photo courtesy***

Last night a black man died in the prison hospital. His sister had not been permitted to see him for a while in his incarceration.

Finally in the hospital he closed his eyes to the untold oppression of his captors and his spirit flew free and untethered to the chains of human bondage. As his sister held his lifeless hand, the scars at his wrists grated against her skin and the well of grief became a volcano.

Somewhere in a small village in Egypt a man in his sixties, who never failed to do his Salah and whose smile engulfed all those who had no one to smile at them, collapsed. His family rushed him to the small village hospital.

The physicians were perplexed at his collapse but noted that he needed blood. “ Our blood bank is empty,” they said to the family, “go out and get some blood”. The family looked at the dusty streets of the village and wondered where they could get blood?

When they returned to the hospital the Egyptian man, someone’s beloved brother, uncle and father had been recalled to his Lord. The physicians and caretakers bowed their head to the inevitability of the fact that What Allah has sent to this world; he recalls it after a given period. It is a test for those who are left behind.

Allah Subhanawataala tells us in so many words that he will test us……….2:155-157

[2:155] Yusuf Ali

Be sure we shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods or lives or the fruits (of your toil), but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere,

It is those fortunate people who spent their lives with the words of Allah bow their head to the parting and know that their beloved uncle never belonged to them, and that our Lord has taken him back into the embrace of the Divine eventually settling him in the Gardens. It is those who have recited this verse, studied it, contemplated it can then raise their hands in acceptance and submission, even though grief fills their hearts and their arms come back with an empty hug.

Sabr superficially translated into patience is an attribute that Allah Subhanawataala wants us to practice in daily life……Sabr is acceptance of our Qadaa wal Qadar, it does not mean that we should not fight oppression, nor does it mean that we should not try to correct what is wrong and unjust in our self first and in others later.

It means that we have to inculcate a vision within us as one who sees the panorama from above in plane flying at low altitude. It allows us to see large vistas, where we May witness death in the form of a flood or volcano approaching the innocent people of a village. However the villagers cannot see it as it is beyond their scope of sight. Even with that knowledge of what we see from the plane, we cannot stop the relentless happening.

If we know that Allah Subhanawataala has a grand plan of things to happen and accept that we are a single petal in the florescence of this world, it prepares us for life, both with and without grief. There is only one recourse to avert calamity and that is Dua or sincere supplication.

The hate and anger that arose in the chest of the sister whose brother died in the prison hospital was an unquenched anguish that eats at her from the inside. The scars on his wrist speak of untold cruelty of man to man and she feels the helplessness of being at the bottom of a society that places value on the color of the skin or lack of it.

Sabr is something that has to be inculcated, practiced and experientially embodied within oneself on a daily basis.  It cannot be called up on command especially not when you are weak with the claws of grief making your wounds weep and the whisperings of Shaytaan nudging you on towards the edge of the pit of self-destruction.

Sabr is knowing that what is happening to you is part of a grand plan and that you must develop inner strength to resist or stand in the face of a larger and greater grief, which is yet to come. At the end of the road there is relief either in this world or the next. Allah Subhanawataala promises: “ With every difficulty comes relief”

[94:5] Yusuf Ali

So, verily, with every difficulty, there is relief:

Grief, loss and death of a loved one change us inextricably. What we become depends on how much homework we did to prepare our self for this test which is sure to come, when? we do not know.

The Sahaba (the companions of the Prophet pbuh) recited the word of God often and it infused them with a strength, which perplexed the torturer of Bilal the black slave of a pagan Arab master.

Can we start on the road to Istiqamah (inner strength) wherein Allah promises there will be “no fear and no grief”  and not wait till our arms reach out and come back with an empty hug?

2:38…………whosoever follows My guidance, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.


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2 thoughts on “THE EMPTY HUG……….

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