It started out like an ordinary day and then it went into fast forward and back:
First M wrote………
I am one of Tariq’s friends from Swarthmore College. I don’t know if you remember me. I am one of the twins- I’m M and we have the same birthday as Tariq…..,
My friend and I are possibly driving up to your town either Friday or Saturday that weekend. If you could let me know where the grave is- it would be so great for me to visit and honor Tariq’s memory. He was a great friend and he definitely will always remain in my mind.
Lovely……. I think to myself, someone remembers him with love and five years later wants to drive almost 200 miles to visit his grave………..it touches my heart.
And then Shafi and the basketball player at Lakeside die. The youth of the mosque are plunged in grief, and I step back in time.
I scour the Pakistani newspapers online to read about Shafi and it is amazing how one long sentence can hold such tragedy within it. Dawn the Karachi newspaper in a one liner describes how Shafi’s life was shattered by a single bullet:
While concluding the matter, the court observed “While we commenced proceedings in the morning all the newspapers have reported a gory incident in which Provincial Health Secretary, Dr Shafi Quraishy, has been wounded grievously as well as his driver in the Clifton area”
DAWN / NEWS International, Karachi 06 August 1997 Wednesday 01 Rabi-us-Saani 1418
Shafi, brilliant physician, loving husband, affectionate father, a teacher and an optimist, lived for fourteen years after the bullet in his spine rendered him paralyzed. He ran his home through the computer, as a physician wrote papers and he and his wife raised two young boys into responsible young men. Shafi who had the distinction of being first in his class of MBBS at Dow….brilliant, smart and always smiling.
Shafi………his body could not longer contain his brave spirit and thus yesterday, his spirit left his body to be grieved over by his family and friends.
I was plunged into the carefree college days when bullets were only in the American movies and we listening to the crooning of EnglelBert Humperdinck’s songs and imagined a life of sincere pure love and romance and service to humanity.
Meanwhile returning to the present at a lunch, crossing the path with my past acquaintances I saw in their eyes how I was out of their league now.
Suddenly I saw myself through their eyes as a strange entity who had reverted to Deen because of a dead son…….. I could sense their thoughts wondering when I would become “normal” and unsaid in their eyes was the question “when will she get over it?”
And F my friend from med school wrote about my grief and feeling out of place in a gathering of women who reveled in the physical pleasures of this world which have lost their flavor for me:
It will not diminish you
It can only purify you
And then unbeknownst of my current state TI sent me this from her study of Hadith: Number 66
Narrated Abu Musa Al Ashari rady Allahu anhu: Allah’s messenger (pbuh) said:
When the son of a slave dies, Allah says to His angels, though He knows best: You have taken away the soul of My slave’s son.
They say: Yes.
Allah says: You have taken out the fruit of his heart.
They say: Yes.
Then Allah Subhanawataala says: What did My slave say?
They say: He praised You and read the words: Allah says (to the angels): Construct for My slave a house in Paradise (as a reward) and name it ‘The House of Praise.’
اذا مات ولد العبد قال الله لملائكته قبضتم ولد عبدي فيقولون نعم فيقول قبضتم ثمرة فؤاده فيقولون نعم فيقول ماذا قال عبدي؟ فيقولون حمدك واسترجع فيقول الله ابنوا لعبادي بيتا في الجنة و سموه بيت الحمد.
And then I return to my companion in grief. I listen to the tafseer of Surah Anbiya on line by FH and suddenly the grand panorama of life, death and Jannah for the Saliheen unfolded infront of me…………..
She says in Urdu:
Allah ke naimatoon key asal waris salihoon hon gay…………….. is dunya may bhi or akhirat may bhi
I look up at my climb towards the mountain of Sabr. I had stalled into a paralytic state. I remembered that on the peak Saliheen wait for me if I can continue, and suddenly Mount Everest becomes a Hill Park and I begin my climb, slowly, struggling to hold the focus, at least for now… fragile, and frightened at how rapidly I was shaken by events into a state of paralysis
The melodious recitation of the last part of Surah Anbiya fills the room with the arduous life of the Anbiya unfolding like the petals of a rose…fragrant, fragile, and vulnerable, protected by their Lord at each step and finally the promise to them and I pray to me too…
And verily we have written in the Scripture, after the Reminder: My righteous slaves will inherit the earth: (105) Lo! There is a plain statement for folk who are devout. (106) We sent thee not save as a mercy for the peoples. (107)