By Ismail B. Suayah.
North Carolina, 25 April 2013:
“And hold fast, all of you together, to the Rope of Allah (i.e., this . . .[restrict]Qur’an), and be not divided among yourselves, and remember Allah’s Favour on you, for you were enemies one to another but He joined your hearts together, so that, by His Grace, you became brethren (in Islamic Faith), and you were on the brink of a pit of Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus Allah makes His Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.,) clear to you, that you may be guided.”
Al-Qur’an, Surah ale-Imraan, 3:103 [translation from http://www.dar-us-salam.com/TheNobleQuran/surah3.html]
On Feb 17th, 2011, a flame was ignited in Benghazi that quickly spread around the world as hearts of Libyans everywhere blazed for freedom. Not long prior, peaceful protests in Tunisia and Egypt ousted the dictatorial regimes of Ben Ali and Mubarak. Gaddafi’s regime was next. The will of the people was clear; it was just a matter of time.
Working and raising a family in a college town in North Carolina, I had lost touch with the Libyan community. I avoided mingling with my countrymen for fear of being too honest with the wrong person and jeopardizing my family in Libya. Now, inspired by the rise of men and women in my homeland, I swung into action to support the revolution. I joined a group of Libyan-American activists and together we raised money, amassed medical and school supplies, organized political rallies, lobbied politicians and spoke to the media. This work consumed my free time even as I underwent a yearlong course of chemotherapy for a major illness.
When my family in Libya gave my wife, an American writer, permission for the first time in twelve years to write about Gaddafi, she wrote an article about his brutal oppression that was published in a major magazine. She also wrote a fundraising letter and delivered it door-to-door to neighbors and friends. Even our ten-year-old daughter sold homemade crafts to raise money for Libya.
Back home on the outskirts of Tripoli, my elderly, illiterate mother prayed constantly for freedom — and given the sincerity of her prayer, I have no doubt she made an impact. My recently widowed sister, whose husband had been denied potentially life-saving medical care in Libya, spoke with me by phone on National Public Radio in the United States to update Americans about the reality on the ground in Libya. My brother, a military officer, joined the rebels as they approached Tripoli; he later organized security in our district and created a local charity to support the widowed and orphaned. Two cousins fought with the rebels of Zintan; one died a martyr.
My teenage nephew in Tripoli, whose high school was shut down most of his senior year, spent his days helping neighbors. When I asked him over the phone what he did all day without school to attend, he said: “I’m busy. We get up and leave the house early, and we spend our days making sure everyone around us is okay.” Most Libyans could share their own stories about swinging into action for the revolution. We each did what we could; together we grieved losses and celebrated victories as the regime came to an end.
Now, as we rebuild our nation, we are too dignified to engage in the cynical comparison of body counts. We do not use bloodshed to measure the value of one region, town, or individual over another. We do not say the loss of a limb is worth a job, or the loss of a child is worth a pension. As Muslims we say Alhamdulillah (Praise God) we survived; we give thanks that we lived to see this freedom. Then we say Bismillah (In the Name of God) and step into our future.
As our grandparents and great-grandparents joined to fight colonialism and free Libya, together we overthrew Gaddafi and freed our nation. Together we cared for our wounded, kept our young and our elderly fed, buried our dead, and elected a government. Together we endured and continue to endure turbulent transition. Now our country needs each of us to put our unique gifts to work in service to our country. Only in this way will we transcend our dark past, defy the world’s expectations, and create the Libya we have dreamed of for forty years: a country where our children and grandchildren can lead safe and prosperous lives. Together we shall overcome the odds.
Let us shed hatred, overcome division, and restore trust in one another. Let us break the cycle of revenge. Let us not live in the long shadow of Gaddafi’s dark legacy. Let us honor our martyrs. And rejuvenate the optimism of the revolution. Let us make unity our new legacy.
Dr. Suayah is a regular contributor to the Libya Herald. He is a former geo-marine scientist, currently working in the software industry. He lives in the United States in the state of North Carolina with his wife and two children.
The views expressed in Opinion articles do not necessarily represent those of the Libya Herald [/restrict]