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A Dutiful Son Found Hanged In His Cell

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A dutiful son was found hanged in his cell

In this episode, Moazzam Begg honors the memory of Yasser Al-Zahrani, a 17 year-old boy from Madinah, the Prophet’s city. Yasser’s body was found in his cell in Guantanamo. Despite his young age, his faith and patience still shine to this day. May Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) have mercy on him.

[As part of the MuslimMatters x CAGE Dhul Hijjah Activism Drive: Close Guantanamo, we bring you a series, Guantanamo Memories, of stories from behind bars]

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Omar Khadr, the 15-year-old boy from Canada, wasn’t the only teenager in Guantanamo. Altogether there were 21 underage prisoners there.

One of them was Yasser Talal Al Zahrani, a young man from Madinah who was just 16 when he was captured. He was a survivor of the Qala-i-Jangi massacre, a notorious incident in Afghanistan during which hundreds of prisoners were bombed, burned, and drowned by US and Afghan forces.

From Guantanamo, Yasser wrote to his family praising Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and telling them that he was well and in good spirits so that they would not worry too much. As a dutiful son, he knew the reward of being good to his parents.

He would often talk to other detainees about his parents. He would tell them how he loved them very much and that he was proud of them, even though they were thousands of miles away.

The men in the neighboring cells witnessed this boy spending his day reading the Quran… until he memorized it. He would invite them to visit him in Madinah after their release, if Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) willed it. They saw how strong his faith was, despite his young age.

Four and a half years after he arrived in Guantanamo, he was found hanged in his cell, his hands and feet tied and a cloth in his mouth. Two other inmates were found in the same state on the same night.

When the body was returned to his family, it bore the marks of torture and part of his throat had been removed.

The US commented on this. Not only did they claim Yasser had committed suicide, but they also said it was an act of war that he had taken his own life!

“They are smart. They are creative, they are committed… They have no regard for life, either ours or their own. I believe this was not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us,” said one US official at the time.

Yasser was buried in the city of Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), and thousands attended his funeral.

I called his father to pass on my condolences when this happened. To this day, his words shake me: “May Allah reward you with the best for your words of kindness my dear brother, but I am not unhappy nor do I need condolences. My son and his companions were the victims of abuse and they died for their beliefs. Therefore they are martyrs and are in Paradise inshaAllah.”

His words moved me and reminded me again of the immense responsibility we have on our shoulders.

Don’t forget to join MuslimMatters and CAGE this month as we work to Close Guantanamo. Check out how you can act today

Related Reading:

Dhul Hijjah Global Activism Drive: Close Guantanamo

Dhul Hijjah Global Activism Drive: Close Guantanamo

No Mercy For The Elders

No Mercy For The Elders

 

Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

CAGE advocates for due process, the rule of law and an end to the injustices of the War on Terror. CAGE is an independent grassroots organisation striving for a world free of injustice and oppression. We campaign against discriminatory state policies and advocate for due process and the rule of law. We work closely with survivors of abuse and mistreatment across the globe, documenting their abuse and enabling them to take action and access due process. We carry out cutting edge research and provide a voice for survivors of the war on terror, challenging the dominant narrative of suspect communities and the perceived threat of terrorism. We empower communities through educational workshops, community events and informative seminars.

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