Celebrating Syrian Women series.
One of the most celebrated heroic stories in Syria is the story of the Battle of Maysalun in 1920 between French forces and the forces of the Kingdom of Syria. The battle was not equal and impossible to win by the Syrians, a reality that was acknowledged by the Syrian soldiers and their famous leader Yusuf Al-‘Azma who was the minister of defense, but they were determined to make the occupation of Syria by France difficult, and that they will fight no matter what. The battle ended by the death of Minister Al-‘Azma as the French forces were able to enter Damascus.
But there is someone who is always left out in this well known historical event. A Syrian Kurdish woman who participated in this battle and it is said that Minister Al-‘Azma died in her presence. Her name is Nazik Al Abid. Captain Nazik Al Abid who shared with the Minister a small spark of dream that they would stop the occupation of their country, and she took the decision to be part of in of achieving this unattainable dream. Nazik Al Abid is always left out from the documentation of that prominent battle in the history of modern Syria, and this is why she is called by many researchers and scholars: The Forgotten Damascene Sword.
Born to a prestigious family in 1887, she learned Arabic, French, German and English. She was a photographer and loved music, and she showed attention in medical care. Nazik went to school in Mosel – Iraq, as her father was appointed a mayor by the Ottoman authorities. There, she organized a cowed in the school to protest the arrogance and discrimination by Turkish teachers against Arab girls, she was suspended from school to return back to Damascus. She was part in establishing the red cross in Syria. Nazik took on her shoulder the cause of women freedom and rights, as she called for her country’s freedom and independence. She participated in writing articles in the first magazine issued by a Syrian journalist Mary Ajami, her pen also visited another newspaper called “Lisan Al Arab.” Nazik used her pen to call for educating women. Then she started to print her own women magazine called “Nour Al Faiha’a.” Afterwords, she established the Damascene Women Club.
When Captin Nazik Al Abid returned back from The Battle of Maysalun, the French colonizers sentenced her into exile in Istanbul for two years. However, she did not stop the struggle against them. She was determined to free her country, so the French sentenced her to exile again, this time in Jordan. Nazik couldn’t return back to her country till she wrote a pledge that she will leave political life, but she never left social and humanitarian service in her community. When the Great Syrian Revolution Started, Nazik secretly helped the rebels, it is said that she used to disguise as a man to take aid to those who needed it. Nazik was born with a cause.
Nazik married a Lebanese man and moved with her husband to Beirut. With her, her devotion to serve and help women came along. In her fall, she started a council for mothers in order to help Lebanese women to improve their situation. Captain Nazik Al Abid passed away in 1959 leaving behind a legacy of a fearless and passionate Syrian woman. Her name “Nazik” means the gentle and kind woman, but this extraordinary woman was far more than that.