To the Mother, to the Sister, to the Wife (interview with wife of Shaheed Hawwaash)

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An Interview With The Wife Of SHAHEED YUSUF HAWWAASH

We lived together for two years,
and he spent the rest of his life in prisons

We would like to have a brief introduction to the life of your husband Yusuf Hawwaash.
My husband is Muhammad Yusuf Hawwaash (May Allah have mercy upon him). He was born on the 12th of October 1922. He achieved a diploma from Industrial Schools in 1943. He joined Ikhwaan, during his studies in the Gharbiyyah province. He married me in 1953 and I had from him two children, Ahmad and Sumayyah, they are both now doctors, and each has four children, both male and female.

How did your marriage start?
One of the brothers recommended me to him as a wife, to help him carry the burden of the da`wah. And he remained for a whole year, whenever he meets my brother, saying “We are still on our agreement”, but he did not propose because of problems his family was going through. At the end of the year, I told my brother to inform him that this matter was over. Indeed we ended the matter, then another brother came to propose to me, but then he [Yusuf] returned, to reiterate his request anew. So I refused, and my brother advised me to pray Salaat-ul-Istikhaarah. When I prayed, I saw myself in the reception of our house in the village, and there was no lighting. Then a bright lamp was hanging in front of me, in the shape of his face, so I agreed and the contract was made. He later told me that when he made Istikhaarah, he saw me making wudoo’ with him pouring the water for me, and even though it was no much water, I did it well.

Imprisonment and Marriage

Your husband was imprisoned more than once during the beginning of your married life, so how did this situation pass?
He was imprisoned after the `Aqd [contract], then when he was released, we married and stayed together for one year, then he was imprisoned in 1954 and after the sentence was passed, he gave me the choice of staying with him or divorce. So I reprimanded him harshly, and informed him of something he did not know. That once during our engagement, he was giving a talk in one of the open gatherings, and he fell unconscious, and was taken to hospital. Then we found that one of his kidneys was severely damaged, because of an old illness he got when he was imprisoned as a student, in a cell filled with cold water in winter. [At that time] the brothers offered me to cancel [the engagement] if I wanted, but I refused not to be with him on this journey because of this situation that Allah had placed him in during one of his trials.

And when we married in 1953 I bore Sumayyah after ten months of marriage, and after that by 17 days, the Intelligence came to arrest him, and we used to live in the same block as Anwar As-Sadat, who was the head of the Islamic Conference at the time. And because Muhammad’s relationship was good with all those around him, the guards of Sadat warned him as he approached the block, that the Intelligence were inside, so he stayed on the run for a while.

During this time, he came to visit me once, and the guards of Sadat saw him, but did not tell anyone, so he was able to return from where he had come. After this, one of my sisters came, to take me and host me during my Husband’s absence, but when we came to leave, we found the Intelligence surrounding us, and they wanted to arrest me. So I decided that I would not go with them silently, until I exposed their evil system in front of the people who they had tricked, so I shouted in my highest voice that I would not go with them, whatever they do, and I criticized their actions. So Anwar Sadat came out and asked what was happening, so I replied: “Demeaning of women and invasion of privacy is happening in this black era of yours.” So he calmed me down, and told the officer to carry my bags and take me where I wanted. So I said to him: “I am going to the house of your master and the crown over your head, the respected Murshid [the head of Ikwaan, literally: guide].” Indeed, I remained with the wife of the Murshid and his daughters alone in the house, because all the men in his family were in prison, until my husband appeared, and was tried and sentenced to a total of 55 years.

With Sayyid Qutb

It is known that the shaheed Yusuf Hawwaash met his Lord in the same trial as the shaheed Sayyid Qutb, so how was their relationship?

Their relationship probably started after their sentencing in 1955, for he had been given 55 years, and the shaheed Sayyid Qutb 15; both were released in 1964. They remained throughout this period together, whether in prison or in hospital, so the relationship developed and strengthened, for each of them would find with the other, something he needed, so they would complete each other. Muhammad would benefit from and learn, the thought, culture, knowledge and depth of the shaheed Sayyid, while Sayyid would learn about the history of Ikhwaan, their organization, methodology, and anything related to the jamaa`ah from the shaheed Muhammad, because he had joined before him. And so, they were very attached to each other. Muhammad would say: “Every chapter and every phrase in the books of Ustaadh Sayyid, I know when it was written, what the occasion was, and the discussion about it when it appeared as it did.”

And Muhammad saw Yusuf (as) [in a vision], while in Leemaan Turah, and Ustaadh Sayyid was writing on Surat-Yusuf in his book Adh-Dhilaal [In the Shade of the Qur’aan], and he [Yusuf (as)] said to him: “Inform Sayyid that the surah has what he is looking for: {Indeed judgement is only for Allah}.” And thus they remained until after their martyrdom, the brothers would say: “Indeed it from the mercy of Allah over these two men, that He chose them both for martyrdom together, otherowise one would not be able to be patient with splitting from the other.”

The Last Imprisonment

And what of his imprisonment in 1965?
After his release in 1964, I went into hospital for an operation, and after coming out, and being cured by Allah’s bounty, he wanted us to spend some time on his father’s farm. So I informed him that staying there for a long time was hard on me, especially without a helper to help me with household duties, washing and other things. So he said to me: “You should make dhikr and seek forgiveness during your work, and you will be rewarded, and have patience and ihtisaab [can’t translate: means looking to your reward in the hereafter], in being good to your relatives.” So I agreed, and we traveled. And on one of the days straight after our travel, he informed me that he would pray two rak`ahs, until the food was prepared, and he continuously prayed from nine in the morning to two in the afternoon. Whenever I opened the door, I would find him praying and crying. Until we heard a bang at the door of the house, and found it was the Intelligence. So I opened the door to his room, and informed him that the Intelligence were there, and that he should finish his prayer and see them. And he did just that. They tried to take him with them, but he asked them to leave him until he could make ghusl. He then asked me extensively for a mushaf [copy of the Qur’aan], but I did not have except the one which I had written a small message to Ahmad [the son] and was going to give him as a present. So he promised me that it would return to me even if it had to go to Mars and back, so I gave it to him.

Then the oppression of the regime began to increase in harshness. For after I had been transferred from a headmistress to a teacher, then from one province to another, then from normal teaching to special needs, in his first period of imprisonment, the Intelligence started their campaign to imprison me. Until eventually, they achieved what they wanted and I was imprisoned for six months in Al-Qanaatir prison, which I spent in constant nazeef [medical term, don’t know exactly what it means, literally: bleeding], until I had an operation to remove my womb after that. And so, I did not attend except the sentencing. When he saw me in my weak state, he informed me that he did not know of my imprisonment, until the dogs had ripped his clothes, and he had sent for clothes from the house, and so Ahmad gave the guard old clothes so that they would not steal the new clothes. And when he saw them, he knew that I was not in the house.

On painful situation was when my sister bore a daughter, and Ahmad asked me to have for him a sister, and he would nag and cry, so I said: “Your father has to be here.”, and when we went to visit his father, he kept crying and pulling him saying: “Come with me father to the house, and mum can have a sister for me. Who is stopping you? Him?” and he pointed to the guard, “Don’t be scared of him, I will hit him, and you come with me.”, until he made me cry, and made the guards cry.

The Moments of Farewell

Describe to us the final moments of your farewell. how were they?

The asked us to pay the final visit to him, before the carrying out of the sentence, so I took Ahmad and Sumayyah with me. I prepared for him good food, and we went to see him, but they refused to let me take the food it. They kept taking us into a tent to wait for him some time, then taking us to another, until we had been into four tents, and in the end the guards brought him, dragging him in a derogatory manner, and ‘threw’ him in front of us inside the tent. And Muhammad would say: “I don’t know what to be regretful over? They want me to put forward an apology and regret over what I have done, but what have I done to be regretful over?”

And when I asked the officer to bring in the food, and he refused, Muhammad said to me: “Don’t tire yourself, and waste the time that we can spend together. If they bring the food in, then they will insist that I eat now, and I am fasting.” Ahmad went and sat on his fathers lap and kept crying saying: “The boys keep saying to me, you whose father wanted to kill Abdul-Nasser”. So the shaheed replied to him: “The scales today are reversed, and they will not be corrected today, indeed: {We Shall set up the Scales of Justice for the Day of Judgment}.”

He advised me to good with the children, and I advised him to good with himself, and the visit ended. On the morning of 29th of August 1966, at [number missing] in the morning, the radio broadcast the news that the sentence had been carried out on the three martyrs. And I was preparing breakfast at the time, so I kept saying [Inna lillaahi wa innaa ilayhi raaji`oon], and seeking forgiveness, with my tears not stopping, while no-one was aware of my situation. The murderers were not content with this, and sent for me, and made me sign acceptance that there would not be a janaazah for him, and they gave me his things but Ahmad’s mushaf was not amongst them.

The Manners of the Shaheed

This great faithfulness to the shaheed and his da`wah. How did it grow in you and what were its reasons?
He (may Allah have mercy on him), was of kind manners. One of his most important attributes was his generosity. The helper who used to work for him, once complained to me after the `aqd, that he did not eat from the food that she would prepare, because his house was always open to the brothers who were students, away from home or in hardship. Whether he was there or not, they would come in and eat, wear whatever of his clothes they wished and sometimes take his money, then he would come back and eat cheese and halaawah from the grocers.

Similarly ithaar [preference of others]. He would not accept at all that there could be a misunderstanding between him an his brothers. Just as he was clean in body and manners. He would make ghusl more than five times a day apart from wudoo’.

The Spring of Imaan

Your relationship with the shaheed husband strengthened despite the short time you spent together, so how did you discover these good characteristics in him?
His letters from prison were tarbiyah lessons in `aqeedah, imaan, patience, and steadfastness. They were a provision for me on this path, and here are some examples:

In `eed-ul-fitr he sent to me saying: “`Eed would come to the sahaabah, and the honourable of them had been martyred, the loved of them had been lost, and they would have been tested in their spouses, parents and children. But all of this would not dampen the happiness of `eed in their souls. In fact this was the real meaning of `eed, effort, work, and sacrifice. So we, with what we are in, are the most rightful of people to celebrate `eed, and the most real in our happiness for what Allah has given us, and for our knowing Him. And to have thankfulness to Allah for it, on this great day. We now taste this deen, and feel it, and we find it in our khalajaat [someone help – don’t know his one], fresh and soft just like the day it was revealed, alive and beating in our hearts and our blood mixing with it.”

Just as he was gentle in feelings, he would place his hand on the place of pain, and would nurse it with softness, and gentle medicine. He says in another letter;

“It is hard on me, while I spend these moments with you, to see on you the signs of struggle and the indications of tiredness, and it is as if the journey has been long, and the hardships heavy. And I do not deny the hardships on this path, and I do not claim that I do not feel its difficulty, for indeed I am a weak human. Except that I feel, and I would like you to feel with me, that on either side of this long path, are oases with shade, that passers-by can relax in, if they tire, and in whose shade travelers can rest whenever the toils of travel take their toll. So would you like that we turn to one of these oases, perhaps we may find in it cool and calm? Then we can take from it water and food, which will help us continue our journey, and finish our travel?”

And here is what he wrote in a copy of the book of Allah which he gave to me as a present:

“In the Name of Allah the Most Gracious the Most Merciful,

To you.
To you my wife.
To you oh sister in creed.
To you oh partner in jihad.

To you oh calmness of the soul and mother of the child.
To you oh flower of the heart. To you this great book, upon whose law Allah brought us together as spouses, through which He gathered us as brothers, and in whose path He made us in the ranks of the believers two soldiers.

To you my beloved this grand book, in appreciation, love and faithfulness from your husband. Lest Allah may bring me back to you, and gather us under His aim.

And peace be upon you, and mercy from Allah, and His blessings, and all praise is due to Allah, Lord of the worlds.

12th Shawwaal 1383

Autumn and the End of the Allotted Time

Aside from these soft letters, did you hear anything about his life in prison?
Yes, I heard a lot from his brothers speaking about him. One of the brothers had asked him which season as his favorite, and he replied: “Autumn, as the falling of the leaves reminds me of the end of one’s allotted time.”

He also saw the Prophet (s) more that once, and Yusuf (as) and `Eesaa (as), and he would have true visions. He informed one of his brothers that once in a moment of unonciousness during his sujood during the night, that the cells were opened for them to leave and men from the Intelligence was put in them, and this happened after 1967.

And he saw himself with a group of the sahaabah, giving bay`ah to the Prophet (s), and when his turn came, to give bay`ah, he said: “Oh Messenger of Allah, have we changed things after you? Have we replaced things after you?” So he replied: “No, but you are trustworthy, trustworthy, trustworthy.”

His brothers say that if he would become very tired in the queues he would say: “Yes my Lord, how gentle you are.” And if they spoke about torture in front of him, he would reply: {Say: Allah, then leave them in their wasteful discourse and trifling} (Al-An`aam:91)

And if they discussed with him the expectations of sentences, he would say: “Indeed these do not judge, and for Allah is judgment, and Allah does not judge except by the truth and those who they call upon beside him, do not judge by anything. What are we and they while in the qabd [literal: grasp] of Allah like an atom? If Allah sees us as worthy of martyrdom, He will choose us for it, and if not, then Allah’s qadar will pass us and them.”

Visions of Him After His death

We spoke about his visions, so what of your visions of him?
After his martyrdom, I saw myself in the village in which his sister lives, standing behind her house and in front of me, the field extending with no end, as if I was lost. Then a great bird came over the fields, and it was huge in size, then I saw it again, standing on a pole that reached into the sky, and between its feet, my son Ahmad, standing, and pointing me to a path, the end of which I could not see. On it were marching lines of the Ikhwaan, so I went to look at the situation, and I saw the moon, extremely huge, and very bright, at the end of this path.

And after his martyrdom also, his father went to hajj, and when he returned, I called him to come and lighten the sadness of the children because of the leaving of their father, and I called his other children and grandchildren. But I found him completely ignoring my children and taking interest in the others, and I saw the sadness on the face of my daughter Sumayyah, and I was depressed and unhappy all day. So I slept while I was sad for her, then I saw the shaheed Muhammad bend over next to the bed and say: “Don’t be sad, I accept your right.”

The Will of a Shaheed

You said that Ahmad’s mushaf has a story so what is it?
When they imprisoned him in 1965, and he took the mushaf with him, I did not find it in the belongings after his martyrdom. And after twenty years, while we were in Madeenah, in the house of my daughter and her husband, I saw it on the shelves, so I asked my daughter’s husband where he got this mushaf from so he said that during his being in the haram, a woman heard his brothers calling him, so she went to him, and said: “Are you so and so?”, do he replied in the affirmative. She said: “Then wait for me and do not leave until I give you a trust.” Then she informed him that her husband had given her this mushaf that he had taken from the shaheed and told her to take it to his relatives. And that this mushaf had been to France, London and Saudi Arabia, until it eventually reached us 20 years later. And I do not think except that Allah has fulfilled the promise of the shaheed.

If I asked you to send him a letter today, what would you say?
I pray to Allah that I am still upon the covenant, and have not changed after you, and that you are now in the levels of the shuhadaa’ and sideeqeen, and that Allah gathers me with you: {They and their wives in groves of shade, reclining on thrones} (Yaa-Seen:56)

Ad-Da’wah Issue 109, Muharram 1422

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