It was a hot evening in Rural south Aleppo and I was at one of the bases of Jaish al-Nusra, an elite brigade of Mujahidīn. They had taken an empty luxury villa as a temporary base where the brothers would sleep and prepare for the coming battle; the battle of Khlasa. The garden was huge and beautiful, and there were brothers everywhere preparing themselves, some sitting under the trees reciting the Quran. The Amir, Commander Abu Taha had ordered that the Mujahidīn break their fast as fighting while fasting would be nearly impossible in the summer heat.
As I walked around between the brothers, I was greeted by Abu Zubayr Somali. A wonderful brother, I had previously met him on several occasions. He greeted me warmly and invited me to drink tea with him. He prepared the tea and we sat together on the balcony chatting.
Without exaggeration he is one of the best people I have met in my life, everybody who knew him loved him. He was a tall brother, dark in complexion.
“The person who owns this house must be very rich” Abu Zubayr told me. “The problem about making yourself too comfortable in Dunya is that how will you able to leave all this?”
Abu Zubayr told me that he used to live for a number of years in the US but realized that living in the land of kufr chasing after Dunya was of no use. He made up his mind to leave for Jihad. He left America attempting to reach his native land, Somalia to participate in Jihad there. Things did not go as he planned, he failed in reaching Somalia and returned to America.
But that was not enough to make this courageous soul give up, how could he live in America, the capital of oppression and kufr in the world? Now he was being monitored by the security services but for a person like Abu Zubayr, fearing the creation was not one of his traits.
Despite his lack of knowledge on the situation in al-Sham, upon hearing that there was Jihad taking place, he made up his mind to do Hijra to the blessed land of al-Sham. At the time the propaganda of the Khawarij, the Dawla group, was at its height and to many Muslims outside al-Sham it seemed that they were a group that was on truth. He left America with the intention of joining the Dawla group, unaware that they were Khawarij.
Taking all the risk, he began his journey towards Jihad. His movements were picked up by the security agencies and he was stopped for questioning. He later explained that Allah had made this very easy for him and he answered all their questions smoothly until the enemies of Allah were convinced that he had nothing to do with Jihad. He was released and then continued his journey towards al-Sham.
But how could such a pure soul filled with Imaan be amongst a group that has been an instrument to destroy the Jihad and Mujahidīn? Those who truly seek guidance, Allah guides them. Instead of joining the ranks of the Khawarij, he ended meeting other Muhajirīn brothers from the Mujahidīn areas and went with them, joining Jabhat al-Nusra. It was after he completed a Sharia course the reality of the situation in al-Sham became known to him.
It was not long before Abu Zubayr was in the brigade of the Inghimasīn, those who’s task it is to storm deep behind enemy lines. Battle after battle he participated in with the brigade. A brigade which is the cream of the Mujahidīn. The Battle of Al-Eis, one of the most important battles in the current jihad, Abu Zubayr was one of those who reached far behind enemy lines and the small unit destroyed an entire convoy of enemy troops. This was one of the major reasons for the Mujahidīn victory at al-Eis by the help of Allah.
After that he was deployed to Lattakia mountains, doing raid after raid, stopping any attempt from the enemy to advance. I met him in one of the bases of the Mujahidīn in Lattakia. As we sat and spoke my heart was filled with admiration of him. The next time we met was in Aleppo province before the battle of Khlasa, as I mentioned before, and it was also the last time…
As we sat and he served me tea, my eyes weld up with tears at his words. He had a calm way of talking and always reminded one of the Akhirah. An hour later I saw him sleeping peacefully on a bed, his weapon beside him.
Different units began moving in and out of the base, the battle was close and the place was buzzing with activity. I went with my unit to the site of the battle, as night fell the ground began shaking, the Mujahidīn were attacking Khlasa with all their might! We entered the battlefield, bullets were continually making whistling sounds above our heads as we moved forward.
Explosions of mortars and tanks, and then a rain of cluster bombs! As the early hours of the morning came, the battlefield fell quiet. The enemy had fled. Not only from Khlasa, but also from two extremely important towns which they feared being besieged in due to our capture of Khalsa. We remained in Ribaat until almost midday then we descended, we were all exhausted but overjoyed at the victory.
As we drove down I noticed the room that was being used as a command center had been hit by an airstrike. I asked the brothers if anyone had been killed, they told me Commander Abu Taha had been killed! Now my joy was replaced with sadness, he was a commander of such excellence that was rare to find. “Who else was killed?” I asked. “Abu Zubayr Somali” the brother replied. My world turned upside down with grief. Allah had chosen some of his closest servants and took them in the best month while they were storming the enemy (We consider them so and their accountability is to Allah). May Allah join us in their ranks.
Abu Zubayr had possibly had a feeling that he would be killed, his talk with me on that day gave me many indications. Not only that, but he had sent his will, not long before, to a brother.
Thinking about Abu Zubayr makes me think of the Hadith which refers to Sham as “the best of Allah’s lands to which the best of Allah’s creation gather in it” . The evil people of Sham can be found scattered out throughout the world while some of the best of the slaves of Allah flock to Sham. They are strangers to the world living in a land which has always been through the passage of time a home for the strangers; the blessed land of Sham.
Written by Abu Dujanah Al Afriki (Rahimahullah)