“Oh Allah, You had done us a big favour by granting us a wonderful person – an obedient son, a loving brother, an affectionate father, a devoted husband, a knowledgeable scholar, a humble soul and a religious and devout Muslim. It was a sacred responsibility – Imanat. Please do forgive us if we did not come up to Your expectations”‘ echoed the words of a father in the air, stimulating hearts ad spirit of all present over there. Everything was strange- something that eyes had never seen and minds may never comprehend! The situation demanded tons of brine but all eyes were dry and everyone well composed. It is at time like this that people throw caution to air and indulge in crying and wailing, denounce the norms and some do not even hesitate to cross the limits of decency. But here a father had his hands up in the air and was offering prayers on the untimely departure of his son in the prime of youth.
At thirty years of age, father of a four years old daughter and a newly inducted faculty of computer science got seriously injured in a road side accident. Unknown people managed to take them to the toll plaza from where motorway police escorted them to the hospital. After five days of relentless struggle, he succumbed to the icy hands of death. The father having performed Umra was to visit USA. As he landed he had to catch the next flight. The depth of psychological trauma is much more grievous and uncertainty is killing when one is away from home. Purloined of peace and sleep the couple arrived after two days to find their loving son struggling for life. But, then what had been ordained happened and the father had the conviction to accept the verdict of Allah Subhanu Taala and submitted, “To Allah (Almighty God) we belong, and to Him is our return.” (Holy Qur’an 2:156)
The strength of father’s faith was most supreme. His composure was heart wrenching. His patience was worth emulating. I heard him saying in a sedate tone, “Can I request all of you over here to please recite first Kalma seventy thousand times which will guarantee his final sojourn.” To emphasize his point, he went on to describe an episode where a son sees his mother burning in hell. His ‘Murshid’ dedicates the store of what had been recited – seventy thousand times Kalma to his mother. The same boy, then appreciated his mother enjoying Allah’s bounties in heavens. The father’s calm and collected body language betrayed the surroundings. A father talking so placidly at the bed side of his dead son was most incredulous!
But this is the strength of faith – which distinguishes a true Muslim from the ordinary. Faith is neither confined to mental agreement with certain rules nor is it mechanical obedience of defined tenets. Rather it is a person’s dedication to Allah Subhanu Taala’s will and recognition of His sovereignty.
Especial efforts in the form of characteristic deeds of faith are demanded of every Muslim. Beyond the five pillars, which are basic requirements, the Quran describes other practical expressions of faith “But it is righteousness- who believe in Allah and the Last day, and the Angels, and the Book, and the Messengers; to spend of your substance, out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for the ransom of slaves; to be steadfast in prayer and give Zakat” (Al Quran 2:77). The well-known reformist theologian of the nineteenth century, Muhammed Rashîd Ridâ defined faith as “the act of worship, the care to avoid bad and blameworthy deeds, to respect right and justice in social relationships, and to purify the soul and prepare it for the future life; in a word (it consists of) all the laws whose aim is to bring man near to God.”
Death, indeed is inevitable, and everything except the Allah Subhanu Taala of course will perish. Signs of death can be seen all around us. At funerals we realize that people who were among us being buried in their graves. In the fall we see the leaves turning yellow and fall, and in the winter we see trees, lifeless. In this way, all things in this world will wither away and die. Love of the world, oblivious of death, is the outlook of an ignorant mind. A poet has referred to this ephemeral world in the following words – “Do not give your heart to this world, for its example is of an unfaithful bride who has never loved you, even for a night.” Hazrat Ali (RA) says: “If man will see how speedily his death is coming toward him he will abhor ambitions and will give up admiring the world.” A believer always remembers death, since his or her main goal is to reach the Allah Subhanu Taala. For true believers, death signifies the long-awaited meeting with their Creator.
Interesting and varied interpretations have been made regarding death. Death has been expressed as a meeting with Allah Subhanu Taala and says: “So whoever desires to meet his Lord, he should do good deeds and not associate anyone in the worship of his Lord.” (Al Quran 18:110). We are urged to prepare for tomorrow: “O ye who believe! Fear Allah, and let every soul look to what (provision) He has sent forth for the morrow. Yea, fear Allah: for Allah is well-acquainted with (all) that ye do.” (Al Quran 59:18) Death can strike anytime at any place, and any time “Verily the knowledge of the Hour is with Allah (alone). It is He Who sends down rain, and He Who knows what is in the wombs. Nor does any one know what it is that he will earn on the morrow: Nor does any one know in what land he is to die. Verily with Allah is full knowledge and He is acquainted (with all things).” (Al Quran 31:34)
Strong faith is an empowerment which gives new meanings and concepts to things and presents a new way of life. It gives the valor to alter the path of life and changes the approach to daily life. It bestows courage to accept the verdicts of Allah Subhanu Taala.
It equips man with unlimited vision of seeing through veils which may be invisible to ordinary mortals. It blesses man with highest level of patience and endurance. It even changes the perception of life and death.
But this strong faith requires extraordinary conviction, dedication, sacrifice and hard work – Statesman