‘The House Expands for Everyone’: Hospitality After ISIS

Our colleague, Tariq, lives and works in Mosul, Iraq. His family home was destroyed in the war with ISIS. You are bringing life back to the city by helping locals start small businesses. Tariq manages our work in Mosul through our local partner. Tariq and his family recently observed Eid al-Fitur, a three-day celebration that marks the end of Ramadan. He reflected on what the holiday was like for his family this year, the first after liberation from ISIS.

The third day of Eid—it is a day when all of our family meets in one place.

It was my father’s motto that the house should fit everyone.

In our family, that means 11 boys and girls, 50 grandchildren and great-grandchildren—as well as visiting relatives who take this opportunity to visit the whole family in one place—to exchange congratulations and joy.

Tariq’s former family home, destroyed in the war with ISIS. Photo by Tariq Alqassar.

My mother, despite everything, she is the one who brought the joy over the years. She supervised the preparation of the Eid meal and made sure to choose items that suit everyone.

Screaming kids fill the house, banging, in spite of the huge yard outside. It makes you feel like you are in a tiny box that is not six feet long. One child says, “He hit me!” and the other one complains, “He is picking on me!” And another is crying because he can’t find his money. [It is customary for children to receive a small amount of money as a gift for Eid.]

Women are busy all over the house.

The only quiet one in all this noise is my father. He sits in his place and grabs the remote control to find channels with political analysis or programs. It’s fun. I still wonder how he can concentrate in spite of all that noise. He only moves from his spot when he sees a child who didn’t yet get the little gift of money for Eid.

The house we rent now [after our home was destroyed in the war with ISIS] is quite small compared to our old house. Despite that, my father insists that family traditions remain the same.

I tell him, “Dad, the house won’t fit all these numbers.” My father smiles and repeats my words.

“The house expands for everyone. The house expands for everyone,” my father replies.

“Even if ISIS succeeds in destroying our homes, we will not allow them to succeed in destroying our hearts.”

Happy holiday for my family, and for all the families of Iraq.

We’re not going to let them destroy our hearts.