“Mother, I’ve made up my mind to be martyred for the cause of God.” “I’ve been accepted in the Izz Al Din Al Qassam Brigades…It’s not important who I undertake jihad with, the important thing is the intention…My intention is to struggle for the cause of God, and liberate the nation with good comrades, and I have found good comrades with my brothers in the Brigades.” “Mother, people spend long lives trying to live, but there is no life but the afterlife; I am trying to take a shorter route and earn a double reward.” “Mother, we are not throwing ourselves towards death, we are killing and doing well by killing, and God will choose for us what He wishes. If it were a matter of self-destruction, none of us would have returned.” “Mother, jihad means victory or martyrdom…Pray for me to achieve one of them; I prefer the second.” “Mother, God chooses the martyrs…and not just anyone is chosen by God as a martyr. Pray for me that God will choose me, and that you will be pleased with me…Are you pleased with me?” “When I am martyred, God willing, I will come back to you by this street, carried on people’s shoulders.” Mu’min’s words rang in the ears of his mother who stood on the balcony, preoccupied, watching the street that was lit by the explosions of one attack after another. The air of Gaza’s cold winter night burned, as did her face, and she whispered, “Lord, it’s eighteen days…Eighteen days at Your mercy, on Your earth and under Your skies…Eighteen days in the cold, while the planes are bombing around him…Lord, by Your generosity I will bury him, just let me see him, and I will bury him after that…O Lord, Your eye is on him, protecting him…I have entrusted him to You…His return will cool the fire in me before the farewell…O Lord…He intended to be martyred and trusted You, o Lord…Believe him, and make him one of the honoured martyrs.”
The electricity came back, lighting the street after being cut for two whole days. She immediately switched on the television to listen to the news in the hope that she would get a sign that her misery which insisted on being prolonged would end soon. The enemy’s prime minister was on the television, standing with his customary pomposity and stupidity, announcing a unilateral ceasefire. She automatically jumped up, and began to cry out, “Thanks be to God, thanks be to God!” Suzanne spent the night preparing her house to receive her middle son as a martyr carried on people’s shoulders. Her heart sank whenever she remembered him running, fully armed, along the street by which he was supposed to return as a martyr…At that moment the feeling would pervade her that it was the last time she would see him…While he was hurrying towards death…
The last time he got safely away from an assassination operation aimed at his group of fighters, he went home tense, which was not in his nature. He was almost crying as he said, “There is something wrong…Either I am not pure in my intention, or you aren’t…Keep saying ‘I entrust you to God’…I want to be martyred…Pray that it is granted to me…Pray for me…”
Her heart fluttered that day when she said in a tearful voice, “May God grant you what is in your mind.” She felt that her soul was in shreds as she recalled these memories, and she swallowed her anguish for being unable to say a final farewell to her son, and felt choked with bitterness.
When she had finished preparing her humble house to welcome the martyr, she prayed the dawn prayer, and sat watching the telephone, and waited for the arrival of a new morning, without sun. Instead of the telephone ringing, so that she could hear the news of Mu’min’s discovery, her ears rang with the noise of some Grad missiles and other locally-made ones exploding one after another. She screamed angrily, “Noooooo…The war’s started again, it’s started again…Oh, Mu’min, ohhhhhhh…” Her husband woke up at her voice and found her crying, and she couldn’t tell him that hope had been born during his long, deep sleep, and had been killed just seconds ago. Before the father of the martyr had understood the story his mobile phone rang, and she raised her head and looked at it. Shaking, she tried to understand the words of the caller that were unclear because of the bad connection. She tried listening to the conversation in the hope of hearing what her husband was not able to understand. She suddenly became aware of loud voices in the street, and jumped up anxiously, calling out Mu’min’s name. Below the balcony one of the martyr’s friends was trying to call them on his mobile to inform them that Mu’min’s body had been found after the withdrawal of the Israeli army from a number of areas, including Jabal Al Rayyis [in eastern Jabaliya] where Mu’min had taken position before being killed. He was with several of his martyred comrades in Al Shifa Hospital.
Minutes passed like hours, and family and relatives and friends arrived and filled the small house with those who cared for Mu’min and Suzanne. She stood on the balcony awaiting his arrival, from the street which he promised to return by, which seemed much longer than it was. Her sisters surrounded her and she felt that a noticeable tension had arisen after the phone call. She turned towards them and found their eyes upon her full of distress. One of them said, “That’s Majid saying…I mean…that the Qassam Brigades have emphasised that no one was able to identify Mu’min’s face…”
She looked at them doubtfully and replied, “His body was blown apart?”
Her sister clarified, “No, no… I swear they said he is just as he was…just that…the rocket hit his head…Sister, his face has no features…Everything is whole apart from his head…I mean…Keep another, better memory of him…He certainly would not have wanted you to see him like this.”
She looked round at all their weeping faces with a vacant expression, and mumbled in an exhausted voice, “I entrusted him to God…God would not let this be in vain…”
She looked again at the street which had finally started to move…She looked at the faces of his friends and relatives and comrades carrying him on their shoulders, wrapped in the white flag of the Qassam Brigades, exactly as he had always wanted. Behind him hurried groups of people; one man was shouting, and the others repeated, “There is no god but God and the martyr is favoured by God.” When the crowd got near the door, and the bier was brought inside, Suzanne pushed away those around her, clearing her way impatiently to find the bier that had been placed on a table in the centre of the living room. She found herself by his shrouded body, and started to run her hand over it until she came across his hand under the white flag. She felt his fingers and turned his hand, then smiled amidst her tears, as she inhaled the scent of the perfume that filled the air of the room, the house, the street. Cries of “There is no god but God” rang out around them, while she called out in a stifled voice, “This has not been in vain, my son, this has not been in vain…Thanks be to God…Thanks be to God…You requested it…And were granted it…Thanks be to God…There is no god but God…There is no god but God.”
From above the massed heads a calm settled in the tormented hearts, and a contented smile was spread on the face which had bid this life adieu. In the last moments she turned her satisfied eye to the body that was ready for its eternal farewell, surrounded in peace by tearful eyes, and threw a last glance at the bier which was back on the shoulders. A hidden power was unleashed in the running feet, and people crowded to catch up with the funeral procession. Mu’min was in a hurry to leave; the body returns to the belly of Gaza, the soul rises for farewell, perhaps not its last farewell, for what is left of the people of Gaza and its neighbourhouds, mosques and churches, its steadfastedness and funeral processions of its martyrs, and the tears of its bereaved and widows and orphans…Mu’min, you have departed, and left us behind. Maybe your soul will look upon us with its usual warmth and delicately beautiful manners. Perhaps your soul looked at us and said: “I have entrusted you to God.”
If we trust God, Mu’min, He will not let our lives be in vain. This is what we have learnt from your departure, o little one, who grew up without us realising, after we thought that we were grownups. You came to show us how much younger we had become. Your departure came too soon, before we had our fill of your presence, before we understood the reality of your existence, and even before we were able to understand you. My little one, you are still a puzzling mystery. How were you able to understand, decide, act, and achieve in a record period of your short life in this world…If everyone acted in such a way, even by taking a route other than yours, our situation wouldn’t have been like this…I hope this is not a farewell, Mu’min, as we consider you to be a martyr with God. You are amongst those favoured by Mohammed and his companions and all those who have believed in them until the day of judgement. We pray to God that we are honoured and dignified by God in the way that you have been…