My grandfather told me stories of Armenia (Armenians, then, lived throughout Anatolia), which he remembered only dimly. For he had been only a few years old when my family escaped, just ahead of the genocide in the dying Ottoman Empire. Mostly, he remembered it through the stories told in the Armenian exile community. Entire villages were erased, all the inhabitants slaughtered, the buildings burnt to the ground, the movable wealth stolen and melted down. Nothing of them remained.
…On my grandfather’s knee, I heard the stories of Armenian survivors. In particular, one woman stands out. She was a child when the Turks came for her family, but she was comely and pretty. Her parents and brothers were killed and she was sold as a slave for a wealthy Turk’s harem. Her story of survival and escape was terrifying to me as a child, and it instilled a sense of resolve where Islam was concerned that has not abated to this day.
…There are good Muslims in the world, and I want to make this clear. My own family lived only because an Ottoman official warned my great-grandfather that genocide was coming. This man, whose name I cannot remember — something that genuinely pains me, for my grandfather died when I was young and his stories are almost dream-like to me, now — paid for the ticket to America for my family, for English language lessons, and everything else needed to escape before it was too late.
I hope that I will meet this good and righteous man in the life to come. I hope God saw fit to accept him into His kingdom…
h/t Bookworm Room