This film is the story of Sayyidah Zaynab, a Syrian town in the Rif Dimashq Governorate before, during and after the civil war in the country.
TIME CODE : 00:00 _ 05:00
Here is a neighborhood of Sayyidah Zaynab, an area where once did not have enough room even for its original residents. But today, it is a haven of peace for the Shia Muslims. They live under the auspices of a woman who suffered more than any other . That’s why she is called the Mother of Sorrows. She is a mother figure to all Shia Muslims. Her shrine gives shelter from heavy fire of the Takfiris.
After four years of suicide bombings, an international group of inspectors visited the place of explosion, in Sayyidah Zaynab and other suburbs of Damascus.
The Syrian army has been conducted clean-up operations in some neighborhoods of Damascus and its suburbs.
Here is Sayyidah Zaynab, in the south of Damascus. The army’s aim is to protect the capital and its suburbs, especially Sayyidah Zaynab.
Faraj Talib :
My name is Hussein Faraj Talib. I live in Damascus. I am studying at Lady Ruqayyah Seminary.We have always been here in this neighborhood in all occasions, ceremonies, and rituals. I used to live in the neighborhood of al-Madinah. Before the Syrian crisis, there was a calm, lovely, and friendly atmosphere in the neighborhood. We used to come from Damascus to Sayyidah Zaynab or go on a pilgrimage to the shrine of Lady Ruqayyah. It was a calm atmosphere, day and night. We came out in the morning or at noon. It didn’t make any difference when to go out. It was secure all the time. The public transportation was also available.
My friend, Hafiz and I play in teams. Each of us plays in different teams, but it makes no difference which team wins. It doesn’t matter whether the team is for teenagers or adults. Stop filming. I am camera-shy.
People gathered in large groups. All of them were refugees. They fled from different neighborhoods, including al-Qabun, Harsana, Douma, Damascus, Daraa, Alepo and al-Zahra. They gathered here in this neighborhood, next to the daughter of Imam Ali, the first Imam. The number of children increased rapidly. We had to do something.
We have left our houses because of the insurgent groups around us. They were everywhere in the neighborhood. It was impossible for us to stay even for a minute at our homes. I miss my home and friends but I cannot do anything. We cannot go back home.
Another little boy:
It is said that one must hope for the best if they want things go well. They hit us with rocket propelled grenades. The armed terrorists broke into our house and occupied it. They hit our house with rocket propelled grenades and Dshks, and ruined the apartment. However, thank God, we could collect our belongings and take them with us. Others could not.
TIME CODE : 05:02 _10:00
During the Battle of the Trench which began in 627, Muslims achieved a victory over the Quraysh and Jewish tribes. So, how could they achieve such a victory? They supported the Prophet and sacrificed their lives.
This is the Velayah Association. These women listen to religious lessons to boost their morale. They do not know that their teacher, who talks about patience in hard time, has lost her young son, Ahmad Ali, two days ago. There is sorrow behind her smiles, just like Lady Zeinab. She talks about patience while she is in mourning.
It was a doomsday scene. Streets and people! It was dreadful. I saw and pray. “O God! Help this dreadful situation get better.” We were standing in the street. There was no bread. There was no food. Children were crying. They had nothing to eat.
My sons took up arms and got back home in order to protect it. If they had gone to a strange neighborhood, terrorists would have penetrated Sayyidah Zaynab. They said, “Dear mother! We will stand against them. We will defend to see what our destiny will be. We have to create a buffer zone between people and terrorists before they approach the holy shrine of Lady Zaynab. We stayed and suffered a lot. Children were crying until my son took us to this hotel we live in right now.
Faraj Talib :
At the beginning of the crisis, we, the youth of the neighborhood, took up arms and got military training. We set up checkpoints in order to protect our families, the neighborhood, and the holy shrine of Lady Zaynab. We tried to prevent takfiri terrorists from approaching the shrine.
Currently, we do not see each other. In fact, we call each other once a month or two. How are you, Mother? Are you OK? Thank God I can hear your voice. I do not see him or even his children. I have not seen my son who lives in Qarbeh since the New Year.
Martyr Ahmad Ali’s mother is busy with teaching in the Velayah Association. She is content that her son was martyred for Lady Zaynab. She has sent Hadi, her son to the battle to take Ahmad Alis’ place and to show her unwavering faith.
I am Hadi. I’m a soldier in the infantry battalions of Sayyedeh Zeinab. I am a sniper. I am among back forces of the infantries. These days, jihad is the day’s subject. We love jihad. Before the crisis, this place was so populated. People lived here. Children played soccer in alleys. Laborers worked here.
There was a grocery store here. There was a supermarket next to it. People lived their normal lives. Since the armed groups occupied this building, people have been displaced. Nobody stayed at home. They made all escape.
This street is under our control. There is no danger. That street was occupied by the armed groups. There were snipers there. So people could not move in this street. If children came out of their homes, the snipers would shoot them.
There is nothing in Hadi’s face to hint that he has buried his brother two days ago.
-May anybody be still hiding in these buildings?
No, no way! We conducted clean-up operations through the whole area. Nearly three hundred soldiers move in lines and clean the area from Takfiris.
This crisis is not for freedom or reform. In the beginning, we were not many. We were disorganized too. We never imagined this. We arrested the armed people next to the holy shrine of Lady Zaynab. We also discovered car bombs there.
TIME CODE : 10:05 _15:00
Faraj Talib :
After the crisis, the situation changed a little. We brought order back and settled down in Sayyidah Zaynab. We could not get out of the neighborhood. We were under siege. Later on, the situation got better.
Thank God the situation got better; the farthest checkpoints were from 150 to 200 meters away. The terrorists could penetrate the holy shrine from six or seven entrances. At first, they wrote on the wall of the shrine that Basharal-Assad was a goner. But God helped us the youth sacrifice our lives to set up the checkpoints at a farther distance from the shrine. We managed to force them back as far as 10 to 12 kilometers.
Sharaf al-Din :
I am Sharaf al-Din, a military commander in Imam Hussein Brigade. This brigade defends all the sacred places throughout Syria and not only Sayyidah Zaynab. Of course, we were in Zeinabieh neighborhood, the airport road, and al-Hajireh region. Tomorrow, we will move to Daria, and the holy shrine of Lady Sakinah. If God helps us, we have a plan to carry out an operation here. This is a map of Qouteh Qaribeh. This is Daryaa. And this one is Mazimeh. Some parts of Daryaa and Mazimeh are under the control of the terrorists. They are tired of being there. They will surrender. We had a simple life. I was a bricklayer. We had a good life with our Sunni brothers. There was no enmity between us. There was no difference between the Shia Muslims, Sunni Muslims or Druses.
We were forced to leave our homes. Each of us had a job. They said that the Shia Muslims wanted to kill the Sunni Muslims, and vice versa. They frightened people so they left their homes and fled. We stayed her for our faith and beliefs, because it is for our existence.
They claimed that it was a conflict between the Shia and Sunni Muslims, but there was no difference between them two. They wanted to take the whole country. They wanted to destroy the concept of true Islam.
Here in Syria, we consider the Sunni Muslims as our brothers and sisters. They are respected. We say prayers in their mosques. Our scholars tell us to say prayers behind their imams. There were no disagreements between us. But these Wahabi Takfiris, who are the followers of ibn Baz and ibn Taymiyya and call themselves the al-Nousrah Frotn are not our friends and we don’t respect them.
If you do not the meaning of resistance, you think that there is no difference between one meter and one kilometer. But if you know what resistance is and that loving your homeland is part of your faith, you will sacrifice yourself for every inch of your land. Sharaf al-Din is happy because he managed to make the area around the holy shrine of Lady Zayinab with the help of army and people. Now it is secure from 12 kilometers away. Its value can be recognized by the people who know Lady Zaynab. And who understands Zaynab?
TIME CODE: 15:00 _20:00
Watch this side, this side which is open. There were many activities there. Try to see the inside and shoot.
We promised Lady Zeinab, “O Lady! If we know that we are killed, cut into pieces, and burned, if we know that our bodies are melted into the air, we will get alive again, and get back. We will be killed again, cut into pieces again, and melted into the air again. Then, we will get alive again. This will happen not one thousand times, but ten thousand times. We will not leave you alone.”
Faraj Talib :
The aim of the Wahabis is to destroy this holy shrine. They want to make people forget pilgrimage. They intend to make people forget standing in front of the holy shrine. This is their religion to destroy these rituals.
She boosts the Shia Muslims’ morale with all her sorrows. Zaynab is the mother of Syria; however, she suffered in the Levant more than any other place. Although she grieved more in the Levant than in Karbala, she is as the mother of all the people living here, not only the Shia but all Muslims. She is the mother of those who are seeking peace.
There was divine providence in the crisis that swept Syria. We fought against a lot of oppression from these people and this country. It was a test. Whatever it was, the future would be better. I think Syria will have a brilliant future.
These were the houses of poor people. The armed groups burned and ruined these houses. They changed this house into a clinic. But we took it. See the ruin. These houses are for very poor people.
-God bless you! Where is your home?
This is my home, my son.
-What happened? Is it all ruined?
I do not know!
-Is this the first time you come back home? When did you leave your home?]
It is nearly five months ago.
-And this is the first time you come back home after five months, isn’t you?
Yes, not this year, but last year.
-Don’t you see I am weeping? I am still paying off the mortgage.
So, enter your home! See what happened there. Let’s enter together.
-What did they do, bastards?
They said that it was a war between the Shia and Sunni Muslims. No, in my opinion, there is no difference between the Shia and Sunni Muslims.
-Did you say that you wanted to send your children to war? Some people think that just the Alawites help the army and the Sunni Muslims do not help it.
No! No! No! No! No! We all are with the army.
I am the first who is for the army. If they allow me I will join the army. I don’t know how to shoot. I will do anything. Let me tell you, my son! My sons are for our homeland. I will die with glory for my country and Bashar, or my sons will fight and get killed. Then I will be called the mother of martyrs; otherwise, I will die like a dog and nobody will know where my body is. No! I do not want this. I have worked for this house for 25 years. This is not the war between the Shia and Sunni Muslims. This is not a sectarian war.
Returning home is not possible if the Muslims don’t resist. Those who sacrificed their lives for saving people were impatient to see this scene.
TIME CODE :20:00 _ 24:16
Even my brother contacted me and told me to go to his home. I said to him why. We are living here. There is no news. We are living and working together. We have a sweet life. It wouldn’t be better. I have travelled to Lebanon. I have grown up in Lebanon. My father’s home is in Beirut. I even went to Saudi Arabia. Nowhere is like Syria where people are living together in peace. God bless our great leader, Hafez al-Assad. He took an approach that guaranteed the rights of all Syrian ethnic groups.
Sharaf al-Din also saw his family. The tears he’s shedding for his martyred friends are behind his smiles, behind the kisses on his son’s cheeks. Although his friends are not alive, they stand more firmly than before. They are looking at Sharaf al-Din and other Muslims’ resistance. They know that the resistance will continue.
We were annoyed in Syria. We suffered a lot of oppression that nobody else had faced. This scar will not heal in one day. Our faith is more important than anything else. I wish I would be a martyr when defending Lady Zaynab, and my country, Syria, which is a home all kinds of people. Do not think that we give up.
Death is for all. God says, “And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient.” We see this God’s blessing … that we resisted. We are patient and grateful. These are no troubles. Trouble means that God brings problems for us and we are not patient. If we become patient, we will receive the reward.
Faraj Talib :
Children always chant, “We answer to your invitation, Zaynab”. This raises the morale of people, women, and even soldiers. When soldiers see that these children say “We answer to your invitation, Zaynab”, they know that if they are martyred, people will follow their path.