By Imam Murtadha Gusau
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Ever Merciful
All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of all creation. May the salutations of Allah, His peace and blessings be upon our Prophet, his family, his companions and his true and sincere followers until the Last Day – then to proceed:
Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raajiʿuun! Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raaji’uun!! Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raaji’uun!!!
Dear brothers and sisters! Surely we belong to Allah and to him shall we one day return.
My great people! Death is always a bitter realisation, it’s a huge reminder, it’s a recurring scary thought and an irrefutable fact we can’t deny: ‘How long before I am the one lying lifeless being washed, shrouded and buried by others, as was did to my sisters, Aisha and Rukayyah today?’ Allah says in His Glorious Book:
“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, he indeed is successful. And what is the life of this world except the enjoyment of delusion.” [Qur’an, 3:185]
Respected brothers and sisters! The skins shiver and the eyes become moist when the beautiful words of Allah sink in. Actually, this is what life is all about. We have been created for a purpose and our time on this earth is limited.
Striving and competing to do all that Allah has commanded, avoiding all that He has forbidden and hastening to Him with our record full of good deeds has to be our major goal in this life.
All of us, regardless of the religion we follow, know and accept that this life is temporary. It will someday come to an end for us and an end for humanity altogether. But in Islam we are taught to believe in the life after death, the life of the Hereafter, which is eternal.
Wise is the one who prepares for the eternal life rather than losing himself in materialistic, worldly desires.
Most of us know but tend to ignore the fact that age, status, nationalities, ambitions, plans and promises all lose colour when death stands there glaring at our faces. There certainly are no second chances, no turning back and no last good byes!
But how many of us take heed of these frequent heart wrenching, soul shattering reminders that our loved ones leave behind? How many of us prepare for that last moment leaving petty worldly desires aside?
How many of us thank the Creator for all the breaths we take, how many of us turn to Him sincerely by submitting to His commands, by taking care of His rights, His servant’s rights, how many fear the sudden end.., the final meeting with Him?
Allah has made it clear in the Noble Qur’an that the experience of the worldly life is almost nothing compared to the Hereafter. The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) said:
“What is the example of this worldly life in comparison to the Hereafter other than one of you dipping his finger in the sea? Let him contemplate what his finger will come back with.” [Muslim]
When we dip our finger into the sea, the little bit of water we pull out of it, i.e., the wetness which dries up in a while, is almost nothing compared to the entire sea.
In the same way, the temporary life of this world is practically nothing compared to that of the Hereafter. The reality is that the Hereafter is the true life and this world is only a means to prepare us for the eternal life after death.
The path we choose to follow in this world and the actions we do determine our fate in the life after death.
Allah has told us in the Qur’an about the people who will realise on the Day of Resurrection that the Hereafter is the true life, and they will be filled with remorse because they did not perform many good deeds for their eternal life. Allah Almighty says:
“He (man) will say, “Oh, I wish I had sent ahead [some good] for my life.” [Qur’an, 89:24]
Let’s take a moment and reflect on this verse; do the worldly tests and worries really matter when we think of this major test that’s drawing close?
Would we still delay repenting for the sins we think are trivial? Would we still hesitate to turn to the Qur’an; read, recite, learn and practice it as it should be practiced? Would we still hold on to those nairas, riyals, dollars, pounds and euros, rather than giving them away to those in need or for the spread of our religion?
Would we still let our egos stop us from being the first ones to forgive our loved one’s mistakes and be kind to them for the sake of the Most Merciful, Allah?
Abdullah Ibn Umar said: Allah’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) took me by my shoulder and said:
“Be in this world/life as if you were a stranger or a traveler on a path and If you reach the evening then do not expect to reach the morning, and if you reach the morning then do not expect to reach the evening. Take from your health before your sickness, and from your life before your death.” [Bukhari]
Dear brothers and sisters! Surely, the death of Aisha and Rukayyah, and all those dear to me has made me realise that while their time on this earth is over, I still continue to live and breathe; I still have all those opportunities to do good deeds with Ikhlas (sincerity), stay away from sins and draw closer to Allah, the opportunities that they would never get again.
While they rest in their graves I continue to live on with my loved ones, continue to have chances of loving them, being kinder and more loyal to them.
This life is too short to carry on worrying about what is and what could have been.
No doubt, we will face tests and trials of all sorts until we reach our graves, but let’s make sure that they don’t deter us from our aim to be of the best of believers — the kind of believers who let the tests and reminders make them grow stronger in faith, increase in empathy toward fellow believers and persevere in patience, humble gratitude and submissiveness to the Most High for all that He has blessed them with. Allah Almighty says:
“Whatever you have will end, but what Allah has is lasting. And We will surely give those who were patient their reward according to the best of what they used to do. Whoever does righteousness, whether male or female, while he is a believer, We will surely cause him to live a good life, and We will surely give them their reward (in the Hereafter) according to the best of what they used to do.” [Qur’an, 16:96-97]
Respected servants of Allah! Wallahi death is an irrefutable fact we can’t deny. Time and again, we lose ourselves in this transient world thinking that we are going to live here forever. As a result, Allah reminds us and shows us signs with the loss of a loved one to show that everything in this world is just temporary.
Losing a loved one is undeniably a grief-stricken and devastating moment, especially for the family and close friends. Although according to Qur’an, 2:156, that a soul belongs to Allah and will return to Him in time, still it is a painful moment seeing our loved one passed away. Only those people who have experienced it can truly know the depth of pain it brings when it strikes. It hurts deep down in the core that sometimes you feel numb with emotion. The Muslim community has a prescribed way in Islam on how to deal with such inconsolable loss—without violating Islamic values. These are the pieces of advice that can help, as follows:
- Du’a/Supplications: Du’as or supplications are the biggest weapons of a firm believer of Islam and they are unquestionable. While the believer is still alive, he/she makes Du’as for our well-being, and now that he/she has gone to the afterlife, that person relies on our Du’a since he/she desperately needs them now.
Many of us have forgotten the significance of making Du’as by thinking that making a Du’a is all there is to do when in reality, Du’as are our strongest assets to the point that they can possibly alter the decree of Allah (Kaddara) to turn out to be another decree. With this mentality, people tend to get occupied with other acts, thinking that these acts will profit the dead, but they do not. Having get-togethers while reading Qur’an on the dead or thinking Du’as are more powerful whilst at the grave are already forms of modernisations in the religion that has no authentic basis. The Noble Qur’an was made known as a form of healing and guidance for those alive. It was never the tradition of the early righteous Muslims to gather after the death on a specific day or visit the grave in order to make Du’as for the dead with the perception that they will be more acceptable.
The little things we do can truly be big in the eyes of Allah. Make Du’as for the forgiveness of loved ones, especially the children to their parents.
There are many ways to make your Du’a. However, it should be observed in accordance with the Sunnah; take note that the best Du’as are those wordings said by the Prophet (Peace be upon him).
- Sabr/Patience: Probably one of the hardest attribute to grasp when dealing with the death of a loved one is observing patience or Sabr. Allow yourself time to heal, and don’t let death take its toll on you. Sabr or patience enables a rightful Muslim to demonstrate reliance and contentment to the decree of Allah. This will also allow that person to be grateful to Allah despite such loss knowing that Allah will never burden a soul with more than he/she can bear and that He designed this pivotal moment to pay off the loss with something much bigger in the future.
Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) reminds us that a true believer will express gratitude to Allah, if prosperity attends that person, and he/she will patiently endure any adversity that befalls him, thinking that it is for his best interests.
Observing Sabr or patience does not mean we cannot feel down or cry our grief; for Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) also had tears in his eyes when Ibrahim, his son passed away. But we must not hit oneself, cry excessively, tear down the clothes, and most especially question Allah’s decree. These acts are strictly prohibited, and thus, we waste away on the great reward that is to come for being patient.
- Don’t dwell in isolation: It is quite common to be engulfed by grief with the death of a loved one. However, one must not dwell in it much, as this sends an invitation to Shaitan (Satan) to become misery’s company. The ploy is to give your attention to every little thing you have, thinking that this could also be taken away from you. Love brings love while regret leads to discontentment; discontentment should not be felt, most especially to the Glorified and Exalted Allah. Let the death of a loved one be a lesson of detaching from the world and to hold Allah (glorified and exalted be He) in your heart above all others.
- Aiding and Forgiveness: In life, we have our own share of disagreements which may, later on, lead to holding grudges against one another. Forgiving your deceased loved one for any wrongdoings they have done to you is a great gift you can give to them. By freeing yourself from grudge or something that person owes you, you are being merciful to that person which will also lead to Allah being merciful upon you as well.
Besides giving forgiveness to what is due, a faithful Muslim also ought to help a deceased brother with any outstanding debt he or she may have left behind. The living faithful follower must also help in the funeral as well, for this is one of the obligations of a Muslim to another Muslim brother or sister. Help the close relatives or the family of the departed Muslim during their difficult time, knowing they really need any help that comes along their way.
- Sadaqah/Charity: Another good thing a faithful follower of Islam can do for their departed loved one is to offer charity or Sadaqah on their behalf alongside his or her own charity or Sadaqah that he/she gives while still alive. This is according to the Sunnah and one that should be taken with high importance.
Donate on projects that provide water, build a school or Masjid/Mosque, or simply donate clothes and foods to charity. Sadaqah does not only mean to give money on behalf of your late loved one, but you could also do a Hajj or Umrah, just as long as you have finished your Hajj already. You can also try observing voluntary fasts for the sake of your deceased loved one. In conjunction with all of this, try to remember some of the bits of advice the departed may have shared with you and try to act them out. This will allow them to have the incessant reward for the knowledge they have imparted when they were still alive. Also, take note that by doing such acts you will benefit your own book of deeds as well
- Occupy yourself: We all need time to heal and experience the feeling of grief as it comes. But, it is imperative to keep moving forward despite the loss. The process of bereavement carries you back to the past, reminding you of all that you could have said or done, and this makes you feel all the more depress and lonely. Thus, going back to your usual routine could become your lifeline, as this may serve as a healthy distraction to channel out your energy to do something good. One is never really prepared for this paralysing pain, yet Allah (glorified and exalted be He) reassures us that every hardship will followed by ease. [Qur’an: Chapter 94 verse 5]
- Reflection: Lastly, take these pivotal and precious moments of contemplation over the reality of this temporary world and that we will also depart from this transient phase to join Allah In Shaa Allah. We are encouraged to think about death over and over again and visit graveyards to keep us back on track and assess our current relationship and state with Allah. Do not let the evil spirits keep you busy with all the worldly needs of this world. Remind yourself especially your loved ones and the others around you that death is just around the corner. We must do more to become better servants and faithful followers of Allah. With our reconnection with Allah upon a person’s death, that deceased follower may get the rewards for your good works as well.
Feeling a deeper love for someone would also mean feeling deeper grief for that person’s loss, as they say, to grieve is to love. During the death of a loved one, we feel vulnerable, raw, anguished, devastated, and so much more. Pain can be manifested in different ways, and the coping mechanism of an individual differs from person to person.
Dear brothers and sisters! There is no exact timeline for a healing process or grief, but in time, these sharp pangs may become blunt. But the Qur’an and the Sunnah can help us deal with these emotions more appropriately. Following these steps will not only help us recover in time, but it will also help the soul of our bereaved loved ones and ours as well. In addition seeking Counselling can help you through the grieving process.
- Missing two beloved sisters, Rukayyah and Aisha in the cold hand of death
One morning I found you in eternal sleep;
I tried to wake you as I began to weep,
But all my pleas you could not hear.
Oh, if I could have only kept you near,
Away from the voices of those who went before,
Who beckoned you to come to that distant shore.
I find it so very hard to believe
That you have gone and I must grieve;
I call out your name — you answer not,
And I look for you in every familiar spot.
Everything seems so strange and surreal.
I ask everyday is it a dream or real?
Where are the soft brown eyes of affection?
Where is the laughter and talk of childhood reflection?
Where is the loving care when I was sick or sad?
Where is the generous soul for which I was glad?
Where is the forgiving and understanding heart?
Where are the bonds that were there from the start?
I miss all the little ways you showed you cared,
For there were so many good moments we shared;
Looking back on my life’s assorted scenes,
I realised you taught me what love truly means.
You were my trusted confidants and best friends,
On whose loving support I could always depend.
I look at your smiling faces in all my photos.
Memories flood my mind as I touch the mementos
From the happy times you and I have had,
But now these bring tears and make me sad;
For the time together went by in a wink.
Life was not as long as we’d like to think.
Sometimes memories bring comfort and make me smile,
But there are times when grief takes over for a while.
Friends offer gentle words and prayers to console
And tell me what has happened to your loving souls.
Can it be true what they say of time healing grief?
Is it enough when they say death has given you relief?
Can we believe what others say of a better place,
Where our beloved ones rest in Allah’s warm embrace?
I should be happy you’re free of pain and sorrow,
And rejoice that you’ll always have tomorrow.
How can I then be so heartbroken and selfishly cry?
Return to me from that peaceful place where you lie!
Now I look down at your name on a cold, hard stone
That says little of the loving light you have shone.
It tells nothing of the wonderful persons you were
And only serves to remind me of the painful loss I endure;
But I know your kind souls wants no tears or pain.
Instead, you’d want warm memories and love to remain.
Although I cry and stand grief-stricken by your graves,
I promise not to forget the loving memories you gave,
But still I miss you so very much, my sisters dear,
And your caring words I once again long to hear;
My heart’s only solace is one day I will see you as before,
Beckoning me to come join you on that white distant shore.
Lastly, I pray, May Allah Almighty forgive my beloved sisters, Aisha and Rukayyah their shortcomings, wrongdoings, sins and failings. May He the Most High make Jannatul Firdausi be their last abode, ameen.
All praises and thanks are due to Allah alone, Lord of the worlds. May the peace, blessings and salutations of Allah be upon our noble Messenger, Muhammad, and upon his family, his Companions and his true and sincere followers.
Murtadha Muhammad Gusau is the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah and the late Alhaji Abdur-Rahman Okene’s Mosques, Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: [email protected] or +2348038289761.
This Jumu’ah Khutbah (Friday sermon) was prepared for delivery today, Friday, Rabi’uth-Thani 14, 1443 A.H. (November 19, 2021).
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