Love, Loss, and Gaining Closeness to Allah
Losing someone we care about is one of the biggest tests of this dunya, however it is the reality of life that one day we shall all return to Allah.
I’ve been reminded of this fact often in the last several months – receiving word many times that one of our brothers or sisters in Islam had returned to Allah. We ask Allah to lighten and make spacious their graves, and grant them the highest level of Jannah, ameen.
However, in this is a sobering lesson. When we hear of death, it should make us stop and reflect on our own lives… our own relationships – especially our relationship with Allah. Also, there are two specific areas which deserve contemplation, and they are:
1. When it is our time to deal with the passing of one we love, how will we respond? Are we comfortable with Allah’s decree – even if it rips something so beloved from our grasp?
2. When it is our time to be called back to Allah, will we be pleased with our actions? Will we feel as if we have made the most of our time here in service to Allah, and in aid of our fellow human beings?
These lessons have constantly run through my mind lately, and especially so as I have watched a sister in my community deal with the sudden loss of her husband – may Allah grant him Jannatul Firdows. We all have a concept of death, and of how we should prepare and respond to its eventual occurrence. However, we are never truly sure how we will respond, until the test is there – staring us in the face.
In the instance of the sister I mentioned, mashaAllah watching the strength, dignity, and reliance upon Allah displayed by this sister – even in the midst of her grief – has been extremely touching and is a reminder of the speech of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) upon the death of his beloved son Ibrahim.
When Ibrahim took his last breaths, the eyes of the Prophet started shedding tears. Abdur-Rahman Ibn Awf said:
“O God’s Messenger, even you (weep)!” The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said, “O Ibn Auf, this is mercy.”
Then he (allallahu alayhi wa sallam) wept more and said:
“The eyes shed tears and the heart grieves, and we will not say except what pleases our Lord, O Ibrahim! Indeed we are grieved by your separation.”
– Bukhari and Muslim
Some think that it is required for us to deal with death in a stoic and robotic fashion, but this is far from the truth. While we strive to be accepting of the decree of Allah – even if we don’t understand it, we are at the same time humans. As such, we have natural emotions – and it is natural to grieve for what is lost.
Also, as mentioned, it is actually a mercy upon us that we are able to shed tears – which actually aid in the healing process. It is also a mercy for the one who has passed, because as we are crying, we should also be making constant duah for them.
The key differentiation for the Believer, is that although grief and tears are a natural and acceptable means of dealing with loss, we must be careful not to fall into excessive wailing, questioning the decree of Allah, or allowing the whispers of shaytan to cause us to lash out or engage in sin in order to mask our pain. It can be tempting to do so, but to resist that urge and strive to have patience at the onset of loss, is greatly rewarded by Allah. We see this in the following Sahih Hadith:
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The real patience is at the first stroke of a calamity.”
Allah tells us numerous times in the Quran, that He will test us with loss:
And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to As-Sabirin (the patient ones, etc.).
– Al Baqarah (2-155)
With this knowledge, when we think about the potential for losing someone close to us, one of the best ways to ensure that you respond in the best way inshaAllah, is to LOVE FOR THE SAKE OF ALLAH.
When you truly love someone for Allah’s sake and your relationship is based on seeking His pleasure – although painful still, you know that they were called back to the one for whom you both strove to please. Although not without pain, there is contentment in that understanding.
What Are the Defining Moments of Your Life? What will be Your Legacy?
This life is one of continuous tests, and these trials often contain be the hardest – yet most important and defining moments of our lives.
Dealing with loss especially, causes us to stop, reflect, and reassess our lives.
Losing someone we care deeply for, highlights what is truly important. The reminder of the fragility of life redirects our thoughts and actions with a desire to correct our priorities and deepen the relationships with the people who are still here. It also causes us to reflect on our greater impact on the world. Our legacy.
This is again an area where our dear sister and her husband come to mind. When Allah called back her husband’s soul – the outpouring of love, support, duah, and genuine admiration was something to behold. Her husband – may Allah have mercy on him – was someone who aided and mentored many people and had a particular focus on mentoring and empowering the youth towards excellence, service, and self-sufficiency. MashaAllah his legacy is as a positive catalyst in the lives of youth who didn’t think they had a chance to succeed – and his influence spanned continents, MashaAllah.
In our own lives, it’s important to think about the legacy that we’d like to leave behind. Not from a place of arrogance, but from a place of service and faith – and seeking to maximize the reward in the hereafter. As we know in the famous hadith:
Allah’s Messenger [صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم] said:
“When a man dies, his good deeds come to an end except three:
Beneficial knowledge and
Righteous offspring who will pray for him.”
As Muslims, we are here to worship Allah – and also to exemplify the best of what mankind is capable of. This is also worship.
How often in the Quran are we exhorted to perform ‘Amilu Saulihat (good deeds) and move throughout the earth in a way that does not cause corruption, but improves the lives of those around us?
This is what creates a legacy – something larger than oneself.
– You are leaving a positive footprint, which others can follow.
– Clearing the path, so that the journey is easier or faster for those who come after you.
– Teaching acquired knowledge, building resources and institutions.
– Inspiring individuals to reach their potential…
– Serving your Lord, by being of service to His creation.
People often think you have to be an amazing and memorable personality to be considered “legacy worthy”. However, true legacy lies not in seeking fame and fortune, but in being known as someone of impeccable character, deep love of Allah and striving in His obedience, compassion towards His creation, purposeful drive, and a deep commitment to using the resources Allah bestowed upon us in His service.
And when you’ve been blessed to know someone like this? The best thing is to make duah for that person and carry on any legacy of good they have left, or to continue to utilize any beneficial knowledge they have taught you. We are all here for a small time, and the time we are given with loved ones is a gift. When we’re tapped into our fitrah, we know that our true purpose – our true destination, is with Allah Azza wa Jal.
This is the goal of the Nafsul Muta’ma-innah. The souls who will return to Allah knowing that they used this life – this opportunity, in the best way.
يَا أَيَّتُهَا النَّفْسُ الْمُطْمَئِنَّةُ
(It will be said to the pious): “O (you) the one in (complete) rest and satisfaction!
ارْجِعِي إِلَىٰ رَبِّكِ رَاضِيَةً مَّرْضِيَّةً
“Come back to your Lord, Well-pleased (yourself) and well-pleasing unto Him!
فَادْخُلِي فِي عِبَادِي
“Enter you, then, among My honored slaves,
“And enter you My Paradise!”
This is the ultimate goal …achieving TRUE life.
– of which death is just the beginning.
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