless."
By all standards he was beautiful, and for his beauty he earned the nickname of 
Atiq. He was born in a rich family. He spent his early childhood like other 
Arab children of the time among the Bedouins who called themselves Ahl-i-Ba'eer- 
the people of the camel, he developed a particular fondness for camels.

In his early years he played with the camel foals, and his love for camels 
earned him the nickname of Abu Bakr, the father of the foal of the camel.
It is said that he didn't worship idols since his youth. When Abu Bakr was 
10 years old he went to Syria along with his father with the merchants' 
caravan. Muhammad who was 12 years old the time, was also with the caravan. 
Like other Arab children of the time he was illiterate but developed a 
fondness for poetry. He used to attend the annual fair at Ukaz, and 
participate in poetical symposia. He had a very good memory. In 591 at the 
age of 18, Abu Bakr went into trade and adopted the profession of a cloth 
merchant which was the family's business.
In the coming years Abu Bakr traveled extensively with caravans. Business 
trips took him to Yemen, Syria, and elsewhere. These travels brought him 
wealth and added to his experience. His business flourished and he rose in 
the scale of social importance. Though his father Uthman Abu Qahafa was 
still alive, he become to be recognized as chief of his tribe. Abu Bakr 
was assigned the office of awarding blood money in cases of murder. His 
office was something like the office of an honorary magistrate. Abu Bakr 
was an expert in genealogical lore and he knew intimately who was who in 
Mecca, and what his ancestry was."

When the man quieted down, Leila was calmed by the long monotonous 
reciting and sad no more. 

Leila carried her children to a large quiet room in the mosque where they
rested together with more suffering victims, all women, children and elderly. 
Wounded people, victims from the latest bomb in Salal Street, they were
laying all over the floors and busy nurses were tending to them running
to and fro. Everybody were whispering in the house of God. But the 
weeping and sobbing sometimes were highpitched and then calmed down as 
everybody fell asleep, at least seemingly rested their weary bleeding 
bodies and souls. War in Baghdad. Leila and the kids were right in it.

During the small hours of the night Leila heard American tanks 
patrolling the streets outside the mosque and she felt safe in Godīs 
abode. But nothing stopped a suicide bomber from entering this holy 
house. Everybody was killing everybody these days. Someone had an 
interest to create chaos, not to let the peace come that everybody 
was dreaming of. She must have slept and was woken up by more whispering 
voices praying.

She felt life was somewhere else, she had ceased to live even tho she 
could feel herself breathe and her two children were clinging to her 
like little monkeys. But the children were alive and she was alive in 
this ocean of grief.
She heard the local munshid in the tower sing out the Name of the Great 
and listened to him recite the Koran.
- Allahu Akbar – In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. 
Praise be to God, the Lord of the Universe. The Most Gracious, the Most 
Merciful. King of the Day of Judgment. You alone we worship, and You alone 
we ask for help. Guide us to the straight way. The way of those whom you 
have blessed, not of those who have deserved anger, nor of those who stray. 
May Allah protect thee from the evils of the enemies and the plots 
contrived by impostors. 
- Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst forgive our sins and manifest Thy Grace. 
If Thou wilt, Thou canst punish us and thus display Thy Justice. Therefore, 
be graciously pleased to make Thy Pardon easy for us. By Thy Forgiveness, 
deliver us from Thy Punishment; for verily we have no strength to stand 
against Thy Justice. There is no deliverance for any of us, save through 
Thy Pardon. O Most Independent One! Lo, we, Thy servants, stand before 
Thee; verily we are in great need of Thee.

As the pious munshidīs melodious voice died out, the world was still. 
Dawn was breaking in Baghdad and the distant sound of guns going off made 
Leila shudder.

Oh fleeing night, oh eye, canst tho see my sorrow, feel my grief?

Excerpt from the novel Later yearīs language lessons by Elisabeth Gyllman