One Night In Aleppo… Will Change You

Innovation isn’t something that most Muslim organisations are accused of lately. We tend to be behind the curve on most things, if we’re even on it at all. So when I got an invite to a unique experiential event called “One night in Aleppo”, I was keen to see what it was all about.

Organised by Islamic Relief UK, the event was designed to highlight the suffering of the ordinary Syrian people that has tragically reached the 5th anniversary with no end in sight.

I went expecting to sit in a lecture theatre and hear speakers who would tell us about the dire situation in Aleppo and perhaps see a few file clips from the news. So I finished up quickly at work and sent my Medical students away with homework and proceeded to the event, but my mind was elsewhere.

I was thinking about the piles of marking I had to do, planning my Charity Week meetings for the coming week and what I needed to pick up from the supermarket on the way back home. My mind was everywhere but on the event that I was going to. I certainly wasn’t thinking about Syria.

All that changed the minute I walked through the door of the non-descript building and pushed aside the curtain.


What I saw before me was nightmarish.

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The dingy lights.

The broken glass.

The empty shops and homes.

The demolished mosque with no minaret.

The unexplained splatters of blood leaving trails of broken dreams and families in their wake.

The ghostly figures standing in the corners of the ruined buildings making me realise – shockingly – that there were some who still lived there.

Everything that had preoccupied my mind seconds ago had been pushed out. The tragedy of Syria had collided with my brain head-on and what I was left with was a deepening sense of dread.

Islamic Relief had hired a venue used for WW2 simulation war games and converted it into the streets of Aleppo. You know a conflict is bad when a WW2 scene needs to be made more harrowing to reflect it.


They also hired actors to act out scenes of ordinary people and their extraordinary struggle to survive through the chaos. There was a teacher desperate to learn about the fate of her school children. There was a medic struggling to help an injured lady with little equipment in the ruins of the hospital. There were aid workers being overwhelmed by the scale of the disaster. Most hauntingly of all, there was a couple consoling each other about the loss of their little son.


I felt numb, desolate and angry. If this re-enactment of Aleppo could be so moving, how much more desperate must the real city be?

It has been 5 long years.

5 years of tragedy.

5 years of killing.

5 years of fleeing.

5 years of watching a people torn apart, city by city, family by family, person by person.

Today, as I write this, Aleppo is surrounded by the forces of darkness preparing to snuff out any remnant of hope left in that broken, battered city. We have yet to figure out how we are going to stop this and the other conflicts that afflict us. Until we do, we can at least donate to help them in their hour years of need.

I’m grateful to Islamic Relief for organising an event this innovative and immersive that it managed to shake me out of the rat race. One night in Aleppo was a glimpse into hell, but the fact that we are able to put on events like this to remind us of their suffering gave me hope amidst the darkness.

May Allah protect the people of Aleppo and the oppressed wherever they may be.

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9 responses to “One Night In Aleppo… Will Change You”

  1. Umm Ayesha says:

    When we muslims leave the ways of sunnah, become westernised liberal and modern, forget the teachings of the Quran and Hadith then Allah’s wrath opens in any form. May Allah have Mercy on us. This the time for Astaghfaar and repentence. Begging Allah for forgiveness and trying to lead our lives as Rasoolallah (PBUH)and his companions, the Sahaba led (RA). There is no other way for te Ummah to get out of these tragedies.

    • Truth says:

      Umm Ayesha do you live in the West? if so, what do you mean “When we … become westernised liberal and modern … then Allah’s wrath opens in any form.” If indeed you do live in the west then obviously you and your interpretation of Islam have no place in the west and you need to move to a Muslim majority country.
      Also it seems obvious that it’s the violence found in the Quran and hadith that is a big part of the problem.

  2. Umm Aasiyah says:

    Subanallah! It’s so easy to forget about the suffering and anguish in Syria as we in the West and other relatively calmer places go on with the hustle and bustle of life. May Almighty Allah reward Bro. Akhter for this piece. It has also shaken me out of my complacent state. Even if regular folks like I cannot do much, we can at least make our dua for Syria more intense and more frequent. And also increase our donations to the relief organizations out there. May Almighty Allah help the people of Syria. It is indeed a great trial.

  3. Murtala Lawal lsah says:

    Oh! Allah, saves Muslims ummah from the enemies of lslam, and restored peace in Muslims state, such as Syria, Nigeria, Iraq, Somalia etc.

  4. Mohammad Abdul says:


    The rulers in the Muslim world have let down the Muslims of Syria spectacularly. Erdogon pretends to be the saviour of the Muslims, but he has not moved one soldier to help protect the Muslims of Syria. The Saudi family can find all the resources under the sun to fight and kill the Muslims of Yemen, but cannot find any soldiers to assist the Muslims of Syria.

    If there is one thing we as an Ummah need to understand is that until we remove these rulers and put in charge someone who cares for the sanctity of Islam and Muslims, these types of massacres will become common place, if they have not become already.

    May Allah (swt) bless us with a leader like Abu Bakr (ra), ameen.

  5. Muslim says:

    Salam Aleikum,

    A primitive narrative toeing the mainstream/corporate/NATO parameters on what is happening in Syria. The sad reality is that events in Syria have nothing to do with Bashar al-Assad or “human rights.” It has everything to do with securing Israel, eliminating Hizbullah, Hamas, PIJ and PPF from having an Arab state support to resist Israel, along with facilitating inter Muslim divisions.

    Why does the Western media not cover Yemen even for 5% of air-coverage it gives to Syria? Why do Western regimes back regimes in the Muslim world 100 times worse than Assad?

    Wake up people, Syria is a trap and it has nothing to do with slogans projected by the Western media and parroted by naive Muslims.

  6. Manaal says:

    In 2009, Rania Azeem made contact, heshe was from a family of doctors in Aleppo. She said, such a sad state to find the curses of the oppressed resting upon the very fate of the oppressors, who have tried everything to plot and plan against Allah’s creation. The meddling of tryants is only a reflected wave to themselves. For which human thinks it can stand against Allah’s retribution and power?

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