Budapest's House of Terror
Travelling is a wonderful thing because it can teach us so much. We can see the world from a different perspective, one which we previously have not had. Allah mentions in the Quran, in Surah Al Hujarat 49:13-
“O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.”
I decided to go travelling to Budapest with some friends. It was the first time I had been to a landlocked, East European nation. Hungary has certainly had an interesting history of occupation; at one point, it was under control of the Ottomans, then the Austro-Hungarian Empire and has suffered at the hands of Nazism and Communism.
Other than the beautiful architecture the city has to offer, there is also a museum which is rather grim in nature. It is named the House of Terror, it explores the oppression faced by Hungarians under both Nazi occupation and Communist occupation.
Inside this museum, no photos are allowed to be taken. There are video exhibitions showing video clips, during both Nazi and Communist occupation. There are vigils for the long list of victims held under detention, many of whom were innocent beings, who merely wanted to earn a living.
However, there was one section of the museum which truly stunned me, the detention cells. The museum has reconstructed authentic detention chambers, where one can physically see the cells, the torture equipment, the execution area and worst of all, solitary confinement. Solitary confinement can be described as a vertical coffin, with a light bulb constantly shining at eye level. Just the very thought of what the prisoners went through was making me emotional and one could see how difficult it would be to keep one’s sanity in such appalling conditions. My friends and I literally could not spend too long there because we were feeling extremely negative.
To make it worse, I was thinking about our brothers and sisters who have not been convicted, have had charges invented against them, treated dishonourably and/or have committed no crime at all: Babar Ahmed, Shaker Aamer, Tarek Mehanna, Aafia Siddiqui, Samer Issawi etc. Unfortunately, this list is far from exhaustive. There are scores of Palestinian children who suffer in and out of Israeli jails, there’s oppression of the Rohingyas, Kashmiris and the list goes on. We cannot imagine or feel the physical and psychological abuse that is being inflicted on them, on a daily basis. This museum brought that to life, we can see the solitary confinement that would drive the average person to insanity and confess to any crime. You can see the instruments of torture, where one could be made to say anything and still, you wouldn’t be set free because in the eyes of the torturer, you are his/her plaything.
This museum further increased my desire to increase awareness of daily social injustices the world cares to forget about. It served as a reminder that as a Muslim, the acceptance of monotheism results in finding injustice intolerable. We all need reminders as our imaan becomes worn out like clothing. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said-
"Faith wears out in the heart of any one of you just as clothes wear out, so ask Allah to renew the faith in your hearts.” [Al Haakim’s Mustadrak]
The benefit of my trip to Budapest lay in me physically understanding how people are oppressed and tortured in hellholes. It connected me to our brethren, who are physically oppressed daily and I caught a small glimpse of what they have to deal with every single day of their lives.