Friday, March 30, 2007

Tears, Idle Tears?

Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean,
Tears from the depth of some divine despair
Rise in the heart, and gather in the eyes, [...]
And thinking of the days that are no more.
- Alfred Lord Tennyson

Ms. Saadoun's phone call to a nearby military base kept her family from being falsely evicted, but she was killed the next day at a market. Her granddaughters were among those in mourning.

The NYTimes ran this article about Suaada Saadoun, a Sunni Iraqi woman who stood up to thugs that tried to intimidate her into leaving her home in Baghdad.

The two men showed up on Tuesday afternoon to evict Suaada Saadoun’s family. One was carrying a shiny black pistol.

Ms. Saadoun was a Sunni Arab living in a Shiite enclave of western Baghdad. A widowed mother of seven, she and her family had been chased out once before. This time, she called American and Kurdish soldiers at a base less than a mile to the east.

The men tried to drive away, but the soldiers had blocked the street. They pulled the men out of the car.

“If anything happens to us, they’re the ones responsible,” said Ms. Saadoun, 49, a burly, boisterous woman in a black robe and lavender-blue head scarf.

The Americans shoved the men into a Humvee. Neighbors clapped and cheered as if their soccer team had just won a title.

The next morning, Ms. Saadoun was shot dead while walking by a bakery in the local market.

After the police took the body away, all that remained in the alleyway was a pool of blood, a bullet casing and the upper half of Ms. Saadoun’s set of false teeth. [...]

“I told you, ‘Don’t go out, they’ll kill you,’ ” one daughter cried out. “I told you, my lovely mother, ‘Don’t go out, they’ll kill you.’ ”

Suaada Saadoun with Kurdish and American soldiers on Tuesday after they stopped two Shiite men who had tried to evict her from her home on false premises.

I found this an emotional story - a story that one can shed tears to in the privacy of their home when they read about her resolve to stand up to injustice even though she is a widow living with her daughters and granddaughters - but I stop myself because I ask, are these tears I shed any use? Are they just idle tears?

Ms. Saadoun's is only one of the many that are taking placing everyday in Iraq. Do not be fooled by reading one story from the NYTimes that we somehow we are doing our part in what we can do.

I don't intend this to be a retorical question about 'what can we do?'

Nor is this a socratic exercise where I pose the question, 'what can be done?' and end it at that.

I can do what many of us do in such times. Leave you with some reflections from the Qu'ran:

"Be sure we shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods or lives or the fruits (of your toil), but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere,

Who say, when afflicted with calamity: "To Allah We belong, and to Him is our return":-

They are those on whom (Descend) blessings from Allah, and Mercy, and they are the ones that receive guidance."


Yet, both you and I know that our deen compels us to offer more to our Muslim brothers and sisters than mere recitation.



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