Abdillah and a city reduced to ruins
We have another name for this conflict: Abdillah Dimangampong Masid.
He was a 14-year old boy, a 6th grader from Datu Saber Elementary School in Marawi City.
Last Friday, June 9, Abdillah was shot dead by an unknown sniper's bullet. We do not know if this is – that ultimate oxymoron – friendly fire, we do not know if he was shot by the terrorists who continue to hold our bereaved city of Marawi in siege.
Abdillah was a young boy, a Maranao, a Moro, and a pious Muslim in that order. He, or what was left of him, was buried on the same day his life was taken away from him. He was presented to an ogling crowd the day after, an empty shell, a void.
Death terminates all. The possibilities of what his life could have been were unjustly taken away. Abdillah, the young Muslim shot by a sniper inside the mosque were he was obediently performing his midday prayers with his family, is a death neither to be memorialzed nor dishonored, but to be remembered.
This war deprived Abdillah of the possibility of seeing his beloved city return from conflict, rebuilt by his fellow Muslim Meranaos from ruins, like his ancestors did for several centuries as they resisted colonial rule.
We have run out of words to explain to him why his city is being reduced to ruins, and his neighbors clinging to whatever dignity they have left as they crowd themselves in evacuation centers, while the state performs its obligation to protect his country's sovereignty against terrorists.
Abdillah will no longer see the lifting of martial rule in Mindanao. He will hear no nuanced explanations from people aged by wisdom on how to mend this country's wounds and divisiveness. He was deprived of seeing the possibility of peace, reconciliation, healing. Abdillah was deprived of the possibility of experiencing a peaceful country where human rights, dignity, respect, and protection of vulnerable communities are upheld, a country that we are creating now, as of this writing, for our children.
When I first saw the picture of Abdillah's dead body, my eyes were drawn to his bloodied face. Young, lifeless, his body lying on the floor half covered by a prayer mat that he was using perhaps, before that unknown sniper ended his Friday prayer, and all other prayers that he may have uttered. Abdillah could have been myself, or the women weeping beside his body, or my mother, or my sisters. How this picture created a tableau that froze life, hope, suffering, sorrow, and the termination of all possibilities will haunt me for years.
Abdillah was deprived of learning how suffering can become a gesture, an act of pushing life's limits until we become human, all too human until we are numbed by exhaustion. He was deprived of seeing how compassion can translate into something more accessible and tangible for everyone to read, as much as blind patriotism.
Weight of his absence
Perhaps, maybe, what if – these were the words that flooded my mind on that day after the Friday prayer. I performed my prayer with him even as I was in another place; because we Muslims look at the same sky when we pray. This world deprived Abdillah of hearing one of the most important words in a Muslim’s vocabulary, a word that frames and provides hope for the Bangsamoro aspirations, a struggle that was passed on to him by ancestors centuries before his birth – and his death: Salam.
Tomorrow is another day for Abdillah’s family and for all of us spectators. Except for his family, we will all go back to our daily routines. There will be an absence, an empty space in his family’s home, inside his community’s mosque, in the classroom where he used to sit as a young Muslim student full of possibilities in life. The weight of his absence is heavier perhaps than the freedom Moros are enjoying as Filipinos.
What I refuse to accept is the warmongers' logic that unnamed bullets should leave the dead unnamed. That tomorrow, or the day after, social media's wall will refresh with new dead bodies, new Abdillahs presented to the public. I refuse to accept that.
The bullet that murdered Abdillah Dimangampong Masid had a very clear target, and it was not unnamed. That piece of metal that pierced Abdillah's skin and penetrated his marrow was named "fear." Its target: all the young Muslims celebrating their Ramadan, longing for peace, salam, to finally come into their lives.
They murdered Abdillah but not his Islam.
Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un (We belong to Allah and to Him we shall return). – Rappler.com
Amir Mawallil, is a member of the Young Moro Professionals Network (YMPN), the country's biggest organization of Muslim professionals