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 Sh'mal Ellenberg

908 NE 115 St.

Seattle, Wa. 98125

shmal8@yahoo.com

352-256-9279

 

                                          A DEATH IN THE DUST

 

 

 

 

The young man was wearing a traditional Muslim skullcap, neatly dressed in stripped, loose fitting slacks, a lightweight, long sleeved, knit shirt squared off at the bottom, loose out of his pants; he walked into a temple unaware that he was being watched by some one very far off who was peeking into his life.  The thought in the mind of the observer, was one of surprise that the young man had come into this consciousness; he accepted this small quirk of fate, concentrating his inner eye on the young man,  wondering why they had come together in this manner.  It was a one way view of some ones life from the outside, which may not be acceptable in the mystical life.  It was more than curiosity though, that compelled him to peer deeper; seeking understanding was our viewer’s sacred intentions.

In a flash back sequence, the observer saw that the young man had just left his mother’s small hovel of a home on a narrow dirt street in Jerusalem.  His mother was in a state of painful, turmoil, suffering from the pain of her husband’s death through the gun of an Israeli soldier.   The old woman didn’t understand any of ongoing conflict that existed between her people and the Jews.  She knew that many violent deaths spread over the land of her people who in turn caused deaths to many across the border.  Neither she, nor her husband, allowed themselves to be involved in the conflicts, having many, long time, close friends, on the other side.  They tried to remain friends through the years of war, but it was harder all the time to maintain the friendships since most mistrusted Palestinians and Jews being friends.  She didn’t understand.  It wasn’t the way she was raised nor was it the way she thought of life.  Allah had made all beings to love each other: “we are all one with Allah,” she continued to proclaim, to all who would still listen.

When her son came home to tell his mother that her husband Rashid had been killed she went into an immediate faint, falling to the dirt floor of her home.  Abdullah picked her up and put her on her small bed in the corner of their simple home.  He brought a cup of water, wet her trembling lips, raised her head a bit so she could sip a few drops.  When she opened her eyes, he told her he was sorry that her husband, his father, had died. “He is one of many, dear mother, and I need to do something about this.”  She looked at him through barely opened eyes, only partially understanding his words.  He held the water close to her mouth, she sipped a bit more, as he told her he was going to get Sarina, his sister, to stay with her as he had to go.   He bent down, whispering a promise, “I will do something about the killing of so many, mamma,” then kissing her on her forehead, before turning with tears in his eyes going out the door.

The observer had to peer deeply in order to continue his vision.  There were blank moments when he lost sight of Abdullah who he saw again walking the dusty streets, not going far to his sister’s home to tell her what many neighbors had also done with their own families, when this all too common calamity came upon them.  Upon hearing her brother, Sarina screamed a scream that was heard up and down the dusty street.  It was a similar agony heard too many times in the past years.  Abdullah felt he had no time and told his sister to “go stay with our mother, I have something important to do.”

“Where are you going?  What are you talking about?  You are now the oldest one, you have to be with her.  Please come back with me,” Sarina sobbing, gasped.  “I can’t be with her alone.  I won’t know what to do.”  “Just be with her” he told her, “she needs you.  Others will come in and help.  I have something I must do.”  Abdullah, didn’t say anything more, but left, only pausing at the door, looking back over his shoulder, telling Sarina in a voice that was their father’s, “may Allah be with us.”

The observer continued with his eyes closed watching Abdullah leave his sister’s house and walk the dusty, dry street to the temple which he entered, knelt down, and prayed to Allah that his father may be at peace and that peace would come to all.

It was the sanctuary that had always been a comfort to him. Once inside he felt close to the One God he trusted, where he could share his innermost thoughts.

Abdullah prayed out what was inside of him: of knowing what his father’s wish would be and what his mother’s prayers had always been.  They were instilled deep within his being and he felt that peace in every cell of his body.  He knew the Allah of Peace to be in every particle that existed in life.  He also was painfully aware that many of his friends had picked up rocks, sticks, even dung from the streets, and thrown them, in anger and desperation, at Israeli soldiers.  Some, when the opportunity was theirs, picked up guns to shoot at the soldiers and many of his friends had died as his father had this day.  

As Abdullah prayed, he cried.  His mind wild with thoughts he didn’t want to entertain.  He prayed for strength to do something, in Allah’s name, to change the course of man’s violence.   He cried and prayed, cried and prayed, using a strong force of will to keep the picture of his bloodied father lying in the dusty street out of mind.  He looked deep within for some answer, for something he could do to make things different. 

When he left the temple, woozy and disoriented from his trauma and solitude prayer, he was thankful to find his childhood friend, Jabir, sitting near the well in the center of the village.  With tears streaming down his face, Abdullah asked his friend, “Jabir, my friend, what am I to do after what happened today?”

“I know what has happened Abdullah: The whole village already knows.  You know that my sister, Kareema, was also killed.  She was only a small girl of six.  We buried her together.  We all are suffering from this awful thing that is upon us.  I have no answers.  As you, I am unable to understand why this is happening and no one knows how it will end.  We all have tears and the pain of death in our souls, but yet Mohammed, praise be his name, wants us to follow the teachings of the Koran.  We have studied long together, learning the way of Allah and must keep this path.  Revenge may be a sweet way to satisfy our pain, but  that sweetness, only turns sour, bringing more pain.  Let us be as strong as the arm of Mohammed, praise be his name, and continue on the only path that is truth.   It is the way of your father and mother and all our people.  Many feel forced, impelled, to stray from it, but we know that it is in vain.  I will honor your father and my sister by staying close to you in our love for Allah.” 

            As the two friends shared their common bond of peace, by the village well, they were approached by another old friend.  Omar, carried a rifle over his shoulder, a grenade belt around his waist.  He was dressed in battle clothes of mujaddin.  “Aslaam Alecheim, Abdullah, I’ve been looking for you.  I heard about your father.  My deepest sympathy goes out to you.

“Alecheim slaam, Omar,” responded Abdullah. 

“May your father now be in peace with Allah.  It is unfortunate that we can’t take the time to mourn his death, before we seek revenge.  The Israeli soldiers are still on the outside of the village, taunting us to come out and fight them.  Come Jabir, you too.  Only two weeks ago, we all buried your little sister.  There more arms in the old school that are waiting to be used to kill Jews.”

The two men discussing peace, were now being tempted by the anguish and logic that prevailed in the lives of all those they knew.   They stood, shaken, momentarily confronted with the other side of life.   Omar sensed their hesitancy.  “What’s with you two, why aren’t you moving fast to avenge the evil that came upon the both your families.   The Jewish dogs must pay.”

“Omar please wait,” pleaded Abdullah.  “You know my father, what he stood for and what he believed.   I went to the mosque and prayed so I can understand what is right for me.”

“What is right?” Omar barked.  “Ask your mother what is right.  And you too, Jabir, ask your mother what she thinks of her shinning star, Fatima, buried before she became a woman.   The Jews won’t stop killing till we kill them.  All of them.  You know what is written.”

“Written where Omar, Jabir responded?  “We all studied the Koran together.  Forgiveness is the teaching that Mohammed, blessed be his name, gave to us.  We must follow that way.”

“Till when.  Till they kill us all.  Your sister, Jabir, was an angel of Allah.  And now she is gone.  There is only one way and you can see, I am ready to do what the two of you are hiding from doing.  Being weak is not what Mohammed wants from us.  We must exterminate evil.  I am going.  The two of you can stand by the well and wait for it to be filled with the blood of our people.  I am being called.  May Allah forgive your weakness.”  With no more words, Omar walked off without looking back. 

 

The two remaining friends stood alone, weak now in their knees, their thoughts shaken by a childhood friend who was seeking a thing that in them they understood, but their wills were strong on another plane.  Jabir spoke softly.  “He is right and we are right.  I know no other answer, “Thank you Jabir for your kind words.  They are a comfort to me.  May we both honor our families and the sacred teachings of the Koran and help others to follow that way.  May Allah protect our friend.” 

 As the last sight of Abdullah and Jabir slowly faded away, as the far away observer slowly opened his eyes in wonderment that this vision had come to him.  As a venerated practitioner of the Kaballah, he knew there was deep meaning to his inner experience.  He had struggled for many years trying to understand the centuries and current turmoil between the Jews and the Muslims.   He knew the troubles of cousins would go on as each searched for truths deep within their souls.

 

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Comment by Michael Levin on January 16, 2011 at 8:51am
Sh'mal, This story resonated with me because I could feel the emotions the characters expressed. The lesson for me is in the way intellect succeeded over emotion regarding revenge. How many of us can see through another man's eyes? I'm going to have a cup of coffee and read it again... Thanks for sharing. All the best, Michael
Comment by Saroj Earl on January 16, 2011 at 1:58am
When will you be back home?  Has it been decided?  When I said I was watching Comedy Central with our friend, I meant I was watching the show with a friend who happens to be the friend of us both and didn't want to give the name.  I really appreciate your supportive comments.  I want to be only my Soul Self.  Just last week a friend reminded me that the reason things are the way they are is because it's Kali Yuga and when I asked him why we would chose to be here in this awful time, he didn't have the answer - maybe we have a mission. I was at the memorial service today for a very good friend who died a few weeks ago with throat cancer and it was such a loving & uplifting experience that it renewed me and the "bad" feelings I had.  A very healing time.  Did you know Todd by any chance?  I was surprised to see friends of mine there today that I had no idea he knew.
Comment by Sh'mal Ellenberg on January 15, 2011 at 7:06pm
Oh, Saroji, it's not easy being a sensitive human being, but you've been at it a long time and have that as your true nature. You really do. It's hard for us sometimes, to see ourselves as we really are, especially when we get caught up in the world of fabricated "realness." We know there's a lot of fake posturing going on, from presidents to our own personality. So sometimes we laugh at the stupid, even what's hurtful to others, but that isn't who we are. So, we let it wallow in us for a bit, it passes and we are our Soul Self, that part that is the deepest part of our being; why we showed up when we did at this time in time. We're learning a lot from this world, maybe even from comedy central. Who was on that was "our friend?" WE do get effected by the media. How much have we seen in our lifetime? It all has left  some kind of residue impressions that our mind captures. We also know we are gaining a lot of wisdom from what the net is bringing to us, so discrimination is the key to the media. So, aside from that "bad" feeling last night, I hope all is well with you. I love you a lot Saroji. It's that soul part of you that is capturing of others and in the work that you've been guided to do. Blessings and sweetness. Happy massaging. I'll be on your table when I'm back to home. Sh'mal
Comment by Saroj Earl on January 15, 2011 at 10:15am
Just read your story.  It was in my junk mail.  Glad I checked there before deleting.  Thanks for your story of peace, Shmal.  I thought Abdullah would revenge - and was relieved.  I know he's a made-up character but also I know, in a way, he's real.  May Allah forgive us all.   Last night watched Comedy Central stand-up with our friend and was shocked and ashamed by the vitriolic "humor".  And I was confused when I heard myself laugh at some of the witless jokes.  What is wrong with us?  I remember being raised to be more sensitive.  Is it our media exposure that makes us distrustful, contemptuous, cynical and insensitive to human woes, even making human woes laughable?  I don't think it's human nature?  Or is it?

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