Nurudeen Afinowi: And The Man Died

I had received the mail earlier in the day, about a janaza at the mosque after Zuhr. The brother who sent the mail had included the hadith of the prophet   " “The Muslim has five rights over his fellow-Muslim: he should return his salaams, visit him when he is sick, attend his funeral, accept his invitation, and pray for mercy for him [say “Yarhamuk Allaah”] when he sneezes”. This was to encourage us, because being a working day, not many people will be able to leave their work to attend the janaza. Not having much to do that day, I finished all necessary tasks and headed for the masjid. In all the time I have lived in here, I hadn’t had the opportunity to attend a janaza. We often had requests to remember in our prayers deceased family members in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, or some far away country. So as soon as I finished reading the mail, I knew instantly what I had to do. Immediately after the Zuhr prayers, the imam led the Salatul Janazah, and we then proceeded to the cemetery in a convoy of about six cars. I stood there holding the rope, the man in the black suit had told us to wait, we will commence at the count of three he says. As we waited for his countdown, I could make out, etched into a brass plate, the name Henry- that very British of names, age seventy-seven. He wasn’t Abdul, Omar or Hakim, but he was Muslim. At that instant, time suddenly seemed to slow down, It occurred to me that this was a man I didn’t know, but his Islam united us to the point that I was standing on the edge of his grave ready to assist him in his journey. At that point many things began to make sense, a kind of sense that leads one to the point of clarity. I was at that very moment awoken to the reality of brotherhood and also a reality so old and true, that most of us take for granted. That reality is death. I guess everyone knows they will die, because in all reality we are all descendants of dead people, and our forebears didn’t die so that we would live forever. All of us will one day lose our grasp on all that has been amassed, and will definitely be inherited. Though our births are miraculous, it is ultimately how we live our lives, the purity of our hearts, and on what platform we exit this world, this is made explicit by the saying of our noble prophet: “Verily, each one of you is formed in his mother's womb forty days as a drop, then he is something suspended for a similar period, then he is a piece of flesh like a chewed piece of meat for another period of forty days, then the angel is sent to insert the soul. This angel is ordered to record four things: the sustenance which he will receive during his lifetime, the length of his life, all actions that he will do, and whether he will end up miserable (in hell) or joyous (in paradise). I swear by the One other than whom there is no deity, one of you may do the works of the people of paradise right up until there is only an arm's length between him and paradise, but his destiny overtakes him, so he does the actions of the people of the fire and enters it. And, verily, one of you may do the%20works of the people of hell until there is nothing between them and hell except for one arm\'s length, but his destiny overtakes him, and so he does the works of the people of paradise, and enters it." [Muslim]. One, two, three, at that point the ropes went to work and Henry was at that instant at a whole new level – He was six feet under. From what I gathered Henry became a Muslim many years back. A choice which is easy for some than others, but at some point in time, he made that choice out of the mercy of Allah, most likely after reaching a point of certainty, I believe that for most people who embrace Islam, this is a choice of conviction. Their conviction being so strong leads them to turn their backs to a previous way of life, even though every material thing around them seeks to hold them back, and even more so the outlook and image of the Muslims couldn’t be any lower at this point in our history. But the truth is that Allah deals with purity of hearts and the one who approaches Allah with a pure open heart, will always find light in the darkest of climes. Most of us who are born into this faith, take the blessing of Allah for granted, and always assume that we shall exit on the platform of Islam. While we all hope and pray that this should be the case, more of us are moving far away from the ideals set out for us by our religion. Many new Muslims are surprised by the lack of social responsibility and activism demonstrated by Muslims. As we pray that Allah should grant paradise to our departed brethren, we should ponder on the words of Allah and hope that the reality enters our hearts: Say: My Prayer and my sacrifice, my living and my dying belong to Allah, the Lord of all the worlds (al-An\'am 6:162).

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