Sunday 16 June 2013

Remembering the Bigger Picture

Sometimes we are so caught up in the minutiae of life that we lose sight of the important things.  Sometimes we make the little things the most important things in our life.  I think that's just human nature: not seeing the woods for the trees.

I was rushing through my housekeeping and duties today: breakfast, shopping, planning lunch, dinner and packed lunch for the next day, giving the kids their bath in the morning, because the prayers in the evening mean I have a little less time for their bedtime routine for a few weeks at this time of year.  I was worrying about how I would get the hovering done, mop the downstairs and clean the bath and still have time to catch up on my Arabic as I missed a lesson due to guests.  In fact all I wanted to do was create some tasbeehs and bracelets and work on the childrens journal I am trying to create.

Mid-morning I got a call from Pakistan.  My mum’s first cousin had passed away.

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

My mum and dad had been quite close to him and my in-laws were good friends with him also.  I remember him as a jovial man full of laughter, fun and life.  A history professor, his wife was a teacher and he leaves behind six daughters.

That was the end of hoovering and mopping.  It suddenly didn’t matter at all anymore.

We all piled into the car, dropped the kids off at my mum’s and then went to see his sister who is flying out to Pakistan today, utterly bereft.  He was a good man.  He prayed, he took care of his elderly, widowed father, he made the effort to maintain kinship ties and he raised six daughters and educated them as far as he could.

Anas may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "He who raises two daughters until their puberty will be with me in Paradise like this", and he symbolized the proximity by showing two of his fingers with a slight gap between them." (Muslim)

The beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) encouraged his companions to remember death often.  Perhaps if we remembered death more often, the small things in life would lose their hold over us and we would be more mindful of the time we have in this life.

The thought of us being washed and wrapped in two sheets of white cloth.  Lowered into the ground and clods of dirt being thrown onto us until we are covered.  Then being alone under the ground with nothing but our deeds to accompany us and earn us peace or torment.

When we think like this what comes to mind?  How we treat others, whether we fulfil their rights, what deeds we are sending ahead of us and what acts of ongoing benefit (sadaqah jariyah) like building a well or a school we have undertaken.  It certainly makes me think of what my legacy will be: my children, the way I have treated my family, the things I need to do to serve this ummah insh’Allah.

There is a hadith that always stays with me:

Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said, “The lifespan of my Ummah is from sixty to seventy (years).” (Tirmidhi – 4:2331)

I’m thirty-three.  That makes me middle-aged.  Many people my age think they are too young to marry or settle down.  Maybe they think that they are guaranteed a hundred years of life, when in reality no-one is guaranteed the next minute from now.

May Allah SWT make the next journey of my uncle easy and comfortable, make his grave a place of light and peace and make his reckoning easy.  May Allah (SWT) bestow upon him Jannatul-Firdaws insh’Allah and give his family sabr (patience).  I also make dua that Allah (SWT) gives us the opportunity to make the most of the short time we have in this world and make ample preparations for the next one insh’Allah.

Al-Ḥasan al-Baṣrī (raḥimahullāh) once stopped at the side of a grave with his companions and said, “If this person in the grave was able to come back to this world, what do you reckon he’d focus on doing?”
“He’d make plenty istighfār (repentance) surely, and pray more and increase in all possible good deeds!” they replied.

Al-Ḥasan said, “Well he’s missed out on his chance to do that. So don’t *you* miss out on your chance right now.” (source)


  1. I too pray your uncle finds peace. You have put it across wonderfully, and when we find that death scares us, we know that we haven't been the best we could be. Thank you for your lovely reminder.