SHAFAQNA – All Muslims take great pride in in the history of the great achievements of our predecessors in Al-Andalus, I in particular feel Al-Andalus in my veins, for I am a Bamalle; specifically my ancestors hail from a region once known as the Maghreb, which consists of what is today, Morocco, Western Sahara, Algeria, Mauritania and Spain. It was from the ancient city of Chinguetti, that my forefathers made their way to the house of Sheikh Usman bin Fodio from whence my great great grandfather accompanied Malam Musa to Zaria; which is where I was born. So the process I find myself enduring is beginning to feel very familiar, it’s as though we are once again back in Al-Andalus, and we are being slowly, but systematically squeezed out of our very right to exist as human beings. For the fate that seems to be in store or us for us is exactly like the one suffered by the Muslims of Spain, who were slowly but surely squeezed out of their lands, and their homes, and then they were squeezed out of existence, all thanks to the mighty efforts of the conquistadores; back then, when they made a great undertaking, founded upon a ruthless determination to satisfy their insatiable greed at any cost. An undertaking that led to the systematic eradication of Muslims from Spain; through unjustifiable acts by any moral standards.
A period in history when kingdoms armed with the inquisition on the one hand, and the ruthless and greedy conquistadores on the other; when these kingdoms used murder, terrorism, extortion and treachery, against a foe whose only true weakness was an inferior capacity for violence; when in order to survive Al-Andalus was forced to make numerous unequal treaties. Treaties which were treacherously broken by the aggressors as soon as they found it convenient. In the end the Muslims of Al-Andalus had no choice but to offer to surrender, on one condition and one condition only; that they be allowed to simply live as Muslims in peace. An agreement that was swiftly broken as soon as they laid down their arms. And thus they were effectively grinded down until they could resist no more. Then they were either forced from their homes, or else they were burned at the stake. The few survivors had to resort to desperate measures just to preserve their faith, they even went so far as to use their knowledge of building mosques, to design and build their own houses in a way that gave them a chance to at least pray in peace, while simultaneously avoiding the preying eyes of the inquisition; knowing full well that if they were discovered, they would be burned in front of a cheering crowd, pronto presto.
It was a time when one of the most infamous cases of sustained terrorism, barbarity, extortion and treachery in history was pursued to a successful completion. A time whereby a peaceful people were systematically eradicated by a bloodthirsty group of people whose credentials were filled with nefarious activities such as burning women at the stake, burning entire cities to the ground and burning mountains upon mountains of books; all in an effort to exterminate what they called heresy. These inquisitors and conquistadores would go on to use their shameful training, to repeat the same tactic to wipe entire races from the face of the earth, they would exterminate entire populations, destroy entire civilizations, and enslave entire races. These are the people who are responsible for wiping out the Mayan and Incan civilizations to name but a few. For whatever and whoever they could not bend to their greedy will, they destroyed. The world and humanity as a whole has none but these inquisition backed conquistadores to thank for having been robbed and raped by the likes of Pedro de Alvarado, Hernan Cortez and Nuno de Guzman. A strategy that was so efficiently pursued so that an entire dimension of knowledge is now forever lost forever. But they started it all with the Muslims of Al-Andalus, their own neighbours. As these murderers screamed ‘Deus Vult!’ they refused to love their neighbours as Christ had commanded.
Three years ago, three of my brothers were practically tortured to death along with thirty one other men women and children who happened to be in the vicinity at the time, for no justifiable reason other than it being a simple opportunity that was technically available to the soldiers who were armed to the teeth at the time. Men who now have power that is unencumbered by purpose or reason in such a way that they are allowed to let their dark sides lose. Whatever may have led to the incident is of no consequence when you consider the fact that to this day this act of extrajudicial murder that was committed by uniformed officers of the Nigerian Army has never been graced with even an iota of official recognition, let alone an official statement. Little more than a year later, men in the same uniform, besieged my father’s home for more than three days, and then stormed it, burning and pillaging their way, raping and killing as they pleased, until they found a room, where the few who were still living, including my parents and my three remaining brothers had taken refuge. They then unleashed the fury of their weapons upon the helpless last survivors until they were sure that all were dead. I listened on the phone that dropped from my mother’s hand, I heard as they commented “this one no die” followed by the loud crack of a shot being fired. I heard their voices, as they talked as if the whole affair was routine for them.
In less than three years, the Nigerian Army has carried out a campaign in which it has supposedly failed to defeat ‘Boko Haram,’ an archetype doomsday kind of an enemy, whose core belief is that knowledge is Sin! An incomprehensible enemy with an apparent determination to seek out and find the location of the horn of Azraeel (the Angel of death), so that they can blow into it, because for them the world must end now. This Nigerian army which is supposed to be fighting this doomsday cult, in such an epic battle for life versus death, has not only failed to defeat that ‘enemy;’ it has managed to find the time to have murdered my brother Ahmad on the side. A recently graduated chemical engineer, Ahmad’s foremost concern was to begin his masters-degree. With their bullets they murdered Hamid, who was an aspiring aeronautical engineer in his second year, two years shy of getting his first degree. Mahmood who had an aptitude for fine art and was hoping to become a graphic designer. A little over a year later, Hammad; who was most intrigued by Sigmund Freud and Hilgard, and was most sparked when discussing the subject of phycology, was murdered in the laundry room of our house, before he had ever gotten the chance to enrol in a university. Along with him Ali who is also my brother, was recovering from a wound that nearly cost him his leg, after he was deliberately shot in the leg, he had just returned home after nearly a yearlong battle to save his shattered leg. The youngest of my brothers, Humaid was still a child, busy dressing up and playing as the likes of Captain Jack Sparrow and Ezio Auditore da Firenze, jumping up and down from ledges, windows and trees. I know very little about the many others who were in the room with them at the time. But two years on, we have still not been allowed to even bury them. They lie in a mass grave somewhere in Kaduna State.
Most of the survivors of the horrific experiences of December 2015 are still unaccounted for. The majority of the ones whose whereabouts we know have languished for nearly two years now. We have pursued every known path within the confines of the rule of Law, as it is in the Federal republic of Nigeria today. We have tried all the peaceful means available to us. We have consistently protested in public, we have gone to the courts, we have made appeals to whomever we could reach, we have tried everything, yet we have been unable to achieve even something as simple as enforcing the fundamental human rights that are supposed to be guaranteed to even the most destructive of criminals. In the meantime, many people have been killed, maimed or arrested for no reason other than that they protested in public. Many have had their homes destroyed and their property looted, worst of all, properties including those belonging to my father have been invaded and exploited in broad daylight, by arms of this government, even though there are absolutely no legal grounds for doing so. As of right now there are hundreds who have been incarcerated and denied even a thing as simple as bail. People who have been incarcerated and accused of various kinds of fictional crimes, crimes that they had no capacity to even contemplate, let alone commit. The evidence brought against them has included such things as charred laptops, SIM cards and phone chargers.
If I was to naturally fall and die right now, I imagine I would have to prefer to be buried in secret, or it will certainly be dangerous for anyone to take me to the one place that should be my final resting place, where three of my brothers still lie, where my other three brothers should have been laid. Yet this is a location that continues to be routinely vandalized with this government’s support, to this day, a location I cannot visit in peace. If I am lucky, and I die a natural death, or if I am unlucky and I do get murdered, one thing is certain, my corpse would have to be extremely lucky to end up in the hands of a surviving loved one and not in some mass grave. Even if I do get lucky enough to be buried in peace where I belong, there is the issue of that gravestone, the one I designed and had made, so I could sleep under it when my time comes. The stone I designed and had made on the same day I made that belonging to my grandmother and my aunt, both of which have now been stolen. The stones I placed over the graves of Ahmad, Hamid and Mahmood were driven over with bulldozers until they cracked, and they too would have also been stolen, were it not for the unyielding bravery of a few good men, women and children.
The more and more I think of it, the more I get a Grenadine kind of feeling chilling its way down my spine. I start to feel like I am just another poor soul in a place like, Toledo, Seville, Valencia, Cordoba or Granada. For our plight is not unlike that which the Muslims of Al-Andalus had to endure for a period of decades and centuries. It is demonstrably very clear and evident that any possible collection of the tactics being employed against us is so reminiscent and neigh identical to the grand strategy that was employed by the conquistadores against Muslims who would later become labelled as the Moriscos. It becomes so apparent that the collective similarities and correlations between the scenarios can no longer be ignored. On the night of my best friend’s thirty third birthday he told me something that I simply wanted and tried to play down. I was twenty three years old at the time. That night he told me that when one reached the age he had just reached, one would have no choice but choose which dreams to pursue and which to abandon as lost causes. Then he said “you will be very fortunate if, even one of your preferred choices happen to be on the menu.” I reached thirty one years of age, a few days after the Nigerian Army murdered my brothers; Ahmad, Hamid and Mahmood. At that time in 2015 I chose to use all at my disposal to have Jonathan voted out of office, and I got to work.
We must stop acting in ways that can possibly help a government that is not only clearly steering Nigeria down the path of evil dictatorship; but also a government that is unabashed to openly pursue a dictatorially, mad, atrocious and genocidal strategy. A government that is unabashedly and clearly willing to charter the course of the entire nation that is Nigeria, down the path of transforming into this world’s second great Necrocracy. Existing by the graces of a figurative and practical corpse. We must not continue to hold our brothers back, since our enemies are clearly determined to use all our efforts against us. It is not our place, and it is most certainly not our duty, to go out of our own way to preserve a peace that doesn’t really exist. In a time when something as simple as delivering medical attention to your fellow human beings, your brothers, your sisters, your father and even your mother proves to be an impossibility, a time when you can be made to languish in captivity and devoid of even the most basic of rights in practical perpetuity; a time in which to be properly buried is an unattainable and unimaginable privilege, what else can you do? Considering our lack of any capacity for violence, what more can we try? In light of these circumstances what option is left to us other than silence? If you cannot tell the person next to you, ‘that as long as they stay within the boundaries of the constitution and the law of the land, they will be safe from undue harm,’ then what do we have left to say? What can you say to the likes of ISIS, ISIL, Boko Haram and the Animal and his undead master? What word is left between us and these kinds of Fanatics?
We must stop telling people to stop, for we have truly nothing more to say, and virtually nothing to show for all our efforts. God is and will always be our first and last resort, we must start praying that God be with those who seek justice. We must pray for them, even if their quest for justice requires that they have to respond in kind to even the odds of our survival, by fighting fire with fire. We must stop using our belief in peace and harmony as an excuse to hold people back, based on ideals that are ruthlessly disregarded by the conquistadores of this day and age. As peaceful protestors get harassed, detained, massacred, raped and violated; as people get victimized in every way imaginable, as we continue to live and endure life in a state that is ruled by a government that is protected by an army that is clearly determined to find and open Pandora’s Box. We who are not versed in vandalism and barbarism, may continue to follow the peaceful path we know and live by. But if any one comes to you or me and says he wishes to do something drastic, I think that it is in our best interest, that we try to prevail upon ourselves to just leave it be and pray that “God be with the righteous.” Let them deal with the daemons they are so desperate to unleash. We have and want nothing to resort to, save God Almighty.
They accuse us of setting up a parallel government, simply because we acted to prevent their ethnic cleansing plan of 2007. They have killed our friends, they killed our brothers, they killed our sisters, they killed our fathers and they have even killed our mothers; worst of all they have even gone as far as to plan and implement a tactic of killing our children. Those who survived their onslaught of mindless violence have been maintained in a state of induced decay. Dead or alive the victims of the conquistador modelled Nigerian Army and their families are being made to suffer. Those who died have been dumped into mass graves, those who survived have been detained without fair trial. Meanwhile, under the protection of this government their homes are being destroyed, the homes where they had once sheltered fellow human beings from the madness and massacre, are being destroyed. People are being dispossessed simply because they followed the teachings of Imam Hussain. No more, we must and will defend our homes and our lives. By hook or crook we will commemorate the murder of imam Hussain (A.S) as we have always done, come what may! When they rise to kill us like sheep, they will find the wolf’s road to be riddled with the difficulties that form the minefield of God’s protection.
By Mohammed Ibraheem Zakzaky for Shafaqna