Cherished moments for an unknown period

My letter of condolence to a dear friend on the death of his nephew………………

Dear B, Asalaam o alaikum,

I was deeply saddened to hear of the untimely death of your seventeen-year-old nephew. Every time a young boy dies I am reminded of what I heard at one of the khutbahs. The Imam said :

with the prolonged consistent and continuous supplications of a parent for her children they get a long and healthy life.

This makes me think that perhaps A’s mother and I did not pray long and consistently for our sons or at least not enough to elongate their existence on this earth.

But then I read in the Quran and also explained in the Hadith (paraphrased):

our time of death, our sustenance and our Qadar is predetermined and brought to us by an angel at 16 weeks gestation while we are in our mothers womb and pasted on our forelock/forehead. Eventually with time it gets covered up with tissue and thus others can no longer see it, but it remains is situ till the time is up.

Thus I go between the guilt of not having prayed enough for the salamati of my children versus my laying down my head with Sabr at my Qadar of losing my son before me.

A’s parents are obviously not at this point but will get there at some time in the future. Losing your child is like placing a hot brand on the heart of the parent, which sears it and never goes away. The response to the searing of the heart is of course completely individual and unforeseen.

You and T were there for us the night of Tariq’s accident. I have a surreal recollection of that time. It is sharp in its picture but sometimes hazy in emotion. It is the compassion and blessing of Allah Subhanawataala for making us incapable of fully reliving the emotions of that day.

A’s parents are blessed to have the two of you as their nearest and dearest. No matter when you decide to go to Pakistan, it will be a balm for their pain.

I cannot think of any advice for A’s parents to alleviate their pain or be able to survive this tragedy.

When I look back in these four years, I realize that I had to try medical and psychological grief support measures and read everything on grief help before I opened the book of Allah’s words and got to the point where I got help that eased my pain. It was a lot of struggle and searching in the words of Allah to get to this point and I still slip many a time.

However looking at how some other people find solace after grief tells me that delving into Allah’s words has not been an approach that they have taken.

In the throes of my grief, I was led by good friends in the direction of finding solace with my Creator. It started with a talk that Dr. S, a psychiatry resident, gave at Tariq’s memorial service at the mosque regarding the “Words of Solace” taken from the Quran. I hung on to them for a while and then I started my own search by googling “Sabr” in the Quran, because I wanted a quick fix. Of course the answer was ” no results”.

The study of the Quran cannot be done by googling a term. I eventually had to start from page one and struggle through each ayah trying to find a meaning that pertained to me and understand it’s potential to take the pain away.

After that at the various spiritual retreats that I went to I met people who were kind, empathic and patient in the path of Allah, and it reinforced my search for the balm for my never ending pain by reflecting on the words of Allah and putting this world and our presence or absence in it in a broader perspective.

I pray that Allah Subhanawataala guides A’s parents to compassionate loving God-fearing people who point them in the direction of Allah Subhanawataala’s therapeutic words that will help ease their pain. I know from experience that nothing else can.

The alternate option is painkillers and brain numbing drugs or other self-destructive acts, which are temporary and ruin not only one’s own life but also the life of all the family.

After the consistent support of family and friends, the rest of the journey they have to make on their own. This grief is one that stays with you till the day you die; there is no escape, no forgetting, and no true untrammeled joy anymore. The best one can hope for is that in serving others, one gives oneself as sadaqa with each act, for ones departed child.

Allah Subhanawataala has given you a kind heart and inshallah you will be able to reach out to the parents and sisters of A and bring them solace, and comfort, in your own special way. T’s serene presence will also be comforting for the family inshallah.

I pray that you may find the strength to be that beacon of light that the bereaved look for when they are blinded with pain. May Allah strengthen your emaan and grant you the ability and stamina to comfort your own brother in one of the most painful times of his life.

My prayers are for you, your family, and for A and his family. May Allah Subhanawataala give you all sabr- e- jameel.

Paul, and Shireen join me in sending their sincere heartfelt condolences; kindly convey these to your brother and his family.

With Salaam and duas,


Quran 2:38

………………….whosoever follows My guidance, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.

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