DEDICATION: This post is dedicated to all those who are struggling with grief, may Allah place a balm on their hearts and give them strength and istiqamat in their struggle to be sabir:
The early days after Tariq died are as clear to me as if it happened yesterday. I can remember going to an Islamic retreat in search of a panacea for my pain. I also remember the first few days when I did get out of bed and go to work and grappled with what life has dealt me:
I have been pushed forward to the edge of the cliff, blinded by tears and grief, I look down, the raging inferno of unfathomable pain extends in the pit below me. One more stumbling step and I will be hurtling down into its unknown depths. I pause.
I have been told that The Pul- e -Siraat is a slim bridge made of a tight rope stretched over the fire of Hell, that each one of us will have to walk on, to get to the other side wherein lie the gardens of Paradise (jannah). We will be surrounded by darkness, and each of our steps will be guided by light that we earned in this life. The light comes from reading Surah Kahf on Fridays, from our good actions and reading and implementing the Quran and Sunnah in our lives.Today when I look ahead I do not see the gardens of Jannah. I see the pit of fire and pain that I am about to step into, somehow I have to cross this pit of grief without falling into it irrevocably.
A relative stranger that I met at a retreat has sent me a book of duas. It is a book of duas for every possible event in your life. I open it and peruse the contents. Some of the duas are familiar that we are used to rattling off without much thought and some are unfamiliar. Someone has thrown me a rope that stretches across the pit of the fire of grief. It is my own personal bridge made of a tight rope to cross my own personal fiery pit of grief. I must accept it or remain in the fire continuously, or perish painfully.
The usual whisperings enter my thought processes. :” How can reading a few duas going to get you across this pit of fire?” and then Sheikh Magroubi saying about the morning adkaars “ fake it till you make it” I force myself to open the book.
It is fajr. I have never been a morning person, yet I have forced myself to awaken, long before fajr for a leisurely wudu and then readiness for fajr when the moment begins. I want to experience the change of the guard of the angels. I want the message to be taken up by the departing angels of the night as well as the incoming angels of the day. I need both the groups of the angels to take my messages up to Allah SWT, I need all His (SWT) attention every bit of it, for in front of me is the raging fire of grief, and behind me is the pitch darkness of “the event”. I need a bridge, and I don’t even know if I want the bridge or not, but I want to ask for His (SWT) help to relieve me of this never ending pain, when I have His (SWT) ear.
I have learnt that when I ask for help, Allah SWT sends help from strange and unusual quarters and I have to pay attention and accept that help as it is actually coming from Allah via my fellow human beings.
I open this book and start with the duas read in the morning, then I read the duas for “Huzn” or grief, then I read the ones on illnesses of the heart and I pause with surprise; it says that the remedy of ninety nine illnesses is in repeating “la howla wala quwata illa billa alayul azeem” and the least of those illnesses is grief.I am frozen in time, it is morning, sleep is still in my eyes and my father is reciting loudly and repeatedly in a sing song manner “la howla wa la………………..” Was he striken with Huzn or sadness, is that why he recited that in the mornings, was there a loss in his life that he was grieving for that he did not share with us, but turned to His Lord?
I continue to read, recite the Arabic dua and then the Urdu meaning, stopping for a few seconds in-between to let it sink into the atmosphere and me and for the angels to note it down.I keep on, steadily ignoring the whisperings of the Shaitan.Gradually I feel the balm of ease spreading on my heart…….., I see the daylight spreading from the east and with that I find I myself balanced on the bridge, a tight rope making my way across the pit of the fire of grief. I know that I must not look down, nor should I let go of the light of my dhikr for long.
I get dressed and get in the car to go to work, right next to mine is Tariq’s baby blue car sitting quietly draped in the soft cover awaiting its owner. I feel the heat of the fire of grief seething around me; I grab the tasbeeh hanging from my rearview mirror and repeat what my friend in South Africa had taught me:“ Atighfiruka wa atubu alaik, La takne tu mer Rahmatulllah” reversing the car out of the garage, tasbeeh in hand repeating the briefest of Astighfaars, and reminding myself never to be despondent of the mercy of Allah, till I finish the circle of a hundred.
Having done that, I feel stable, grief seeping out of my heart like pus being released by incision and drainage. Once again I am balanced, walking, one step at a time on the bridge……………..very carefully, keeping my head up and my rope of Dhikr held tight, continuously connected with Allah SWT.
Thus is life after Tariq, one step at a time…………….