Today you killed me, but remember.
Right now, I’m reading Richard Engel’s A Fist in the Hornet’s Nest, which is his account of being an American journalist in Baghdad before, during, and after the initial US invasion of Iraq. It’s something of a mediocre book, where the events are more compelling than his ability to write about them, but he certainly does have an understanding of the Middle East/Central Asia borne of a decade of being there.
However, this passage stood out to me today.
I tried to back away, but found myself surrounded by people cheering, “Allahu Akhbar!” Arabic for God is greatest. The phrase is the heart of the prayers pious Muslims perform five times a day. It embodies everything Muslims believe, which is fundamentally that God–Allah–is greater than human existence and that a Muslim–a word that literally mean in Arabic a person who “surrenders”–must submit to God’s greater power.
Calling out Allahu Akhbar was a way for the crowd to try to overcome the tragedy–which they were powerless to prevent–by drawing strength from their faith. To call out Allahu Akhbar meant–perhaps subconsciously–that they would not be defeated because God’s power is greater than what had just happened, greater than death or American bombs. I’d seen Palestinians react similarly to death many, many times. Allahu Akhbar! Today you killed me, but remember, God is greatest.