Osama Bin Laden – a name that had evoked terror amongst the hearts of millions and still does. More than fear it was a sense of hatred. And it weren’t the non-Muslims who cursed the man. He was despised by the Muslims as well since because of him people the world over started misunderstanding the entire Muslim race, questioned their real intentions and perpetually viewed even the most peace-loving souls among them with suspicion.
One thing is certain. This man for sure doesn’t need introductions.
Well, I am also one of those million people who harboured a deep-rooted hatred for the man. When 9/11 happened I was quite young and I often felt that this devil must actually be insane. Otherwise why will someone feel a constant threat to one’s existence and hence retaliate time and again through violence. Perfect symptoms for a schizophrenic, I must say.
Later, I read many articles and books and gathered that he was indeed an evil man who had single-handedly designed the 9/11 and relished the death of thousands. The world heaved a sigh of relief when he was finally killed in 2011 by the US forces in Pakistan on 2nd May.
Hence, when I accidentally saw Jean Sasson’s book Growing Up Bin Laden lying on my table I was not much curious. I had meant to flip a few pages and return it to the real owner. However, that was not to be. The book turned out to be one of the most gripping tales I had ever read. Sasson’s tale took me straight into the secret world of this deadly terrorist. With narratives straight from Osama’s cousin and first wife Najwa and his fourth son Omar, the book gave out many startling secrets that made me realise that no doubt Osama had been a devil but there used to be many humane aspects to his character as well, at least when he was younger.
He led his life like a true Muslim and never wasted money for his own pleasures, even when he was a son of a Saudi billionaire. This is in stark contrast to the lives of other terrorist leaders who live in tremendous opulence but make their men lead difficult lives. His knowledge on Islam was profound. He knew the Holy Koran well and could quote verses as and when required to justify his point of view.
Even when Muslims stay away from dogs and mostly all of them despise the animal, Osama had a soft corner for animals and even his fourth son Omar admitted to having seen his father petting a few dogs. Now this is certainly a revelation about a man who epitomizes evil and violence.
His emotions towards his father and most specially his mother were also awe-inspiring. Omar said that Osama never addressed his father by any particular name. It was always ‘your grandfather’ when he spoke about him to his sons. And the respect and love for the man was evident in the way Osama referred to his biological father to his children.
Omar himself said Osama had the greatest love towards his own mother. She was one person who was capable of evoking genuine happiness in Osama. Even when they had been been living in Afghanistan secretively, he took considerable life risks in meeting his mother and bestowed on her the greatest honour.
Osama’s philosophy of raising children was something that could be appreciated as well. While I am more used to seeing parents fussing over their children’s well-being, Osama was a completely different father. He told his boys often that if they were hungry or thirsty, they must learn how to control those drives for some time and not get overwhelmed by them. Hunger and thirst do not immediately kill a man, was Osama’s philosophy. He always felt if children are constantly pampered they grow up to become weak individuals. Rather, let them lead a life of hardship, they would emerge much stronger individuals.
In this blog, I don’t want to voice my love or admiration towards Osama. I still have the same feeling that he was a wretched fellow who should have been killed much earlier to rid the world of violence and terrorism. But all this book did was give me a new perspective that there might have been a few grey areas in the man as well. Maybe he had been a schizophrenic and had he been cured earlier might not have havocked such tremendous violence in this world.
There were innumerable things I learned about Osama and I hated him more than ever for them. His multiple wives whom he treated merely as children-generating machines have created a sense of disgust in my mind.
What I liked best about him was his blind belief towards God. He was a devout Muslim and his dedication to his God was unquestionable. It’s rare for people to have such unfathomable faith over something.
Reasons to hate him were endless. But even among them if I found a few things worth liking then why not? After all we are all are born with shades of grey. And so even in his pitch black mind there might have been a few streaks of grey…