A few days ago, I saw a Facebook message being shared by a number of Muslims, pertaining to the tragic death of a three-year-old boy, in which he drowned whilst on holiday in Portugal. The child was the son of Tufail Hussain, CEO of the charity ‘Orphans In Need’.
I do not know Tufail personally, nor have I ever met him. However, reading the Facebook status in which he announced the death of his son struck a chord in my heart, as I have a son who is only slightly younger than Tufail’s. The love we have for our children in their early years is unconditional, and we’d go to any length to ensure no harm reaches them. I remember the anguish I experienced when my son had norovirus recently. Seeing him become almost unresponsive as a result of severe dehydration and having to rush him into hospital was probably one of the most frightening things I have experienced. However, the panic I experienced that day probably wasn’t even a fraction of what Tufail must have experienced when he learnt of his son stranded in the middle of water.
I then began to imagine how I would feel if I was Tufail, learning about the death of my beloved son. I began to feel sick as my stomach tied itself in knots. I began to think what it might have felt like to see my son’s dead body; the eerily pale complexion of a body once full of life. I thought about what it would be like to touch my son’s dead body and its stone cold feeling as a result of being devoid of any blood circulation. I imagined how difficult it would have been for me to give my son his ritual bathing before his burial, and then finally laying him to rest in his tiny grave. Perhaps the only thing that could take the pain away from such a tragic loss would be the many happy memories I had of my son, such as his first smile, his first steps, his first words, and the joy on his face as he rode his balance bike. Moreover, the fact that he died in a state of innocence, where the pen had been lifted from his account of deeds would have given me some comfort. However, coming to terms with such a loss would be incredibly difficult, and in trying to conceptualise this situation, I am not quite sure if I could ever come to terms with it.
Of late I have come to learn of a number of painful losses that have conjured up similar trains of thought in my mind. The recent death of Sisters Magazine editor Naima B. Robert’s husband, and the death of the writer Maria Zain, both made me ponder how I would feel if I lost my wife and how my life would change. Reflecting on the trials and tribulations that others are going through is an important process; it is a timely reminder for us all to remember that Allah can indeed test any one of us at any time in a similar fashion. In trying to empathise with the difficulties others are going through, we should immediately be prompted to give thanks to Allah, for giving us loving families who provide tranquillity to our hearts. It is a reminder to us, that Allah is indeed Great, that each and every one of us will return to Him, and inevitably our deaths will cause immense pain and grief to the loved ones that we leave behind.
However, above all, it is a reminder that our time in the life is indeed finite. If we compare the average duration of human life with the total elapsed time that planet Earth has been in existence, then indeed our own deaths and those of our loved ones are extremely near. The only way in which we can possibly prepare for our own deaths, or the test of losing a loved one, is to ensure that we have a strong relationship with our Rabb, as it is that relationship alone that will enable us to overcome such tests. Moreover, pondering the reality of death helps us to put things into perspective. When we think about the reality of the aakhirah, the negative reporting of Muslims in the Press, the counter-radicalisation Government strategies and the numerous other worldly affairs that consume us, our time as Muslims suddenly seem extremely insignificant. Perhaps a timely reminder that whilst such issues no doubt require our focus, it can be very easy for us to become obsessed with them and lose sight of the bigger picture.
My thoughts and prayers are currently with all those that I have mentioned here, and all those who might be reading this article and are undergoing their own tests from Allah. For those of us who aspire to be activists for our faith, let us remember that faith-based activism is an extension of our worship of our Lord so that we can draw closer to Him, and strengthen that relationship with Him so that we can successfully navigate the difficulties that we may face in this life and the hereafter.