The Bright Eyes of Fadil Fejzic

Fadil Fejzic, is someone I would want to meet.

Muslim man in Central Bosnia (A James Mason photo)

I read this story in James Alison’s new book Undergoing God, but it’s Chris Hedges, a war correspondent who covered the Bosnian war, who met Fadil and tells his story in his provocatively entitled book, War is a Force that gives us Meaning.

Hedges tells of meeting the Soraks, a Bosnian Serb couple in a largely Muslim enclave.

The couple had been largely indifferent to the nationalist propaganda of the Bosnian Serb leadership. But when the Serbs started to bomb their town, Goražde, the Muslim leadership in the town became hostile to them, and eventually the Soraks lost their two sons to Muslim forces. In the city under siege, conditions got worse and worse, and in the midst of this Rosa Sorak’s recently widowed daughter-in-law gave birth to a baby girl. With the food shortages, the elderly and infants were dying in droves, and after a short time, the baby, given only tea to drink, began to fade.

Meanwhile, on the eastern edge of Goražde, Fadil Fejzic, an illiterate Muslim farmer, kept his cow, milking her by night so as to avoid Serbian snipers. On the fifth day of the baby having only tea, just before dawn, Fejzic appeared at the door with half a litre of milk for the baby. He refused money. He came back with milk every day for 442 days, until the daughter in law and granddaughter left for Serbia. During this time he never said anything. Other families in the street started to insult him, telling him to give his milk to Muslims and let the Chetnik (the pejorative term for Serbs) die. But he did not relent.

Later the Soraks moved, and lost touch with Fejzic. But Hedges went and sought him out. The cow had been slaughtered for meat before the end of the siege, and Fejzic had fallen on hard times. But, as Hedges says, When I told him I had seen the Soraks, his eyes brightened. "And the baby?" he asked "How is she?"

If these are not the eyes of Christ, the eyes of Allah, the eyes of Mother God, I don’t know who’s are. If this action, this gift, is not worship incarnate I have no idea what worship is, no idea what Christianity is.

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  1. The story moved me too……and your assertion that it doesn’t matter whether we call Fejzic’s bright eyes at the thought of the baby the eyes of Christ or of Allah or of Mother God brought tears. This IS the heart of religion and faith, and it really, really doesn’t matter how we refer to her. (Chris Hedges, btw, is not someone evangelical Christians tend to approve of — what are you doing reading and quoting him?)

  2. have you read the story called
    Where Love Is, God Is?
    by Leo Tolstoy.
    It is also a wonderful claymation video called Martin the Cobble.
    The bottom line of the story is that Jesus is in each of us if we have eyes to see and when we learn to love each other in acts of self-forgetting charity we begin to live with God and for God .

    The particulars of the external religion (or of no religion) have very little to do with it.

    The God’s purposes transcend all the particulars and finds unity in love.

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