I recently got the news I had been dreading for some weeks. A dear friend, whom I had sadly lost contact with for some years, unexpectedly fell ill and died. Inna lilaahi wa inna ilaihi rajiun. “To Allah we belong and to Him is our return” (Al Baqarah: 155).
The sister had been battling cancer but suffered a brain haemorrhage in the morning and sadly passed away by that afternoon. She left behind three young children and a loving, devoted husband. I had only heard of the sister’s illness a few weeks before she passed away but a huge feeling of guilt still swept over me. Could I have done more for her? I kept playing back the last conversation we had on the phone. She sounded so tired but so full of iman and tawakkul in Allah’s will, masha Allah. I had flu and did not want her to get sicker so I told her as soon as I could, I would come to see her. Unbeknown to me at the time, Allah willed it that we would never meet in this life. She died before I saw her.
What do I call her now? My ‘late’ friend? My recently ‘deceased’ sister in Islam? It is hard facing up to death and referring to someone who was here a little while ago in the past tense. But all of this is just a reminder of the inevitability of our own deaths. All I have of her are the memories and all she has are her deeds.
My reason for writing this piece is as nasiha for my dear sisters.
We love and hate for the sake of Allah and we draw closer over that which pleases Him. I do not want you feeling like I did when I stood over my sister’s corpse just before her janazah. My tears for losing her were mixed with my tears of regret. For all the times I could have visited her, but didn’t. For all the times I could have text her a dua, but didn’t. For all the Eids I could have sent her children a bag of sweets, but didn’t. For all the times I missed her and forgot to let her know. I miss my friend. I tried consoling myself with the last text I sent her after I spoke with her when I told her I loved her for the sake of Allah and that I was making dua for her. Somehow it doesn’t seem enough.
I know I too will die and join our predecessors.
Allah (SWT) says in the Qur’an:
“Every soul shall taste death: and only on the Day of Judgement shall you be paid your full recompense. Only he who is safe far from the Fire and admitted to the Garden will have attained the object (of Life): For the life of this world is but goods and chattels of deception” (Aal Imran: 185).
I would like to share a personal letter that I jotted down as soon as I heard the news of my friend’s illness before she passed away.
I intended to give it to her but I waited too long, until it was too late. I recently had a dream in which I saw her wearing matching gorgeous green hijab and jilbab. She had her trademark smile and I was trying to give her a letter, for her and the people with her. She said to me they were okay and that she and the others with her were not in need of it but she told me to give it to the Ummah for they still need it. Subhanallah. I am sharing the letter with you so you can make dua for her and all the beloved ones we have lost. Our good deeds toward them do not end with their lives. If we make dua for them, which is the least we can do, we will be gaining reward for both us and them, and this is by the Rahmah of Allah.
To my long lost and dear friend.
I have literally got off the phone to a sister who told me you are ill.
I pray this finds you and your family as well as you can be, given your situation.
I want you to know the following: at times our lives may have taken us on different paths and to different ends of the earth but I have NEVER forgotten your smile and your enthusiasm for Islam. Our days at Ramadhan Radio have left me smiling to myself whenever they come to mind.
I had some very, very good and blessed nights doing the da’wah with my dear friend by my side. I remember telling myself that nothing would stop me from missing your wedding in Exeter and only making it at the end. I laugh but I did make it. I saw you, my lovely friend, as a bride. The next time I saw you was in London at your home and you were so happy, you filled me with hope for married life upon hearing you speak so fondly of your husband.
You always were and I am sure still are as passionate about what you believe in. I want you to know I have always thought of you fondly and only regretted not being able to see you and your family more often.
There is a hadith of the Prophet (SAW): “If one of you loves his brother then let him inform him of that.”
I love you, sis, for the sake of Allah. I pray for you and ask your forgiveness if I have ever wronged you. The cares of this dunya, our health, our ajal (lifespan) all get in the way of us seeing each other but alhamdulillah, as Muslims we are always filled with the hope for reunion with our beloved ones in Jannah. We live in the knowledge of the eternal bliss of Jannah and I hope we all go there and spend endless time reclining on green cushions sipping non-intoxicating drink – speaking of the days and nights spent for the sake of Allah.
I never forgot you in my duas and despite the different paths our lives took… our love for Allah and His way always kept you in mine. I desperately wish I could help you in some way besides of course dua…but I also know that Allah is the best of Guardians. I entrust you to our Lord my dear sister and I am here if you need me. Fi amanillah.”
She was known to many sisters and she was a teacher in a Muslim girls’ school. One of the girls she taught is now a teacher who teaches one of my own kids. She was inspired by her and as grief-stricken as I was. That shows that it is a small world, but proves that we all leave our mark in this world. May Allah have mercy on the soul of my dear friend and our sister Farzana Hassan who died earlier this year.
Let us make our struggles and lives good ones full of khair. Let us pray that people remember us in the good and make dua for us in our absence. Let us pray that our deeds on earth make us close to the Prophet (SAW) and our beloved ones in Jannah. Let us pray that our moment of death is one which reunites us blissfully with our Lord while He is pleased with us. If you have a sister whom you haven’t called for a while, call her. If you have a debt you haven’t paid, pay it. If you have wronged someone, seek their forgiveness. If you love a sister for the sake of Allah, tell her.
Hodan Yusuf is a freelance journalist who has lived and worked in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia. She is currently based in the UK. She blogs at http://hyfreelancejournalist.wordpress.com