An Iranian war veteran, who recently embraced martyrdom after 28 years of struggling with agonizing injuries, has been laid to rest.
Rajjab Mohammad-Zadeh, affectionately known as Haj Rajab and Baba Rajab, died of cardiac and pulmonary arrest at Razavi Hospital in Mashhad on Thursday and was laid to rest a day later.
He had had shrapnel sprayed onto his face after a mortar round hit a barricade he was minding together with three of his fellow soldiers in 1988, defending Iran against invading Iraqi forces.
The projectile instantly caused the death of two of the serviceman. Another lost an arm and a leg, dying years later, but it was Haj Rajab who lived on to wrestle with mountainous pain for decades to come.
The icon, a baker by profession, had 30 years of age when he was first dispatched to the warfront.
He is survived by his spouse — who had been unfalteringly tending to him ever since the injury — and six children.
Mauled by war, soothed by faith
Haj Rajab once recalled the moment he was hit, recounting with a barely-audible voice how “the mortar suddenly hit the barricade and I lost consciousness after feeling that I had lost a lot of blood.”
He has also been famously quoted by his wife as saying, “If we are religiously obligated to say our prayers and fast, then we are likewise obligated to go to the warfront [to defend our country].”
Rajab Mohammad-Zadeh holding an identification card he would use while serving in the war (file photo)
Iran’s Majlis (Parliament) Speaker Ali Larijani and Mohsen Rezaei, a former wartime commander and secretary of Iran’s Expediency Council, have condoled the survivors on his passing.
“‘Baba Rajab’ neither complained nor condescended,” Rezaei wrote on his Instagram page. “Chemical agents had blocked his respiratory tract, but he was breathing in the company of angels,” he wrote. “Woe on those who have seen him and have stopped short of serving God and the people.”
Then-Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein waged a war on Iran in the 1980s.