An Analysis of the Lion of the Desert
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We go back in history to 1862 where a young boy of a poor household was born in a town controlled by the Uthmany Khilafa. This young man was brought under the care and tutelage of one of the Shuyookh in his home town when he was at the ripe age of 16 after the death of his father.
He eventually developed a lifestyle of not sleeping more than 3 hours every night in order to get up to pray to Allah at the last third of the night and recite Quran until fajr. He memorized the Quran (as all knowledgeable people begin their lives) eventually, and was known to have finished his revisions in its entirety every seven days, regardless of the sufferings he encountered in his life.
His courage and wisdom was pronounced, and was an example for people to follow. This was evident on one of his caravan trails to Sudan as a young man. A lion had deterred the people from entering a particular path. Caravans were veered else where for fear of this lion. To distract this lion, people would resort giving it one of their camels, a most prized possession, so they could pass safely. He learned of this lion during the journey, where upon he consequently took it upon himself to face this crisis head on. Unlike other men in the caravan who were dumbstruck by the situation, he carried his shot gun, rode his horse and went after the lion. He came back with the lions head much to everyones surprise and due gratitude. This earned him the name “Lion of Cyrenaica.”
An upbringing of courage and upright religiosity had a massive effect on him. His character would not only change the course of his tribe, country and people, but also the world of Muslims in the Post Colonial Era.
In his twenties he was known for his maturity beyond his years as well as his wisdom, for he continued to solve tribal disputes. His people listened to him and took his regardless of village or region he found himself in. His manners were known to be great, for he was eloquent, balanced in his speech, and appealing to those who listened. This uniqueness helped him unite the tribes, and later on gather armies to fend off the colonizers.
His thirties was marked by dawn of the Colonial Era, as it began to spread its cancer to the rest of the world. At the time when the world was being ravaged by European nations, this man stood firm for Islam and faced colonizers with his valor. He fought fiercely against the French with a group called Banu Sanus, who would later be known as the Sanusies. For a brief moment, they also fought the British, who were marked by greed and attempted to conquer their land.
As part of a global feast on the so-called less civilized nations, Italy joined the European nations in causing havoc in the southern part of the hemisphere by colonizing North Africa. It was during this time, this man, in his fifties, gathered his forces in the face of an invasion attack against Libya, his homeland.
To pacify his resistance army, the Italians offered him high ranking positions and wealth. In return, they demanded that he surrendered and followed their Colonial decree. He responded in a famous quote saying, “Im not a sweet bite of a meal anyone can swallow. No matter how long they try to change my belief and opinion, Allah is going to let them down.”
They then offered him to leave his town to live closer to the ruling party complete with a monthly salary, but he again refused by saying, “No, I will not leave my country until I meet my lord. Death is closer to me than anything, Im waiting for it by the minute.”
This man, whose seventy more years of age had not prevented him from fighting, was the soul of his peoples resistance against hopeless odds. He gave his people hope against an army thousands more than his own, equipped with more modern weapons, airplanes and armoury while he and his men starved in the mountains with nothing on their backs but their rifles and horses. After his firm position, as the Ummah is always in need of such legends to lead the people, people gathered around him. He successfully began to strike the Italians where it hurt. He hit firmly, swiftly, and harshly those who thought occupying Muslim lands, oppressing, imprisoning, and torturing Muslims, was going be effortless.
Another man in his nineties named Abu Karayyim, from the Jalu oasis, had fought with him in the deep south. Hunger and disease eventually decimated his people. The Italians soon stepped up operations by burning and pillaging villages. Women, children and the elderly were not spared. During their weakest point, people were gathered and placed in concentration camps.
The Sanusi, Muhammad az-Zaway, who once fought with him against the French, attempted to persuade him to retreat to Egypt with the rest of those who fought against the French. But, this man refused to turn his back on the enemy knowing well that his chances are dim against a force that was swelling by the minute.
When asked why he continued the fight, he stated that he fought for his religion, and he sought no other than to get the occupiers of his lands. As to fighting, he said that was a fard , regardless of the outcome as victory comes from Allah. He used to refuse any peace talks with the colonizers saying we have nothing but to fight the occupying enemies of Allah.
After countless battles, he was wounded and captured alive. He and his men defended themselves until he and one of his companions were left. At last
his horse was shot dead under him, causing him to fall to the ground. He was shackled and brought to a city called Suluq, where the Italian military post was established.
This man believed Jihad was ordained upon every able Muslim while his homeland was occupied by the colonizers. With his faith, heroism and courage he earned the respect of even his enemies.
Captured in his 70s.
The military officer who interrogated him said, “When he came