Posts Tagged ‘terrorism’

Our Common Humanity Includes Evil – my BBC Radio 4 Thought for the Day, 16/02/2018

February 18, 2018

Our Common Humanity Includes Evil
(FINAL TEXT AS DELIVERED)

Thought For The Day, BBC Radio 4, Friday 16 February 2018, broadcast 0749-0752

Imam Dr Usama Hasan

[Listen to the 3-minute audio clip here.]

Good morning. Wednesday’s massacre at a secondary school in the USA has again reminded us of the immense evil of which we humans are capable. Closer to home, we have been agonising nationally over the past week over what to do with the so-called “Beatles” gang of fellow-Britons who became brutal ISIS terrorists, after two of them were arrested in Syria.

We often hear faith leaders and politicians speaking about “our common humanity” as a basis for coming together and being inclusive. But as the above examples illustrate, the concept of our common humanity includes the capacity for diabolical acts of great evil as well as for heroic acts of courage and generosity in the service of others.

It is the most grotesque examples of being bad that we often label as “evil,” whether or not we actually believe in supernatural beings such as angels and demons.

When we speak of our common humanity, we must thus acknowledge that this is a double-edged sword that we all carry within us at some level. This will enable us to have more realistic conversations about how we come together: presumably, on the basis of the “better angels of our nature,” rather than the demons lurking deep within.

In the Qur’an, even your relative’s murderer is described as “your brother,” in the verse allowing you to seek harsh justice against him whilst encouraging forgiveness. Ali bin Abi Talib, the wise early Muslim leader revered by Sunni and Shia Muslims, faced a rebellion by fanatical, violent, extremist and bloodthirsty rebels known as the Khawarij. He won over a large number of them through reasoned debate, but had no choice but to physically fight the others who remained obstinate and stubborn. But throughout the struggle, in contrast to many around him, Ali refused to deny the rebels’ humanity, referring to them as, “our brothers, who’ve transgressed against us.”

Whether we like it or not, we must realise that mass murderers, terrorists, and other criminals are our brothers and sisters in humanity, and sometimes, even in faith. We must punish them within our criminal justice system according to the severity of their crimes.

Yet no-one is born purely evil: on the contrary, children regularly remind adults of the virtues of innocence and good-naturedness. It is a combination of bad experiences, outside influences and terrible moral choices that lead some of us to commit evil acts. But there is always hope for repentance and redemption, and the opportunity to turn our lives around.

Reflecting on that would perhaps allow a more compassionate and forgiving attitude towards others, especially when they have done us relatively-minor wrongs.

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Fatwa against ISIS

September 11, 2014

Bismillah.  – Please add a comment if you’re a religious scholar and would like to add your name to the list of signatories.  Female scholars are especially welcome.

WITH THE NAME OF GOD, MOST GRACIOUS, MOST MERCIFUL

FATWA ON THE SO-CALLED “ISLAMIC STATE” (FORMERLY “ISLAMIC STATE IN IRAQ & SYRIA”)

30th August 2014

Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds. Peace and blessings be upon His final messenger Muhammad.

Due to recent events in the Middle East and their impact on some people in Britain, we as imams and scholars based in the UK, would like to issue the following clarifications in the form of a fatwa:

  1. There is no doubt that President Assad’s regime in Syria is oppressive, unjust and brutal, and has committed numerous atrocities against its own people.
  2. The same is true of the so-called “Islamic State” (IS) or self-styled “Caliphate,” formerly known as “The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria”: it is an oppressive and tyrannical group.
  3. By murdering prisoners of war, journalists and civilians, including mosque imams who refused to endorse their campaign, and by enslaving the women and children of their opponents, ISIS has violated international agreements such as the Geneva Conventions and conventions on slavery that everyone, including Muslims, have signed up to. God says in the Qur’an, “Believers, fulfil your covenants!” (5:1)
  4. The IS persecution and massacres of Shia Muslims, Christians and Yazidis is abhorrent and opposed to Islamic teachings and the Islamic tolerance displayed by great empires such as the Mughals and Ottomans.
  5. Based on all of the above: IS is a heretical, extremist organisation and it is religiously prohibited (haram) to support or join it; furthermore, it is an obligation on British Muslims to actively oppose its poisonous ideology, especially when this is promoted within Britain.
  6. British and other EU citizens are bound by their duties to their home countries according to Islamic theology and jurisprudence: it is therefore prohibited (haram) to travel to fight with any side in Syria, including non-state actors, since this is forbidden by laws in EU countries.
  7. It is a moral obligation upon British Muslims to help the Syrian and Iraqi people without betraying their own societies: “If they ask for your help in religion, you must help, except against a people with whom you have a treaty.” (Qur’an 8:72)

 

SIGNATORIES (as of 11th September 2014)

  1. Sheikh Mohammad Shahid Raza OBE, Executive secretary of the Muslim Law (Shariah) Council of UK; Head Imam at Leicester Central Mosque
  2. Sheikh Qamaruzzaman Azmi -Secretary General of the World Islamic Mission; Head Imam at Manchester Central Mosque
  3. Sheikh Muhammad Manwar Ali, founder and CEO of JIMAS, Ipswich
  4. Sheikh Dr Qari Mohammad Asim MBE, Head Imam at Makkah Masjid, Leeds
  5. Mufti Abu Layth, founder of The Islamic Council UK, Birmingham
  6. Sheikh Paul Salahuddin Armstrong, Co-Director of The Association of British Muslims, Birmingham
  7. Sheikh Dr Usama Hasan, Author of the fatwa, Head Theologian at Quilliam and Former Imam at Al-Tawhid Mosque, London
  8. Dr Musharraf Hussain Al-Azhari OBE DL, Chief Imam, Karimia Institute, Nottingham
  9. Sheikh Dr Hafiz Ather Hussain al-Azhari – Imam, Leicester
  10. Cllr Yakub Hanif al-Naqshbandi – Imam, Luton
  11. Sheikh Irfan Chishti al-Azhari MBE – Imam, Greater Manchester
  12. Sheikh Dr Irfan al-Alawi – Executive Director, Islamic Heritage Research Foundation, Birmingham
  13. Sheikh Osman Saeed Dar al-Azhari, Imam, Greater Manchester

Tackling extremism in UK universities and mosques

March 3, 2013

Bismillah.  The recent cases of the “Birmingham terrorist trio”, one of whom was a university graduate, and the resurfacing of underlying problems at City University, both from the end of February 2013, as well as that of four young men from Luton pleading guilty to terrorism on 1st March, show that the problems of extremism and terrorism amongst British Muslims still persist.  Note that the men from Birmingham and Luton were all influenced by Anwar Awlaki, who lived for a while in the UK, c. 2002-3.  Campus connections to extremism and terrorism are well-documented, and the two “Undercover Mosque” programmes on Channel 4 embarrasingly exposed the same problems in a small number of UK mosques, although some of these mosques were, worryingly, major ones in London and Birmingham.

These problems continue to need to be tackled by Muslims themselves, as well as by others.  A good start would be for Muslims to stop being in denial about the small number of would-be terrorists in their midst, whose crazy actions could lead to catastrophe in this country.  Conspiracy theories must end, given the overwhelming evidence against such people, including their own “martyrdom videos” and guilty pleas, and the well-documented details of their plots, e.g. photos of unexploded bomb material from the failed 21/7 attacks and the police’s secret footage of the liquid-bomb plotters’ “bomb factory” in Forest Road, Walthamstow, screened some years ago on BBC Panorama.

Another step would be open, honest discussion about the underlying, extremist, Islamist ideology that underpins, justifies and legitimises Al-Qaeda-linked terrorism in the minds of its proponents.

Below is a relevant and, I hope, useful article reproduced from the end of 2009, i.e. just over 3 years ago.  A slightly-edited version of it was published in the print edition of the Daily Telegraph on 31st December 2009, within a week of the failed attack by the “underpants bomber” Mutallab on Christmas Day, 2009.  (Mutallab had earlier served for a year as President of the UCL Islamic Society.)  The article has never been published online before.

Following publication of this piece, a leading UK salafi scholar criticised me for it after the next Friday prayers that I led at Al-Tawhid Mosque in January 2010.  (It later turned out that Mutallab had named him as one of his major religious influences, although there is no proof that this cleric knew about the underwear-bomber’s terrorist plans.) Since most of the speakers banned from university campuses over the last few years and exposed in the mosques have been of a salafi background (with a significant number also from extremist Deobandi backgrounds), he said that I should not criticise “our brothers in creed” (ikhwanuna fi l-‘aqidah).  Of course, I did not accept this sectarian suggestion to avoid opposing people preaching hatred and extremism on the grounds that they pay lip-service to the “creed of the Companions and the Salaf” whilst having almost no sense of the latter’s spirituality: as Imam Ibn al-Qayyim stated, all the early Sufis such as Hasan Basri, Junayd, Ma’ruf, Sari and Bistami were also amongst the generations and followers of the Salaf.

Tackling Extremism on UK Campuses

Usama Hasan

(an edited version of this was published in the print edition of the Daily Telegraph on 31st December 2009, within a week of the failed attack by the “underpants bomber” Mutallab on Christmas Day of that year)

 

Students’ Islamic societies on UK campuses are dominated by fundamentalist ideas and overly-politicised interpretations of Islam.  During the 80’s and 90’s, when I spent eight years as a student at three of this country’s leading universities, serving as Islamic society president at each, I saw at close hand, and took part in, the radical activism myself. The energy was partly provided by events overseas: the Islamist revolution in Iran; the Afghan jihad against the Soviets; the Israeli invasion of Lebanon; the first Palestinian intifada; the first US-led war against Saddam; the wars in Bosnia and Chechnya. Countless Friday sermons on UK campuses, mirroring those around the world, were devoted to reinforcing the idea that all these events proved that there was a worldwide conspiracy of godless infidels (non-Muslims of all faiths and none) against Islam and Muslims everywhere.  Meanwhile, events that challenged this melodramatic worldview, such as the long and brutal Iran-Iraq war or the vicious civil war amongst the Afghan mujahedin groups after their victory over the communists, were conveniently ignored.

 

University students have a long history of radical, political activism around the world, and this is not wrong in itself.  One thinks of the French student revolts, or the brave student dissidents in Tianamen Square and Tehran.  And fundamentalism, by which I mean the reading of scripture out of context and failing to apply its universal and timeless principles faithfully to modernity, infects many religions.  But whilst those students and graduates from British universities who went off to Afghanistan and Bosnia for military training and action in the early 90’s were arguably participating in just causes, those involved in terrorist plots since 9/11, such as Umar Abdulmutallab, have lost their moral bearings completely, under the influence of Al-Qaeda and its apologists worldwide.  Part of the solution to this problem should involve providing safe alternatives to young men with an understandable desire for military training and adventure, perhaps involving the British armed forces and their reserves.

 

Alternative theological and intellectual narratives also need to be provided.  In my time on campus, there was intense rivalry between different fundamentalist factions, but all the Islamist groups agreed on the objective of a single, worldwide caliphate, governed by a strict interpretation of Islamic law or Sharia, and most of them were opposed to any form of democracy or secularism.  Vehement rhetoric against “the West” was commonplace.  Liberal and rational interpretations of Islam, inspired by Averroes, Ibn Khaldun or Iqbal were rarely heard.  The promotion of authentic Sufism on campus will help, but true religious experience will never be apolitical, so it is a question of balancing faith, politics and spirituality.

 

But the problem is not all about theory and politics: social realities have a major impact.  With traditional, devout Muslim societies being teetotal and gender-segregated and some religious authorities prohibiting music, many believers find it difficult to integrate, since British student social life is based around the bar and often seems to be a “sex, drugs and rock’n’roll” culture.  In the face of this, it is easy for believers to withdraw into cult-like social circles that reinforce a narrow worldview.  Many bodies provide advice to students regarding alcohol, drugs and sex, of course – greater cultural awareness is the key here.

 

Promoting more individual and social cohesion and balance is not easy.  A firmer emphasis at university on “higher education” of the whole person may help, such as termly meetings with mentors who help with students’ personal and social development; schemes like these are already in place at many universities, and Muslim chaplains could play an important role here.  A stronger sense of the student body, such as your batch or cohort studying the same subject, may also provide a safety-net for would-be terrorists.  Other countries seem to have a stronger tradition of this approach compared to Britain.

 

Increased interaction amongst different student communities and the open exchange of ideas are paramount.  Muslim-Jewish relations on campus are especially important: they have been poor historically, largely because of the Israeli-Arab conflict which continues to provoke religious and political extremism on both sides.  In this respect, work like that of the Lokahi Foundation and the Coexistence Trust, who organise joint campus tours by Muslim and Jewish leaders and role-models, deserves to be supported and expanded.

 

City University and the Islamic Society Prayer Room

February 22, 2013

Bismillah.  UPDATE 24/2/13: Some readers have reasonably asked about more recent activities of City Isoc – the signs are not encouraging.  One commenter below mentions that, in November 2012, the Isoc hosted a preacher known for his extremist views.  The “Muslim Voices on Campus” (MVOC) group also promoted an event addressed by a Hizb-ut-Tahrir speaker just 3 days ago (the speaker was opposed to gender-equality and freedom, both of which are fundamental maqasid of the Sharia, understood in its most generous sense as opposed to the narrow reading that dominates much of contemporary Muslim thinking).  Furthermore, MVOC now have a lawyer representing them: no surprise that it is Saghir Hussain, who worked for the Awlaki-supporting CagePrisoners group for many years and also closely-advised the extremist group that took over Al-Tawhid Mosque in 2011-12, as detailed elsewhere on this blog and admitted by the man himself during the 2012 Islam Channel discussion on the topic.  Hilariously, Hussain is promoting “freedom of expression” on campus whilst denying it at mosques, where he supports takeovers by fanatics.  Furthermore, extremist Muslim groups have no right to continue spouting fascist views and support for terrorism yet scream “Islamophobia!” and retreat into victimhood and a siege-mentality when others, including Muslims, very reasonably oppose their excesses!

Bismillah.  According to City University, they withdrew Friday Prayer facilities for Muslim students in November 2012 after the Islamic Society (ISoc) failed to respond to several letters, over a period of several months from Summer 2012, requesting a list of Friday preachers and the topics or contents of the sermons.  The issue has only appeared in the media today, 3 months on, because of a new campaign by Wasif Sheikh of “Muslim Voices on Campus,” who incidentally pulled out of a live radio debate with me tonight on the BBC World Service radio station, for reasons unknown to me – Newshour went ahead by interviewing just me.

Rather ridiculously, some people have today tried to blame others for the University’s drastic decision, which they would easily reverse if the Isoc co-operated, rather than recognise the root of the problem: the  extremist activities of City University Islamic Society and its President, Saleh Patel, 2009-10, some of which are detailed below.

(Patel’s father and two uncles were part of the extremist group that forcibly took over Al-Tawhid Mosque in 2011-12 – we still await the decision of the Charity Commission’s investigation into that case.)

The extremist activities included promoting the terrorist preacher Anwar Awlaki and threatening two of the university lecturers after they criticised the Islamic Society’s disgraceful behaviour:

1) Islamic students at top university ‘are preaching hard-line extremism,’ terror experts warn (Daily Mail, 18/10/10)

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1321264/University-urged-action-Islamic-extremists.html

2) Claims of Islamic Extremism at London University (LBC Radio 18/10/10)

http://www.lbc.co.uk/claims-of-islamic-extremism-at-london-university-31352

3) Islamic extremism, intimidation at London’s City University  (Jewish Chronicle 18/10/10)

http://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/39929/islamic-extremism-intimidation-londons-city-university

4) The report on Islamic extremism at City University London, and how it will affect student relations (18/10/10)

http://jonrossswaby.com/20101018-city-university-isoc-islamic-extremism/ (link no longer available)

5) James Brandon: Exposing Islamic extremism on British university campuses – and what we can do about it (Conservative Home 30/10/10)

http://conservativehome.blogs.com/platform/2010/10/james-brandon-exposing-islamic-extremism-on-british-university-campuses-and-what-we-can-do-about-it.html

6) Storm over extremist preachers (City Inquirer, 18/11/09)

http://cityinquirer.com/?p=1156 (link no longer available)

7) City Islamic Society defends radical preacher and threatens the Inquirer (City Inquirer, 2/1/10)

http://cityinquirer.com/?p=1787 (link no longer available)

8) Rosie Waterhouse: Universities must take action on Muslim extremism (The Independent, Thursday, 18 March 2010)

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/higher/rosie-waterhouse-universities-must-take-action-on-muslim-extremism-1922730.html

9) Rosie Waterhouse: Will the voice of moderate Muslims be heard at City?  (The Independent, Thursday, 1 July 2010)

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/higher/rosie-waterhouse-will-the-voice-of-moderate-muslims-be-heard-at-city-2014822.html

Some of the highlights from the above episode, exposing the ignorance and superficial understanding of the extremists involved, are:

1) The counter-extremism think-tank, Quilliam, said they had evidence of the president of City University’s Islamic Society, (ISoc) openly preaching extremism during a prayers held on the campus during the 2009/10 academic year, led by the president, Saleh Patel.

They said the president, Saleh Patel, was recorded saying:

When they say to us ‘the Islamic state teaches to cut the hand of the thief’, yes it does!

And it also teaches us to stone the adulterer.

When they tell us that the Islamic state tells us and teaches us to kill the apostate, yes it does!

Because this is what Allah and his messenger have taught us and this is the religion of Allah and it is Allah who legislates and only Allah has the right to legislate.

When a person leaves one prayer, one prayer intentionally, he should be imprisoned for three days and three nights and told to repent.

And if he doesn’t repent and offer his prayer then he should be killed. And the difference of opinion lies with regards to how he should be killed not as to what he is – a kafir or a Muslim.

When they say to us that Islam was spread by the sword, and there is no such thing as jihad, we say to them ‘no’. Islam believes in defensive and offensive jihad. The Qur’an is the proof, as is the Sunnah.

According to students interviewed for the report, the actions of leading members of the ISoc made members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Society (LGBT) feel “scared.”

Some Jewish students felt “intimidated”, and the group’s actions forced ordinary Muslim students to adopt hard-line Islamic practices which led to some Muslim students publishing an open letter complaining that their religion had been “hijacked” by the ISoc.

Report author Lucy James, said:

“It is deeply shocking that such extremism is being openly promoted on a university campus in central London.”

2) Rosie Waterhouse (1/7/10):

A colleague, Paul Anderson, wrote an article on his blog saying universities were secular institutions and supporting my stance against the potential promotion of violent extremism on campus (although he was not in favour of a niqab ban).

In May, while on holiday overseas, I received a text message from Anderson saying my photograph and his had been posted on the Islamic Society website together with a diatribe accusing us of being Islamaphobic and harbouring “outright hatred” of all Muslims. To me, this was a deeply disturbing and palpable threat. I contacted Anderson and the acting vice-chancellor, Professor Julius Weinberg, to instruct the Islamic Society to remove my photograph and the offending article.

Anderson telephoned the Islamic Society president Saleh Patel. He explained how upset I was at this perceived threat, and wanted the items removed, but Patel refused. When I returned to university, I felt all eyes were on me. To my distress, the Islamic Society continued to refuse to remove my photograph or the article. They might not have contained any overt personal threat but they were intimidating, at the very least.

It took almost two weeks and the intervention of the vice-chancellor, the students’ union and, eventually, the police before my photograph and Anderson’s were removed. The article stayed. Relations deteriorated and the Islamic Society was deregistered as a recognised society of the students’ union. Their website has been taken down.

“Such extremism can create dangerous divisions on campuses and, if not tackled, may even lead to terrorism.”

3) In April 2009, City Islamic Society organisers invited three radical Islamist preachers to address the society’s annual dinner, with the “brothers” and “sisters” segregated, and the latter forbidden to ask questions. One preacher, Anwar al-Awlaki , was to speak by video-link from Yemen, because he was banned from Britain for alleged links to terrorists. But the then vice-chancellor Malcolm Gilles intervened and the video-link was banned.

The above evidence speaks for itself.  Over the past decade, dozens of British university graduates have been convicted of terrorist offences, including several ISoc Presidents, the most notorious one of which was the 2009 “underpants-bomber.”  Clearly, universities cannot allow Isocs and Friday Prayers to continue to promote hate-preachers and terrorism-sympathisers.  (The “Birmingham 3” terrorists convicted yesterday included a graduate of Aston University.)

Here is the poster advertising the scheduled talk in April 2009, i.e. less than four years ago, at City Isoc via tele-link by Awlaki, the late Al-Qaeda preacher:

awlaki-city-u-4-09-300x211

And here is a post on the City Isoc website from December 2009, i.e. just over three years ago only, in praise of Awlaki and the “Al-Qaeda soldiers”: awlakicityisoc

The answer to the current impasse is quite simple: the Isoc needs to co-operate with the university authorities, who are concerned about the welfare of all their students, including the Muslims.  The Isoc should be able to ensure and guarantee that the vicious activities of 2009-10 are not repeated, in which case the university would surely reinstate the Friday Prayer facilities, since all UK universities are required to cater for the religious needs of all their students, and many universities provide very generous prayer-rooms for Muslim students.  I pray that the City University and its Isoc are granted the honesty, humility and courage to make the right decisions and arrive at a win-win situation for all sides.

Is settler violence terrorism?

August 22, 2012

Bismillah. An important development:

Brookings scholar Natan Sachs and Foreign Affairs managing editor Jonathan Tepperman held a media conference call today, August 22, on the arrest of seven Israeli settlers for reportedly attempting to lynch several Palestinian youths, and the State Department’s designation of settler violence as terrorism.

In the September/October issue of “Foreign Affairs,” Sachs and Daniel Byman, who is also at Brookings, write that confronting settler terrorism is a “clear moral and political imperative” for the Israeli government and that not doing so could imperil any hope of peace with the Palestinians.

“Whenever extremist settlers destroy Palestinian property or deface a mosque, they strengthen Palestinian radicals at the expense of moderates, undermining support for an agreement and delaying a possible accord. Meanwhile, each time Israeli leaders cave in to the demands of radical settlers, it vindicates their tactics and encourages ever more brazen behavior, deepening the government’s paralysis. In other words, Israeli violence in the West Bank both undermines the ability of Israel to implement a potential deal with the Palestinians and raises questions about whether it can enforce its own laws at home.”

True Story of a Survivor of Terrorism – Sayra Mobeen

March 3, 2012

Bismillah.

This relates to the twin suicide attacks at the International Islamic University of Islamabad in October 2009.  One of the targets was the women students’ cafeteria.  (Here is BBC and Guardian coverage.)  An injured survivor of that attack has written a brief piece about her experience, over two years later.

I received this from Major (Retd.) Tahir Wadood Malik, who was featured along with IIUI survivors in a moving Channel 4 Dispatches documentary about terrorism in Islamabad: City of Fear.  His comments are given below, followed by Sayra’s story.

Sayra Mobeen is a student at the International Islamic University at Islamabad. she was badly injured in the twin suicide attacks in the university on 20th October 2009.

The extent of trauma can be seen by the fact that it has taken her over two years and lots of persuasion to write her story.

May Allah help us all to overcome this menace of extremism that we are faced with in Pakistan, aamin.

If you have any comments or want to send her a message, these will be passed on to Sayra Mobeen.

Thank you Sayra, our prayers, and support for you and your friends will always be there.


Victims & survivors of terrorism, please come together to ‘speak truth to terror’
Pakistan Terrorism Survivors Network, Islamabad, Pakistan
http://paktsn.webs.com/

True Story of a Blast Victim

SAYRA MOBEEN

Student BBA (Honors)

Islamic International University Islamabad

The morning of 20 0ctober 2009 was delightful and astonishing for me not for the country; I was happy to go to classes for my studies and be with my friends. Ignoring the years of unending dilemma of Pakistan facing the threat of terrorism; that every face showed pain did not matter to me.

I am not a keen follower of the news, and that is why I could not feel the pain people faced by being in a bomb blast, or of losing a loved one in a terrorist attack.

The twin blasts in my University that day changed my life, as it was the first strike on women students in Islamabad. This incident left deep effect on my life. Bringing me face to face with a disaster which in its wake brought a lot of challenges for me.

Sadly I am a victim of that incident, and have been lucky to survive to tell my story, and look at life in a different perspective.

I remember that day after classes I came back in my hostel room at about 2:45 pm. My friend Umme Kalsoom came to my room and asked me to accompany her to the cafeteria, so I got up and we left.

We went to the cafeteria fruit shop but they had sold out the fruit etc. I don’t know why we were in hurry that day to go in the café, as we both ignored our class fellows who were sitting outside the café asking us to join them, and entered the main hall of the cafeteria.

We bought salad and some other eatables and sat inside the café on the left side of the hall, we still did not join our friends outside! We realized that we had not bought soft drinks so I went and bought these.

As I reached near the fountain in the hall, on my way back to our table, I suddenly heard a dreadful sound, and saw lots of smoke; my ears were deafened. I felt as if I had been hit by something forcefully. I was disoriented and fell down. The pain made me realize I was hurt and I could feel the pain on my body, arms, legs, forehead and chest. Later I found that the major injuries I received were on my chest.

Humble thanks to Almighty Allah that I was in my senses and tried to walk away from the cafeteria to save myself, but could not. I then saw my friends coming back to look for me; my shirt was full of blood which was coming from the wounds on my head and chest; when Umme Kulsoom  she saw me in this critical condition she started crying.

I asked Umme Kulsoom to look for my cell phone which I lost in this melee so I could call my family, she asked a female employee of café to look after me while she went to look for help.

I was feeling afraid because of the blast not for the pain or my injuries. The café staff told me I had severe injuries so I should go to the hospital, and tried to put me in a taxi, I refused because I did not want to go alone by taxi. The staff then left me and walked away, which hurt me more. I missed my family and friends and started to cry.

In the meanwhile my friends came looking for me, and picked me up, I was in great pain, and they took me to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences. The doctors decided to undertake surgery because of the nature of my injuries. I was very afraid because I knew my family was not with me, and I did not know what would be the result of the operation. But that is perhaps what saved my life.

After initial treatment in the PIMS and in view of the nature of my injuries, I was sent to the Combined Military Hospital at Mangla Cantonment for treatment. I underwent treatment at Mangla and suffered lots of pain and surgical interventions, for approximately four months. During this period my family and I suffered a lot, as they had to arrange for a place to live at Mangla, and commute from Abbottabad to Mangla regularly.

My injuries were similar to the injuries that soldiers receive in the battle field. The doctors at Mangla took great pains to remove the pieces of shrapnel and other stuff in my body, but even then, they could not remove all, and some non-life-threatening pieces of the material that was used in the suicide jacket, are still in my body and will remain in me for my life. It hurts at times, but at least I am alive.

As I said I did not pay attention to news of bomb blasts when I saw it on television or read about this in the newspapers, therefore I could not assess the pain of others; especially those who suffered during terrorist or suicide attacks.

Since my ordeal, I can recognize the pain and difficulties of survivors and victims’ like me, and Alhamdolillah I can empathize with them and help them in their recovery from trauma.

This unpleasant incident did not close the door of life on me; it showed me the other and pleasant direction of life. I am happy, and grateful to Allah that I am passing my life normally, thanks to my family, friends, and many other people who helped me recover, and this has strengthened my belief in the saying that “obstacles come in life to polish one, or make one like a diamond.”