April 1, 2023

Malad, Idlib, Syria After the primary earthquake of February 6 struck the village of Maland, its frightened folks made their method to the mosque, hoping that prayer would calm their hearts. After they arrived, they have been shocked to seek out the complete mosque destroyed with its dome resting on the bottom.

“I used to go to this mosque with my father, and he used to go along with my grandfather; it is the one one within the village,” Maher Zaarour, 37, informed Al Jazeera, his voice wavering. He had gathered with the villagers in an open, rubble-strewn house to carry out the communal Friday prayers.

“It’s totally outdated, and it has been refurbished loads; Everybody within the village contributed to fixing it up. Even the ladies would go and plaster the mosque’s partitions. It is God’s home, all of us have recollections right here. We studied the Quran right here as youngsters.

Thankfully, the mosque was empty when the earthquake despatched it tumbling to the bottom. It occurred nicely earlier than daybreak prayers, and no person had arrived to open it to arrange for worshippers.

However the villagers really feel the mosque’s absence deeply, and efforts have already begun to collect what small monetary donations they will make to attempt to rebuild.

Maher Zaarour poses for a photo
‘I used to go to this mosque with my father, and he used to go along with my grandfather, it is the one one within the village,’ Maher Zaarour informed Al Jazeera on February 24, 2023 [Ali Haj Sulaiman/Al Jazeera]

“We do not need our homes again, we simply need this, God’s home, to come back again because it was, so the village can pray there once more,” Zaarour stated.

Mahmoud Aref Nadaf, 74, agreed with Zaarour. He has lived instantly subsequent door to the mosque for about 50 years and stated he misses it greater than his destroyed residence.

“I used to be within the room nearest the mosque when the earthquake hit, between sleep and wakefulness. The mosque’s western wall fell on us, it is about 15 meters excessive. Big rocks fell into the room the place I used to be sleeping,” he stated, including that it was a “miracle” that he survived.

“I’ve by no means harmed an individual ever, nor held sick will in my coronary heart in direction of anybody, that is why God saved me,” stated Nadaf, sitting on a heap of rubble close to the mosque.

“Every time I’m free, I’m within the mosque. It means a lot to the village folks: It was a shelter, a spot of prayer, of studying, of gathering, of data. Now it is gone, there’s nothing that may make up for it,” he added.

In accordance with Ahmed Abazli, Maland’s council head, 34 folks died right here within the earthquake. He stated it broken 90 % of the village’s properties – with 198 households shedding their homes fully and a few 320 homes badly broken and uninhabitable.

Imam Adel al-Sheikh leads the Friday prayer in a rubble-strewn open lot
Imam Adel al-Sheikh leads the Friday prayer in a rubble-strewn open lot on February 24, 2023 [Ali Haj Sulaiman/Al Jazeera]

“Ramadan is quickly and we have now no mosque, so we have launched a marketing campaign to gather donations from the villagers and we hope to additionally obtain help quickly to rebuild,” he informed Al Jazeera.

“When the earthquake hit, we ran to the mosque to carry out the daybreak prayers after the quake, however we have been shocked to see that it had been destroyed,” he stated. “I believe folks’s souls have been deeply affected by this.”

Maland’s imam, Adel al-Sheikh, who was additionally there within the open sq. to steer the prayer, stated that the destruction of the mosque is a good loss for the village of seven,000 folks.

“I have been imam right here for 3 years, regardless of the dimensions of the village, there is just one mosque that gathers all of the village folks, particularly on Fridays when about 1,500 worshipers are in it praying,” he stated. “The mosque was a reassuring presence, as folks would discover peace of thoughts inside its partitions.”

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