German Institute on Radicalization
and De-radicalization Studies

Open Letter to our Sons and Daughters in Syria and Iraq

One June 3rd 2015 Mothers for Life released an open letter to the “Islamic State” on various social media sites. This CVE counter-narrative campaign was designed by GIRDS in cooperation with mothers from around the world and went by the book.
The most important facts:

  • the letter or articles about our letter were shared and recommended about 7,000 times on Facebook alone.
  • the letter was translated into eight languages: Turkish, German, Arabic, French, Italian, Dutch, Beligan, and Spanish
  • we received the first response from the “Islamic State” after 3 1/2 hours after we first published the letter. In the first wave they tried to scorn our letter and in the second they tried to use the publicity around it for their own advantage.
  • mothers from many more countries (e.g. the Netherlands, the United States) have reached out to us to ask for help and to become members of the network

Our Letter in English


From Mothers for Life

We are all sisters and do not know any borders or nationalities. We currently come from seven different countries and have yet experienced the same story. We speak the same language of motherhood, and we are waiting for your return, but waiting in vain. We, your mothers brought you in this world, loved and cherished you.

“Allah has enjoined on man kindness to his parents; in pain did his mother bear him, and in pain, did she give him birth” (Quran:46:15). We, your mothers, taught you many things but most importantly justice, freedom, honour and compassion for all of God’s creation and for every human being. Every human being belongs to the wonder of life. That wonder of life in all its essence, that we were part of together and were meant to be together, was taken from us. Why?

Someone, told you that another life, beyond this one that we share together is more important, more valuable than the life with your mother. They told you to leave us and fight for justice and honour and eventually give up your life in order to find “that other life”.

But we, your mother also fought for justice and honour, when we gave life to you, gladly suffering and fighting through pain for you, caring for you and nurturing you to health when you were sick and healing your spirit when you were sad or alone. This is the honour, freedom and justice we fight for and we defend with our lives and by passing these principles on to you, our children. Your needs were always first and we were your first window into this world. We never wanted to shield you from it, but be part of it, with every one of your gifts as part of humanity and the Ummah. This was, and is, our Jihad through sacrifice and dedication to you.

We did not want you to leave. We want you to return. We want you to live. Even if you think death will give you that “better” life, remember that even the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said: ‘Paradise lies at the feet of your mother’ [Musnad Ahmad, Sunan An-Nasâ’i, Sunan Ibn Mâjah]. By leaving us against our will to give up your own life and take those of others, you have put our struggle, pain and honour under your feet and walked over it. (Abdullah ibn Amr related that the Messenger of Allah said: The major sins are to believe that Allah has partners, to disobey one’s parents, to commit murder, and to bear false witness (Bukhari, Muslim).

Someone told you that we do not have the true faith, and your brothers and sisters in Syria and Iraq are more important than your brothers and sisters here at home. But we need you most. Our bond was, and is, above all others and it is eternal. We will always remain your mothers. We will always wait in vain for your return, left alone in this life.

How can you realize tawheed when you separate what belongs together by God’s will: mother and child? How can you believe that you have left Jahiliyya behind, when you ignored what your own mother hoped and wished for?

And how can you claim to hate and love for the sake of Allah (subhan-a watala), when you declare your own mother to be an enemy of the Ummah, while you know that we, the mothers, maintain the Ummah of humanity everywhere and not just in the background.

We know that some of you went to become the “true Muslims” and seek out justice and to protect the helpless. But is this justice that you leave your mothers and sisters unprotected? Is that the “true manhood” you were told about, to force us in the open and talk about this never healing wound?
To those of you who think about Hijra and leaving your mothers behind, we say: think again, listen to your heart and your mother. Think about why you want to leave her behind and take the most beloved thing from her, hurting her more than anything else ever could.
“Thy Lord hath decreed that ye worship none but Him, and that ye be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in thy life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honor. And out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility, and say: ‘My Lord! bestow on them Thy Mercy even as they cherished me in childhood’ “(Quran 17:23-24).

To those mothers who do not know what to do we say; “ask those for help who have gone through the same process. We can help you to recognize, to understand and to prevent.” Contact us, if you want to speak to other mothers and parents who understand and can point you into the right direction.
To those in charge of making decisions we say: We are the mothers left behind and we must be heard. We need to be supported, and our stories prove that many things have gone wrong. We have been lied to, left without help, and sometimes it was possible for those taking our children away to do so, because you were turning a blind eye.

We will not stay silent and we will not go away. We are Mothers for Life.

Get in touch with us here or follow us on on Facebook or Twitter (Mothers_4_Life or GIRD_S)