|Written by Umm Alaa|
|Friday, 11 May 2012 21:12|
I have been called many things: an optimist, strong, patient, tough. The truth is, what I really feel I am, is blessed. And I share this with you to remind you how very blessed you are, too -- even when it might not seem like it.
Whenever afflicted by some calamity or test, one may choose to reflect upon the story of the passing away of Ibrahim, the son of our beloved Prophet Muhammad, may peace and blessings be upon him. Anas bin Malik, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated: "We went with Allah's Apostle to the blacksmith, Abu Saif, and he was the husband of the wet-nurse of Ibrahim. Allah's Apostle, peace and blessings be upon him, took Ibrahim and kissed him and smelled him and later we entered Abu Saif's house and at that time Ibrahim was taking his last breaths, and the eyes of Allah's Apostle started shedding tears. Abdur Rahman bin Auf said: 'O Allah's Apostle, even you are weeping!' The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, replied: 'Oh Ibn Auf, this is mercy'. Then he wept more and said, 'The eyes are shedding tears and the heart is grieved, and we will not say except what pleases our Lord. Oh Ibrahim! Indeed we are grieved by your separation'." (Sahih Al-Bukhari)
Indeed, even the ability to accept Allah's will with readiness and grace, is a blessing.
With the birth of a child, accompanies the birth of a mother and a father. If you have already had a child, each subsequent child is an opportunity to become "re-born" as a mother or father, and to renew your faith in Allah.
After our daughter's passing away, we were blessed with many caring visitors and callers. There were a few people who touched our lives in that extra special way, and I wish to share those moments of kindness, coupled with wisdom, with you readers...
Two families offered me their children to nurse. Another community member reminded us to keep in mind that Allah loves our child even more than we do. One of my friend's husbands called to offer his condolences. When I answered the phone, he politely asked how we were doing. I replied that we were at peace, Alhamdulillah (praise be to Allah). He continued, “And what beautiful words those are indeed.” SubhanAllah (glory be to Allah), it's one thing to utter the words, and quite another to sense the effect of their beauty.
Another friend left me a voice message. If you can imagine how awkward offering condolences can sometimes be in person, imagine doing it over voicemail! To this day, when I think back to her gentle voice and kind words, I feel the same comfort I felt the first time I heard them. She prayed that my (promised) meeting with my stillborn child at the door of paradise be the best healing ever.
A friend's mom called and shared with me a story, acknowledging that I might already have heard it before. I am glad that she did. She related to me a narration by Tirmidhi, may Allah be please with him, who reports from Abu Musa al-Ashari that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said: "When a child of a servant of Allah passes away, Allah says to the angels: 'Did you take the soul of My servant's child?' They say: 'Yes.' He, the Almighty, says: 'Did you take away the apple of my servant's eye? They say: 'Yes.' He, the Almighty, says: 'What did my servant say at this?' They say: 'He praised you and said: Inna lillaahi wa inna ilaihi rajiun (Verily we belong to Allah and to Him shall we return).' At this Allah says: 'Build for my servant a mansion in Paradise, and call it the House of Praise (Bayt al-Hamd)'."
There is definitely an etiquette involved in addressing a person after they have experienced some kind of loss, and when we share condolences, it is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate that etiquette beautifully.
I was also amazed at how many people -- practicing Muslims -- struggle with the concept of death in general, not just with how to appropriately address someone who has felt it so closely. Surely, people's experiences and responses can differ. I relate to you mine:
When people asked "What happened?!" I reminded them that Allah took His amanah (trust) back when He willed. My baby was to live only inside my womb. When people told me they were sorry for my loss, I pointed them to what I had gained -- a promise for paradise. When they felt sad that my baby had died, I reminded them of the joy I felt that she had lived -- a full nine months.
When my daughters said they wanted to play with their sister in this dunya (world), I reminded them how very special they were to already have one sister (each other) to play with in this dunya ,and one to play with in the akhirah (Heareafter), in jannah (Paradise), insha Allah (God willing). The twinkle in their eyes after hearing that was priceless! When they reflected on the things she could have had with them here, I reminded them that she can have all that and much, much more there (in paradise). They understood very quickly. It was a win-win situation, as long as we were patient and put our faith where it belonged: in Allah. Though easier to speak than endure, it really is a small price to pay for eternal bliss with those whom you love, whether or not they are still with you in this dunya. And imagine the purity of that child who had the best of this dunya, so close to her mother's heart, and the best of akhirah, so close to Allah.
The reality, dear readers, is that it is certain when one experiences life, then s/he will also experience death. Allah tells us in the Quran: "Every soul shall have taste of death; in the end to Us shall you be brought back." (Ch. 29, v. 57)
The key is neither to fear nor obsess about death, rather, it is to prepare oneself and those you love to submit to the will of Allah with grace, when faced with it. Verily, "On no soul does Allah place a burden greater than it can bear..." (Quran, Ch. 2, v. 286) ■