March 3, 2004 Special Dispatch No. 673

Umm Nidal: 'The Mother of The Shahids'

March 3, 2004
Palestinians | Special Dispatch No. 673

Umm Nidal Farhat [1] came to public attention for the first time when she was filmed helping her son Muhammad Farhat leave home to carry out the March 20, 2002 attack during which he was killed. About a year later her second son, Nidal, was killed by Israeli forces. In an interview published in both the Israeli-Arab Kul Al-Arab weekly and the London Arabic-language daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi, Umm Nidal reiterated that martyrdom (Shehada) is the most supreme act, and one of the basic principles of Islam. The following are excerpts from the interview: [2]

Question: "First of all, let's talk about the Shahid Muhammad. You are patient and believing. But what makes the martyrdom of your son Muhammad special is that you asked him to go out to wage Jihad and come back only as a martyr."

Umm Nidal: "Allah be praised. This is one of the basic principles of Islam, to which we cling. We are believing Muslims. It is the strength of the belief that spurs us to carry out these acts. I see myself as the mother of all the Shahids, not only of Muhammad and Nidal.

"All the fighters pursued by Israel have lived in my home – for example, the hero Shahid 'Imad 'Aql [one of the first commanders of Hamas's Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades]. I see the responsible youth and the sons of the Palestinian people as my sons. I always longed to be the mother of a Shahid. My son Nidal would tell me: 'Do not die before you are the mother of a Shahid.'"

Question: "As the mother of two Shahids, what has changed in Umm Nidal's life?"

Umm Nidal: "Nothing has changed. The strength and honor have only increased. It doesn't matter to me whether I have two or three Shahid [sons]. [As far as I'm concerned], let all my sons be Shahids. What matters is doing what Allah wills and waging Jihad for the sake of this homeland. This is [Allah's] grace, and we are in the service of the religion and the homeland."

Question: "The Shahid Muhammad was a bachelor, but Nidal was married and had children. Do his children ask about him?"

Umm Nidal: "… Every day when I see the sons of the Shahid Nidal, I feel pain. 'Imad, four, Nidal's eldest son, asked me a few days ago: 'Where is my father? Why did he become a Shahid? I miss him.' These things burn my heart. Nidal's sons burn my heart every day…"

Question: "They call you Khansaa Falastin. [3] What do you have to say about this?"

Umm Nidal: "May Allah will it that I will be worthy of this name, but I think that I am not the only one who deserves this honor. Were you to look at the situation of the women of Palestine, mothers and wives, you would see this wonder and call them [also] Khansaa…"

Question: "If you could convey a message to the two Shahids Muhammad and Nidal, what would you tell them?"

Umm Nidal: "I would tell them, 'My sons, I pray to Allah that I will see you in Paradise and that Allah will accept your Shehada. You have carried out the [commandments] of honoring your father and your mother [in the best way].' I did not expect that my children would carry out [the commandment] of honoring their father and mother [in a better way] than Shehada for the sake of Allah."

Question: "What is your message to the mothers of Shahids?"

Umm Nidal: " I hold their hands and ask them to be patient and to remember that death by martyrdom grants the martyr entrance into Paradise. I pray to Allah to strengthen them because the pain is hard and not easy to forget; but I say to all of them: 'Despite the pain and the battles and the blood that is shed, we must continue in the way of Jihad until victory or Shehada, until the entire homeland is liberated. The reward of the believing Muslim will never end.' "This is the land of the battle[front] of Islam, and a great honor fell to us to live in it. Allah be praised that he chose us to be the residents of this land. Allah be praised that he chose my two sons to be among the Shahids. Every Palestinian mother or wife must be proud and lift up her head because Allah chose her husband or her son to be among the Shahids. This is the best thing in this world and in the next world."

[1] For more on Umm Nidal, please see The Palestinian Debate Over Martyrdom Operations Part II: A Palestinian Communiqué Against the Attacks, July 5, 2002, ' The Palestinian Debate Over Martyrdom Operations Part II: A Palestinian Communiqué Against the Attacks.'

The Al-Jazeera television program Opposite Direction, on June 29, 2002 included a panel discussion of suicide bombings, with participants Professor Sari Nusseibah, who then held the Jerusalem portfolio in the Palestinian Authority ; Hamas Political Bureau head Khaled Mesh'al, and Umm Nidal, as the mother of a Shahid, who appeared in the videotaped will of her son, made before he went to carry out the attack. The discussion took place against the background of the ongoing debate in the PA at that time on suicide bombings against Israeli civilians.

[2] Kul Al-Arab (Israel), February 27, 2004, Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), February 28, 2004.

[3] The poet Al-Khansaa, who converted to Islam during the time of the Prophet Muhammad. She is considered "the mother of the Shahids" because when her four sons died in the battle of Al-Qadasiyya (637), she did not mourn, but thanked Allah Who had "honored her with their deaths."

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