Vanished from face of the earth, sacrificing their life, leaving tears of blood behind: what keeps the memory of a martyr alive? It is his life’s story, his sacrifice, which is carried forward delicately by his family, his companions and memories that remain long after he withdraws from this world, leaving an irreplaceable void in the lives of his peers and his family.
All in all, by the time I finished reading Mrs. Rabbani’s recollections of her martyred son and her emotions after he had left, my belief that not only martyrs but their families have a different constitution than the rest of us, was further solidified. After all, who can bear a loss as great as this with such pride, grace and fortitude? I also cannot show enough appreciation and awe for Mrs. Rabbani who has shown immense courage in writing this book and laying bare to the world her deepest emotions and the most valuable thoughts, and sharing her pain.
Be that as it may, his story is sometimes told and at times not. One such account I came across recently as that of Captain Akash Aftab Rabani Shaheed, a valiant martyred officer, told by his brave mother in an inspiring book, Maa Ka Akash. Without a doubt, it is a great honour for the family, companions and particularly the family of the shaheed that he breathed his last while safeguarding his adored country. That he was selfless to the degree that he did not consider his life separate from his motherland and gave all that he had in the way of Allah becomes apparent as one reads through the pages of the book. One can easily feel the pride of the family in the spirit, dedication and pledge to the country shown by this lionhearted officer.
Though they have colossal pride for the splendor he displayed towards his obligation, they lost a son and a brother whom they adored; the pain is also so apparent. I cannot but think how brave the families of martyrs are and how gracefully they bear the loss of their loved ones. Captain Akash’s mother lost a soul that completed her. She would never have imagined that someone who was so kind, compassionate, and beautiful inside and out would leave her so soon; a smile that filled everybody's heart with joy will one day make everybody's heart shed tears, that a buoyant boy who had so much to live for would meet the holy angel of death so young. Like his sister Liyal Aftab Rabani says, “He wasn’t made for this world that’s why he went to the world he really belonged to. But Kaashi, you went away too soon, my brother.” His mother also mourns her loss: "Despite the fact that martyrdom was Akash's most prominent wish, I wish he had lived a little more."
Yes, Akash’s mother must be extremely honored by how her son fearlessly embraced shahadat. But no matter how proud she is of her son’s heroic sacrifice, his absence leaves a hole in her heart that no one else can fill. Her grieved heart consistently wishes to feel the touch of her child, her eyes ask to see his face. She wishes for a miracle to occur so that her child be returned to her. We cannot even begin to comprehend the pain she must have gone through and still is. Even thinking about how she must have dealt with the news that her son was shot nine bullets in his chest, shreds my soul. The grief of a mother who loses her son is unending. Losing a child is indeed extremely painful, and a son as mannered, good hearted and compassionate like Akash would have been a great suffering for his mother. I wonder what a mother of a martyr is made of.
From a child’s first breath to when he starts to learn how to walk, from his school years to his college years, from his examinations to his graduation, and from there to when he finally becomes an independent person, a mother is always there for her child no matter what. Even when he or she is not physically present around her, a mother is always with her child. She is the place a child came from and she is the map children follow with every step they take. She is their first love, their first friend even their first enemy, but nothing can separate a child from her — no human, not time, not space, and not even death! And that is proven by Mrs. Sajda Aftab Rabani, who writes letters for her son despite his demise. In her letters she has told her son about how she feels about him and his martyrdom. She has written him letters on special occasions too like New Year’s, his birthday, his death anniversary, etc.
As I continued reading the book, it became clearer and clearer to me that when a soldier takes the oath of being faithful to his country, he actually vows never to hesitate from fulfilling his duty even if that means leaving behind the people he loves the most in sheer shock and suffering; every valorous soldier wants to die for his country.
As I continued reading the book, it became clearer and clearer to me that when a soldier takes the oath of being faithful to his country, he actually vows never to hesitate from fulfilling his duty even if that means leaving behind the people he loves the most in sheer shock and suffering; every valorous soldier wants to die for his country. The near and dear of a soldier wait for him to come home, supplicating every second to God for his protection but all they are really waiting for is a lifeless body covered in blood. Every drop of his blood invites countless tears. Nevertheless, the love of a soldier for his homeland is so great that he does not let his emotions take over the devotion for his country. I noticed from many instances in the book that Shaheed Captain Akash loved the idea of dying for his homeland. In the words of Danish Aftab Rabani, brother of the officer: “I remember when it was the day Akash was completing his SSG course. He looked at pictures of martyrs on the wall of the officers’ mess and said that those were all the martyrs of SSG and that he felt like the next picture there would be his. I looked at him in a shock and asked what he was saying, so, he somehow changed the topic. When I remember his words now, I am astonished by how they turned into reality.” I believe that in this moment Shaheed Captain Akash had prayed for dying for his homeland with such intensity that he had a firm belief that the Creator of the universe will grant him to be a martyr one day. His friend has also narrated that in a text message he had clearly stated: “I would love to die for Pakistan.”
Soldiers like Shaheed Captain Akash are an asset and pride of the nation. Personally, when I read this book, I was amazed by what an inspiring man he was. He was indeed one of the lucky ones Allah has chosen for paradise. He was not only a good son, a good brother, and a good student but also an excellent commander, a willing worker, and a great friend. As his friend Major Ahsan Iqbal stated, “Hazrat Ali (RA) has said that necessitous is the person who has no friends. And friends like Captain Akash Rabani Shaheed are truly those who are worth living life for.”
It would have been devastating for all those who knew him that they have lost a gem like that. However, a martyr must not be considered dead. They are dead physically to this world but Allah has kept them alive. As the Quran says, “And do not think of those who have been killed in the way of Allah as dead; they are rather living with their Lord, well-provided for. Rejoicing in what their Lord has given them of His bounty, and they rejoice for those who stayed behind and did not join them, knowing that they have nothing to fear and they shall not grieve.” (Qur’an 3:169-70). This can be reassuring for the family of any soldier who has died while defending his homeland as it not only tells us about the happiness of the martyr in the other world but also directly asks people to not grieve over the death of a martyr. This is because his sacrifice is worth the highest degree of reward and so they need not grieve over his happiness in the next life.
All in all, by the time I finished reading Mrs. Rabbani’s recollections of her martyred son and her emotions after he had left, my belief that not only martyrs but their families have a different constitution than the rest of us, was further solidified. After all, who can bear a loss as great as this with such pride, grace and fortitude? I also cannot show enough appreciation and awe for Mrs. Rabbani who has shown immense courage in writing this book and laying bare to the world her deepest emotions and the most valuable thoughts, and sharing her pain. She says herself that it was not easy for her to write this book, as thinking about the whole experience and putting it on paper was agonizing; reliving the past in her mind and not finding it when she came back to the present, again and again was excruciating, yet she had to do it “for the son who gave me identity despite the sorrow, … giving his pure blood gave me the honour of being a shaheed’s mother.” I salute not only her but all the mothers of martyrs; we are indebted to you with a loan we can never repay. HH
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