Brethren, he was – and how sad human existence could be; an existence that can only be referenced either in the present or in the past. Brethren, indeed he is now past and has passed. I have to now refer to him in the past and with a heavy heart; and in the full knowledge that the bridge he has passed is awaiting our own passage, mine and yours, and patiently too. He came to the world in silence. The moment death came to him was also a moment of silence.
Brethren, the last assignment he had on that eventful day was a wedding ceremony he had been invited to as one of the officiating ministers. Highly intelligent, vivacious and unassuming, our Brother-Shaykh eventually got to the wedding venue. He blessed the newly married couples like we always do, like they always do. He prayed that may the bride become like Hawa (r.a) -the “fruits’ that have come forth from Hawa (r.a) have been as uncountable as the pebbles in the desert. Our Brother-Shaykh equally prayed for the groom- ‘may your masculinity never tire in front of your wife’s femininity’. Our Brother-Shaykh prayed and prayed- he probably supplicated that may the event of that moment should not be the last moments of fame for one and all.
Meanwhile, agents from the celestial had already begun to do the count-down for him; neither the groom nor the bride, neither the in-law nor the coterie of ‘out-laws’ who usually camp on the margins of social events like vultures in search of prey, knew they were witnessing ‘one of their own’ whose last day on earth remained only a few hours. Sometimes when I ponder the reality of our lives, I marvel at the illusion in which most of us are steeped; the rain that led to the destruction of the people of Lut began like droplets. When it started, the people of Lut brought out their pots and utensils to fetch water; little did they know that it was not rain but destruction. There is no way humans could know the unknown and the unknowable.
Brethren, fully sated and satisfied that the day had been well spent, our Brother-Shaykh returned to his abode. He returned to his modest home in the city centre, amidst the un-sung and the unpopular. He returned to his home and immediately offered the Salat Isha. Shortly after he took his dinner, the process that would eventually lead to his passage to the great beyond began. He suddenly began to feel a rumbling in his stomach; the rumbling soon became a major body discomfort. Our Brother-Shaykh was known as a man of action. Fully aware that a moment could make or mar human destiny, he gathered himself together, jumped inside his car and drove himself to the hospital.
Brethren, that happened to be the apotheosis. Hours after his arrival, something told him his time was up to meet with his Creator. Something told him he was not going back to the beautiful women he had said bye to hours before. Here is the most instructive part of the incident. One of my former teachers who informed me about those moments before he passed on said our Brother-Shaykh told those who were in his presence: “should death overtake me, let there be no wailing and mourning after me; let there be no three-day or eight-day fidau after my departure. Let the Ulama pray over my body; let it be interred as quickly as possible; let everybody go back to their various abode immediately thereafter”. Like testamentary provisions, our Brother-Shaykh did not bother about those affairs which only the Almighty can properly dispense. He did not or could not leave any statement for his young children; he did not or could not leave any statement for his wives. Such were unnecessary since it shall not be his duty to take charge of their affairs after his demise; such statements would have been null and void since the Creator has always been there attending to their ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ desires and needs since the day they emerged to this world. Shortly after making those solemn statements, our Brother-Shaykh breathed his last in this world in order to breathe his first in the hereafter. “Allah is He who created death and life to test you as to which of you is best in deed.” (Qur’an 67:2)
Brethren, whenever people who are close to our hearts depart for eternity, whenever we are bereaved we experience such pains and agonies as are beyond description. Once again, our brother’s passage reminded me of the past; of those who were dear to us all of whom have bid us bye. It reminded us of the ephemerality of this life, of the nothingness of this sojourn. What shall count at the end of the day shall not be the countable; what shall count shall be your uncountable good deeds and good words. If you do not pay heed to this, the angels are; they do not go on leave.