"He would tease us and ask if we wanted to die as martyrs with him," Rayyan's daughter says
Gaza – Ma’an – One of the surviving daughters of slain Hamas leader Nizar Rayyan, Walaa, spoke to Ma’an Saturday.
She is married with two young daughters, but hopes for a son so she can name him after her dead father. Three of her nephews already go by the nickname “Abu Nizar,” though their names are Bilal, Baraa and Muhammad.
Walaa’s mother, father, ten brothers and sisters and Rayyan’s three other wives were killed during an Israeli airstrike on the family home.
“My father raised us all to love martyrdom,” Walaa said. “If you had the chance to ask my 4-year-old sister Aaysha, who died in the attack, she would have told you that she preferred to die martyr.”
In the days before the attack that killed most of the family Walaa said “My father couldn’t sleep…after a woman came to him complaining that she had nothing with which to feed her children and had to soak days-old bread and give it to them. “Oh my God! We reached a point that a woman doesn’t have anything to feed her children?” she remembers her father saying.
Walaa recalls her father with great emotion, and tells the story of how he used to introduce himself as Nizar Abd Al-Qadir Rayyan Al-Asqalani An-Na’lawani Al-Filistiniy, or Nizar Abd Al-Qadir Rayyan from the villages of An-Na’lawani (a destroyed Palestinian village in Israel) and Asqalani (the current Ashkelon) of Palestine.
She says he told many stories about the village of Na’lawa or (Niilya) , and would remember the village as long as she lived.
In the days following his death Rayyan’s elderly mother has received hundreds of women who have come bearing condolences. She tells them all, “May God save you from the evil of the Jews.”
Also at the mourning area was Eyman, who is the daughter of Rayyan’s brother, said that Rayyan used to say, “I want to die martyr and go immediately into paradise.” One of his children once replied to Rayyan, that people do not go directly to paradise; they first go to the morgue. Rayyan replied, “I don’t want to feel cold in the morgue, and there will be no room for my huge body there anyways, so, I want to be buried immediately and go to paradise.”
One hour before he was killed Rayyan’s daughter in law Eyman Asfora went to visit him. Walaa remembers that Eyman, wife to Rayyan’s eldest son Bilal, was received with a smile. He asked her if she would like to die a martyr with him, and she said “yes.” But she left seconds before the missile struck the four-storey home.
The one ton Israeli missile that fell on the building leveled the home and damaged several adjacent houses. When the dust cleared neighbors and media members rushed to the scene to see what happened, and found only piles of concrete.
According to one of his four wives, Rayyan would tease his children in the days before his death, and ask them: “Who wants to die martyr with me?” and all his children used to answer, “Yes daddy, we all want to be with you alive or dead.” His youngest son said, “I can’t imagine that you die martyr and leave me behind unable to see you. I want to die with you.
Dr Rayyan, who held a PHD in Hadith (the profit Muhammad’s narrated teachings), was killed along with his four wives, Hayam Timraz, Nawal Kahlout, Eyman Kassab, Sherin Udwan, and ten of his children, Ghassan, Abdul-Qadir, Ayah, Maryam, Zaynab, Abdul-Rahman, Aysha, Halima, Osama and Reem who were between four and 17-years-old.