April 1970, Kent University, America.
Victor; I walked across the campus lawns with a heavy heart, so engrossed with my mind messing thoughts that I didn’t see the animated face of one of the janitors,an Asian immigrant called Aslam. He often insisted he was older than me but his young face belied that. His heavily accented cynical musings and butchering of the English language often had me in splits. Today however I was just not in the mood for any sort of banter.
Aslam; Hey Victorr! How are you? Why so sad face like ate 9 pound atchar
Vic; Aslam!Not cool man not cool.
Aslam; Come now Victor Paaji, tell Uncle Aslam
Vic; ok Uncle,….My Dad called me yesterday to show me my draft letter. I don’t want to join this war. Already my brother sounds likes he’s losing his mind from the letters he writes to us…
Aslam; I’m so sorry man but you clever you can escape… Victorr, my black neighbours they taking them away to go fight for them but they won’t even allow them to stay in white neighbourhood. Amrika is hippopotamus
Vic; Whaaat? Oh you mean hypocritical! Only you can make me laugh when I’m down and out. But not all us Whiteys are same, we’re going to protest this on behalf of everyone forced to fight. How’s night school going?
Aslam; Night school all bloody fool, teacher keep marking me wrong, when I’m right!
Vic; Sillly teacher! I admire your guts, you came to this country, got a job as a caretaker here and you’re completing your high school too, hey are you having a bath?
Aslam; wudhu you laddo…that is washing before prayers. I am Muslim you know, we have to clean up before we pray
Vic; Oh you’re Muslim? Like Muhammad Ali
Aslam; Yes same to same. Look what the FBI do to him because he don’t want to go fight in Vietnam as he is Muslim..
Vic; Yeah that was evil, they bugged his phone,followed him and put him on their danger to the country list. Always on surveillance . And he’s not allowed to fight , it was a big price to pay, he refused to go back to Christianity and he’s paying yeah
Aslam; Tauba! Chalo I’m going to pray now. See you laters
Vic; Send a prayer my way too while you at it, I need it
Qaala RasulALLAH SAW; Ad duaa’u mukkhul ibaadah- Nabi SAW said; Dua is the essence of ibaadat.
Aslam; Definitely! I pray you are given the guidance , you are a good boy Victor
Vic; You say boy as if you’re older than me!
Aslam; Oh I feel old. Most of these people here they act like I don’t exit but not you
Vic; you mean exist! How can I not notice you! You’re awesome
Aslam;you too same to same but you will forget Aslam when you leave here
Vic; Little was Aslam to know that many years later,we would meet again… but this time as enemies.I turned around, already forgetting the little brown man as I saw Jennifer, my friend who was becoming much more every passing day.
Jen; Hey Victor! Are you ready to address the students today?
Vic; Hey Jennifer, yup ready as I will ever be. I have to do something for us ,Why are they forcing us to fight,it’s Our lives! We should be young and carefree!
Jen; Most of the guys are feeling that way , like the government is robbing them of their future
Vic; Jen, please take these stack of posters, I’m just going to get something from my dorm
Jen; no problem and don’t take the shortcut , someone got mugged there last week…it’s dangerous
Vic;I dismissed her words as I thought she was being an overcautious female but then I heard the shifty shuffle of footsteps when no one was supposed to be there….
Vic; Hello! Who’s there? Hello? What the! Who took a pic of me? Hey you over there!Terry! Terry Norman!
Terry; Oh man…don’t make a fuss I just took a picture of you for the year book
Vi; But why did you have to take it out secretly?
Terry; oh I do that to everyone, get a more natural picture when someone doesn’t know they’re being photographed
Vic;That doesn’t sound logical…
Terry; It’s more illogical for you guys to protest the war..
Victor; I glared at him and his cryptic words and made my way over to the lawns where I held up the loudspeaker, addressing the other students
“The reason we convened this meeting is because we are against us being forced to fight, against another poor country being invaded,against the oppression of our own government and the FBI who throws a young father into jail for two years just for burning his draft card. We will not tolerate the way they try to silence us and send us to our deaths!
We request all students to march together in a peaceful protest against the war in Vietnam. The protest will be held on the morning of May 4th” The crowd cheered and I stepped away to Jen’s side, awaiting the next speaker.
Jennifer; Victor, you know that guy Terry?
Vic; yup that weirdo
Jen;yeah, I heard him boast about how he has police clearance to come onto campus And he had a gun I saw it when his jacket moved.
Vic; A gun?? No one here is allowed to carry a gun, he shouldn’t be here, I just hope he doesn’t cause any trouble.
Jen; talking about trouble ,look to your left Vic
Vic; What on earth, what is the army doing here?? This ain’t good!
Jen; they said they here for protection of the varsity
Vic; Protection from what? From a bunch of hippies with flowers? The soldiers are giving me the creeps, how many of them are there?
Jen; Looks like about 2000!
Gunshots rang out, so foreign to this peaceful place… bloodying our history forever.
Jen; Vic get down! They’re going to shoot you!
Vic; I spun around against better instinct and saw the soldiers drop to their knees in single file,raising their weapons.
To be continued…
(We might wonder where on earth is this story going and what these events have to do with Muslims but just a little patience and a little concern for the Muslims is needed, to see the present with clarity, we need to know our past.)
O you who believe! Be steadfast for Allah (as) witnesses in justice, and let not prevent you hatred (of) a people [upon] that not you do justice. Be just it (is) nearer to [the] piety. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah (is) All-Aware of what you do. Surah Maa’idah.