This letter is to a woman who converted to Islam in prison and who recently lost her mother. She is torn with grief, the divided family ,lack of being able to share her sadness and inability to find succor and solace. Please keep her in your prayers.
I am deeply saddened that you have lost your loved one. Someone you loved and depended on to be there for you and now you are left bereft, and filled with grief.
With the loss of a loved one whether by death, separation or betrayal, grief knocks on your door when you open it, it enters your home and your life ,and stays.
It becomes the elephant in the room in a rage that only you can see and be affected by. While others wonder why are you so affected by something they can neither see nor feel.
Grief is like a mist it surrounds you and enters every pore of your body. Many people try to shut it out by working long hours and never speaking about this mist that envelops them and sometimes smothers them.
Often friends come and offer platitudes like “she or he is in a better place “ etc. and you are left wondering of what to do with the pain in your chest where your heart resides?
It was such a moment of anguish and helplessness that Allah directed me towards His book. As I started to recite and sought to understand its meaning and explanation I came upon a sentence that held me mesmerized.
I felt and saw the edge of the rope dangling in the dark well of despair and sadness where I was imprisoned by my loss and held down by my grief, which was telling me that this is the way life, was going to be for the rest of my life. I read the sentence again and again and wondered if it was specific to Adam (AS) or to all his children and was it addressed to me?
In looking carefully it was not just a sentence it was a promise from Allah the Almighty to each one of us!
He was not making a random comment or teaching by example He was offering a viable firm lifeline of getting out sadness and despair.
It is in Surah Baqara, and relates to the event when a major disaster beset our father Adam (AS) and mother when they disobeyed Allah. They were despondent! It was not a small loss of favor of a friend or family member it was the ire of Allah Almighty our Creator. They were banished from the beauty of Jannah and sent away for a while to earth. They were in the depths of despair, regret and sadness.
What to do?
It is then that Allah offers them the rope of hope. However to make the climb upwards and out of the well of despair they had to develop and exercise strength and istiqamah:
[2:37] Yusuf Ali
Then learnt Adam from his Lord words of inspiration, and his Lord Turned towards him; for He is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful.
This had to be done through strengthening their emaan, making tauba and conscious obedience of their Creator in every moment of life.
He said to them:
[2:38] Yusuf Ali
We said: “Get ye down all from here; and if, as is sure, there comes to you Guidance from me, whosoever follows My guidance, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.
It is these words of Allah and his promise that one who follows his guidance there shall be no fear and no grief.
It is then that I went looking for guidance. Lo and Behold it was right here in my bookshelf!
Allah’s words, translations by scholars, and people of emaan and taqwa explaining it to me through tafsir the context of the ayah. They explained each ayah with the accuracy and wisdom of years of research and understanding about the events. They explained each ayah and what had event had prompted that particular Ayah or verse to be revealed to Prophet Muhammad pbuh, and how we are to be follow and practice it in our life. The places and events came alive with lessons and my own reflections on how it would guide my life and how I could change so as to become the follower of my Guide (Allah Al Mighty).
I read lots and lots of self help books but I was affirmed that the authors had limitations, as they were also human beings. Though they were doing their best to help me in grief, there was no promise of how I could show the door to grief and keep it out of my life.
It is our Creator who knows the action and reaction of every cell in our body to grief and its devastating pain within us. Thus I thought why not go to the source of healing? Allah says He is Shaafi; he is the Healer, not only of disease and disability but also of the onslaught of grief, pain and despair.
Thus began a daily lesson. While I prepared breakfast I listened to the recitation, and tafsir of the Quran starting from Page one. I listened to Dr. Farhat Hashmi online. Farhathashmi.com /English section (for English speaking people)
There are books that one can read also by Maulana Abu Ala Maudoodi and the scholar Ibn Kathir which explain the context of the words of Allah Almighty.
I chose to listen instead of reading as it kept my hands free to do mundane work while listening. After listening I would write a summary of what it meant to me and what were my action points to do that day.
It is a journey but as I journeyed with the Quran the tentacles of grief and fear of loss slowly loosened on my body and eventually fell off.
Even now when I go away from the Quran for a spell the wraith of my grief knocks on the door begging for entry. Allah Almighty has kept his promise not only has he kept fear and grief out of my life but also he has instilled my heart with peace.
One reminder to the readers and myself is that life is not static; one can again be besought with grief and loss.
Thus I have to keep the Divine close, continuously daily recite and understand the Quran daily which allows me to tap into Allah’s promise of “ no fear and no grief” only if I am following His guidance.
Today as I walk around my mother’s and my son’s grave, I feel the breeze on my cheek and a gentle hand on my heart. It is He who is sending me His condolences with the promise that in the end I will see them happy, healed, and waiting for me at the door of the Gardens inshallah!
Please accept my heartfelt condolences. May Allah protect you from Fear and Grief and take away the pain.