Last year I learned in a lecture that Friday is a day in which we should be extra conscious about the hereafter because Allah created Adam (a.s.) on Friday, sent him on the earth on Friday and Qiyamat (the end of the world) will also come on a Friday. So Friday should be a day in which we should pray extra hard, send lots of durood on the Prophet (s.a.w) and do lots of Istighfaar (asking Allah’s forgiveness). Since then I have been trying to give special attention to this day… but I had never dreamed that Friday 4th dec 2009 will remain etched in my memory forever…
It began as a very good day for me as Allah gave me the opportunity to talk to him in the last part of the night. There is a window in my bedroom through which I love to look at the sky and imagine Allah to be there and listening to my prayers… and so I poured out all the feelings of my heart and all my dreams… I did not know at that time that a few hours later I would be standing in front of the same window crying for Allah’s help to bring me back my children who had gone to pray Jummah prayers in the masjid which came under a massive terrorist attack…
My younger son, Adil, is 14 yrs old and MashaAllah full of life and energy… In his usual style he ran past me and rushed out of the door… his voice echoing in the lobby “Ammi I am going for Jummah”. Usually I send him off with a hug and prayers but I remember I was busy in typing out some article so I barely glanced at him… and he was out of the door in a second. My elder son, Ali, is seventeen and a half yrs old. I went up to him and asked him why was he not ready to go yet? “I don’t feel like going” was his response, which made me think how the shaitan is getting so powerful with my child that he is putting doubts about a prayer which he has never missed… And so with a firm resolve I put a smile on my face and very lovingly got him through the process of “finding” what to wear etc and so in just a few minutes he was ready but of course it was getting late and the masjid is at a walking distance of about 5 to 7 minutes. But as he started running out the door I went after him and hugged him with my usual dua “Go in Allah’s care and come back safe in Allah’s care and protection”…
I locked the door after him and went to my room to get ready for salat but just as I had got my things together, I heard something hitting hard against a wall, like a metal ball or something… but it didn’t stop and kept getting louder and more powerful… “What is it?” I rushed to the lounge to asses where the sound was coming from; but it was so loud that it seemed to be coming from all directions… “It must be a bomb blast… but where?” Someone called me just then and I ran to pick the phone… It was my servant “Baji, there has been a suicide blast in the masjid”
“But where are my children?” I asked
“I can’t see them… the firing is still going on…” and his words still echo in my mind “Baji aap dua karain” (sister, make dua!)
My heart seemed to burst with pain and anguish as I stood in my window and cried to Allah “Please Allah bring me back my children, please take care of all the children, please forgive me…please forgive me…please forgive us all” At that moment I remembered all the times I have looked at the sky from the same spot and made duas to Allah… I thought maybe Allah will accept any of those duas… maybe I will see my children again… but the sound of gun shots was still coming non stop, reducing my hopes bit by bit as each bullet seemed to go right in my own heart… Suddenly I remembered the dua which should be prayed in times of extreme unrest and pain:
La ilaha illallahu Al-Azeem Al-Haleem
La ilaha illallahu Rabbul Arshil Azeem
La ilaha illallahu Rabbus-Samawaati wa Rabbul ardhi wa Rabbul Arshil Kareem
There is no God but Allah, The Great, The forbearing
There is no God but Allah, lord of the great throne
There is no God but Allah, lord of the heavens, lord of the earth and lord of the noble throne
This dua gave me enough clarity to remember that when our Prophet was afflicted with any difficulty He used to hurry towards salat… so I made wuzu and started praying. Even though I could not focus on what I was reading; yet when I prostrated, my heart felt such comfort as I can never express in words. I wished to spend my whole life in that posture but then there was the sound of door bell and my Ali walked in… How happy I was to see him but when I asked him about Adil, he had no answer. He told me that the blast occurred just as he was half a minute’s walk away from the masjid so he ran back to a safe position where he had kept waiting for Adil… but then he thought that I must be so worried for both of them so he came back. I thought as if my heart was going to overflow with helplessness but then I thought: No, we are not helpless… we have Allah who can do everything… Thus together we got down on the prayer mat and prayed salat-e-hajat begging for Adil’s life as well as for everyone else. I had barely finished when I got a call from my husband telling me that he was in the masjid, and looking for Adil but there had been too many casualties and bodies were lying everywhere…He had not been able to locate him so far. He even asked me what clothes he had been wearing so that he could identify him… It seemed almost unbearable but at that moment I realized that if I focus on the true reality then I can handle this pain… and the reality is that every one of us is a creation of Allah and thus we belong only to Him. He had given me Adil as a blessing and He can take him back anytime He wants. And all the people who have died today have gone in a state of worship so they must have been Allah’s special guests in Paradise. And if Adil has gone to Paradise then I should be happy for him and do Sabar and shukr… As soon as I began to think on these lines I felt like someone held my heart in a comforting way and all my restlessness and anxiety seemed to dissolve like magic. On and on my tongue repeated the words “inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raji’oon” (Surely we are for Allah and surely we are going to return to Him) as the image of Adil’s smiling face seemed to fill my heart, giving me comfort that my son was safe and happy. Mostly we think that it is almost impossible to do sabr but Allah showed me that day that if we connect to Allah then He gives sabr just like He gives us all the other gifts of life.
It was at that moment when I understood with utmost clarity how important it is to have faith in Allah and the hereafter; what a great blessing it is to have an understanding of Quran and Hadith; because if I had not learned to have conviction in the “real life” of the hereafter I could never bear the loss of this life. If I had not learned the lessons of gratitude and patience from Quran and Hadith, I could never be standing there in peace, answering phone calls with a composed voice and a calm heart. Friends and relatives from all over were calling one after the other and I was just reminding them to pray… and then I got the most unexpected call… “Ammi, I am in the hospital” I just stood there full of surprise and relief… “Adil… is it really you? How are you?” And he said “Ammi I am alright, just wounded, but no problem” And so with immense gratitude I happily announced to my elder children that Allah had given us Adil once again so let’s all pray and give thanks to Allah, the extremely merciful and compassionate Rabb…
Later in the evening my husband called to assure me that he was with Adil and that there was nothing serious… just a lot of splinter wounds which he had got due to the exploding grenades. But the amazing thing was that he did not feel any pain and was not afraid or traumatized. I also came to know that the attack had been so great that more than 40 people had died and 82 were injured. I shuddered to think what the other families must be going through. What must be the state of the grieving mothers who had lost their precious sons? The wives who had lost their husbands? My heart grieved for their pain and I prayed to Allah to give them Sabr and Yaqeen in His mercy… But then I also wanted to do something for them… something that might give them hope and ease their pain… and so I thought of writing this article and share with everyone whatever lessons Allah taught me through this heart moving experience.
InshaAllah I hope to convey to them how much Allah loves us… not only when He gives us happiness but also when He gives us pain. Because any pain that Allah gives in this world is rewarded by an immeasurable amount of blessings of the hereafter. Especially the death of a child is such a great test that Jannat is guaranteed for the parents if they do sabr and follow the right path. According to a Hadith we know that if Allah intends goodness for someone, He puts them in a trial. But it is such a pity that due to lack of knowledge and a false perception about life we become hopeless and depressed. Instead of thinking of these trials as opportunities for earning great rewards, we mistake them to be an unfair calamity inflicted upon us by people or circumstances. Therefore we need to have a strong faith in Allah that He always wants good for us and is extremely compassionate and merciful.
Secondly we all need to learn about patience. It is a fact that patience and peace of heart are achieved only when we connect to Allah but if we are following a lifestyle in which there is hardly any time for Allah except a few moments of distracted prayer, and Quran is just a recitation of unknown words then how can we connect to Allah when our hearts are jolted by some extraordinary incident? Therefore it is highly important to learn and act upon the Quran and the teachings of our beloved Prophet (s.a.w)
Last and not the least is the issue of protecting ourselves and our children from further acts of terror. No doubt we must take precautions and try to secure ourselves against any unpleasant incident. But most importantly we must protect ourselves from disobedience of Allah. We must protect our children from the terrorists but we need to protect them from an even bigger enemy which is the devil. Because the plan of the devil is even more disastrous… He wants us and our children to burn in eternity and surely that’s something which we cannot bear at all. Our guard against the devil is the remembrance of Allah. So lets all turn to Allah and ask His forgiveness for all our past ignorance and heedlessness.
We read warnings of Al-Qiyamah in the Quran and we hardly give it a thought. But we should now realize that if we cannot even bear a small glimpse of Qiyamah in this world then how can we be carefree of a day in which the whole world will be jolted with a massive destruction? So we must worry about our security and our children’s security on that terrible day which is coming nearer and nearer with every passing moment.
I often used to think how nice it would be if I could have my children re-born so that I could teach them to love and obey Allah right from the start… I never imagined that Allah will answer this “impossible” prayer. When I saw Adil in the hospital and Ali standing by his side listening to his story, I realized I had got my sons “again”. But every blessing is a test. I will not be given any reward for just having these sons, rather if I want to be rewarded then I will have to work extra hard with them so that they get connected with Allah and spread their goodness in the world. So every incident is actually a test… for some it is a test of patience and for others it is a test of gratitude.
In the end I would like to say something in which I strongly believe: that you are not unlucky or unloved by Allah if your child or husband has been taken back by Allah… similarly you should not feel proud if Allah has saved you and your family… rather the one who is really fortunate and beloved to Allah is the one who remains patient and grateful. We will not be honoured in the final judgement by the number of blessings that we had, but it will be seen what we did with these blessings? That really is the test.
May Allah keep us all steadfast in our faith and obedience… May He keep us safe in both worlds… ameen