I have been blessed with the privilege of not knowing what it was like to lose a loved one in my 27 years of living till now. Just before I became Muslim 3 years ago, I remember my aunt asking me what I'd do if I were to die tomorrow, and I said that I'd be happy to return to God.
Then when I became Muslim, I came across this verse.
Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un.
We belong to Allah and to Him we shall return.
It shook me, not because it reminded me of what I said a few months back, but because it is usually recited upon the passing away of a Muslim, and it is so ultimately comforting to the person who recites it. Before I came across this verse, I had thought of death as something scary, not so much for myself, but I could not see myself losing a loved one to death- I wouldn't have known how to deal with it.
Allah knew me best, and allowed me to experience this comfort with the passing on of Ustaz. Being miles away from home, I could grieve in private, find peace from the verses in the Qur'an, and take time to reflect on all of this (although at that time I really wanted to be back in Singapore, but Allah knows best.) In these two weeks proceeding Ustaz's passing, I reflected, reflected, and reflected (Almost could hear Ustaz saying again, "Where's your reflections?").
#1: That small peek into the love the Companions had for Rasulullah ﷺ
I had read about Prophet Muhammad ﷺ but experiencing Ustaz's passing has given me a small glimpse of what it was like for the Companions when Prophet Muhammad ﷺ passed away. Of course nothing cannot be compared to the love that the Companions had for Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, but for a new Muslim who first knew nothing about Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, the experiencing of that gap-like pain (I don't know how to put it into words) upon Ustaz's passing is more than enough of a lesson that anyone else can teach through a book.
#2: We are in a better place now, than before, insha'Allah.
"Don't cry for Ustaz, for he is in a better place. Cry for ourselves, for we are the ones who are indeed at a loss." I still remember the post which I had written in 2014, shortly before I was introduced to Ustaz's classes. Titled "Frustrations of a Revert", I was flailing in the sea of misguidance (a.k.a the Internet), with many questions unanswered and no one to guide me. I remember feeling frustrated, lost, alone. (Contrary to popular belief, a new Muslim CAN STILL feel lost even after their reversion). By Allah's guidance, I was introduced to Ustaz's classes, and those feelings dissolved and made way for conviction, certainty... For a few days after Ustaz's passing, a flicker of how I used to feel decided to inch its way back- reasonably, of course, our guide has left us. But something is different now, insha'Allah, because Ustaz taught us to differentiate, to sift truth from falsehood- if I still felt the same way I felt 3 years back, I have not learned anything from Ustaz.
#3: It's time to grow up.
My husband bore the brunt of my emotions patiently, and in between, he'd say, there are still other sources of knowledge we can look to. there are still other Ustazes who can answer your questions, and teach you. And I thought, for how long can I call myself a baby Muslimah? For how long can I pretend and give excuses for not knowing my deen, for leaving my questions unanswered? For Allah has granted me the privilege of an easy headstart, the blessing of 3 years attending classes with Ustaz, and the luxury of having his knowledge at the tip of my fingertips (literally!). Now, it's time to grow up- to put whatever he has taught us into practice, insha'Allah.
[He] who created death and life to test you [as to] which of you is best in deed - and He is the Exalted in Might, the Forgiving.
How can Death be a Blessing? [ From The First Letter, Risale i Nur ]
Death is a discharge from the duties of life; it is a rest, a change of residence, a transformation of existence; it is an invitation to eternal life, a beginning. Just as life comes into the world through an act of creation and is appointed and determined, so departure from the world is created and determined, and is planned wisely and purposively.The death of a seed is the onset of a shoot's life; the death of living fruits or animals in the human stomach is the beginning of their rising to the level of human life. As a seed sown in the grown becomes a tree in the world of the air, so a man who is laid in the earth will surely produce the shoots of an everlasting life in the Intermediate Realm.
The Bounties of Death
- One is freed from the duties and obligations of life, which become burdensome.
- One is released from the narrow, irksome, turbulent prison of this world, and to receive an expansive, joyful, troublefree immortal life, and to enter the sphere of the Eternally Beloved One's mercy.
- Old age, which makes life arduous, show that death is a far superior bounty.
- Just as sleep is a comfort, mercy and rest, particularly those afflicted by disaster and the wounded and the sick, so too is death, the elder brother of sleep, a pure bounty and mercy for the disaster-struck and those who suffer tribulations.
Picture credits: Bro. Muhammad Hamzah