About five years ago, at the lunch table with my family, having m6abbag Balool extremely fresh and tender, my dad and grandmother were talking in low shocked voices:
Dad: "He did what???"
Grandmother: "inna lillah wa inna ilaih raje3oon, what can you do or say? it's hard to imagine."
Dad: "That man?? he prays with us in our mosque!! are you sure it's him??!"
Grandmother: "Yes I am sure as I am sure you are my son. There's no mistake."
Then they stop while my dad shakes his head "La 7ola wala qowata illa billah". and my grandmother sighs and her hand forming her next lugma not enthusiatsically. My dad's shock stopped him from eating altogether. My eyes following both of them with concern and curiousity, I can't help but ask what's going on? And they tell me the horrific story.
This man who's only maybe a few years older than I am, in his mid 30's at the time, very quiet and mild mannered, divorced with children, and regularly prays at our neighborhood mosque, was in the newspaper for murder.
Turns out he was not mentally stable, and was on medication for a long time. I would never have suspected it, because he always had this air of calm and good manners about him. He even walked slowly, never rushing to catch a rak3a.
The reason he was in the paper was that he had come to his father's house one day, where his ex-wife lived with his children, he got a knife from the kitchen, and as he sharpened it he told his eldest daughter not to be afraid, and that she would go to heaven, then as she was totally unsuspecting, he cut her throat. (that was pretty hard to type out)
He was going to continue with the rest of his children but his son ran crying to his mother and they all escaped.
The man disappeared and the case was famous at the time, it was too shocking to comprehend.
I had trouble for a long time to connect the face of the man I remember from the mosque to the man in the story. I couldn't imagine such a horrific act from ANYone I knew, let alone knew from the mosque.
Almost a year ago, I see the man in our mosque and my dad points him out to me.
He must have been released from the psychiatric hospital and heavily treated, and God knows what has been done to him. I am not a legal expert, but I think perhaps a death sentence wouldn't have been understandable in his case. Who could gaurantee that he's not a danger to anyone now? What if he forgot to take his pills?! My mind is having trouble handling him, free and so close to me physically. There are many parents who bring their sons to the mosque, from 4 years and upward. I fear for their safety near him.
Since he came back his presence has been very noticeable to me. Where he sits. He sits at the right back corner of the mosque with a few cushions and a Qur'an on its X shaped wooden carrier. He prays in his spot all the time, before and after prayers. He reads that Qur'an all the time. He doesn't talk to anyone. And not many talk to him.
Sometimes I see one of the old respected men of the mosque sitting with him talking softly.
I am always aware of his presense or absence. And whenever he turns towards me I intentionally turn my head away from him, ignoring him. I can't bring myself to say Salam to him. Always on the defensive around him.
I also feel sad thinking of his crime and how is he dealing with his guilt. He certainly looks like he's in pain because of it. I can't imagine what sort of strong will to live and faith in Allah's mercy he must have just to be able to walk and eat and breathe every morning, and pray and ask for Allah's forgiveness. I feel sorry for him. But I also can't speak to him or even offer greeting.
Yesterday and today it was by chance that he stood next to me for the first time in salaat. Which pushed me to write this post.
We're both men of very different circumstances. il7amdulillah Allah gave me beautiful kids and a beautiful wife who loves me and I love them all. and I can't imagine hurting them. And next to me is another man who has many years ahead of him and has to live with this horrible crime he did. He's not in prison for life, he's not sentenced to death. He's a Kuwaiti who the government didn't know what to do with. It's too strange to judge. But his biggest judge which he has to face now is Allah's judgement.
All he has to face that is repentance. As much as he is man enough to muster.
I still can't bring myself to pray to Allah to forgive him. I don't know him much. I don't want to know him at all. I am curious to what he's thinking now, but he repulses me.
And the wonderous and amazing thing is... No one can ever say who was a better man as we stood there, me or him.