Aslam looked at me shocked,as I sort of expected. I smiled wryly.
” Waalekum salam! Umair Jaan! What! What are you doing here? Come come sit down, bring chai for him”
“I was in the area so I decided to come visit…looks like I came at the wrong time?”
“No no, right time Umair bhai, Finish your tea then you can come with us to supermarket, we can get 5 more bottles of oil. Humaira my small sister is getting married, we invited only 400 people for the wedding. Very small I know, it’s embarrassing but what to do. Now you must must come for wedding.”
After a whirlwind day of dodgy shopping, Aslam pulled me aside into the garden.
” Umair Jaan, maaf I was busy the whole day and didn’t get a chance to speak to you, come let us go in the corner of garden and talk,ayyy childrens be silence now! Are you still studying?”
” Well I was in my classroom one day in the dars of my Ustadh Mulla Khalil, remember him Aslam?”
“Oh yes…Big buzurg.”
(flashback to the rolling green hills of Afghanistan)
Mullah Khalil; Oh you who believe if you help (the cause of ) Allah, HE will help you and make your feet steadfast.(Surah Muhammad Ayah 7)
Umair; Mulla Jaan? What’s wrong? Why are you so silent?
Mullah Khalil; Umair… We are sitting here in our class thinking we are serving Deen but while we are reading the words of Allah…the Mujaahideen are living out those words. It’s time for us to pack up our books and bring what we say to life. We have to join the Jihaad. The Russians who attacked us are not only the enemies of Afghanistan but the enemies of Islam.
Umair; “Thousands and thousands of students of Deen and their teachers joined the Jihad and then we saw Allah’s help. When the intention was changed that we are not fighting for our country but to protect our Deen…we saw miracles. Many, many foreign Mujaahideen came to join us. That’s why I am here, we’re recruiting.”
Aslam looked at me with an unreadable expression on his face. His paan spitting breaking the silence. After a while he cleared his throat.
“Look all this is very well and good but I don’t want to get into any problems.I know we are related because our mothers were cousins but I cant join, I got family to support and I am moving to London to open my restaurant there with my brother. The pound is stronger than the dollar at the moment.”
I was saddened. ” I am not asking you to join (sad) All I ask you is to think of your Muslim brothers who are dying and suffering and doing what ALLAH commanded and to live a simple life… to bring more Deen in…”
He snapped “What are you talking! I am outaged! I read my 5 namaaz!”
“Aslam Jaan,All I’m saying is so many people for the wedding? Just because of what the people will say? Plus you took a loan? Can you sleep at night knowing you spent so much money on people who will still criticize anyway while your sister across the world is scavenging in the snow for food?”
“You made mood kharab… I think it’s better you go Umair.” And he ushered me out of his yard, without a backward glance. How strange that we grew up together,playing as childhood mates, so close.
Perhaps blood would prove to be thicker than water and he’d call me again…I silently made dua for that. After all Allah Taala joins ties with the one who keeps family ties. How beautiful was that? Allah Himself, comes closer to one just by being good to family.
How sad that it was the hardest to give da’wah and encourage one’s own family to Deen. I headed over to the nearest callbox to get hold of an old friend… I wondered if he would remember me…
” I’m so glad you came over! Say hello to Uncle Umair, Carl” Victor said, holding his son. I pulled out some candy for Carl.
“He is a very sweet child, come here bechem.” Carl gurgled and placed his head on my shoulder.
“I cant believe you here with Azzaam, The hero of the soviet war. Man you can give me the inside scoop Umair.”
“Shaikh Abdullah Azzaam, yes he is one of the many heroes… America is giving him VIP treatment and allowing him to recruit for the Jihaad, that’s why I’m here.”
“Hmm the government is probably getting something out of this.”
“Of course, they hate the Russians so they’re backing us, giving us weapons and money to set up training camps , However this is because we can do their dirty work and get rid of their enemy but we are not fighting this war for them, we are fighting to protect our religion which will be under threat if the Russians win.” I replied
“From what I remember…the Russians don’t have a hope in that department…I have travelled all over and I have never seen a tougher nation than you’ll.” victor was thoughtful.
“Alhamdulilah and that is because of Imaan,faith,alone.”
“So can I come with you to meet Azzaam? I’d like to see the guy Times magazine calls the Reviver of Jihad in the 20thcentury. You know what I find so fascinating? There were we, resisting the draft, not wanting to go to battle and here you get ordinary guys from all over the world who Voluntarily go fight a battle that isn’t theirs…amazing.”
“That’s where you’re wrong Vic. The Muslims are like one body if the eye pains the whole body is in pain. The people who come to fight, come because they know this is a war against Islam and against the Muslims. And all Muslims are one big family. I’m off now, I’ll come pick you up at 11 tonight… we have to go under the cover of the night. Wear something dark so we blend in.”
We both looked at each other and slowly nodded.
That night I went over to Vic’s and we walked over to the apartment that Shaikh Azzaam was at. We whispered so as not to attract attention to ourselves. Both of us had military training of different sorts, so we didn’t need to spell out our tactics.
” I just put Carl to bed, I hope he doesn’t wake up, his Mum finds it hard to wake up at night to see to him.” Victor was musing when I heard a faint footstep. We both went on alert mode.
“Whose there? Hello?” I said loudly and for the first time my training faltered as I heard a voice right behind me, whispering menacingly. “Stop right there or I’ll stab the both of you.”
I whipped around. In the shadows I could see the cold and unforgiving glint of a knife.