Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Love and Loss

We all expect that our children will outlive us, take care of us in our old age, and care for us when we die. It is somehow not in the order of nature that they die before us.

However, it was God's plan that our Master the Prophet (prayer and peace be upon him) saw the deaths of his sons in his own lifetime. This is an account of how the Master received the news of the dying of his 18 month old son, Ibrahim -

He was so shocked at the news that he felt his knees could no more carry him, and asked `Abd al Rahman ibn `Awf to give him his hand to lean upon. He proceeded immediately to the orchard and arrived in time to bid farewell to an infant dying in his mother's lap. Muhammad took the child and laid him in his own lap with shaking hand. His heart was torn apart by the new tragedy, and his face mirrored his inner pain. Choking with sorrow, he said to his son, "O Ibrahim, against the judgement of God, we cannot avail you a thing," and then fell silent. Tears flowed from his eyes. The child lapsed gradually, and his mother and aunt watched and cried loudly and incessantly, but the Prophet never ordered them to stop. As Ibrahim surrendered to death, Muhammad's hope which had consoled him for a brief while completely crumbled. With tears in his eyes he talked once more to the dead child: "O Ibrahim, were the truth not certain that the last of us will join the first, we would have mourned you even more than we do now." A moment later he said: "The eyes send their tears and the heart is saddened, but we do not say anything except that which pleases our Lord. Indeed, O Ibrahim, we are bereaved by your departure from us."

Here is a Pulitzer-prize winning account of the gradual death of an 11 year-old boy before his mother's eyes and in her arms. I only ask that we imagine this to happen to us, and to our own children, and realise how precious every little moment is to be relished, for no one knows when the Angel of Death will visit, and for whom.

"It is life in the quest of life in bodies that fear the grave."
- Kahlil Gibran.


No comments: