Reviewed or something else Abdul Hai
“In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.”
Poem from Guantanamo. The Detainees speak
The claim that the modern world has progressed and humanity has become civilized would be difficult for me to accept. How can I rationalise such a claim when places like Guantanamo still exist? Even worse, the very people who claim such progress are the ones operating it. As for the individuals confined within such a place, they are left with no option but to ponder over the verses of Imam Shafi’i: “Humans do to humans what animals do not do to animals.”
The publication of ‘Poems from Guantanamo: The Detainees Speak’ serves as a poignant reminder that humans, despite their advancements in technology and mastery over the Earth, are far from civilized. However, it also offers readers a glimpse into the emotions, feelings, and injustices experienced by these inmates.
The war on terror waged by the USA and Europe has created an industry of false accusations, given license to bounty hunters, and, most significantly, fostered a toxic environment of ‘US versus them.’ Unfortunately, it is the detainees who find themselves locked away in the darkness of Guantanamo. ‘Poems from Guantanamo: The Detainees Speak’ is a collection of twenty-two poems written by seventeen detainees held in the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Edited by Marc Falkoff, who, along with an international team of lawyers, had access to some of the poems composed by the detainees, the original poems were written in various languages, including Arabic and Urdu. Falkoff highlights that a recurring theme among these poems is the physical oppression experienced by the authors. Poetry is a personal instrument, akin to a shovel or a digging tool, for the detainees. Through poetry, they engage in a profound process of excavation. This act of digging goes beyond mere words, as it delves deep beneath the surface, unearthing the hidden gems that hold the key to understanding the world.
“Peace, they say,
Peace of Mind?
Peace on earth?
Peace of what kind.”
Lines penned by Shaker Abduraheem Aamer, Resides in a district far distant. With no acknowledgment of his existence, He endures in silence, in the battle of resistance. The international community, the magnificent West, With evilness and trouble, they are obsessed.
Abduaziz echoes with pain:
“I shall not complain to anyone
Or expect grace from anyone other
Than God… so help me God.”
“O Lord, my heart is plagued with trouble.”
Did Omar not say to Amr, “O Amr, When did you enslave the people who
Were born free from their mothers’ wombs?” Ukrainians, with their pure white skin, refuse to gloom.
Do you not know, O Abduaziz, that you were born to face trouble?
They are pleased to have imprisoned you, and the key is returned to the maker to be undone.
Abdullah Thani’s love for his father cannot be embraced by the heartless West. He cries loudly,
“To exchange this cage for a pleasant life.
By God, if they were to confess, but I am guiltless:
My deeds are all honorable and need no apology.
If all Arabs were to sell their faith. I will not sell mine…”
Does your story not resemble that of Yusuf (upon whom be Allah’s peace)? O Abdullah, be patient, for you will sit on the golden throne of honor, and your enemies soon will bow down in humiliation.
Badruzzaman Badr’s certainty is unshakeable, for his victory has been prophesied in the plain of Badr, for he knows,
“That we will surely succeed
And the world will wait for us,
The Caravan of Badr”
Hero returns home with victory in plain sight, Moazzam Begg tells us,
“Still the paper do I pen,
Knowing what, but never when—
A dream begins, and nightmares end…”
History repeats in Moazzam’s voice,
Labbaik unlocks Prevents’ choice,
They caged you, years in three,
but your cage is to free.
Physical pain and psychological games, Jumah Al-Dossari’s story,
“Let them bear the guilty burden,
before the world,
Of this innocent soul…”
How many of them have an innocent soul?
Appealing with them will be an empty call.
A Judge will judge them with a mighty call and
Al-Dossari’s day will surely come after all.
In the hands of the West and then to the East, Shaikh Abdurraheem Muslim Dost considers,
“What might compel a man
To kill himself, or another?
Does oppression not demand
Some reaction against the oppressor?”
They will never understand oppression. Do you, O Dost, expect the killer to have mercy? Winston Churchill’s glory remains in every textbook, in absence of the Bengal famine.
He responded to the call of Iqbal’s Pakistan at the tender age of fourteen, Mohammed El-Gharani was hanged, and young flesh beat flat.
From Kandahar to the stomach of Guantanamo, he pens his first set of life,
“Move it cautiously in the land
Of those who speak no Arabic,
Even if they gave you oaths bound by oaths,
Their aim is to worship petty cash,
And for it, they break all vows.”
Iqbal dreamed of Pak-is-tan, not Pakistan. You, O Al-Gharani, sadly came to a foreign land of strangers. Your tears will haunt the white man’s land.
In the land of Sudan, Sami Al-Haj remembers his youth, but soon finds his adulthood within the silence of Guantanamo. No heart can bear the pain of not seeing one’s newly born son, O Muhammad ibn Sami. he writes,
My soul is like a roiling sea,
Stirred by anguish.
I am overwhelmed with apprehension.
Lord, unite me with my son Mohammad.”
Remember the story of Ibrahim (may Allah’s peace be upon him), O Sami, a gift at a dying age and then ordered to put him under the merciless blade. An act that remains till the last day.
He came from the Mouth of the Red Sea to Iqbal’s dream, but Abdullah Hassan found nothing except the chills of Cuba. Here, his secret is told,
Minds mature faster.
A day here is like two months at home,
O History, reflect. I will now
Disclose the secret of secrets.”
Drink from the cup of joy, O Abdullah, for history will open its secrets to reveal your sitting with Abul Atahiya.
Osama Abu Kabir’s only crimes were to quench people’s thirst. Abu Kabir, they are so afraid of even the bravery of your watch. Osama asks the world for justice,
“Is it true that the grass grows
again, after rain?
But is it true that one
day we’ll leave Guantanamo?
To be with my children, each part
Glad tidings, O Abu Kabir, for indeed “Verily, with every difficulty there is relief.” As for the gatekeepers of Guantanamo, then for them is the tree of zaqum and the boiling of scalding water.
To cure his pain, Adana Farhan Abdul Latif traveled in the land of his brothers only to feel the greatest pain of betrayal. He paints for us the real face of this unjust world,
“They are criminal, increasing
They are the artists of torture.
they do not respect the law,
but we are content, on the
side of justice and right.”
Farhan, you know! Between the words justice and truth lies your paradise. They may be the artists of torture, but you are our Bilal of patience because we all know the end of Ibn Khalaf.
Let Othman AbdulRaheen Mohammad, a Qur’an teacher, tell us the meaning of inability:
“I am sorry, my brother,
The shackles bind my hands,
..the only shame is betrayal
And the failing to stand
by your beliefs.”
It is we, O Muhammad, who are shackled and bound,
You carry Allah’s light in your heart, while ours is confined.
In the book, there still lie many names untold,
Who traveled the land of Afghanistan with intentions pure and bold,
As you turn the pages, you will find stories unfold,
Amidst corruption, those men’s virtues are sold
by those whose hearts are ice-cold.