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In the Name of...

by Norman A. Rubin

“In the Name of the Holy One, the All Merciful, the Compassionate and Blessed...” whispered the nervous young man prayingly as he headed towards a boarding bus stationed in the busy terminal near the Israeli town of___.

The heat of the summer’s day caused profuse sweating on his heavily ladened body. The dynamite and sharp metal filled harness strapped to his chest weighed heavily, and it roughed the skin under the cloth of his clothing. His steps were measured as he neared his target; each step marked with an oath of prayer. He stopped suddenly as two armed figures, uniformed in the official olive green of the border police, neared him.

He feigned indifference to their presence, only passing a fake identity card when requested. One policeman slowly moved away from him, but the second, dark in Ethiopian skin, searched, with suspicious eyes, the bulk of his body. Panic ensued as a command was ordered by the lawman.

* * *

The young man had a name: Yussuf A. It was the name given him by his father and blessed upon him by religious rites. To his friends and companions he was nicknamed Yussi. The young man’s early life was not of the ways of youth, but one of deep study in the edicts of religious law. While other boys and girls were at play, Yussuf was escorted by his religiously fervent uncle to the place of worship where at five definite times during the day he joined in the faithful offering of prayer.

He did not study for a future profession or craft, only the dictates and blessings of his faith and in following the holy word of the Prophet faithfully. His dreams did not center on service to mankind, but in being a loyal servant “In the Name of...”.

Yussuf A. lived in a small village centered in the governmental authority of his people; his living quarters of two tiny rooms and small kitchen was a part of his uncle’s large villa. The building was an architectural monstrosity built to include a few apartments for the uncle’s clan. Despite the cramped conditions there was an air of warm felicitous family ties. Yussuf was welcomed into the bosom of the clan and, in time, his chosen bride and later their blessed baby was equally accepted.

He supported himself in the teaching of the children of the village the code of the religion and of its edicts. Yussi was stern in the ways of his teaching. A few of the students had reddened knuckles, punished with a long thin supple stick, for the inattention to their lessons. The allowance for his teaching was meager, affording the means for only the necessities of life without any luxuries, but his saintly wife was a good housewife and they enjoyed whatever the All-Merciful offered.

The invaders came to his village in that great war; a war which soldiers of an alien country had to fight in the defense of their land. Yussuf A. and the rest of the villagers were cowed by the might of their weapons, and they had to obey the regulations imposed. The soldiers came in battle but remained on the soil of the village and built settlements that took away the villagers’ bread from the earth.

The villagers were dismayed and angry as they watched as large machines uprooted the olive trees of their ancestors and churned up the good earth for endless roads and modern buildings. They did not understand the foreign language of the skull-capped settlers, who quoted from a Book claiming that their Deity had promised the land to their forefathers.

Yussuf and the rest of the villagers accepted their fate with bitterness, but when in the following years, a great leader in their eyes, arose whose forces struck blow after blow against the interlopers, they followed his staff. They gave support to him in his leadership in whatever needs that were required, and a few young men offered their bodies in martyrdom. But the conquerors retaliated, and homes were demolished and men arrested.

The anger in Yussuf’s soul increased as he watched the ongoing transgressions of the invaders to his land. He joined with the forces of his great leader and offered his knowledge of the Word to help in the struggle. But there was talk of reconciliation between the forces of the great leader and the conquerors.

Treaties and pacts were announced from foreign lands. But for the villagers it would mean the continued sight of buildings on the edge of their land. This was not acceptable to Yussuf, so he and others joined a fraternity of believers that would fight for their right to the land ‘In the Name of...’

And on that fateful day Yussuf A. was called for the duty of sha’id, holy martyr. Proud tears flowed from the eyes of his wife and clan members as he entered the motor chariot that carried him to his destiny. Yussuf A. heard only one sound as he drove away: the cry of a baby.

* * *

The young man hurled a loud cry to the Enlightened One as he threw the switch that triggered the explosive device.

Paradise wasn’t the reward of the suicide bomber; only the corruption of scrambled body tissue, sinew and blood, which fouled the air with their stench and the ground with their ugly sight. Prayers to the Blessed and Compassionate were not heard; only shouts of panic from the passengers boarding the waiting bus and the sound of wailing ambulances could be discerned.

The young man’s torn body was not near rivers of flowing water or covered by numerous houris and never will be. If he could feel after death, he would feel religious men of a different calling and badged with official markings, collecting and scraping his skin, bones and innards into plastic bags. Foul death he received and needless death was hurled upon the young officer, dark in skin, now lying under a covered sheet.

Copyright © 2005 by Norman A. Rubin

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