Mujaahid called a couple of days ago. I could tell from his voice that he needed to talk, so I called him back so we could talk for longer. The first question, of course, as always, was “How are you doing?”
And his answer, as always, was “Fine, alhamdulillah.”
The blockade is ongoing. He said he had read some articles about it from al-Jazeera and other media outlets, and he was disgusted by the many inconsistencies that were present. “If they can get so much wrong about this, how can you trust what they say about Syria?” he asked. I had no answer, having seen myself how often the media puts its own slant on things, or simply reports things full of wild inaccuracies.
“How are you doing for food?” I asked, hesitantly. It’s amazing how difficult it is to ask something when you know you won’t like the answer. He didn’t answer right away, and then admitted that they were able to get maybe a kilo of flour, every three days. That’s it. And the communal water pump is only turned on once a week for a short time.
“But we have an almost new propane tank,” he said happily.
Talk came around to what might happen, and what they’ll do. If the blockade goes much longer, they will probably be forced to abandon the learning center. This is a very difficult thing. The learning center in Damaaj was begun by Shiekh Muqbil ibn Haadee al-Waadi’ee, a Salafi scholar well-known and accepted as a scholar all over the world. He has since passed away, but the center, which sits in the land belonging to his tribe, has continued on, with classes for men, women and children in Arabic and all the different Islamic sciences. It is a place that is beloved in the hearts of Muslims from different parts of the world. The Houthi rebels, who are Shi’ite and supported in large part by Iran, have long coveted the center for themselves. At different times over the past several years they have attempted to take it over by force, but have so far been unsuccessful. This time, though, they may just get what they want.
Mujaahid tells me that several people have been able to leave for Sana’a despite the blockade. I ask him when he would decide to go.
“Not until the end,” he says. “If we go, we lose everything we have here- the house, our books…we leave with only the clothes on our backs.”
A part of me simply wants him and his family to leave there and go somewhere safer. But the only place they can go is Sana’a- and with the rebel army commanded apparently using snipers to take out ordinary citizens, that doesn’t seem like a particularly good fall-back position. Indeed, there are shortages of everything in Sana’a as well, especially for the poor, which my son and his family certainly are. And on top of that, I understand his love of his village, the place where he studies, and where he had begun to build his life- so it makes it difficult to know what would be best, or what to hope and pray for.
In my prayers, I tend to settle for, “Please keep them safe and let us be together again.”
I look for true words of comfort to share with my son. “There is good in everything,” I tell him. “Think of all the places we’ve moved over the years, we always found good wherever we were. You can do well and be happy and help other people wherever you are.”
And ultimately, this is the truth. Allaah will put blessings wherever He wills. And He will bring success and happiness to whomever He wills.
We talked for a bit more about things going on in our lives, and in the world, and then finally said our goodbyes. That was two days ago.
Still we wait. And still we pray.
The first post in this series is here.
The second post in this series is here.
Please spread the word about this blockade, and help give voice to the people of this small mountain village.