Martyr Leaders’ Untold Stories - Photos Published for The First Time
How do we come up with words to describe their souls that are soaring towards the kingdom, and we are imprisoned by ourselves?
How does the scene elevate us so that we can walk with the "turban" of a man, a father, and a husband. To learn from his path and feel his gentleness.
We are trying to unveil some parts of their lives which have not been revealed beforehand in public in a few lines. Let's go back to the time of the two "turbans". Even though days have moved us apart, yet we have never and will never abandon tracing them. This is the story.
The White Turban
Close your eyes. You would see him standing between fifty orphans who have no breadwinner. But where did the Sheikh go? He is here, still in front of their eyes. He is the compassionate and kind father to the children of the South.
His emotions continue to warm them up in the cold of February. He never surrendered and gave up. So he paid the price with his precious blood. His blood watered the land of Jibsheet and produced generations of martyrs that took his path. The image of his memory remains in the hearts of those who love him. Their smile is mixed with the tears of longing as they look at the image.
He loved poetry and read it. He also read the newspapers, especially the "Assafir". "Kroosh" [Lebanese food made of a cow's stomach and intestines stuffed with rice and ground beef] was the Sheikh's favorite dish. If he found out that one of his acquaintances cooked this dish, he would be the first to be invited! Since childhood he hated the occupation and rejected the existence of the Zionist enemy. He erased the word "Israel" from the map and engraved Palestine instead. These are images of his life in words.
* What are you afraid of, son? He has nothing! See how afraid he is, how he is hiding behind his tank. These are the words Hassan, the martyr, memorized. Later he would face the tyranny of the Zionists, he is no longer afraid after hearing the reassurances of his uncle, the Sheikh.
"His was not present among us for long. Nevertheless he always showered us with kindness in seconds. We would feel that the world has filled with endless laughter," these words echoed by the daughter of the martyr Sheikh Ragheb Harb, Hawraa. She continues with a smile mixed with longing, "he used to gather the girls at the Mabarra who made his heart their home. He would joke with one, embrace the other, and listen to a third one sing. All this without making them feel the hardship of a long day. Anxiously, he stayed night and day behind the walls of the house."
"Haven't you prayed yet, my daughter?" he asked one of his daughter's friends who was absorbed in some game. She answers in a shy manner, "No". So, he asked if he could continue the game for her while she prays. By that she would have lost the game but won the deeds of the prayer, a prayer she would not overlook again after that incident.
I still remember his kindness. When my sister used to come up to him to talk to him about someone, she would start by saying: "Did you see X person". He would interrupt her by saying: "no, I did not see him. Where is he?" She would laugh loudly. He used to catch one of the boys on the street and wrap him with his turban just to know his name and whose son he was. I still remember the voices of children when we went out for a ride in the car. He used to take all the children he could gather including his cousins' or younger brothers' children. Those voices that used to sign all the way in the car, "I love the prayer and I miss it".
"Television is the devil in the house." This is the principle that he always repeated. He used to always close the windows with the thick covers to darken the room and make us watch purposeful films through a machine he borrowed. Or we would watch short films he had recorded in our childhood.
The Hijab [veil] to the Sheikh was a red line that should never be crossed. But his style was as a pure and clean as he was. I never knew anyone who was upset by his remarks. I remember how he once saw a woman (without a hijab) distributing "Harissa" for the love of Imam Hussein (peace be upon him) and told her jokingly, "Sayeda Zeinab will beat you with a stick. She will keep pounding you." During one occasion, after he was finished with conducting a marriage, he said "for the veiled women, I hope their turn comes, and for the unveiled ones, in God's will her groom will veil her." When one of the girls from the village was with him in the car and felt cold as she was not veiled, he told her "my turban keeps me warm, thank God."
He is a farmer in nature. He loved the cattle including sheep and cows. He used to help his family in cleaning the barn and taking care of the cattle. He bought a sheep and kept it with his family. It died the night of his martyrdom. The cause of its death was unknown.
His daughter laughs when she tells the story. Her laughter is mixed with the bitterness of parting. He is Sheikh Ragheb. She continues: "A woman from the town of Abba once told me that the Sheikh passed by her when she was complaining about her husband. He asked her: ‘what did the hajj [your husband] do to you so that you are complaining about him?' She replied: ‘he did not get a veterinarian for the cow. It cannot give birth. It will die.' Sheikh Ragheb went in and touched the cow's back with his hand that was never surrendered to the occupation and called on God's name. It gave birth. The woman, with her southern accent, praised him saying: ‘thanks for those pure hands.'"
The Black Turban
"I remember our days with him. I touch his face with my hand. I draw a memorable moment," says the daughter of the Sayyed. "And I still feel the palm of his hands touching my forehead. He was passionate and full of affection."
Batoul al-Moussawi searches for words to tell old stories. She speaks with her absolute spontaneity and true feelings about her "first love", the details of his life, food, morals, punishments, and his kindness.
He did not let a moment go by without spending it with us despite the burden on his shoulders. He liked to read. He wished to have an hour for exercising or walking. He used to always play ball with my brothers or practice "Karate". I remember whenever he left the house, he would never forget to kiss my forehead. I remember how he used to call me to bring him a towel and he loved it. I'd look at the water spilling on his hands as shiny crystal lines.
I never forget his enthusiasm when we finish reading one of the books and the glamor in his eyes when I read a part of the Holy Quran with a distinctive recitation. I remember how he always encouraged me ever since I was a child to play the organ. I never forget his present when I played my first tune, "My Love Is Khomeini", and I taught it to my brother. That beautiful scene full of vitality is still in my mind.
My father used to reward me and my brother with gifts. I never forget how each of us was called a special nickname. I was "Um al-Hasanein" and my brother was "Abu al-Fadl". He always called my mother "Um Yassir". I even remember the punishments. For the boys, it was depriving them from playing football. But I was deprived of the sweetness of his voice as he did not talk to me.
"My father did not reject any kind of food, but thanked God for his blessing. When he finds out that Um Yassir has cooked "Shish Barak" his heart rejoices."
Oh, those moments! Um Yassir meant a lot to Sayyed Abbass' life. She was the lover, companion and wife. Talking about both of them is never ending. He used to help her with housework. He looked after us without any complaint. He loved it. He used to tell my mother the details of his day. Their relationship featured a mini-reflection of the life of Imam Ali (PBUH) and Sayyeda Fatima Zahra (PBUH). They lived to achieve the goal of martyrdom together. It was the utmost goal.
Batoul al-Moussawi tells a story that happened in Najaf with Sayyed Abbas and his wife. Umm Yassir was waiting for the Sayyed to come back with food for breaking the fast during one of the nights of Ramadan. Sayyed returned empty handed as he had distributed a handful of money he had to one of the needy. Um Yassir asked him, "what will we break our fast with, Sayyed?" then one of the scholars arrive with the best varieties of food. Then Sayyed praised God, who he has always entrusted with everything.
As for the "oil and salt sandwich", Batoul al-Moussawi tells us, "as it was the deal with all the families of the Mujahideen, my brother asked for food during one of the days we were passing through a difficult situation and he could not find any. Um Yassir was working outside the house. So Sayyed made him an oil and salt sandwich. It was more delicious than any other food."
Sayyed always scourged those who would hurt animals, even if it was not on purpose. He would get upset when one of the chicks that my brothers and I brought home died. He would even get upset if we chased a butterfly.
Sayyed Abbas only cried during his prayers and duaa. His cries intensified when he read Duaa Al-Nudba on Friday morning at the graves of the martyrs. But the most difficult moment in all the stages of his life that affected him as I saw his eyes flood with tears was when Imam Khomeini passed away. I saw him saddened because he was the one who rejoiced on the rooftop a short while earlier when he heard the news of Imam's exit from the hospital.
During that last day, he was preparing to leave. Cautious calm took over our house. He came out after waking my brother Yassir and told him, "this is an irreplaceable opportunity". A smile on his face could only be described as a smile of love, that of the lover meeting his beloved. The meeting took place. The basic will which was to preserve the resistance remained. He remained the master of my life.