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April 3, 2004
Collateral Whatever...

by Talal Sarwani

Wisam's little hands struggled with his laces in the dark of the early morn. He heard the door of his parents' room creak open, and rushed out of his room. Wisam's father smiled when he saw his wide-eyed child awake at the early hour. He whispered "mashaAllah" to himself, and stuck out his hand. Wisam grasped his father's hand, and they both walked out of the house, onto the rubble-ridden road. It was a beautifully quiet time of the day. The faces of all were awake with wide smiles of welcome and glad tidings. Amid the silence, Wisam found an odd solace in the sounds of stone crushing under their feet; the feet of those whose destination was one this morning.

Wisam had been anticipating this morning for the past two weeks. It was going to be his first chance to sit with the men during breakfast. Breakfast would come later, though, as first he would have to complete the task that made his father finally see him as a Man. As they got closer to the Masjid, the road filled up with more and more Believers. Tidings of peace here, tidings of peace there, praising of Allah here, and praising of Allah there. Wisam took off his shoes and stepped onto the cool marble floor, which he always found out of place amongst the wartorn remains of the buildings around them. When he entered the main prayer hall, an amazing cool went through him, making his innards almost sigh in relief. He prayed two nafl with is dad in the first line of the Masjid, and they both sat, awaiting the Adhaan. Wisam loved to look at his father during the short time before the Call to Prayer. All the stories that Shaykh Abdul-Rahim used to tell them, of the Sahaba and the Tabi'een, of the real men who walked this Earth, it was in his father that he saw all those characteristics. Abu Wisam would always say that it was his son that changed him into the Man he was today, that it was in this precious gift from Allah that he found his way onto the Straight Path. It was Wisam that made him pay attention to the love he had for his wife, and it was Wisam that reconciled him with his own father.

Qasim, the Muetthin, rose up and walked to the front of the Masjid to make the call. Umm Wisam sat in the dark of her room, awaiting the same call the men were eager to hear in the Masjid. "ALLAHU AKBAR"... Qasim's voice resonated from the Masjid, through the rubble, and into Umm Wisam's heart. It was at that moment, as it was every morning for her, that a tear fell from her eye. "ALLAHU AKBAR", and her heart trembled. "ALLAHU AKBAR! ALLAHU AKBAR!". So the Call continued, and as it came to an end, Umm Wisam wiped the tears from her cheeks; tears spent thanking Allah for the child and husband He had given her. Thanking Allah for the warmth her heart felt when she turned to Him. Thanking Allah for the respite of this Deen amid the chaos all around them. "SubhanAllah walhamduliAllah".

Qasim arose once more to make the Iqama. The Men stood up, standing shoulder-to-shoulder, foot-to-foot, brother-to-brother, keeping the Shaitaan away from infiltrating the ranks of the Believers. As the Men submitted to Allah, the Mothers, Daughters, and Sisters of the area were busy preparing the first meal of the day. Umm Wisam remembered her son used to watch his mother as she cooked, joking with her, and telling her not to worry since he was the Man of the house while Abu was gone. Mother and Son would always share a quick breakfast before the Men returned, and the busyness of the day began. That was before, though, and Umm Wisam smiled as she thought of her eleven-year-old Man praying in the Masjid.

Next door, Fatima bint Uthman prepared three water balloons in anticipation of Wisam's return. It was time to get him back for his constant "I'm a Man, I'm a Man" talk. She was ready to show him the wrath of a Woman. Never will he call her "Batteekhah" again, she thought to herself, yet she couldn't help but smile at the word when she thought of it. She peered out her door, and in the distance saw Men beginning to leave the Masjid. She grasped two balloons in her hands, and stood with her back against the wall.

Wisam joined his father in greeting all the Men. Fajr reminded souls of their fitra, so all the faces were happy and full of cheer, with not a gruff or tired look in sight. Wisam bent down to clumsily ties his shoes, as his father said a few words to the Imam.

Umm Wisam placed the dishes on her tray and picked them up.

Fatima knew that it was a wait of a only a few moments more.

Wisam kept on missing that last loop to tighten his lace.

At the sound of that which pierced her heart, Umm Wisam dropped her tray, the dishes crashing into chaos.

The wall knocked Fatima forward, the ballons meeting their fate on the floor.

Wisam smiled at himself when he finally got the last tie in place. He did not the see the Fire that claimed all in its path.

AP Newswire - It is reported that the Oppressors were forced to attack the Masjid of some town in that place where all are supposed to be evil. The Oppressive General said that it was suspected that there may, possibly, at one point or the other, in some way or the other, have been some kind of activity that could be deemed illegal going on in the Masjid. The rocket attack was a necessity due to the stealth and speed required in such a dangerous mission. When asked if he had any words for the bystanders killed, he said "I don't think there's a need to apologize. This is all for the good of people".
Report filed by One Who Has Forgotten the Use of His Profession.

of and relating to...
Justoju said

"O Muslims, they do not like you for what is best in you, they like you for what is worst in you.
They do not hate you for what is worst in you, they hate you for what is best in you."

-- Ali Muhammad

on April 5, 2004 1:07 AM
Gillette said

the title of the column should read, "A Genius in Everyone's Minds"

on April 5, 2004 11:26 AM
Ibn Muzaffar Syed Hussain said

Beautiful article Talal. True genius. May Allah give victory to all the Muslims wherever they are in the world Insha'allah Ameen.

Allahumma unsuril mujaahideena fi kulli makaan. Allahumma a'izzal islaama walmuslimeen wa azhillashirka walmushrikeen wa dammir 'adaa addeen.

arif ibn muzaffar syed hussain
'work in this life as if you'll live forever, prepare for the Hereafter as if you'll die tomorrow'

on April 5, 2004 11:48 AM
Nadia said

The story brought a sigh to the heart and tears to the eyes. Very moving Mashallah. It is just heart-wrenching to see Muslims being victims of cold-blooded atrocities. May Allah(swt)help the Muslims,Ameen. By the way, what does "Battikha" mean?

on April 5, 2004 4:10 PM
Talal said

Battikha, better spelled "Batteekhah", means "watermelon" in Arabic.

It's just a fun word to say... memories of a childhood spent in the land of the desert.

on April 5, 2004 4:33 PM
Justoju said


Any chance I could use this on some non-muslim forums? I know my peace-activist friends would appeciate your unapologetic realism. The only thing is I would need to add a small glossary at the bottom that explains what some of the arabic/islamic references mean.


on April 5, 2004 11:32 PM
Talal said

Fo scheezy on the posting on other forums biznit.

Danken fe askin', and just include a link that it's from Hidayaonline.com, an online publication of the Islamic Socirty of Rutgers University. The glossary would probably be a good idea.

on April 5, 2004 11:43 PM
Saima said

very moving.

on April 6, 2004 1:45 PM
Rami said

Asalaam Aleikum Warahmatullah Wabrakatu,


Walaeikum Salaam Warahmatullah Wabaraktu.

on April 8, 2004 1:38 PM
passerby said

I have a question - why is this a portrayal of how non-muslims are treating muslims? This particular incident is _fictional_ (unless Talal got it from sources who witnessed this and relayed it). Attrocities like this could be happening anywhere. The bombs that are set off by Muslims in Palestine, US, etc. also kill children, non-muslims and muslims both. We're arresting our own people in Pakistan and handing them off to the US for crying out loud. How is that affecting the children. No fathers to hold their hands and walk them to teh Masaajids.

Much as I sympathize with the Muslim ummah, let's not put blame on teh attrocities of the non-muslims so much as on ourselves. As ugly as the truth is, we've killed innocents in history also. And we continue to do so. I just want to point out that non-muslims do visit this site, and this particular view of things made it seem almost like we (muslims) are being prejudiced. Please keep in mind 9/11 affected many such non -muslim children too. And their stories were portrayed in like manner. The result is as we see; many people dislike muslims for being so heartless. But we're not heartless, are we?

I hope you don't get offended Talal, your article really was moving, very very beautifully crafted. I just thought, at teh same time, that I'd feel the same way had teh little kid been non-muslim, going to a church, or a synagogue (sp?)
I truly do apologize if I offended you, that really isn't my intent.

on April 12, 2004 5:47 PM
Talal said


No offense, alhamdulillah.
You should definitely feel the same way if it was a non-Muslim being innocently killed by an oppressor of ANY creed, race or nationality.

"Muslims" have killed innocents in the past, and continue to do so only when they have veered off the track of Islam... the killing of innocents is not in the vocabulary of a righteous Muslim.

You shouldn't take my writing of this particular situation as a stance ignoring oppression by all sides.. I just happened to be inspired to write about those characters on that "fateful night"....

on April 12, 2004 11:40 PM
carla said

this story touched my heart. i happen to come uppon this because im looking for a long lost internet friend thta i spoke with on a daily basis, for a long time. my computer broke. and he was unable to speak with the war going on in iraq, at that time.his name is wisam. ilost all my stuff that was in my computer in a house fire also. i prey thta he is still alive.. and if im spelling his last name correctly it is ibrahim? if you can help me with this info please help he is from iraq family in mosul and baghdad. thank you carla patrick venus_dreamin05@yahoo.com

on June 21, 2005 10:36 PM
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