OP-ED

“ I don’t know if we’re going to make it”: Female Students of Dammaj voice their reality

National Yemen

The Village of Damaj located in Wadi

By Andrea Christoph

Holed up in a makeshift bunker, crowded to the brim, the women and children of Dammaj are thankful for a brief quiet after the storm of war. For weeks they have lived with the sky raining hot metal upon them, the ground shaking beneath them and death all around. One American woman, whom I will call Umm Ahmed, has endured more than one war against Dammaj, but “ this one is the worst”. She had never heard such crashing sounds, with such intensity and such frequency in all the years of attacks on Dammaj by Houthi factions. She sits with her children after asr and plays a game with them to distract them. While there is little food and little water, there are plenty of shells from bullets. She makes up a sort of “bowling” game where they stack up the shells and see how far they can go until they fall.

The question on everyone’s mind, and one that has been voiced by many of Dammaj’s students, is how far the Houthis are truly going to go. The eyewitness accounts are horrific, and many cannot comprehend the mindset of those who will not cease attacking so that the dead can be collected. They wonder about the mentality of those who not only bomb places of prayer, not only prevent aid from entering, but also target hospitals where the facilities are already far from sufficient to care for limbs that are blown off, severed intestines and exposed head wounds.

One female student and British national who preferred to be called Aaliyah, spoke of what her husband had seen. “ One brother … Canadian…was shot in his head. Another brother had his leg blown off and bled to death because he couldn’t get treatment. Someone else had a chunk taken out the top of his head and was scratching it, taking bits of flesh with it and unaware of what he was doing.”

 She went onto express how uncertain the future seemed. “I don’t know if we are going to come out of this alive. It seems that this is a government thing. For someone to phone from the government and say give them Barakah… We are being bombed and killed…what does Barakah have to do with it?”

Apparently a lot, as Mount Barakah is a mountain that sitting at a strategic position on one of Dammaj’s borders. It overlooks the surrounding regions, and many times has been included in various stipulations presented by the Houthis as a condition for a ceasefire. But once the Houthis have access to Barakah, they would have access to all of Dammaj, and the students are determined not to let this happen. Apparently so is Sheikh Yahya al-Hujooree, even if it meant that his own life might be taken. It was said by one student that the first row of men who were defending Dammaj against Houthi entry were killed, and that al-Hujooree was ready to go to fight saying, “How can I just sit here and wait while my students are being killed?”

One contact expressed that today in Dammaj,  six Houthi spies were caught analyzing various key areas. One was caught with a flashlight observing a protective ditch, and presumably its depth, to explain to his superiors. Although there is little to elaborate on, it is clear that the spies were passing on detailed information to the Houthi faction to give them better understanding of how to attack and where to shoot their missles.

“They don’t have exact measurements”, stated the contact. “They need someone to say…increase another 10 meters etc…Because they don’t have that level of accuracy.”

The main masjid in an area called the maktabah has been a primary target for years with the intent of killing Yahya al-Hujooree , who was preceded by Sheikh Muqbil al-Wadee the founder of the largest center of orthodox teachings in Yemen.In the last war one Houthi leader expressed that in an hour he would take the masjid of Yahya and sit and chew qat in it. He never realized this goal, as he and his son were killed within the hour. Nevertheless it is not farfetched that a center of learning could easily become the biggest area for a qat chew if taken over by the Houthi faction. Although there is a lot of distress, there is also much hope, and this hope seems to stem from the faith that gathered the various nationalities and socio economic backgrounds to this center of learning. There are those who state that hundreds of foreign fighters have been brought in, but there have always been people of various backgrounds who chose to study at the center and now choose to defend it.

Sources who are on the ground say that while many reports speak about “clashes between Houthis and Salafis”, it is apparent according to various eyewitness accounts that this is not a situation in which both sides are equipped in a similar fashion. While in Yemeni culture it is quite normal to own a gun and the gun market is easily accessible to the average citizen, many of the students of Dar Al Hadeeth in Dammaj do not possess such standard weaponry.

 At the same time the school’s pupils are being attacked with missiles that are made to take down planes, weapons that are called “hounds”. One family who has lived there for many years explained how the shrapnel would come down from over the mountain and how it was so hot that it could not be touched. This is the same shrapnel that had entered her son-in-law’s hand and leg.

“You’ve never seen anything like it. It enters inside of you burning hot and then closes so that sometimes you don’t even know theres a wound“.  Her son-in-law had been praying in the masjid of an area called the Mazrah when a bomb entered. He was making his sunna prayers after the congregational noon prayer, and there were six men in front of him also praying. When the explosion happened, it was explained that the smoke was so thick and black, “You could not see your hand in front of you”.  After the smoke cleared , the men who had been praying in front of him were all dead.

The latest news as of today was that after the time in which the children were playing with shells, international aid was allowed to enter after being turned down several times. It has happened before that aid was turned back and many students have said this was because the Houthis deny using tanks and missiles and don’t want aid groups to see what they have done. When speaking to a Zaidi Sadah representative with the NDC, the representative asked if there was more being written on the injustice that was happening in Dammaj. She also extended her prayers and expressed, “We are all saddened by what is happening to the people of Dammaj. The Houthis don’t want people to see , but it is time for people to know the truth.”

39 Comments

  • May Allaah aid them, protect them and give te salafis victory over their enemies immedietly Ameen

  • From all the articles that I've read concerning dammaj conflict this is the most accurate one describing the real facts and uncovering the real truth..most reporters have turned the institute into an al-Qaida filiation or an international terrorist training camp some even said that soon the institute will call for a crusade war(jihad) against the world!!?…when reading those kind of report you can see how much the enemies of islam loves to see these that are holding firm to the Quran and the sunna die..

  • May Allah keep our familes in Dammaj safe from the treacherous houthis and give them victory soon.
    Allahs help is near!

  • May Allaah `azza wa jal help and give victory to the people of. Ahlul Sunnah Wal Jamaa`ah in Dammaj and destroy the filthy Houthis. Aameen!

  • oh allaah destroy these philthy hoothies and give aid,victory and tranquility to ahlussunnsah. surely the dua is answered by the oppressed ameen

  • YA'RABB, Please have mercy on the believer's & give them victory in life and death. Aameen
    O'Allah for all our Brother's & Sister's who souls that has returned to you, please Allah give them Jannah Firdoes, Aameen. Protect us all from the Hellfire, Allahuma Aameen

  • Make Allah protect the believers everywhere and specifically Ahl Sunnah in Damaaj and repel the evil of the Shia everywhere and all those who wish harm upon Ahl Sunnah and Allah's religion. May Allah bless us with the good of this struggle and protect us from the evil of it and grant us victory and unify our hearts based upon kitaab wa sunnah – amen

  • Verily the true believe awaits two things from ALLAH, victory or death and upon the disbelievers we await two things a punishment from the believers or from ALLAH so do not despair my brothers, sisters, grand fathers, grand mothers and children

  • May Allaah protect AhlusSunnah asSalafiyyoon from the houthi dogs Aameen! May Allah accept our du'aa for them, remove the hardship that is upon them and exterminate the filthy enemy Allaahumma Aameen!

  • Up until recently, some scholars (led by Shaykh Rabee) and Salafi Publications and those with them have been disparaging Shaykh Yahyah and his students in Dammaaj, calling them innovators, hizbis, extremists, cultists etc. They even warned against studying there. Now they're falling all over themselves calling them our "brothers from Ahlus Sunnah"? How can they now call them our brothers of Ahlus Sunnah after they threw them off the manhaj? And since they are our brothers, don't you think Shaykh Rabee and Spubs owe the Shaykh and his students apologies for attacking their honor and slandering them; and shouldn't they be compelled to make a bayaan against their previous statements against our brothers in Dammaaj? Am I the only one who sees this inconsistency, and are we all going to remain silent about this? May Allaah protect Shaykh Yahyah and his students, our brothers upon Salafiyyah; from the both the external and internal enemies, because the internal enemies are far more dangerous than the shia'!!!! Allaahumma aameen, Allaahumma aameen!!!

    • You are right in regards to this but now is not the best time of place to deal with these issues. The fitnah makes clear the truth that is within the peoples hearts. It shows what they are truly about. Even amongst those who call themselves Salafi there is much blind following and Shaytan is always ready to cause dissension amongst our ranks. Ameen to your duaa and may Allah make those who are upon the haqq those that lift the banner of this deen and the correct aqeedah once again.

    • Anytime Dammaj was attacked all of the Shuyookh including Sh. Rabi', who was the first to do so, spoke out in the defense of Dammaj. Not to mention, his regular phone calls between him and Sh. Yahya that few people know about. He has been privately advised and he privately repented and then he would make another attack. We love Sh. Yahya and we want good for him, but at one time there was no one left to remain on Salafiyah but him and the teachers in the Markaz. Even Sh. Fowzan refuted him by name which is an extreme rarity. All of things aside; and they should not be mentioned at this time because it would divert needed energy toward fitna rather than focusing on our brothers and sisters in Dammaj and our beloved Sh. Yahyah. May Allah guide us all and May Allah grant them victory over these filthy beasts!

    • jazak allahu khayran wa barak allahu feek for your true words my dear brother. They should do baayaan and tell people that what they said was wrong about damaaj and tell people to study there.May allah give them victory amen allhuma ameen

  • Abdullah …. Abdullah what is your true intention ? You are the an ignorant person you fool you are trying to start something you are looking for fitna
    Incha'Allah we will be united again
    Akhi I havean advice for you learn how to have a good Adab good manners learn how to respect seniors scholars
    You are maybe one of those spy from the rafida who is trying to start a fitna amount the true Salafi let me tell you something Allah is the best of planer you fool

  • السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته

    We ask Allah from his most beautiful names to protect us here in Dammaj.

    Please brothers and sisters please do not stop making dua for us

    I write this as they do not cease to throw mortar shells

    However by Allah my dear brothers and sister the help and victory of Allah is indeed near!!!

    • Wailaikum Salaam Warahmatoolaah

      You are in our duaa . I have been speaking to the sisters who are in Dammaj and staying updated. I am also trying to get more pieces published on the events that are taking place. If you have anything you want to share about the conditions, please leave your email . May Allah protect you all from every evil thing … sign after sign has shown that Allah is with you and He will grant you victory in this life and in the next.

    • We ask alllah by his most beautiful names and lofty charectrristics to give us victory and not let the Houthie militia put an end to you pure dawah!!

      We are fine although there may be a blockade which has surpassed a month our spirits are high and our trust is Allah is at its highest alhamdulillah and inshallah the opening and victory is ever close!

      Email is: imamattahawi@gmail.com

  • May Allaah the Great aid Ahlussunnah in Dammaaj and destroy the filthy criminals ar-Rawaafid!

  • May Allah protect the believers from all plots of Shaytan and his Shayteen from every angle Ameen

  • Dammaj News From Underground Bunker
    A friend from the UK studying in Dammaj called on Saturday to ask for forgiveness and take leave from this world saying rockets were being blasted directly at them and Houthi gunmen had surrounded the entire village and there was no way out of this alive. The phone line suddenly cut and the last words we heard were "make dua make dua its not long now" We called for several hour but there was no connection and we feared the worst. finally late in the night we got message that they had managed to seek shelter in an underground bunker while the fighting raged above them. The Houthis are well equipped with weaponry while the students of Ahl Sunnah fight with what they have at their disposal. Four gunmen were caught as they tried to assassinate Shaikh Yahyah while he prayed. The death toll is set to rise and no doubt the fighting will spill over into neighbouring countries. Every call to my friend ends in requests for dua. Dua is the biggest weapon of the believer and we should not be heedless in it. May Allah bring an end to the killing and grant victory to those on the straight path and those who have returned to Allah may He raise their ranks and make them of those whom He loves-aameen.

  • may Allah destroy those filthy salafi scumbags. burn their tents to the ground and salt the earth in their place.

  • I think that often when there are these types of areas to comment, people use them to put out of their emotions and it is somewhat natural that one would be angry and upset when they see their husbands , fathers and sons affected, injured, and killed. And when women and children are forced to accept conditions that we cannot imagine based on an incorrect belief system, it makes sense that there would be a level of anger considering that people get " angry" at far more trivial trespasses.

    Nevertheless when the muslims, especially those who claim salafiyyah comment, they should do so with grace and with the knowledge that this comment can further inform people about the nature tawheed, the nature of the beauty of getting near to Allah so that one is ready to defend their way of life. there can be comments that would shed more light on what is going on dammaj and the injustice of the goverment aiding the Houthis etc etc. But certain comments only make the person who is writing them seem like another " extremist" because most people cannot relate to the context of that speech and just being religious in these times is considered extreme by many.

    May We all Be given the Ability to Strive to be Better

    wa lilaahil hamd