What am I doing right now? What can I do today to help people so that kidness, truth and beauty spread? How can I make people happy? If we become preoccupied with these ideas no unbappy person would be left on planet.
Sometimes the words will fail you when you want to tell about a certain incident. They will fall short. When you try describing it your words will stick in your throat. Then you will close your eyes and think in solitary. As you place your palm on your heart to listen to your heartbeats you will ask yourself why.
This is the story of Özgecan whose life was cut short by tragedy …
And the story of Mehmet Aslan who spoke with much wisdom and truth even when his heart was pierced with pain due to the loss of his daughter…
Özgecan was a 19-year old college student. She was a hardworking and intelligent freshman who was admitted to college on scholarship and thrilled to study psychology. Learning and studying was getting her closer to her goal that was to become a psychologist who would help others. “I am going to help everyone. I am going to cheer up the sick and depressed people. I will however start from my relatives first” she would tell her mum who would share her daughter`s dreams. She even found a job and started working to make extra money to make sure that money matters at school did not restrain her daughter. But Özgecan`s dreams were never realized.
Don`t Worry About Me
Travelling on minibuses alone is hard. It is even harder if you are a young woman and it is dark. You get anxious and stare at your phone worried while keeping your family`s or close friend`s number handy in case of emergency. That is what Özgecan wanted to do too but she could not as her phone battery died before she got on the minibus. So she just messaged her mum from her friend`s phone which read “Do not worry about me, I am on the way home.”
Hours passed. It was over midnight. Özgecan was still not home. That cold February night her mum waited by the window for her daughter. She kept staring at her last message and called the number from where it came which belonged to Özgecan`s friend. Alas there were no news about her daughter.
After a few hours the worried parents go to the police station to report that their daughter is missing. Starting from 11th February 2015 gendermarie search for her in every corner of Tarsus. As they continue the search, their suspicions point to a minibus driver who asked for directions from gendermarie a while ago and the dots start to connect. When the gendermarie searches the minibus they find bloodstains. In the following days it becomes clear that Özgecan was brutally killed in the minibus that she took to get home. The family who was hoping to get good news about their daughter is distraught. The body of their daughter whom they will never see again is found in the riverbed two days later. The words become hollow; no word can describe what has happened.
The flower of his father is brutally plucked. Özgecan sets off on a journey to eternity on the minibus she got on. But she takes a piece from us too. The fire of pain that her family faces with her death engulfs whole Turkey.
No More Angels Lost
Mehmet Aslan, Özgecan’s father. He is the one who affected whole Turkey with the words of wisdom he uttered whilst he was suffering the loss of his child. We got to know him with his perseverance in this tragic event. When he was interviewed he did not bawl out nor did he bang himself on the floor. With his countenance and articulate words he reminded us about endurance and patience. With Mehmet Aslan we have once again remembered the word patience that we pay much lip service but not put in action.
Mehmet Aslan could not look at the camera straight when he was giving interview. His head was always bent down out of humility. His griefstruck face was telling us how great his pain was. With welled up eyes he would say, “No more angels lost to this kind of crimes”. “I pray to Allah to help the family of the person who did this mischief to my daughter. I am a sinner of all sinners, I am a faqir or all faqirs, I am a poor, powerless man. I wish that we had no more dishotomy in our country. The perpetrator should face justice. May Allah help the perpetrator`s parents too,” he added.
These words are not words that anyone could say offhandedly. Mehmet Aslan responded to the horror done to her daughter with kidness. It took lots of guts to do that and Mehmet Aslan did it. Leaving his ego aside he was able to show the world with his deep patience that he had a benevolent heart.
Mehmet Aslan responded to all the questions with such perseverance. He chose his words with utmost care, as he did not want to offend or hurt anyone. Witnessing his perseverance against such calamity people were glued to the screens to hear the words he uttered. As he talked all the knotted feelings we had were disentangled. His words would touch the hearts and his dignified demeanour gathered millions around him.
Public was inspired by Mehmet Aslan’s calm statements. Hence, they stood up for him and for all of our girls and women who were killed before they could even realize what was happening to them. Everyone united on this front creating a big chain of awareness. Because as Mehmet Aslan said “The mischief done to one person is like done to whole people.” The calm attitude of the victim`s family, which was out of ordinary, moved everyone. Each wanted to do something for the,. on behalf of them. Nationwide demonstrations were held after the murder case was solved. Thousands of people took to the streets urging deterrent action in violence against women. Petitions via social media were carried out and millions gathered around the family. Random parents and girls identified with Özgecan’s pain so much that they wanted to do something as much as they can. Some with their prayers some with their signatures while others with their tears shared the family`s feelings.
A New Beginning for Humanity
Parents do not discriminate between their children. However it is true that fathers are fond of their daughters more than they are of their sons. Özgecan was such for Mehmet Aslan. She used to light up his world. The light in her eyes would shine over the whole family. Everyone adored her as she had a merry heart and joyful spirit. “When my daughter died everything lost its colour and faded away,” Mehmet Aslan said. He still tries to find a meaning in her death and regards this calamity as a chance for a new beginning for humanity. His way of thinking shows what a sensitive and thoughtful person he is. Each precious sentence that he strings together is loaded with meaning. They almost have some mystery only available to those who want to solve it.
Mehmet Aslan regarded his daughter`s death as a chance of rebirth of humanity in people`s hearts and said in response to the questions put to him, “This should be a milestone. We should make a new beginning as whole humanity. Everyone should fulfil his own task. We are not of this or that faction. We are the children of this country.” The person who said these was a father whose child was brutally murdered. He was a father, who gave the chance for a new beginning to everyone whilst his heart was pierced with the pain of the loss of his beloved child. “It is hard to find the right path and keep walking on it,” he said in one of his statements. “Whatever befalls on us is due to our egos. The ego is the rootcause of all the mishief and wrongdoings. Therefore our egos must be tamed,” he concluded. This grieving man, which had such noble heart, was not losing his calm and saying anything bad even when his heart was on fire.
Mehmet Aslan did not have the heart to touch his daughter`s burial robe. The father, who was afraid of hurting his daughter even the tiniest bit, has lost his angel now. As he was praying before her grave “God created you for Himself” he whispered with absolute submission to God’s will.
Death is a hard one in every form of it. But when the deceased is one’s child it leaves a scar that will never heal. It creates a hollow in the heart. Everything becomes incomplete. Nothing can turn back to what it used to be. The colours fade. The world loses its joyfulness. The life on this earth turns into a stop where you wait to eventually reunite with your child.
Mehmet Aslan considered this death as a new beginning, for other parents not to face a similar fate. He suggested Özgecan’s death as the birth of a new sentiment where people treat each other with love, and do their best to create a more educated society. He emphasized that perpetrators of these crimes did not become criminals all by themselves but the society also had a role in it. His pointed out that “a child who is abused by his father becomes prone to commit violence as well; it is the parents who write the software of a child; their behaviours will reflect on the child. So in a crime not only the perpetrator but the whole society and humanity are prosecuted.”
Search Thy Heart First for the Fault
Man gives in to temptation for a second and makes something wrong for which he will later say, “It`s devil`s work.” Mehmet Aslan elaborates on it quite beautifully so much so that one wants to return to it again and again. “When someone says that it is devil`s work after he commits mischief then the devil is done with him and moves on to someone else to sneak into his mind at the right moment and to lure him into temptation. Therefore every ego should reform him, because all evil originates in there. So every ego should be tamed.”
Each one of Mehmet Aslan’s sentences is a gem. His wise behaviour affected everyone. His perserverance and patience was not easy for a family who goes through such pain. Another gem-like quotation from Mehmet Aslan which will be etched to the minds of millions is as follows: Some men in this land force the fate, which is the result of their own wilful actions and choices, upon women, because they are ignorant. They shamelessly follow their lust. They become slaves to the devil and choose the path leading to hell. That is why this country is in tears and pain. We should never forget that every man shall pay the price if he did wrong and receive a reward if he did good no matter how small its is. Just like everyone has a fate, nations, states, the world, even the planet has a fate. The doom`s day will happen at the end of this fate written by the volition of God. Along the history of civilization mankind went through spiritual depression and decline in certain periods which was followed by rack and ruin.”
Mehmet Aslan is one of these people who wished that happiness prevailed in this world. Hence he tries to spread love and happiness. He reminds us with his words and action that the thing stronger that even the strongest of the armies is love and we have no other way out as we should love the creation out of love for the Creator.
All of Mehmet Aslan’s words are valuable but especially this one should be etched in our hearts forever. One could even frame it and hang it on the wall. “What am I doing right now? What can I do today to help people so that kidness, truth and beauty spread? How can I make people happy? If we become preoccupied with these ideas no unbappy person would be left on the planet.” He is someone deep with a huge heart who united everyone through his message. He goes with his business quietly and speaks his words gently while emphasizing that all roads can open with peace and solidarity. If people were willing to change something they could achieve that by peace, solidarity, and trust, he repeats.
“Everyone listen to your heart. I went after the worldly things for years. Of course we will work and earny money to make our living. Yet we should stop and ponder upon time to time.” Mehmet Aslan advises like a philisopher. He never raises his voice nor he utters any offensive word. All of his words have a deep Sufi meaning to them. He did his best to keep the unity and solidarity of the country while burying his pain in his heart.
In a few of his interviews Mehmet Aslan advised everyone to read verse 103 in Chapter Âl-i Imrân and Chapter Maun in the Quran. What did these verses say and what did they they mean? In Âl-i İmrân verse 103 Allah says: “You shall hold fast to the rope of Allah, all of you, and do not be divided. Recall Allah`s blessings upon you – you used to be enemies and He reconciled your hearts. By his grace you became brethren. You were at the brink of a pit of fire, and He saved you therefrom. God thus explains His revelations for you, that you may be guided. Let there be a community of you who invite to what is good, advocate righteousness, and forbid evil. Such are they who are winners. Do not be like those who became divided and disputed despite the clear proofs that were given to them. For these have incurred a terrible retribution. The day will come when some faces will be brightened (with joy), while other faces will be darkened (with misery). As for those whose faces are darkened they will be asked, “Did you not disbelieve after believing? Therefore suffer the retribution for your disbelief.” As for those whose faces are brightened they will rejoice in Allah`s mercy; they abide therein forever. These are Allh`s revelations; we recite them to you truthfully. Allah does not wish any hardship for (His) creatures.”
Such is Mehmet Aslan, who embodies all kinds of beauty through his actions, knowledge, and demeanaour. Despite the brutal murder of his daughter, and that heartbreaking void in his heart, he tries to invite people to what is good and beautiful. He is someone who loves his country and people so much so that in the worst of the situations he united all sections of the society with his calm attitude.
His following words sum up all of his statements: “May our country prevail. Our nation is a noble and beautiful nation. There are some who has beautiful hearts. I am a sinner of all sinners, I am a faqir or all faqirs, I am a poor, powerless man. My Lord has created her with such grace and beauty. He loved her and took her to His side. I wish that we had no more dishotomy in our country. The perpetrator should face justice. May Allah help his parents too.”
After a little more than a year following his daughter`s death Mehmet Aslan received the news that her murderer was killed in jail. His reaction to this incident testifies what a valuable person he is to this country. “I would be lying if I said that I rejoice or I grieve” he said. An average person would condemn his child`s murderer and fill with rage to take revenge. On the contrary Mehmet Aslan was neither condemning nor was resentful against the perpetrators. He has accepted Allah’s will.
With Özgecan’s death everyone was united. The whole nation was moved by Mehmet Aslan’s speeches so that everyone stopped for a moment and pondered just like he advised. “What am I doing?” He did something no one else could do. He conveyed his message despite his tremendous pain. He spoke to the hearts and created awareness.
When you ask any random person be it man or woman, old or young everyone would know Özgecan and how his father invited everyone to be compassionate and united regardless of that tragedy.