Where Do We Go in the Face of Horror?

Peace, one and all…

On my way to work this morning, I read with horror the account of a 13 year old boy guilty of the vicious assault and rape of a 20 year old woman.  The boy, who is now 14, has received a sentence of three years in a young offender’s institute (source).  My first thoughts and prayers go to the victim.  May all her wounds be healed.  I am also deeply shocked that someone so young could do such a thing.  Three years seems such a desultory sentence for such a heinous crime (even though the offender is technically still a minor). 

Where do such crimes leave us as a society?  What do they say about the state of manhood in 21st century Britain?  Where do we go in the face of such horror

I don’t have the answers….nor am I probably asking all of the right questions.  At any rate, as I was thinking about these issues, I caught a line in the qawwali song I happened to be listening to.  Just as I was feeling overwhelmed by the awfulness of this crime, and the serious challenges it poses to men and maleness in today’s world, I came to the line ‘tere murshid Ali, Ali‘ (loosely, ‘your guide/teacher is Ali, Ali’).  I suddenly realised the truth of this lyric: to respond as a Muslim, I must learn masculinity from someone like Imam Ali (may God ennoble his countenance); injustice must be challenged wherever it is found – internally or externally; strength is only given to men that we might use it in accordance with the highest truth, that we might protect others; the struggle for truth is always ongoing, there can be no easy answers or quick fixes.  As I felt this truth wash over me, I felt inspired to write a small poem in response.  And so, I share it here.  It is not an answer to the awfulness of this boy’s crime.  But, for me, it is where new beginnings must emerge from: the ever-present and ever-fresh mercy of God.  Huuu….

‘You have closed my mouth,
and poured sorrow upon my head.

That one so young could do such a thing
has left me feeling raw and numb.

And, in the midst of this bitter moment,
healing truth descends like rain upon my aching heart:

Son of the Way, speak truth, do what is right,
listen with opened ears:

Tere murshid Ali, Ali
Did that lion ever fight for anything other than truth?’

Ma’as salama,
Abdur Rahman

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4 thoughts on “Where Do We Go in the Face of Horror?

  1. Dear Abdur, I think you’re right, “masculinity” is defined in very narrow terms for many young boys today. It’s as if we (society) have taken the most bitterly “macho” parts of masculinity and/or the most patriarchal elements of belief systems and created extremes out of them. To my way of thinking, masculinity (and femininity) in a vacuum is pointless, it must be in service of something greater. Your poem is beautiful.

  2. Assalamualaikum Br Abdur Rahman

    I hope you are doing well insha’a Allah. I see there are two victims in play; the women, my heart goes to her, and the young boy who committed this crime. The real culprit is our society; his guardians, his school, his family, and others. This boy is very young and he did not come from the moon rather he grew up here with people. Society has failed to embrace this boy and provide him with guidance. We need Imam Ali (kAw)as Murshid; guide, to help us make sense of our life.

    katib

  3. Wa alaikum salam Katib

    You make the larger, necessary point here. We are all to blame….as together we constitute society. We could all do with such a murshid. Ya Allah!

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