The way life can change instantly is hard to comprehend sometimes. We tend to go through the motions of everyday life and within a split second, everything can change. For example, death is something that will eventually be a reality for us all. We are told about this explicitly in the Quran by Allah SWT in Surah Al-Imran:
“Every soul will taste death, and you will only be given your [full] compensation on the Day of Resurrection. So he who is drawn away from the Fire and admitted to Paradise has attained [his desire]. And what is the life of this world except for the enjoyment of delusion.” (3: Ayah 185)
Like many of us, my family have come across death a few times. A memory that will stay with me forever is seeing my mother’s face when my grandmother died. Sitting in a room of women, with my mother next to me unable to talk still haunts me to this day. Three years on, my mother still struggles to even talk about her own mother and when she does come up in conversation, my mother becomes silent. She is unable to communicate her grief. Death is hard to comprehend, deal with and at times accept. However, at the first sign of loss, we are told to also utter the following words from Surah Baqarah:
“To Allah we belong and to Him we return.” (2: Ayah 156)
What a timely reminder for us all. We do not belong to this world as we have been told countless times in hadiths and the Noble Quran. I also truly believe, now bear with me here, that from such a tragic, painful loss, something strangely good and positive came about from losing my grandmother. Some of you might have stopped reading at this point, but just hear me out.
Through that loss, we were able to re-establish contact with my uncle, who we have spent years trying to find. As painful as that family reunion was, we now finally feel like a family. We still feel her loss. Of course, I miss speaking to my ayeeyo on the phone even though our talks were brief and more significantly, I know my mum misses her mum dearly. But how blessed and grateful we are for having him back in our lives alhamdulilah. How blessed are we to re-connect and most important of all, how blessed is my mother to finally find her youngest brother- the only living relative she has in the U.K. I am in no way belittling our loss but what is staggering to me is how through such a loss, we as a family are now closer. As Allah says in Surah Ash-Sharh:
“For indeed, with hardship [will be] ease.
Indeed, with hardship [will be] ease.” (94: Ayah 5-6)
However, nothing would prepare me for the loss I experienced recently. A dear friend of mine passed away suddenly. It’s staggering how that phone conversation almost feels like an echo in my mind. Hearing my other friend trying to communicate this news to me is something that will stay with me for a long time. All I could do is sit down and stare into what felt like oblivion.
My friend was someone who radiated happiness and positivity. Whenever I saw her, regardless of how my day was going, her smile was enough to make myself and many others feel some form of ease. Writing this now, it’s hard not to reflect on the many moments we shared together. The absolute hardest thing for many of us right now is talking about her in past tense.
Despite this immense sadness and pain, I can’t help but be so very blessed that Allah gave me the chance to have her in my life. She was to me, a model of what deen and akhlaaq should be masha’Allah. We constantly talked about things we would do together and yet it never happened. As I write this, another memory creeps up to my mind and honestly, I am grateful for the memories. Yes, it was a short time we had her but alhamdulillah for Allah allowing my path to cross with hers. What more could I ask for?
The ayahs I mentioned above are words that we can find ourselves saying in passing. I know that when I myself hear of a tragic event, I do exactly the same. Then I go back to life and its ups and downs. Yet, the loss of my friend is probably the first time I have ever truly tried to reflect on these ayahs from Allah SWT and what they actually mean. I guess it goes back to what I was trying to mention before- in times of extreme tragedy, pain and loss, we are told that Allah is there. He always was. That in some way, a minute shift can happen in your life after a loss for better or sometimes, worse. But it is important that we try to learn from these experiences. People who knew my friend, closely and as an acquaintance, have all said to me that her death is a timely reminder. Her very death is a lesson to us and a warning to take stock of life. Even more pertinently, this has been said by my Muslim and non-Muslims friends alike.
We as human beings can naturally take things for granted. We can be forgetful about the things that truly matter. We can involve ourselves in very futile matters that in the grand scheme of things are exactly that- futile. I know for sure I do. Life is a series of mini-lessons, and death is probably the one major lesson my friends and I are trying to learn from at this moment. Death can feel like its torn through you but what I have found now is that it forces you to reflect. It forces you to reflect on your very existence and what you can do in order to take the necessary steps forward to become a better version of yourself. This is the most difficult thing for me. It has taken the loss of my friend for us to just really think about this wayward thing we call life and how little time we have to cultivate a life that is in conjunction with our beautiful deen.
I hope you know that I am in no way belittling what loss can do to people. Loss is indeed a form of trauma and as with anything, dealing with loss takes time. It is also important to seek help if needed and not be ashamed of it. As a friend of mine said, “just make sure you allow yourself to feel as much as possible.” I also know that at some point, I will have to go back to therapy and talk about this pain with my therapist. I guess me writing this is a way of trying to deal with the range of emotions I feel. This piece of writing probably reflects this as even as I write, I feel like I am unable to truly communicate what I feel at this point. I do feel a contradiction of emotions. My heart feels this heaviness but when I think of her face, I smile. She’s never far from my thoughts. It is a reminder for myself first and foremost- be as prepared as possible. We have been given the guide from Allah, it is now up to us. I end this with a reminder for myself first and foremost, which is an authentic hadith from the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him:
“Ibn Abbas reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Take advantage of five before five: your youth before your old age, your health before your illness, your riches before your poverty, your free time before your work, and your life before your death.”
Source: Shu’ab al-Imān 9575
Grade: Sahih (authentic) according to Al-Albani
We wish the writer much ease Insha Allah. Ameen
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