Once upon a time Tariq had a friend who lived with him, played with him and one day stepped out of this world with him.
It is after Thanksgiving and it is Ramadan; Tariq & his friend have decided to celebrate their birthdays together. It is Ramadan, so the Birthday issue, fasting issue and my exhaustion after a full day of work and fasting are all items that need to be factored in.
Negotiations with Tariq were always very interesting.
I am standing in the kitchen we have just completed a day of fasting, everyone is feeling good at different levels, gastronomically, spiritually and having had a successful day at school and work.
Tariq is standing besides me and says something like” Im and I have decided we will have an Iftar and Sehri at our house” I am taken aback that is a first. Iftar we have had many times but Sehri for a group of boys?
Sleepovers have been a banned activity in my home, which has bought me the label of “the meanest mom in the world”. In distress, I ask my mother; my sounding board if I was being too harsh and if I would loose the love of my children? To which she replied “you are not here to please your children but to set them on the right path (right path? Siraat e-mustaqueem?)
My mind races with delight, an iftar and a sehri with prayers etc with Tariq and his friends is a great idea to bring deen in their play life. I smile and he continues “ we can do it on my birthday”. It sounds reasonable.
He carries on “Im, Osman, Javed & I will set up some computer games for the people coming to have stuff to do during the night. This is a typical Tariq negotiation, I think to myself. First, he shows you what a great idea it will be and then fills in the details to his liking. I agree.
It is the first night that I have stayed awake all night, checking on the boys every now and then making sure the games they were playing were clean. At the four am mark, I find Tariq fast asleep in one of the sleeping bags in the living room. I go to the other room and find Im fast asleep in a sleeping bag. The rest of the boys are fighting sleep.
Cakes and goodies arrive for Sehri with Im’s family and are served to a bunch of sleepy boys who are quite full from all the nighttime snacking. They pray fajr and fall over in the deep sleep of youth.
It is another day, I arrive home to find Im and Tariq at our home, which was a normal occurrence. Tariq wants to know what is for dinner, when I tell him. His and Ims face light up. Im calls home “I am staying at Tariq’s for a little bit”. We eat dinner; both boys relish what I have cooked which is something very simple. They enjoy every bite, and then they tell me they are going to Ims. Probably to eat another meal and keep both families happy.
When I think of Im, his angelic innocent face swims in front of my eyes. I would often think, if he knew how handsome he is, he would take the world of women by storm. What I was unaware of was that he knew and yet never used that asset in a manner that would be Casanovish.
This is another day; Im and Tariq are at our home. Today I have several options in food and drink. My conversation with Im would go something like this:”Im what would you like” and I would list the options. He would say “whatever Tariq is having” Tariq would return from the other room and I would ask “Tariq what would you like?” And I would list the options and he would turn to Im and say “ Im what would you like?” and Im would say “whatever you are having” and Tariq would turn to me and say “ I will have whatever Im is having”. I laugh and serve them everything I made.
It is winter break of 2004/05 Tariq and Im are home from college and hanging out together. Tariq in his usual manner says “whatsup Mom” and then informs me that “Im and I are going to Hajj next year”. I am speechless with joy.
It is July 13, 2005. I am rushing home from the office for lunchtime; I am home to fix something for Tariq, as he is going to Atlanta with Im for a concert. I look at the sky, it is clear. I had forbidden them last week from going to Atlanta as the weather had been inclement, and they had both agreed though reluctantly.
“Mom we can’t eat we have to go pick up Ebad.” “Why?” I ask, “Is he going to the concert?” Tariq replies “, he is going to Philadelphia to meet his parents” I am puzzled, “Why can’t he take the shuttle?” I ask.
“Mom he has already called all over town and the shuttle and he does not have a ride” Tariq responds patiently, then he put his hand on my shoulder and reassures me that in this way they will help Ebad since they are going in the same direction. Little did I know that the Lord was sending them in the same direction. Meanwhile Im rushes up the stairs to pick up the tickets for the concert, he shows them to Tariq, who nods and Im pockets them. There is an air of serious urgency tinged with elated anticipation in them.
“Wait” I say “take some brownies. Shireen baked them last night”. I open the pan it is empty except for a corner piece, I look at it disappointed, Im picks up the corner piece, wraps it with great love and says “ Aunty, The corner piece is always the best isn’t it?” his face angelic his words sincere. He and Tariq wave at me at the door and it closes behind them…………forever.
Tariq had a friend. Tariq said, he was everyone’s friend, but he lived with Tariq, played with him and went away with him …………..Out of this world, journeying together to another one. Friends eternally!
Wealth and sons are the allurements
Of life of this world:
But the things that endure,
Good deeds are best
In the sight of thy Lord, as rewards,
and best as (the foundation for) hopes
He truly was a zeenah (beauty) in this dunya for all of us, bringing grace, friendship and gentleness into the realm of our mundane daily life. May Allah keep him close, and may he never be far from the fragrance of Jannah.