“From Leili Plain to Majnoun Island”

With memoirs of Afghan combatants of Sacred Defense

Shima Donyadar Rostami
Translated by M. B. Khoshnevisan


It can be said that today, after the passing of 30 years from the imposed war of the Saddam’s army against Islamic Republic of Iran, the oral memories of most guilds and strata of people who were present in the scared defense have been told and some of them have been written in the form of oral history. Nevertheless, we know less about the presence of Afghan combatants in the war fronts.

The book “From Leili Plain to Majnoun Island: Memoirs of Afghan Combatants of Scared Defense” is the first work which deals with the memories of these combatants. It has been researched and compiled by Mohammad Sarvar Rajaee; his origin is Afghan who is known in Iran more as a poet and journalist. He was born in Kabul in 1969 and studied in this city. Since 1985 and after joining one of the jihadi parties of Afghanistan, he was engaged in cultural works and immigrated to Iran in 1995. 

In the first glance, it can be acknowledged that “From Leili Plain to Majnoun Island” has been compiled very well. This can be found out through the first pages of the book because the audience right on the very first pages, sees a picture of a letter and a childish painting written for the combatants who were present in the war, and this adds up to the reader's passion for reading the book. 

The writer of “From Leili Plain to Majnoun Island” starts the book with a comprehensive introduction and talks about the history of resistance of the people of Afghanistan and the rise and fall of various powers and governments in the country.    

Parts of the book’s introduction have been allocated to the writer’s attempts for satisfying the narrators for recording their memories. He believes that the Afghan combatants who were present in the Sacred Defense have little desire to express their memories. In part of the book’s introduction (page 25), we read, “The Afghan combatants were present from Ahvaz to Fav and Majnoun Island, to Bazideraz Altitudes and Rijab and Dalahou Mountains, Nowsood, Gologader in western Iran and even in the depth of the Iraqi soil. Many of the interviews have already been published in Rah Magazine. But when I set them for the book while bursting into tears, I conducted additional interviews to fix the imperfections. I hope that this book will cause those who do not know anything from the silence of the cold night of we who have given martyrs, are informed. 

Given the book’s subjects focus on the memoirs of the people of Afghanistan, the writer has tried to use the words, idioms and the structure of the narrators’ sentences as much as possible in order to keep the originality of the interviews and before bringing the “introduction”, in a section entitled “prologue”, he has included a short dictionary of glossary terms and repetitive words throughout the book to help the readers to read it easily. 

The first chapter of the book titled “Joint Blood” has a quick look at the response of Afghanistan to the Islamic Revolution and the Sacred Defense of Iran. Bringing this historical record helps the audience to better understand the memories of Afghan combatants in Iraq's imposed Iraq war against Iran. The writer described the 1977 coup d'état in Afghanistan and the victory of the Islamic Revolution in February 1978 as two decisive events that affected the Middle East.  

The method of occurrence of Communist revolution in Afghanistan, how post-revolution Iran dealt with the Communist Afghanistan, the support Imam Khomeini (God bless his soul) from the uprising of Afghan Muslims, the entrance of Soviet Union to Afghanistan, the immigration of Afghan Muslims to Iran and Pakistan and consequently, the presence of Afghan Mujahedin (fighters) in the Sacred Defense are among the subjects the writer has referred to them in the first chapter. In part of the book’s page 36, we read, “Although the Islamic revolution was known well with the lasting slogan “Neither East, Nor West”, the leader of the ruling  Communist Party ruling over Afghanistan, Nour Mohammad Taraky, had another idea from the revolution. After the overthrow of the pro-American government in Iran, he believed that the Islamic Revolution of Iran was also a kind of labor revolution; therefore, he sent a congratulatory message to Imam Khomeini. Imam did not respond to this message by knowing the nature of the communist government and its leaders."

The author's disambiguation is appreciated in the subtitles of the book's pages. He not only decoded some terms, places, beliefs, parties, movements, instruments, or different types of weapons, but even disambiguated even from his original purpose and goal to express a particular subject.

Also, the author of " From Leili Plain to Majnoun Island" (in page 44) in analyzing the reason for the participation of the Afghan combatants in the Sacred Defense, the author says, "After the expansion of jihad and the nationwide protests of the Afghan people against the communist regime and the aggressive forces of the Soviet Union, the campaigning way of the Afghan Mujahedin was also changed. Iran and Pakistan rushed to help the people of Afghanistan through supporting the jihadist parties. They trained the Mujahedin, gave them weapons and backed logistically. Although Pakistan was engaged in any war, it had a unilateral approach in supporting the Afghan Mujahedin; in a way that it always supported the Sunni jihadist parties and never backed the Afghan Shia Mujahedin clearly. This dividing policy continued until the ending years of the jihad. When the Afghan Mujahedin acquired military skills at Iran's military training bases, the majority of them left for the Iranian fronts for a while for fulfilling their obligations and seeking more war experience. But the main reason for their presence on the fronts of Iran has been the religious motive and obedience to the command of Imam Khomeini, because many of the Mujahedin were the followers of Imam Khomeini (God bless his soul)."  

Since most Iranians are not familiar with the jihad of the people of Afghanistan, the study of the book's first chapter which deals with the analysis of the historical process of the struggles of the Afghan people against the Communist regime and the occupation of their country by the Soviet Union, can contribute to boost the insight of the audience regarding the jihad of the Afghan people.

The author's approach in addressing the Afghan combatants present during the Scared Defense is in such a way that they are called as borderless campaigners and the jihadists in the path of God. The campaigners some of whom had been born in remote villages and in central Afghanistan, but their martyrdom have been recorded beyond the boundaries of Iran and inside Iraq. Thus, it is not strange that the first martyred campaigner considered in the book which has been introduced from the language of his brother (Hamid Reza Saeedi) is an Iranian martyr of the jihad of Afghanistan named "Ahmad Reza Saeedi".

After the narrator (Hamid Reza Saeedi) refers briefly to the story of the immigration of his brother to Afghanistan, in the book's page 53, we read from his language, "When the Iran-Iraq war broke out, Ahmad was in Afghanistan and it was God's will that he was martyred there. The news of his martyrdom was unexpected. I had just come back from leave when the door's house was knocked. When I opened the door, I faced with some of the guys of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) from the office of liberation movements. They came home and gave me a bag and said, "Saeedi's brother has been martyred in Afghanistan and buried there." It was a bitter news and hard to believe…"

Mohammad Sarvar Rajaee in all of his interviews presents a black and white image from the narrator of that memory. Then, he deals briefly with the story of his acquaintance with the narrator in the form of the "first person" and afterwards has recorded the narrator's memoirs about his presence in the scared defense fronts. Therefore, 17 Afghan narrators have talked about how and why they took part in the scared defense fronts and the book's second chapter entitled "From Leili Plain to Majnoun Island" has been formed.

The interviews of the book are out of question and answer, and the narrator expresses his memories in the form of the first person. Also, at the end of each interview, color images have been recorded from the presence of the Afghan narrators of the sacred defense. 

In page 355 of "From Leili Plain to Majnoun Island" in part of the memoirs of Nasser Ghayeni about his presence in the sacred defense fronts, we read, "My late father was a cleric and had strong religious beliefs. He once told me, "Nasser, the jihad has been forgotten now and with such conditions, it is not worth being martyred. You'd better choose another way." I said goodbye with the Afghanistan's Front upon my father's recommendation and left for Iran. My aim of coming to Iran was new military training that I had to learn and came back to Afghanistan. Thus, I went to Mashhad again. Once, as I was listening to the radio, the message of Imam Khomeini was broadcast. The content of the message was that it is obligatory for every Muslim to go to the war fronts. Any able person must defend Islam. The message inspired me. I went to Mashhad's Ali al-Naghi Mosque and enrolled as a Basiji voluntarily. Thus, I was sent to the southern fronts and 13 months later, I was injured in a chemical attack."

The book ends with an interview entitled "Afghan Abuzars in Iran's war" which is considered as the work's third chapter and attachment. In this chapter, an interview was conducted with Mohammad Reza Hakim Javadi, the Commander of Abuzar Brigade (the brigade of Afghan mujahedin) in the scared defense in the form of question and answer.

“From Leili Plain to Majnoun Island: Memoirs of Afghan Combatants of Scared Defense” is a book from the "Ganj" collection of Ma'aref Publications which has been released in 2000 copies and in 524 pages.           

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