Eastern Aleppo was about to fall. It had been under opposition control since 2012, but heavy bombardment by the Russians had allowed the tide to turn in Bashar Al Assad’s favour.
Syrian government forces had surrounded Eastern Aleppo, and they were moving in, supported by Iranian-backed militia and Russian special forces.
Meanwhile, activists and civilians trapped in the besieged city were posting their ‘last’ messages on social media; they feared capture or death.
Bana Alabed, a 7 year old Syrian girl posted this plea on Twitter:
Final message – I am very sad no one is helping us in this world, no one is evacuating me & my daughter. Goodbye.- Fatemah #Aleppo
— Bana Alabed (@AlabedBana) December 12, 2016
Syrian activist Lina Shamy posted the following video from Eastern Aleppo:
— Lina shamy (@Linashamy) December 12, 2016
Journalist Bilal Abdul Kareem posted the following video:
Perhaps my final message from E. Aleppo. Regime forces are closing in and bunker busters are raining down. pic.twitter.com/XgK0DSa08x
— Bilal Abdul Kareem (@BilalKareem) December 12, 2016
Many were fearing the worst, could a massacre like Srebrenica take place in 2016 while the international community sat idle?
The news of the impending fall of East Aleppo and the uncertain fate awaiting its inhabitants spread across the world, and Muslims around the world felt helpless.
However, there was only one thing they could do, and that is turn to Allah and raise their hands asking for His divine help. Many shed tears for people they had never met and probably will never meet – the only thing uniting them was the bond of faith – a brotherhood so strong that it transcends nationalities and borders.
Many awoke at night, praying the Tahajjud prayers, Imams in Mosques recited the Qunut An Nazila at dawn prayers – a Du’a recited by the Prophet ﷺ during times of affliction.
Meanwhile, Turkish diplomats hastily arranged meetings with their Russian counterparts. Behind the scenes phone calls were taking place with the Turks urging the Russians and the rebels to agree to a ceasefire and for the Assad regime to allow civilians to evacuate.
There was no guarantee that the Russians would accept or if the rebels would accept giving up the city without fighting till the end.
Finally, an agreement was made where there would be a ceasefire and the Russians and the Syrian regime would allow civilians and rebels to leave eastern Aleppo and go to rebel-held Idlib. The agreement also stated that the rebels allow pro-Assad civilians to leave Fua and Kefraya.
This was a surprising move by the Russians who had the upper hand and simply did not have to accept the proposal, but Turkish diplomacy and a personal call from President Erdoğan to Vladimir Putin encouraged Russia to agree.
Though this situation is not ideal, thousands have now been evacuated to relative safety with many of the injured taken to Turkish hospitals.
Among the evacuees was Lina Shamy who posted the following video on Twitter:
Just arrived to the city of Idleb after more than 36 hours of waiting at the passage in the besieged side#Aleppo
— Lina shamy (@Linashamy) December 21, 2016
And journalist Bilal Abdul Kareem who posted the following:
OGN has officially exited besieged Aleppo! We're now eating apples 1st time in months! Please send dinner invites to this address!! pic.twitter.com/h59AlW624E
— Bilal Abdul Kareem (@BilalKareem) December 22, 2016
7 year old Bana and her family were taken to Turkey to meet the Turkish president where she thanked him for his efforts:
Bana Alabed thanks president Erdogan, saying: "Thank you for supporting the children of Aleppo and help us to get out from war. I love you." pic.twitter.com/fOsa8qBQd7
— IlmFeed (@IlmFeed) December 21, 2016
I truly believe that it was the power of Du’a which helped thousands escape an unknown fate. There were many factors which could have derailed the ceasefire but Alhamdulillah that did not happen.
Never underestimate the power of Du’a, even if there is no clear solution in sight as Allah is al-Qadir, the All-Able. Never lose hope as none loses hope except the disbelievers.
“…Indeed, no one despairs of relief from Allah except the disbelieving people.” 12:87