Last night I was in Central Jersey co-teaching a seminar entitled “Seerah: An Intellectual Discoure on the Prophet’s Life”. (The seminar was organized by my good friend Faraz Khan and had a great turnout. You can find details of it here)
After the program ended, I was trying to rush out so that I could stop by my parent’s home on my way back to New York. These days, even though I live about an hour away from where I grew up, I can count the hours on my hands of how much time I spend monthly in NJ. So now when the opportunity arose to see my mother and father, I was trying to get there as fast as I could.
As I stopped to talk to a few of the students on my way out, I noticed an eldery woman who was waiting to speak to me. When she and I finally started to speak to one another, she started the conversation by telling me that I didn’t recognize her. As we continued to speak, she reminded me that she and I had spoken a few times before, but hadn’t ever actually met in person. Her son, Omar, had been admitted into NYU’s medical center a few months earlier and had entered into a coma from which he did not wake up. May Allah have mercy upon him and grant him the highest level of jannah without any judgement.
As she mentioned his name, her voice trembled and intermittent tears began to fall from her eyes. Her husband then joined in the conversation and we briefly revisited the time that they had spent at NYU. I then learned that Omar wasn’t their only child. They have a daughter and another son. This son is Omar’s twin brother. At this point two things came into my mind.
Firstly, when you lose someone you love, it hurts. Many of us have felt the pain of losing someone at some point in our lives. A relationship gone sour, a friend or relative moving away, changes in priorities, and of course death. Some of these are more obviously ultimate than others, but each still resulting in pain. Even within the Islamic tradition, the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, has a year in his seerah that is known as the “Year of Grief” in which his wife Khadijah, may Allah be pleased with her, passed away as well his uncle Abu Talib. All of us have felt that loss as some point. But imagine what it would feel like to see someone who looks like the person you lost every day. In this instance this woman had not only lost someone that she loved, but, because she had been blessed with twins, every day she would see someone who looks just like her beloved child who passed away. What a strong woman she must be to be tested in this way.
Secondly, the love a mother has for a child is most unique. I think a lot of us take for granted that relationship and in seeing the pain on this woman’s face I only could think of my own mother. My mother who calls me daily to see if I am eating properly, who ask me if I am getting enough sleep, who asks me when I am going to come home to visit, and who stays awake til the late hours of the night waiting for me when the only time I can come home is at a time when everyone else would be asleep. Its no wonder that the debt I owe to her is something that can never be repaid.
I am sure this woman would give anything to spend even one more minute with her child. Inshallah Allah will reunite them in the highest levels of jannah amidst the company of all those whom they love and the company of His most beloved, ‘alayhis salaam.