Abu Issa and Jihad Mughniyeh: Passion and the Grand Prize of Martyrdom

by Ibrahim al-Amin, Al-Akhbar English

After the burial of martyr Imad Mughniyeh about seven years ago, the family gathered at the grandfather’s house. The attendees were asked a calm direct question, “Who, tomorrow, will dare to say loudly to everyone, family and comrades, as well as the enemy: We were not killed?”

Everybody looked at Mustafa, the eldest son of the great martyr. Mustafa was his father’s companion. He accompanied him on several journeys and occasions. He probably knows his father a lot better than his brothers do. He gave a clear answer: I am not fit for this task!

It became clear for the masters of the household that Mustafa wanted to carve his own path and be exempted from this task. Everyone turned towards Jihad. The young man was sitting between Mustafa and Fatima. He realized that he was running out of options. Perhaps he is more prepared for such a task. He approved of his new role. The speech was drafted and practiced. When he took the stage, no one in the audience expected him to be older than he was. Not only was he calm, but he acted as a persuasive speaker asserting, “We were not killed!”

Those who knew the young man Jihad during that period knew him as a disobedient boy. Although his parents were forgiving, he was supervised with an affectionate but resolute eye, as if he were under continuous public scrutiny. Mustafa, on the other hand, gradually retreated from the spotlight. Jihad, who was chosen to lead the post — “under the spotlight” stage, undertook multiple tasks. He also took care of [his sister] Fatima, who suddenly found herself a witness to her father’s era.

Many things have been imposed on the family, which is under continuous surveillance by the enemy. The family has offered many martyrs, but still has the patience and willingness to face what is coming. It is enough to listen to Umm Imad, or to look at Hajj Fayez’s face to know the title of a story that has yet to be written, and of which Jihad has become a chapter.

After he was thrust into the spotlight, the dynamic young man was exposed to extensive experiences in several areas. With time, the compulsion that led him to volunteer for various roles became uncontrollable. It is not only because he is the son of the “commander of the two victories.” To him, it was a chance to prove his abilities in the face of tough requirements. Jihad sought to obtain the title of rightful heir to a path, which — obviously — ends with the grand prize of martyrdom

Abu Issa

On a hill that brings him closer to God, “Abu Issa” (the name Hezbollah senior commander Mohammed Issa, also killed in the Israeli airstrike, was known by) lived the rural life. He used to take frequent walks up and down the hill, and thus decided to build a house across it, as if it were his eternal guardian and a spot from which he could stare at the far horizon. A small chair under the oak tree — like all the trees that have sheltered him from the enemy’s eyes — conceals him from public view.

“Abu Issa” learned the language of resistance from the first generation of trailblazing resistance fighters. The second generation followed his course to hunt down the enemy in the south. He accompanied the third generation in the journey of protecting the resistance from the enemies at home who collaborate with the chief enemy abroad.

Abu Issa’s story with the mountains and resistance is a very long one. He developed a deep attachment to its territory over the years, and his journey extended far more than expected. He was born to a Syrian father and a Lebanese mother. He lived in his mother’s town and among her family. Then came the moment — or perhaps it was a coincidence, rules engraved in a tight corner of the mind, or divine wisdom — after tours in Lebanon, Iraq, and Syria, where he was martyred, as he wished, at the hands of the Zionists who he pursued. He fell as a martyr in the land of his fathers and forefathers.

Safa, or Umm Issa, an insightful woman, knows him well. She knows that, since they met, he used to leave her at night or sunset to meet his long-time and public mistress. Safa did not appeal to him in the way the resistance did. She used to worry about him, but he used to laugh and prepare her for his martyrdom.

Safa did not allow herself to love him fully, as if God wanted her to be prepared for the awaited day. She dreamed that he became a martyr and held memorial services for him, even in her sleep. She even practiced his eulogy. But she woke up, with a pinch in her heart, to carry him with her own arms, with a child in her belly, who witnessed how a mother and comrade declares the end of a journey of eternal love fit for lovers and her husband as a groom for the resistance.

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