“In an Islamic Republic, one person enters a mosque and rips it apart in the middle of Friday Prayers just because the mosque belonged to a different sect who, he believed, were infidels. Worse, the rest of 18 crore barely care. What is left in us after this? Islam? Humanity? Anything? Talk about hope? Ask them who lost their loved ones.”
These are a few lines from my diary after last month’s Shikarpur blast. Little did I know then that the angel of death was so close, just another Friday away.
The blast and gunfire in Imamia Masjid, Peshawar claimed 22 lives, including two of my cousins, DSP Naveed Bangash whose youngest daughter is only 10 months old and Farhan Ali Bangash, who has three school going daughters. My father, Muhammad Ishaque Bangash, received serious injuries in the blast but survived that day and we could not ever know that death was to give him only six more days. My father embraced martyrdom six days later. But there is more to the realities of life than what meets the eye. How the meanings of life and death reciprocate for a martyr and his family! No one will ever know who is buried and who dies.
That Friday, I was sitting in the sun after college when I noticed baba was standing next to me. I looked up. He was looking at me and smiling. He often did that. That is how he loved us. I smiled back and as always asked him if he was saying something. I always knew the answer but I loved to make him say it by asking so. He, as usual, kept smiling, nodded his head and said that there was nothing. Nothing in the world is worth your father smiling at you for no reason. Only if I had known that it was the last time baba was smiling at me, I would have hugged him tight and never let him go. Who could but stop him from going for prayers? If we ever talked about how dangerous it was, especially for us for the reason of our faith, baba would look up and say, “Allah is there, watching over us.” That is how strong his faith in Allah was. Who knew baba would give his life for his faith one day? One day, so soon.
The days and nights in hospital since the blast, I often remembered those last moments before baba left for Friday Prayers but I always distracted myself with prayers for his life because I thought you recall the memories of those you lose. Baba will live. All I did those days was praying for his life. I asked people to pray, everyone I could. In return, people asked me how baba was. I never had an answer. It took me long to reply their messages. I wrote texts and erased them several times before I sent them. No one can feel the helplessness of a daughter whose father was fighting for his life in hospital. Baba’s condition was critical. The doctors kept him sedated all this time. He couldn’t talk to us. Baba was wounded all over. I couldn’t even hug him. I often but hugged him in my thoughts, thinking that my prayers and love will heal baba. All those days, I sat by his side silently crying and begging for his life but God intended to heal him some other way. My father joined the rest of martyrs in heaven six days after that blast took place in Imamia Masjid, Peshawar.
There are some truths chained to life that we can’t deny. Where there is life, there is death. For me, how I lost my father, it was a transition from the extreme of pain to the extreme of comfort. I can’t imagine the pain that my father went through. I recall those moments in Imamia Masjid in my thoughts and what follows in me is beyond my power to bear as a human being and as a daughter. Then I hear some voice whisper in the depths of my heart that baba is very happy with Allah. Everyone has to lose his loved ones one day. For me, it is easier because I don’t imagine my father in the darkness of the grave. I imagine him in the lights of heavens. I haven’t lost him. He lives and he watches over me. As a Muslim, it is easy for me but what do I do for that daughter who lost her loving father and what for? Just because he belonged to a different sect that is not acceptable for some people in Islamic Republic of Pakistan? Yes, where there is life, there is death but Allah gives us life and only He has the right to take it. Since when did the decisions of life and death get in the hands of human beings? Who is answerable to me for my father’s life? Who is answerable to me for the pain that my father went through? Why is being Shia a crime in Islamic Republic of Pakistan? Where do I seek justice? I need answers, both, in this world and the world hereafter.
Whatever the truths may be but for a daughter there is only one truth that she lost her loving father. Amid all the truths, the painful truth is that I can’t see my father smile at me like that again, I can never feel the warmth of his hug again or the safety of his presence.
[blockquote style=”3″]“And never think of those who have been killed in the cause of Allah as dead. Rather, they are alive with their Lord, receiving provision, rejoicing in what Allah has bestowed upon them of His bounty.” (Holy Qur’an)[/blockquote]
See you soon, baba!
From the loving daughter of Muhammad Ishaque Bangash Shaheed.