Three weeks of reading it in the loo , in between meals and under the table ( when the teacher was taking attendance ) .
I have finally finished one of the most intriguing books I’ve ever come across , “Growing up Bin Laden” .
The account of the lives of Najwa Bin Laden ( first of Osama’s four wives ) and Omar Bin Laden ( his fourth son ) . Written by Jean Sasson ,the lady with the ‘Princess’ series already under her belt . She has (yet again ) outdone herself !
I was curious . What makes a man ‘evil genius’ . What makes a man go down the heinous path of terrorism ?
That too , a man who has everything to lose ( including a HUGE family fortune and a huge family )
But this , was Omar’s and najwa’s story .Their story of a father , and a husband .
A man who was demanding to the point of being cruel ,devout ,rigid in principles and yet kind and considerate and followed the astute prinicples of Islam till the end .
Najwa remmebers him as a quiet child . The one who’d never speak out of turn . Always distant and polite . Since she and Osama were cousins , it was kind of decided that they’ll marry each other ( a common custom in Saudi Arabia )
All through her life , Najwa was in awe of him . And he ( I daresay ) was a perfect husband . He never caused her any pain or threw any cruelty her way .
Infact ,though he took most of the major decisions himself ( and she was more than willing to let him do so ) .
She was always honoured and her advice was always taken into account ( which , is something HUGE if you consider the genral plight of the women in his culture ) .
Yes , he did take four wives .
But here is something we must understand . Islam allows a man to take upto 4 wives ( on the condition that they divide their attention and time EQUALLY among them all ) .
Compared to how 90% of the men cheat outside their marriages . I failed to see any difference between ‘them’ and ‘us’ .
Unrelenting . He spoke softly ,and carried a huge stick .
Disobidience was not tolerated . Yet ,any dilemmas or doubts asked never went unanswered .
He prohibited the use of modern appliances , even toys . His sons would play with animals , go trekking or learn the joys of gardening and outdoor sports .
He would make them ride in the desert for hours ( with minimum intake of water ) , teach them how to build a place under the sand to hide themselves , and sometimes play ‘hide and seek’ with them too .
Remember , this was not a father who went on business trips and came home at 6 in the evening .
He was an industralist , a farmer and an ex-soldier ( even when his sons were growing up , he had already fought in the Russia-Afghanistan war).
To the end , he loved his sons .
But , like all great men , he loved his purpose in life more .
A mathematical genius , a devout man ( one who could recite the Koran without a single pause ) , a farmer , lover of animals and a scholar .
Osama was a great friend . A man who won the unquestioning loyalty and respect of people around him .
A man who cared for his family , and his comorades , and the welfare of his own country ( he was a key figure in the development of Saudi at one time ) .
Infact , one of the greatest griefs in his life came when he was exiled to Sudan .
An ideal son who valued his mother above all . A man who had lost his real father at an early age , and still missed him somewhere .
A man who demanded and exuded perfection . And yet , was painfully sensitive and shy at times .
THE QUESTION …
The “why” In my mind went unanswered .
To his son , he was the man whose love and approval he craved for (as a child ). And later on , he detested and blamed the same father for ruining his childhood .
To his wife , he was a perfect husband .
But then ,maybe he wss too rigid . He applied the principles of Koran to a world which has progressed much beyond the boudaries of ‘dharma’ .
Or , he had seen too much cruelty at the hands of Russia and America , and his belief in the supremacy of Islam pushed him over the edge .
Whatever , the reason . It was such a shame .
A man who had been bestowed with such qualities could’ve changed the world in a much different way .
But then , we all have our reasons ……