• Monday, March 02, 2015


Silence is Not Golden


The grownups fast from before dawn to after sunset, arise for Sehri at the dead of night, as do the children occasionally to record their first, second, or fifth roza. From mid-morning to late afternoon they usually go through a difficult time, but their faces light up at hearing the adhan at Maghrib. Even if they are not fasting, they emit the greatest delight and perhaps noise at the Iftar table. It is because the Eid that follows Ramadan has always been for the children.

The adults go for shopping from mid-morning to often late night, taking a break to allow the shopkeepers to break their fast, but they all shop for their children. Here are some who will have five sets of clothing or more, and there will be some who will at best get one, some none. But still it is their Eid.

After the Eid prayers, they are the first to hug you; their faces a reflection of the jannat that we seek.They may not know the text of the prayers by heart, but they can tell Allah swt their wants, they can convey their demands by their feelings,just by standing not even in line in the same qatar with their elders. It is indeed their Eid.

As children in most countries fight with sleep despite telling their parents a dozen times to wake them up for Sehri, as some of them wonder why fasting cannot be from 10am till 12 noon, as they gulp down that extra glass of fruit drink, there are children caught in the war in Syria, schoolgirls apprehended in Nigeria, babies slaughtered in Gaza, children perishing with MH370 and MH17, many more drowned in the Korea ferry disaster. At perhaps no time in history have so many children spread over such a wide area suffered from such a varying causes of conflict and mishaps.

The Syria conflict has its roots in long-term discontentment with the al-Assad dynastic regime, but the present crisis triggered off on 6 March 2011, when some children (yes children) who painted anti-regime graffiti were killed in detention, which led to public protests which again snowballed across the country.

Now we have had children killed in detention in other countries, but there was never any collective demonstration. Can we conclude then that the Syrians have a greater sense of obligation to their children than people elsewhere? Snowball? Come off it, those are hot countries; no snow there. Or here!

In northeast Nigeria, 276 girls were abducted from the town of Chibok, in Borno state, by Boko Haram, an Islamist militant group, whose name roughly means "Western education is a sin". A ray of good news has been that some 63 of the abducted women and girls managed to escape. But, some of the schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram may never return home, and this is according to Nigeria's former president Olusegun Obasanjo because he says, (incumbent) President Goodluck Jonathan's administration had taken too long to respond to the April mass abduction. Boko Haramsince 2002 is seeking to establish an Islamic State in Nigeria.

See the image Islam is getting. Hopelessly derailed humans, if you can call them that, claiming to be Muslims, are hurting the interest of the religion they identify with by stealing children from supposedly one of their safest places, and to many their happiest. There should be some law or system of expelling notorious and harmful elements from any religion.

The 'brave' Israeli Army killed a five-month old baby with their tank assault on Gaza about a week back, and did not spare hospitals, schools, sea beachesand markets where dozens have been killed. Despite a placard that read, "I am a Jew. Stop Killing Babies in Gaza”, the number of children killed, maimed for life, and critically injured had been on the rise since the beginning of boastful Netanyahu's genocide on the Palestinians in Gaza. Children have been born, had lived a short life, and had died without ever knowing what freedom from Israel meant. But, as the futile stone throwing continues, they seem to yearn for it.

This is Israel's second ground invasion of the Gaza Strip in six years in which till the filing of this report (31 July 2014), about 1400 Palestinianshave been killed in over three weeks of shelling. According to a United Nations estimate 70% (others say 80%) of the dead are civilians, and 21% of the casualties are children with over 250 youngsters losing their lives in what the Israelis call 'Operation Protective Edge'. In the 2008 'Operation Hot Winter' and the 2009 'Operation Cast Lead'Israel's war on Gaza, about three hundred children died during the military operations; total dead about 1400.In their attack on Gaza in March 2012, playfully called 'Operation Returning Echo' and about nine months later another offensive called 'Operation Pillar of Defense', about two hundred people had been killed, many of them children. Seems the only way the unarmed Palestinians will be saved is when the Israelis will run out of names.

The Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 was carrying 283 passengers,including 80 children, and 15 crew members on 17 July when it was allegedly brought down and destroyed by an 'act of terrorism' on the Russia-Ukraine border by some group (pro-Russian or pro-Ukrainian, anti-Russian or anti-Ukrainian, Russian or Ukrainian, no one knows even a bit), which fired just 'one' surface-to-air missile.With such deadly accuracy, wars will become cheaper in the future. Flight MH370, another Malaysia jet which went mysteriously missing earlier on 8 March and which remains missing supposedly somewhere in the Indian Ocean, or the Atlantic or the Pacific, was also carrying children.

On 16 April 2014, the Japanese-built South Korean ferry MV Sewol sank while ferrying 476 people from Incheon towards Jezu. More than 300 people died or are still missing. A vast majority of the dead were secondary school students from the Danwon High School in Ansan City.Last week, at a trial, surviving students testified in a courtroom of adults that they were repeatedly ordered over the loudspeaker to stay in the sinking ship (“Danwon High school students, do not move!") but when their cabins were flooded and the ferry listed so much that the wall became the floor, they had to leave, in which effort they helped each other. Video footage of the disaster showed that adult crew members were abandoning the ship while the children were ordered to stay put.

So many young buds lost. The lives of so many parents windswept forever. The candle burning in the innocent child has been snuffed at dawn, and yet there was so much night left to cover.

As we don new clothes, as we embrace  each other, as we hand out Eidees and receive, as we rejoice with family and friends over tables bursting with food and drinks at the end of the month of good practice, this Eid-ul-Fitrour prayers must have been for the children of the world.

P.S. In mid-July, The Arab League documents said that the Israeli attacks “have become a matter that cannot be met with silence any more”.Orey Baaps! That is hard talk indeed. Clap clap! So, the Arab neighbours have been meeting the attacks with 'more' silence.Shhh! Do not disturb! The only sound outside of Gaza should be that of the hookka pulling the burning shisha.

Published: 12:00 am Friday, August 08, 2014

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