by Muammar Al Gaddafi
By Muammar Al Gaddafi - Death
Is Death male or female? God knows ... But the ancient pre-Islamic poet, Tarafah Ibn Al-Abd considered it male when he said : Death, I notice, hovers over generous people to choose The best of what the strictest of them has hoarded up.
But the contemporary poet Nizar Al-Qabani, who is pre-Islamic in his own way, says that death is female, because it has snatched his son, Tawfiq. But then why ask the question? What purpose does it serve to know if death is male or female? Death, whether male or female, is death. By all means, it is most important, or rather one is morally bound to specify the sex of death and decide whether it is male or female.
it were male, one ought to challenge it to the bitter end. But
should it be female, one had to give in to it to the last
Anyway, the word death (Decease) appears in a lot of books, sometimes as male and sometimes as female.
I, judging from my own experience and troubles with death, know this for a fact: Death is a male who is on the offensive all the time. He has never been on the defensive even when he is beaten. He is brave, fierce, cunning and sometimes cowardly. Death attacks but gets beaten off badly at times.
He does not emerge victorious in every attack as some people seem to think. Many a duel was there in which death lost courage and had to retreat blood-stained and defeated. But despite the cuts, stabs, blows, smashes and kicks which he receives, when his opponent is a relentless fighter, he never gives in, or is ever imprisoned; nor has he ever been finished off.
This is his dangerous secret; and this is his incomparably destructive superiority to all life supporting factors against death. Death is really a unique combatant who has a deep, long breath and endless patience. His confidence in himself is limitless no matter how strong, relentless or winning his opponent seems to be. No matter what fights he loses, wounds he receives, or rounds in which he is defeated, he is never adversely affected by the resounding noises of celebration, held by his unimaginative, short-sighted, winning opponents.
displays of rejoicing do not make him despair of attacking again.
One can't help admiring such an overbearing adversary who never
needs to alter his clear-cut decisions! The might of death does not
lie in his decisive blows, nor in his fatal stabs or in his
successful attacks, because he hits and misses, wins and loses,
attacks and suffers defeat. Not all his blows are exceptionally
well-aimed, nor are all his fights successful. His real might lies
in his hellish ability to receive, bear and neutralize all the
arrows and spears directed at him, and in his inhuman appetite to
lick the blood and pus of his wounds, and in his capability of
transforming all this into fiery ferocious fighting energy which
eventually overwhelms his opponent. Death's entitlement to victory
lies in the fact that he is impartial and that he seeks help from
nobody. To do that would indicate a fault in character when death
is faultless; and it might imply that he could be a stooge. Death
manoeuvres and changes his colour to suit his own purpose, but he
can never be someone else's stooge. Were he to depend on anybody;
he would have to give hostages to fortune and become a doll to be
thrown away in the dustbin after play. If death were a stooge, a
lackey, a hostage or a doll, his ultimate victory would arouse
On the other hand, death, as I have already said, is not a mythical hero with high moral ideas, social and tribal manners or a noble family background which make the possessor of such ideals morally bound to behave properly in order not to blemish inherited values. On the contrary, death is a dodger, chameleon-like, moody and capable of taking on different personalities with different roles. He may appear on a tall white horse, brandishing his weapon at his opponent face to face, and he may stab in the back as does a woman untrained to use weapons; he may come at you fearlessly on foot; and he may turn up crawling or prone under the cover of earth or any other means of deception and camouflage. Many a victim had he claimed when they were peacefully and quietly unaware of him! And many others had he snatched away when they were having happy dreams in sound sleep. And many more had he grabbed when they were merrily laughing and oblivious of him! So, do not expect any mercy or pity from death. He will not exchange intimacies with you or consider your circumstances or respect your lives.
He may tear
off a suckling from its mother's breast to butcher it before her;
he may even get it out of her womb dead after a long wait for it to
be born. He may steal either one of a newly-wed couple on their
wedding night. He may assault the parents and leave the children
alone or vice-versa. In other words, he is, as yellow books depict
him, the terminator of pleasure and the orphan-maker of boys and
Therefore, do not show mercy to death, nor expect any mercy from him.
There is no
love lost between him and us. He is our deadly enemy; there can be
no peace with him or hope in him. So, as just tit for tat, show no
mercy to him and no lack of unity, because he will show you little
mercy no matter how disunited you are or what concession you make.
He accepts no compromise at all and peaceful coexistence is foreign
to his nature.
He cut off my brothers and sisters in their prime, and starved my family until they had to surrender to his will, and allured my brothers and sisters to play with him in the quagmire, where he poisoned them; four boys and two girls.
Then he had several hot duels with my brave father. He came to Gordabia under the banner of Miani's campaign, disguising himself in the clothes of Italian and Eritrean soldiers in order to kill my father, who fought him openly since he had killed my brothers and sisters. My father had vowed to have his revenge on death for what he did; and that was why he had killed a good number of col. Miani's soldiers in whose clothes death disguised himself so perfectly that everyone of them seemed to be death himself ... and how bewildered my father was to see the endless falling of martyrs, death's victims, on his right and left, when, at every shot he triggered, he thought he had done away with death till he ran short of ammunition.
out, "Can I have some more ammunition to relieve you of death?" A
young man, lying prone in a nearby trench, answered him that he had
enough to spare. My father spirited, hurried towards him, but death
was faster. When my father crept into the trench, he found the
young man dead!.
Therefore, death can hear and see, but my father, like death, was a fierce fighter. He took the young man's ammunition and continued the duel until he felt weak with thirst.
He asked his uncle Khamis for a drink of water to go on fighting. His uncle who had no water himself, leapt at one of the enemy's water-carrying mules to get some water. But death, as usual, was faster. He directed his fatal shot at Khamis just above the right eye-brow where it pierced its way through to the brain, which oozed out all over his body as he fell a martyr to the ground. This infuriated my father, who sprang out of the trench to fight standing up. He challenged death face to face when he shouted at him. "We're the children of Moussa.
If you are a real male, come out and look me in the face, you, cowardly death!" But death did not answer this challenge or even put up a hand to show where he was or reveal a brave face. It was not death, but a group of brave young men who answered my father, saying, " We are the children of Al-Haj ... children of Al-Haj " They sprang up on their feet to face death fearlessly. My father hurried to join them, but death was always faster. He had gunned them dead before my father reached them.
When the struggle between death and my father became so intense, his fellow fighters asked him not to draw nearer to them so that death might not ambush them as he did to Khamis, the Al-Hajji's sons, Al-Atrash, Assohbi, Mohamed Ben Faraj ... and many others. My father continued his persistent struggle all day long. At sunset death's strength began to wane and consequently his will to continue the duel abated! So he decided to withdraw in order to gather strength for another round. But this time he succeeded in firing nine bullets at my father, which hit him and tore his clothes but luckily they were not fatal.
As I told you, death is defeated and withdraws but never feels ashamed or loses hope, because his self-confidence is much stronger than despair itself, his belief in ultimate victory is greater than temporary defeat or passing adversities; and the secret lies in his self-sufficiency that needs no help or support from any quarters, not even from America. Hardly had three years passed when death attacked again, hoping to have done with my father this time. He engaged him in a ferocious duel that was much worse than the one at Gorabia.
He, being a deceiver as usual, appeared in this battle disguised, both in entity and attire, as one of the Senussi soldiers, who were pro-Italian in Sirte and Ejdabia.
He was exceptionally defiant this time, self-complacent at being superior in men and weapons, and confident of victory. But my father, who was as defiant, though less self-complacent and less-hopeful, was obstinately rash and more reckless. He laughed at death when he saw the Senussi soldiers crawling like locusts to occupy the high and low lands surrounding the Klaiah wide pit near the salt-mine.
They changed the colour of the golden sand into black and white after the colour of their formal costumes. The whole area was filled with men conscripted in favour of death. And there was my father among a much smaller number of lion-like men ... in fact, a very humble number! It was an ill-fated day of distressful agony from sunrise to sunset; death in full preparation; my father in full bravery, death heading the hosts of the pro-Italian Senussi soldiers; my father among a band of brave honourable men. Since the situation was so critical and survival was so hopeless and the battle so un-balanced; my father decided to fight it out with the least of precaution, openly showing his contempt of death, by rushing at his army ... He dug no trench, nor did he fire from a reclining position, he preferred to fight sitting or standing. Bravery and despair seemed to intermingle.
What an awesome sight that was! And how hard it had been to survive! But exactly as it had happened at Gordabia. Death's bullets hit my father's companions only: There was Abu-Osbaa, hit at the heart ... next to him lay Gheddaf Addam, giving up the ghost ... and now the sun was falling headlong towards the earth as if hit by a stray bullet! It was getting dark now and death's lost chance seemed to slip away.
This made turbulent death swell up with anger at my father, who had been challenging him all day long. He aimed his Mosin-Nagant rifle, supplied to him by the Tsar of Russia, at my father's heart but missed and hit him at the shoulder instead . The bullet, passing through the shoulder from the front to the back, had left a dangerous deep cut at his left side. I have already told you that not all death's shots are well-directed, nor are all his stabs fatal.
He hits and misses, succeeds and fails. True, he rendered my father unable to continue the fight this time and partially paralized him for life, but he could not manage to finish him off. I have already told you that death is not always brave or a challenger. On the contrary, he is sometimes a coward, stabbing in the back, stinging in the foot and sinking into the ground. Death, as I have already explained, does not despair and never leaves his opponent alone, no matter how beaten he may be. So despite growing pale with fatigue after engaging many intrepid heroes in hot duels, such as at Al-Malh and Gordabia, where he failed to defeat my father.
Death appeared this time disguised as a striped snake hiding in the dead thorny trunk of a desert bush in a cut off wadi that had neither water nor trees, to bite my father's heel in an abominable, treacherous, and cowardly way under the dark cover of night. This is frightening death! He rides a black horse when he is most furious and rides a white horse when he challenges openly and defiantly. Here is death, who has brandished his sword at great leaders, skulking away to come from behind, not face to face, from beneath, not from above ... he comes to bite not to fight, he shrinks into himself rather than show himself, and he cuts heels rather than necks.
This is how mighty death, whose terror, reaches far and wide, had transformed himself this time into a treacherous snake that stung my father's strong rough foot, which had stamped on it. Death thought that that was the fatal trick and the cunning plan. Having failed in face to face duels, death resorts to cunning and deception; and after confrontation in day light, he lurks under a camouflaged screen.
No doubt, a desert snake stinging a lonely man in a distant wadi, where no one could hear his call for help, was definitely quite enough to kill him. The arrangements and expectations of proud death, who was cocksure of ultimate victory, were such that he overlooked the fact that the will to live could upset his arrangements and frustrate his expectations; and that will to live was able to neutralize his fatal poison with the simple means of a strong brew of ordinary black tea without sugar.
Several doses of this strong sugarless black tea made my father throw up a few times. No sooner had the vomiting spasm stopped than he sprang up on his feet again to overcome death, which seemed victorious only a few minutes earlier. Jeering at death and gloating at his misfortune, my father crushed the head of the venomous snake, in the form of which death had disguised himself in that distant desert place. Death, as we know from this story, neither dies nor despairs however badly hurt or beaten he may be. My father killed the snake with his foot, which had always been strong and unshaken in the battle field or on the head of other serpents. Hardly had my father's foot fallen on the head of the snake when death left it for another one, which happened to meet my father on his way home one day. He was gathering some dead branches from a desert bush to make a fire, when the second snake attacked him, injecting a stream of fatal poison into his hand.
As my father had no tea this time, and the place was neither distant nor desolate, death thought these were factors of weakness on the part of my father, who would not be so challenging as he was when the place was distant with no one to help him, where his demise could have been a catastrophe. The situation then made my father put up a strong resistance, mobilizing all his inner strength to frustrate death's wanton intention.
time with people nearby, and the idea of depending on others for
help bound to soften my father's spirit for defiance and
resistance, death thought that he had trapped his intrepid opponent
However, death apparently forgot that his treacherous plan was really stupid, because by frequent snake bites he had immunized my father against their poison. Thus this second bite, painful though it was, did not finish him off either. The longer my father lived, the more enterprising death became. My father kept up his stubborn courage, and death never gave up hope of catching him. Having followed the incidents of this dramatic story so far, we can say that death is really a male in the former situations and a female in the latter ones.
Thus the whole thing is so confusing, because even when death changed into a female snake, she had to be fought back as though she were a male. A poisonous female snake is a contentious enemy, hence categorized as male, and had to be fought just like any Eritrean or Italian soldier at the Gordabia battle. But since we are dealing with the subject of deciding death's sex, male or female; and as we said when we started this story, "If it were male, one ought to defy it to the bitter end. But should it be female, one had to give in to it to the last breath." So far in this story, my father had kept up the resistance and never thought of surrender, which makes it reasonable to think that death is a male. But I have recently come to the conclusion that death is a female, because on the eighth of May 1985, my father gave in to death, moving no limb to resist her.
For the first time in my life I saw him give up resistance, and at times, even refused any outside inference between him and death, whose cause he seemed to defend as well. This made it clear that death was a female of the classical type of whom the Koran says " brought up among trinkets, and unable to give a clear account in a dispute," So now, there was my father, defending death against any outside intervention when he was quite able to put up a strong resistance. On the contrary, he gave in to death quietly and whole heartedly as though death had never been a bit frightful or had ever been that fully-armed fighter, whose appearance infused any brave man like my father with defiance.
Death's drums, which got louder, as they drew nearer, sounded just like one of Om Kalthooms's hypnotizing songs. The nearer death's procession, drew with the increasing and annoying noise of its drums, the more my father seemed to relax on his bed, smiling like a newly-born baby in a way that was incomprehensible to us. He became quieter and more placid to the extent that made us think that the noise of death's procession which frightened people in good health, was to the sick like a hypnotizing song by one of the popular Egyptian songs. It made me think that perhaps there was no need for any chemicals to anaesthetize the sick as a long Egyptian song was quite capable of having the same result.
But the doctor objected to this method, and expressed his displeasure at my meddling in his sphere of speciality. He assured me that all my conclusions were erroneous and had not a shred of truth in them; and as such, they could not be taken seriously. I was embarrassed talking about anaesthesia of which I knew very little and saved the doctor the embarrassment of telling me that by saying myself what he should have told me, but he preferred to keep silent: So I added, on his behalf of course, that I was completely ignorant of even the simplest facts of anaesthesia and its applications and that I had mixed up anaesthetizing the sick and hypnotizing the ones who were not ill, and that, perhaps I had exaggerated the effect of Egyptian songs when I thought they affected the sick. In fact, they affected only healthy people. They have been well-known to be so effective and so influential since 1948. They gave exciting results when they were experimented upon more than one million Arabs; but unfortunately, contrary to what I was expecting, it was necessary to use chemicals to knock out sick people needing surgery and other medical treatment as the songs were proved to have no effect on them. On the contrary, doctors advise, that sick people should not listen to these songs, for fear that they could cause complications, such as nausea.
in good health and their like, such as the emotionally disturbed
and mentally sick are advised to listen to these songs if they want
to get into an artificial state of lethargy or a non-chemical
anaesthesia. Doctors affirm that these songs have no complications
for these people. Of course, if they had any non-chemical
complications, the effect would be on these people's productivity
and welfare; but as far as their bodies are concerned, there is
nothing much to worry about. When I hinted that they might affect
the spirit or the mind, the doctor replied in a casual manner, "
Spirit ... mind ...mood ... etc ... abstract things ... as a
surgeon ... they mean little to me ". On the whole, the weaker my
father became, the more nervously tense we got ... agony stricken
and worried about him. Our tears flowed and now and again we wept,
while he smiled and relaxed as he went deeper into the coma of
death. Who knows?! Was it the death he fought in the battles of
Gordabia, Talla and Al-Malh? Was it the snake which ambushed him in
a forlorn desert and on other occasions?! Was it death, the proud,
bold, defiant and treacherous enemy whose self-confidence and
arrogance infused a fresh sense of provocation and recklessness
into his opponent? I do not think it was him. If it had been him,
there should have been no one to rival him in the art of cunning
and camouflage; because my father had hardly put up any resistance
as he used to do all his life when he always defeated and beat him
off despite the numerous fatal chances and occasions death
Therefore, death is a female; and as such one ought to give in to her up to one's last breath, and that is what my father now did. The conclusion is that death often fails in battle when he comes under a clamorous cloud of dust with black banners fluttering in the heart of the storm. In this case death thinks he is riding the favourite horse in the race, when, in actual fact, he is riding the horse of his own vanity, because in this way he drives his opponent to the extremes ... to defiance and recklessness, which eventually result in his defeat. Death in this manner, appears as a very brave fighter, who ought to be resisted to the bitter end; and resistance often leads to victory. But the fatal cases in which death wins easily are those in which death appears as a female. As we have affirmed in the beginning of this story, one ought to give in to a female up to the last breath. Surrender never leads to victory.
When death changes his tactics by appearing as a
female he expects his opponent to surrender in order to beat him
with the least of resistance. Thus death is sure to achieve his
purpose in the end, however long the struggle lasts, and will show
no mercy to his opponent no matter how submissive, cowardly, feeble
or weak-kneed he may be; even if he were a Sadat kind of person!
Therefore, if you wish to live long, you have to contend against
death as did my father, who never gave in to him even for a single
day and fearlessly fought him till his centennial birthday, despite
the fact that death tried to humiliate him at the age of thirty,
but was thwarted in his plans and had to suffer a snub. So, the
right decision to take is confrontation, because fleeing one's
country does not save one from death. The Koran says " Wherever you
are, death will find you out, even if you are in towers built up
strong and high, " But if death himself weakened and transformed
himself into a non-Jamaheriate or a non-Latin woman and came
forward peacefully unarmed, entered quietly and walked calmly in
slow and voluptuous movements until she invaded every inch of our
bodies, and made us ecstatic with charm and delight and began to
tickle us to mirth in the rapture of her love ... in such case, it
would be unmanly to resist her, much less to defy her ... and the
proper course of action to take, then, would be to surrender to her
pleasure completely till one's last breath of life ... and that is
what happened. >