Thursday, 29 August 2013

Beauty in Death.....

“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”  Mark Twain

Last week, I received a sms from a dear friend, informing me that her father, Uncle K, had passed away that afternoon, at her hometown. He was involved in a road accident. The first thing that came to my mind  was….

            Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un”
            "Surely we belong to Allah and to Him shall we”

 I met her parents’ years ago. Her father was very friendly and always giving us advice. He treated us like his own children. I was devastated when I got the news and I wanted to know what had really happened but I thought that it wouldn’t be a good time to call and ask. After replying the sms, offering my condolences to her, I made a mental note to call her later.

Today, I spoke to this friend of mine. After asking how she was and how her mum was holding up, I asked her exactly what had happened. She told me that her father was on his motorbike and he was hit by a moving trailer lorry. He had suffered massive internal injury.

Neither she or her mum was with her father when the accident happened. Her father was brought to the hospital unconscious but had died despite efforts to resuscitate him.

As she was talking, my eyes got all teary but it was not because of sadness but happiness. No……I’m not mad! I assure you that I am still sane but what my friend related to me next, was the source of my happiness.

My dearest friend told me that her father had met with an accident, on his way to the mosque for Friday prayers.

It was narrated that ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Amr said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “There is no Muslim who dies during the day of Friday or the night of Friday but Allaah will protect him from the trial of the grave.”

Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 1074; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Ahkaam al-Janaa’iz, p. 49, 50

It was narrated on the authority of Jaabir ibn ‘Ateek r.a. that the Prophet SAW, said that besides martyrdom for the sake of Allaah The Almighty (i.e. in the battle field), there are seven other types of martyrs: the victim of plague, the person who drowns, the victim of pleurisy, the victim of an abdominal ailment, the person who is burned, the person who dies beneath a collapsed structure and the woman who dies while giving birth. [Maalik, Abu Daawood, An-Nasaa’i and Ibn Maajah]
 Some Islamic scholars are of the view that anyone who dies in a car accident, also falls into category of martyrdom.
My friend continued telling me that there were so many people, who came to pay their respect to her father that the house was jam-packed. Anyone who didn’t know, would think that there was a wedding instead of a funeral, by the amount of people that was present. Uncle K was very well liked and loved by everyone. My friend used to joke that her father was so famous and known to the people in the city, that if he were to run for election, he would have won hands down.

She told me that when her father was brought back from the hospital, bathed and shrouded, he looked like he was sleeping, so peaceful and calm. He even had a smile on his face. Prior to that, my friend was informed by a witness, that he held Uncle K in his lap while Uncle K recited the shahadah before he became unconscious and the doctors at the hospital told her that Uncle K had sweat on his forehead when he passed away.

Mu'ath (radiyallahu anhu) reported that the Prophet :saw: said, "He whose last words are 'La ilaha illa 'Llah' will enter Jannah."
Narrated Ahmad

Buraydah bin al-Khasib (radiyallahu anhu) was in Khurasan when he visited a sick brother. He found him at the verge of death, and noticed that his forehead was covered with sweat. So he said, "Allahu akbar! I heard Allah's Messenger say, 'A believer dies with a sweaty forehead.'"
Narrated by Ahmad

MasyaAllah! SubhanAllah!!!! To me, Uncle K’s death was truly a beautiful death. Then, my friend told me that her uncle had passed away two weeks ago whilst the imam was reciting dua during Friday prayers and sometime during Ramadhan, I read about a man who died whilst doing sujud in the mosque. MasyaAllah……..

These are people whom God Al Mighty had bestowed upon them such wonderful privilege. Their death is so beautiful that I long and pray for such death when my time is up.

Who is Uncle K anyway? Uncle K is a very pious man. During his last Ramadhan he managed to finish reciting the Quran twice. He made sure that he read every Quran in the house so that none will get dusty. He was ever ready to help anyone in trouble. He gave away a considerable amount of his money to charity without anyone’s knowledge, not even the wife. The day before his death, which was a Thursday, was the last day which he completed his sunnah fasting for Syawal.

Narrated from Anas ibn Maalik (may Allaah be pleased with him) who said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “When Allaah wills good for His slave, He uses him.” They said, “How does He use him?” He said, “He guides him to do good deeds before he dies.” Narrated by Imam Ahmad, 11625; al-Tirmidhi, 2142; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in al-Silsilah al-Saheehah, 1334. 

The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “When Allaah wills good for His slave, He sweetens him.” He was asked, “What is this sweetening?” He said, “Allaah guides him to do righteous deeds before he dies, then He takes (his soul) whilst he is in that state.” Narrated by Ahmad, 17330; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in al-Silsilah al-Saheehah, 1114. 

After talking to my dear friend, I sat down, wondering about my fate and how my death would be? I know that I still have tons of sins to atone for and I fervently hope that I still have the time to do so.

We don’t know when the Angel of Death would be knocking on our doors, demanding for the return of our souls. Lets us pray that when the time comes, we are in a state of committing good and righteous deeds and not whilst committing sins! 

Let us also pray that Uncle K’s soul is placed amongst the righteous….Ameen…..

Monday, 26 August 2013

For Better or For Worse....

“It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.”  Friedrich Nietzsche

Everyone dreams of a fairy tale, happily ever after marriage. The question is, does it exist? Or is it a myth? Have you ever wondered why keeping a friendship strong is easier than keeping a marriage? Why is it that with friends we can always work out our differences but with our spouses we can’t seem to talk things over?

Recently, my husband and I celebrated our wedding anniversary together. The funny thing is, we both actually forgot about our anniversary and we only realised it two days after that and to top it off, this is the 2nd time in a row, it has happened! Gosh! We really are getting old.

Years ago, I would be terribly upset if my husband were to forget about my birthday or our anniversary.  Years ago, I expected him to remember and to plan something special to mark the special days. I even expected special gifts. I expect, expect and expect.

Thinking back, it was actually selfish of me to impose such expectations on that poor man whom I call husband and to get visibly upset when he does not fulfil it. I think I drove him mental with my expectations. I mean, he can’t possible read my mind and know exactly what I wanted, right?  Even I didn’t know exactly what was on his mind. He had enough on his plate, with trying to provide for the family, without me adding to it with my silly notion of romanticism.

Don’t get wrong, I’m not saying that a married couple shouldn’t be romantic but putting unreasonable expectation of what romance should be on spouses could very well be putting unnecessary pressure on marriage and on each other. The Wise Owl had once said to me, “Sister, when you don’t have expectations then you will be pleasantly surprise and contented with life”. Of course, when he said that, I thought to myself “yeah right!” but I decided to try his advice nevertheless.

I started with listing down all the negative things, about my husband. Hhmm….quite a short list and none of it unislamic….then I started listing down all the positive things about him. …oh my!!! What a long list!!! Right there, all my grouses and complaints about him seemed very trivial. I have been harping about the small insignificant things that I had actually lost track of the important matters. At that moment, I started thinking, that if my husband was to draw up the same list as I did, about me, the negative list would probably be longer than the positive…errrkkkk!!! Better not suggest that he does it….

Now, 15 years down road, I have more or less gotten a little bit wiser ( I hope). I learnt that rather than getting upset about our expectations not being met by our spouses, it is better try to focus on the things that they are doing right. Try to appreciate the things that they do out of love, for us.

Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in (the husband's) absence what Allah would have them guard.”
Surah An-Nisa 4:34

When we stop having expectation and accept everything that comes our way, in stride, then anything extra, anything unexpected, is actually a bonus. The Wise Owl was actually right.

Also, sometimes in the heat of the moment, especially when we are angry, we women tend to dig up old wounds and throw them back to our husbands. We tend to have temporary lapse of memory, especially when we are irritated or mad with our husbands and we sometimes accuse them of not doing anything nice or romantic for us, ever. I know I have been guilty of that in the past…oh!…Some men do that also….

            Hadith - Bukhari 1:28, Narrated Ibn'Abbas
The Prophet SAW said: "I was shown the Hell-fire and that the majority of its dwellers were women who were ungrateful." It was asked, "Do they disbelieve in Allah?" (or are they ungrateful toAllah?) He replied, "They are ungrateful to their husbands and are ungrateful for the favors and the good (charitable deeds) done to them. If you have always been good (benevolent) to one of them and then she sees something in you (not of her liking), she will say, 'I have never received any good from you."

For the ladies, accept your husbands as leaders and Imams. Respect them and they will in turn respect you. Treat them as how you would want to be treated.

For the men, always remember that your wives are given to you by God, on trust. Lead them well as you are solely responsible for them. They are fragile and need constant tender loving care, for them to bloom.  Love them unconditionally and you will find a loyal companion for life.

I have learn to count my blessings now. My husband is still not the most romantic person. He doesn’t buy me flowers or expansive jewelleries or even take me out for candlelight dinner but…….

I am thankful for all the times that my husband was by my side when I gave birth to all our children, even though he was not allowed in the OT for the 1st three and I think he almost fainted when he was finally allowed in for the 4th.
I am thankful he was by my side when we lost our babies.
I am thankful for the times when he wakes me up for prayers.
I am thankful for the times when he fasted with me, just to keep me company.
I am thankful for all the times when he led us in prayers.
I am thankful that he is a wonderful father to our children.
I am thankful that he has never been judgmental towards me.
I am thankful that he has accepted me, flaws and all and still chooses to stay with me and be my pillar of strength.
Most of all, I am thankful that he reminds me of God Al Mighty every second of the day. 

I’m not saying that I am such a perfect wife now or that my husband is such a perfect husband. We still drive each other crazy sometimes but hey, that what makes the marriage interesting. The main thing is that we strive each day to be better and learn to differentiate what’s important and what’s not and the rest........we leave it to fate….Tawakallah……

Sunday, 18 August 2013

The Year I lost Ramadhan and Syawal went missing.......

When a person doesn't have gratitude, something is missing in his or her humanity.-Elie Wiesel

A couple years ago, during my period of ignorance, I lost Ramadhan and then Syawal went missing. The best thing is that, I didn’t even know that I was miserable until the night before 1st Syawal. I was so caught up with material things that I didn’t know what I was missing until the 11th hour.

What am I babbling about? Simple….it is something that I found most of us went through at some point of our lives….losing the spirit of Ramadhan and Syawal. The most important question is, do we know that it is missing? If we do…then when did we lose it and why?

When I was small, Ramadhan meant Eid was coming soon. Eid means new clothes, lots of pocket money and firecrackers. My family was just a middle class family so my sisters and I, would only get to buy new clothes before Eid, so of course we look forward to it. But, as I grow older, the novelty of having new clothes for Eid, started to wear off. I was too old for my uncles and aunties to be giving money or ‘duit raya’ and I have definitely outgrown playing firecrackers plus….the police had actually banned fireworks!

One year, I found that I had completely lost my spirit of Ramadhan. I physically fasted but other than that, I didn’t do anything different. I used to follow my parents to the masjid for terawih prayers when I was in school but when I started college, I stopped. Even after I got married, I didn’t feel the urge to perform terawih. I was indifferent to the spirit and purpose of Ramadhan and because of that Syawal decided to leave me.

Ramadhan and Syawal left me for quite a few years until one day I commented to my hubby that I just don’t feel anything towards Ramadhan or Syawal. Both months has lost its meaning to me. It was also because I was caught up with my own problems and work related stress that I didn’t bother to try understand Ramadhan and Syawal, as how a true Muslim should.  My hubby told me then that I had better look for both Ramadhan and Syawal.
The thing is…I wanted to but I didn’t how or where to look for them. I was just a Muslim by name but not by conduct. I couldn’t enlist the help of the police to help me find them both and I couldn’t report them missing without appearing like a lunatic but find them I must.  Nobody could explain me why I had lost them in the first place.

Then, I met the Wise Owl and the Wise Old Man. Since both are ‘wise’, I decided to try my luck and told them that Ramadhan and Syawal have been missing from my life and that I needed to find them. I expected them to laugh at me for being silly because how can a person lose not one, but two months? It was just not possible ! Instead, the Wise Owl smiled at me and the Wise Old Man peered at me seriously and both said, “sister, don’t worry. You will find Ramadhan and Syawal again.”

What both of them have taught me was that I needed to go back to basic. I started with looking up about fasting in the Quran.

O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint,”
Surah Al Baqarah 2:183

“Ramadhan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur'an, as a guide to mankind, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (Between right and wrong). So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting, but if anyone is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period (Should be made up) by days later. Allah intends every facility for you; He does not want to put to difficulties. (He wants you) to complete the prescribed period, and to glorify Him in that He has guided you; and perchance ye shall be grateful.”
Surah Al Baqarah 2:185

Fasting is a commandment from God Al Mighty, pure and simple. The question is, why am I doing it? It is out of habit because I have been doing it all my life or am I doing it to please God? If the answer is the former, then fasting has indeed become a meaningless yearly ritualistic thing for me.

If my answer is the latter, then, the way I was fasting, was it enough to please my Creator? Fasting is not just the physical act of refraining one’s self from eating and drinking. Fasting has a deeper meaning than that. It means refraining physically, mentally and spiritually from committing sins and other acts that might displease God Al Mighty. I must also increase my good deeds and charity and perform more sunnah prayers. Even then, there is no assurance that all my deeds will be accepted as everything boils down to intention.

Ramadhan is a holy month where all the devils are tied up hence it gives us the opportunity and breathing space to reflect on our lives.

Allah’s Apostle said, “When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of the heaven are opened and the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are chained.” [Bukhari]

This holy month is the month of opportunities where we can cleanse our heart and soul and try to come closer to our Creator without satan being in the way and diverting us but, most of us do not take the opportunity during this month of peace, to service our hearts and edge closer to God but instead we busied ourselves in getting material things to prepare for Eid.

The Wise Owl also said that maybe the heart is full and covered with sins that it has darken and no light can penetrate through it. Then, the heart doesn’t beat to the rhythm of blessings nor blossom under the light of mercy. When that happens, the heart needs to be thoroughly cleanse. One way is for us to seek forgiveness for our sins and Ramadhan is one of the best time to do so.

Narrated Abu Huraira(r.a): The Prophet said:”… whoever fasts during Ramadan out of sincere faith and hoping to attain Allah’s rewards, then all his past sins will be forgiven.”
(Sahih Al-Bukhari).

Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) says, “Ramadan has come to you. (It is) a month of blessing, in which Allah covers you with blessing, for He sends down Mercy, decreases sins and answers prayers. In it, Allah looks at your competition (in good deeds), and boasts about you to His angels. So show Allah goodness from yourselves, for the unfortunate one is he who is deprived in (this month) of the mercy of Allah, the Mighty, the Exalted.” [Narrated by Tabarani]

If we reflect upon all the blessings that has been bestowed to us by God then we will have gratitude. When we have gratitude, we will treat Ramadhan as how it should be treated. That, i found, was the source of my problem…..I did not have gratitude hence I mistreated Ramadhan…Astagfirullah…may God forgive me…

Syawal on the other hand, is closely related to Ramadhan. They both come hand in hand. They are like twins, I think. If you mistreat Ramadhan, then Syawal will retaliate and will definitely leave you. Eid, which we celebrate in Syawal, does not mean new clothes or new sofa or even getting money. Eid means victory in treating Ramadhan in accordance to the Quran and sunnah. If we did not treat Ramadhan as how it should be treated, then we have not attain victory, hence, the spirit of Syawal will not enter our heart. Syawal then leave and may never return.

After listening and arguing back and forth with the Wise Owl and the Wise Old Man, I  slowly started my quest to hunt down Ramadhan and Syawal. I also tried to get rid of the black spot covering my heart by jet spraying it with good deeds, charity, sunnah prayers and begging for forgiveness. It was a painstakingly slow process but Alhamdulillah, Ramadhan and Syawal decided to come back to me. 

It has been a few years now that all three of us are together. Our journey has had its ups and downs but the connection is still intact. I now constantly remind myself not to mistreat Ramadhan again and to keep Syawal very close. 

I pray that they will stay with me till the day I die and will intercede for me when I am summon before my Lord on Judgment day……Ameen….

Abdullah ibn `Amr reported that the Messenger of Allah, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, said: “The fast and the Qur’an are two intercessors for the servant of Allah on the Day of Resurrection. The fast will say: ‘O Lord, I prevented him from his food and desires during the day. Let me intercede for him.’ The Qur’an will say: ‘I prevented him from sleeping at night. Let me intercede for him.’ And their intercession will be accepted.” [Ahmad]