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The Pain of Invasion, Relief and the Way to Victory

Marking its 68th anniversary, very few remain to tell their story of the Nakbah, or the Palestinian Catastrophe, of 1948. One that culminated in the violent extermination and mass expulsion of millions of Palestinians from their homes to be replaced by a migrant people, prompted by a political movement, branded ‘Zionism’, politically authorised and religiously justified. To be an adult, or old enough to remember, a survivor would now be in their eighties if alive.

The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) says: “The ages of [the people in] my nation will be between sixty and seventy, and few of them will exceed that.”[1]

Many of those parted have left behind a legacy to be forever remembered or have related experiences that can forever guide the generation that will inevitably liberate Palestine. It never crossed my mind that my grandfather would name his Arabic poetry book ‘The Way to Victory’ for other than novelty. No doubt, mighty parallels can be drawn from more historic examples of losing and conquering Palestine, such as the Crusaders and Salāhudīn, or indeed the Mongols and the Memlukes. But when it comes to the Nakbah, that generation experienced life before it, during it and after, and many were wholly conscious of the internal and surrounding politics. Ahead of a future liberation, surely their stories are priceless.

With this appreciation and refreshed vision, I revisited ‘The Way to Victory’, authored by Mohammad Hammuda in 1995, and reflected over his experience prior and following the Diaspora. Born in the town of Lod in 1928, Mohammad relocated to Jaffa to complete his secondary and higher studies then moved to study in Egypt, before returning to Jaffa in 1947 due to a Cholera Epidemic in Egypt that forced all of its universities to shut. It was the same year that the Peel Partition Plan came into effect by way of a UN resolution. The town of Jaffa fell to the Zionist gangs and Mohammad relocated to Lod which, too, fought resiliently but could not withstand the size of the occupational force.

In the same battle of Lod, Mohammad’s father was executed by the mobs, and the neighbouring al Ramla also fell, driving out all of its inhabitants. Mohammad, with his mother and siblings, followed the snake-like trail of foot migrants towards Ramallah; a strenuous 45km journey. I recall his recollection of many incidents on this journey, including Zionist checkpoints that stripped displaced Palestinian women of their jewellery.

After weeks without a roof in Ramallah, Mohammad and his family crammed into the back of a lorry and moved to Gaza. There they stayed in the Buraij camp and he later participated in establishing the first school for refugees in Gaza which was to be the cornerstone for contemporary UNESCO-run schools. He continued on an educational career path, before moving to Kuwait in 1957 and being assigned the role of Director of Schooling Administration until retirement in 1990. It was during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in the year 1990 that Mohammad’s experiences, coupled with a strong linguistic aptitude, brought forth Arabic poems and literature which were published widely in Kuwaiti media. From his poems, he compiled ‘The Way to Victory’. It was in 1991 that Mohammad endured a second Diaspora, with the geo-politics of Kuwait’s ‘liberation’ forcing him, and now his family, out and of Kuwait and to the United Kingdom.

The Way to Victory and its Underlying Message

The common themes and ideas in this literary work can be arranged into three areas;

1) The anguish of invasion and the scale of his personal and his nation’s catastrophe.

2) Coming to terms with his loss, ways of consolation and spiritual recovery.

3) Causes of the catastrophe and, after achieving the above, the way to victory.

In the introduction, the author states:

“Poetry is a mirror of one’s soul, reflecting whatever enters it of happiness and sadness, hope and pain, and all that this life contains of conflict between light and darkness and truth and falsehood… Allāh willed for our generation to live in this dire time, one of slumber and heedlessness, in the worst times of weakness, disunity, vulnerability to have ever engulfed the life of Arabs and Muslims in every way… “

He goes on to say:

“the facets of weakness were continually fed by the enemies of Allāh on the one hand, and the ignorant of this Ummah on the other. This deviation spread to their mannerisms and conduct until they erected borders between one another and as a result ignorant fanaticism ensued… beginning to look for solutions on international tables, not knowing that the solution must occur from ourselves and through our sincere Īmān in Allāh… if we realise victory against our own selves, and our matters are rectified to the obedience of Allāh, giving victory to His religion fulfilling our promises, delivering trusts, removing the lowly life from our hearts and lusts from our chests; if our heats meet, our endeavours intertwine and our intentions purify, only then will the victory from Allāh descend.”

Below are some segments of the poetic couplets that can be found in this collection, translated to the best of my ability, albeit very deficiently, whilst striving to maintain the author’s intended meaning.

Of the Poetry that Speaks of the Anguish of Invasion

Expressions of attachment and painstaking separation occur from the book’s very outset. The first poem is entitled, ‘Ishq al Diyār’ or Love of the Home, in which he says:

لك في القلوب محبة وغرام                 فعلام مثلي في هواك يلام …

“Towards you in my heart is love and passion; so why am I for this love blamed?…

يا جنةً جمع الزمان بأهلها                  العيش بعدك لوعةٌ وسقام…

O Paradise that gathered its people; life after you is anguish and pain…

ايلام من عشق الديار بسحرها              ويدان في شرع العدا ويضام؟

Is one to be blamed if he loves his land and its beauty; condemned, fought and oppressed?

ويسام خسفاً من يقاتل غاصباً               تهتز من طغيانه الآثام…

And labelled in disdain he who fights an invader; the transgression of whom causes sins to tremor…

قد حل في الأقصى ودنس ساحه            وزيارة الأقصى علي حرام؟

One who has entered al Aqsa and soiled its courtyard; but visiting al Aqsa is for me forbidden?

وبنو العروبة قد تبدد بأسهم                 مذ عطلوا فرض الجهاد وناموا

And the Arabs’ boldness has frittered away; since they suspended the obligation of JIHAD and slept

فإذا صحوا فعلى التناحر بينهم             وهنا تلوح صوارم وسهام

Then when they awaken, they wrangle amongst themselves; amidst swinging swords and flying arrows

حتى غدونا للورى أضحوكة                يلتذ في ترديدها الأقوام

Until we became a laughing stock; and a joke that ceases not to entertain others

من يرتجي صفو الحياة فإنها               بئس الحياة حصادها الألام

Who desires the beauty of life; for surely it is a wretched life that only cultivates pain

فالظلم فيها سنة وشريعة                              والعدل فيها كاذب وكلام…

For oppression in it is a followed way; and justice is but empty rhetoric and speech…

دنيا…يشيب الطفل من أهوالها             وتحار في ادراكها الأفهام

A world that causes the child to become grey from difficulties; and baffles those of understanding.”[2]

And he says:

ومضيت استجدي الحياة كظامئ           في خلف برق خلب وسحاب

“And I went about scrounging for life like one thirsty; chasing behind rainless clouds and thunder

فزرعت آمالي بواد مقفرٍ                   وسقيت أحلامي بماء سراب…

So I planted my hopes in a desolate valley; and I watered my dreams with a mirage of water…

لم أنس أيام الطفولة والصبا                 واللهو في مرابع الأعشاب

I have not forgotten the years of childhood; and our fun between the foliage

والفجر يزحف فوق هامات الربى         والتين والزيتون والعناب…

And the dawn that crawls over the mounds, and the figs, the olives and the Jujube…

في جنةٍ ضن الزمان بمثلها                 فيها تجلت قدرة الوهاب

in a paradise (Palestine) the like of which time has not given; in it the ability of Allāh manifests clearly.”[3]

And he says:

أرض الفداء ودينك التوحيد                 في كل شبر من ثراك شهيد

“You are the land of sacrifice and your religion is Tawḥīd; in every hand span of your earth is a martyr.

كيف الوصول إلى حماك ودونه            طي الفلاة وأبحرٍ وسدود…

How can I reach your harbour when before you are folds of desert, seas and barriers?…

فإذا استجرت فلا مجيب لكربتي                     فالقوم في وهم الأمان رقود

And if I seek help, no one responds to my calamity; for they live in artificial security, fast asleep

فإذا صحوا كان الكلام سلاحهم             والشجب والتصريخ والتنديد

When they awaken, their arms are only words; shouting, denunciation and condemnation

ظنوا وبعض الظن إثم لو دروا             أن العدو بشجبهم سيبيد

They suspected, and some of suspicion is sin, if only they knew; that the enemy will perish through their condemnation.”[4]

Of the Poetry that Comes to Term with the Loss

Consoling the many sisters who lost their fathers, husbands, brothers or sons at the hands of the Zionists, in anguish for being separated from their loved ones, he says:

أختاه لا تبكي شهيدك إنه                             في جنات الفردوس حي يرزق

“My sister, do not cry over your martyr for he is; in Jannatul Firdous, alive with provision,

أختاه أم الرجال تجلدي                      فالصبر أجدى في المصاب وأخلق…

My sister, O mother of men, have forbearance; for patience is greater and more helpful for the one afflicted…

قد نال إحدى الحسنيين فأبشري           والمستهين بها الجبان الأحمق

He attained one of two victories so have glad tidings, and the one who belittles this is the foolish coward”[5]

And he says:

يا موطني والصبر أصبح زانداً           وسلاحنا والإيمان والأحجار

“O my home, and patience has become a trigger; along with our weapons, our faith and our rocks

وعزيمة لا تستكين لغاصبٍ                وكرامة نزهو بها وفخار

And a determination that settles not in the face of an invader; and an honour we posses and dignity

ويزيدنا بطش العدو صلابة                فكأننا في كرنا إعصار

The enemy’s force only increasing us in firmness; so we become in our return after retreat like a mighty storm.”[6]

And he says, finding his own consolement in the book of Allāh:

يا انيسي في حياتي                          وشفيعي في مماتي

“My companion in life; and my intercessor in death

أنت نور وضياء                             في اليالي الحالكات…

My light and my beacon; in the nights of intense darkness…

فيك للظمآن نبع                              سلسبيل كالفرات

For the thirsty you are; a gushing spring like the Euphrates

فيك للباغي نذير                              وبشير للتقاة

For the transgressor a warner, and for the pious a giver of good news.”[7]

And he says:

تمسك بالهداية يا فؤادي                     وبالصبر الجميل وبالرشاد

“Hold on to guidance O heart; and with beautiful patience and sound mindedness

ولا تخضع لغير الله ذلاً                     ولا تسأل سوى رب العباد…

Do not surrender to other than Allāh in humiliation, and do not ask but the Lord of all slaves

ولا ترض الهوان وعيش عزيزاً                     عفيف النفس مرفوع العماد…

Reject frailty and live with dignity; upright and independent…

وموت الحر أفضل من حياة                تعود عليه من من الأيادي…

The death of one who is free is better than a life; that demands appreciation unto helping hands…

He goes on to say:

فمهلاً يا عبيد المال مهلاً                             ليوم قد تسربل بالسواد

So wait, O slaves of wealth, just wait; for a day covered in darkness

يحل عليكمو في ليل نحس                 كما حل الهلاك بقوم عاد

Occurring on you in a night of misfortune; like the destruction on the nation of ʿĀd

وصبراً يا ضحايا الظلم صبراً              فصبر المرء من زاد المعاد

And have patience O victims of oppression, have patience; for patience is of the provision of the last day

وليس لكم سوى المولى نصير             وتقوى الله تبقى خير زاد

Other than Allāh, you have no victor; and the Taqwa of Allāh is the greatest provision.”[8] 

Of the Poetry that Speaks about the Way to Victory  

Absurdly, during publishing in Jordan, authorities withdrew the poem that shared the book’s title: ‘The Way to Victory’ and another speaking about the evils of Arab regimes. In other couplets, he says:

لا تصلح الدنيا ويصلح حالنا               حتى ينير قلوبنا الإسلام

“The Dunya will not be rectified, nor will our affair; until our hearts are enlightened with Islām

فيه العدالة تستعيد سنائها                             ويطل صبح ظاهر بسام

“With it justice is again glorified; and a bright morning will emerge

وننال في ساح الجهاد حقوقنا               ويعم في أرض السلام سلام

“And with JIHAD we will restore our rights; and in the land of peace, peace again will prevail.”[9]

And he says:

درب النجاة لمن أراد سلامة                دين الإلاه وشرعةٌ سمحاء…

“The way to safety, for he who desires it; is the religion of Allāh and its forgiving Sharīʿah…

في الدواء لكل داء معضلٍ                  أعيا الطبيب وعز فيه شفاء

In it is a medicine for every baffling illness; that has exhausted physicians and yet remained incurable.”[10] 

And he says:

أسفاً على قوم تناسوا دينهم                 تركوا الجهاد مهانة وتفرقوا

“Commiserations to people who forget their faith, leaving JIHAD out of weakness and the divisions between them

بالأمس كانوا للرشاد منارة                 وهمو على درب الشهادة أسبق

Yesterday they were beacons to success, racing in their pursuit of martyrdom

كانوا على الأعداء صفاً واحداً              والغرب يرهب بأسهم والمشرق

They were a single row against their enemies, with both east and west fearing their strength

ساروا على نهج النبي المصطفى                    فماتا نسير على خطاه ونلحق

They followed the way of the chosen Prophet; so when will we pursue and follow his steps?”[11]

And he says:

فلسطين نادت فلبوا النداء                   وهبوا أسوداً وكونوا الفدا

 “Palestine has called so answer its call; and rush quickly like lions and be its ransom

ففي ارضها قد تمادى العدا                 وحل الظلام محل الهدى

For in its land aggression has endured; and darkness has replaced light

فلسطين نادت فلبوا النداء…

Palestine has called so answer its call…

فلسطين لبى نداك القدر                      بطفل تحدى طغاة البشر

Palestine your call has been answered by destiny; through a child defying the worst of people

بامانه قد تغنى الحجر                       أبى أن يذل ويستعبدا

About his faith do rocks hum; refusing to be humiliated and enslaved

فلسطين نادت فلبوا النداء…

Palestine has called so answer its call…

بتقوى القلوب وصدق اليقين               وعزم الشباب الوفي الأمين

With the Taqwa of hearts and earnest certainty; and the resolve of loyal and trustworthy youth

نفوز بنصر وفتح مبين                      ونلقى الإلاه لنا منجدا

We will attain victory and a clear conquest; and we will find the Lord a helper for us

فلسطين نادت فلبوا النداء

Palestine has called so answer its call.”[12]

A Point of Reflection

Few pains in life are as severe as to be forcibly removed from your home, particularly from the precincts of one of the most beautiful and blessed places on earth. Allāh mentions it alongside Hijrah, fighting, being killed and harmed for the sake of Allāh:

“Those who made Hijrah and were driven from their homes and suffered harm in My Way and fought and were killed, I will erase their bad actions from them and admit them into Gardens with rivers flowing under them, as a reward from Allāh. The best of all rewards is with Allāh.”

The Nakbah is but another episode of a people forcibly driven out of their ancestral homes. It is a catastrophe both exacerbated by the loss of Al Aqsa and advantaged by it, because it has become one Muslims will never forget, to the absolute dismay of Zionists. The era of coming to terms with the loss was for the generation that bore its brunt, whilst the succeeding generations ought to reap the harvest of the lessons learnt. While 68 years marks the passing away of most, including my grandfather who returned to Allāh in 2012, their legacy lays the foundation of the final imminent liberation:

يا قدس إن ضل العباد سبيلهم              وتفرقوا في ظلمةٍ وضباب

“O Jerusalem, if slaves lose their way; and disperse in darkness and fog

فغداً يهب على ربوعك فتيةٌ                وجدوا الهدى في سنةٍ وكتاب

Then tomorrow on your quarters will youth descend; finding guidance in a Sunnah and a book (Qur’ān)

رخصت على درب الفدا أرواحهم         يرجون عند الله حسن ثواب

They see their souls cheap if on the path of sacrifice; wishing from Allāh the greatest reward

ويعود للإسلام كامل أرضه                وسناه يعلوا فوق كل شهاب

And to Islām will all of its land return; and its glitter will rise above every star.”[13]

Source: www.islam21c.com

Notes: 

 

[1] Sunan Ibn Mājah on the authority of Abū Hurairah

[2] ‘Ishq al Diyaar

[3] Rihlat al ‘Umur fee al Zaman al Radee’

[4] Ard al Fidaa

[5] Al Shaheed

[6] Al Sabru wal ‘Imanu wal Hijarah

[7] Kitābullāh

[8] ‘Abeed al Maal

[9] ‘Ishq al Diyaar

[10] Darb al Najaa

[11] Al Shaheed

[12] Nidaa’ Filisteen

[13] Rihlat al ‘Umur fee al Zaman al Radee’

About Ahmed Hammuda

Ahmed Hammuda is the Middle East Editor at Islam21c and one of our regular contributors. His interests lie mainly in the field of Middle East Affairs and how they reflect on Muslims living in the West. He is an accomplished Electrical engineer by trade and has been involved in various Dawah activities over the course of his education and working life. He has transferred the same analytical approach required in engineering into a careful and measured approach in his views on politics.

2 comments

  1. People may be silent about it and busy in their day to day lives but it’s definetly not forgotten and never will be.
    Allah’s promise will come to pass.

  2. Jazaka Allaho khayran
    Few people who remember the Nakba due to the sad situation of the Muslim Umma. The generation who lived the Nakba have gone and it is very important to keep this just cause alive for next generations. My Allah showers his mercy upon poet Abu Husni whose legacy engraved in our hearts.
    Many thanks Ahmed

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