We Begin in the name of Allah, Most Glorious, Most Kind. All Praise is due to Him (Subhanahu TaAllah). We send blessings upon His (Subhanahu TaAllah’s) most Beloved Nabi Muhammad Salalahu Alaihi WaSalam.
Standing in the office of a business associate and finding yourself drifting into a conversation about the recent loss of our Beloved Wife, I received a response that was something truly unexpected. Eloquently and without hesitation he said, ” I am saddened for your loss, however you are not the first to lose a loved one to CANCER and you will not be the last; now is the time to determine the true grit of your character”.
By contrast, the first words of the oncologist shortly after Her passing provided a different form of comfort, ” Each one of us has an allotted time, it was Her Time”, and before we had a chance to exhale we were blessed to receive the words of a beautiful mentor, ” Don’t worry son. We are all here with You”.
I remember holding Her Hand as her last breath slipped away and thinking, ” I always hear of someone losing a loved one but today I am that person. What about our children? How do I tell them and what do I say”
The morning that followed saw me carrying out one of the most difficult responsibilities I think any parent has to bear; telling your children that their mom is no longer with us.
To all those who have loved and lost; this story is part of our madness and by sharing it we pray that it brings hope to those darker days. There is light, love and beauty in this story. Be patient with yourself as this dance of madness and love unfolds.
” I miss Her my Lord. Oh My Creator, my heart aches for her, my very being misses Her presence. I miss her comforting words, her gentle smile and caring nature”. Is this what it feels like to have your heart broken? At times it felt like my heart was literally breaking; not only for me but also for the 3 precious children who I now had to raise alone without their mother. “Oh my Lord, what is this madness?” I would ask time and time and then one day, in the midst of a river of tears, sitting on my prayer mat, the first wave of answers came.
” Am I not You Lord?”
“Yes, You Are”
“Did your soul not Testify to that?”
“Yes, it Did”
“Whom is My Beloved?”
“Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him)”
“Whom is He Created For?”
“For Mankind and as a Mercy Unto Creation”
“Do You not see, I sent My Beloved to You, To Guide You, To be a Role Model”
“Do You not see, You were in My Presence and Yet I sent You into this temporary world”
“Do You not see, You miss Your Beloved and I miss You, to Return”
“So my servant, take your missing and yearning and Substitute all that pain, emptiness and heartache for me”
“I am teaching You, I am showing you by example that the pain you feel and yearning to return is for Me, Your Creator”
“Come my servant, I miss You, I long for you, this is the way”
It was that day that the weight of the task ahead felt lighter and her passing began to show its purpose. Whether this conversation was merely the conjuring of a madman or the words of a loving Creator speaking to a broken heart, I will never know. All I knew was that it was what my heart needed to begin…
To begin the process of coming to the realization that all of this is His Will and any moment of growth and learning are His Graces and kind loving action towards us.
The reason I say ‘begin’ is because time and time again we hear, ‘be patient, make Sabr’. Instead, we have learnt we cannot suddenly be patient or make Sabr. It is not something that we can conjure; it is a daily, moment to moment task that is developed and painfully learnt. Sabr is the combination of exhausting days, unrested nights, streaming tears and daily heartbreak that molds those who have lost. It molds one into understanding and slowly accepting that everything has a time and a place, and that the measurement of time is by our Creators Watch and not ours. It is a lesson that slowly causes us to realize that we can only take one day at a time and even when we want to give up, we can not. We have to find the inner grit to continue because we have to honor our Creator and the gift of still being alive; being alive until our purpose here is complete.
So we Begin. We realize and then slowly understand that we are to humbly accept. We acknowledge that we cannot do everything alone, so we ask for help. We have to humble ourselves and in the process find out how inadequate we are and how unequipped we are. We pause and note that everyone also has their own lives and while their intentions are noble, not everyone has the capacity to be leaned on or can help.
We learn to value the input and help our partner gave, although a lesson too late, we show others of how much a loving spouse is to be valued. We learn to take a more active interest in our children’s well being, their point of view, their aspirations and witness how they blossom into their own personalities.
We witness the beauty of being present, putting our cellphone down when talking to someone or making time to reach out to a heart in need.
We find beauty in small, random acts of kindness; selfless acts of consideration.
We start the days with the pact with ourselves, “Today we rise to serve our Creator by serving His Creation”
All the while we fail; everyday we fail at something, but we learn to forgive ourselves and make a pact to try it again tomorrow, if not the next day.
So, while these lessons continue on an ongoing basis, we say to all that have loved and lost, “Be Brave, show Courage. Try and if you fail, do not fall into dismay but instead mold your true character into a being of light for all those that enter your space.”
More than 40% of the world’s blindness is caused by cataracts, which is avoidable through a 30 minute surgery that can immediately restore one’s vision, but without access to the resources or funds to do so, many people unfortunately succumb to its long term effects and lose their sight all together. On the 14th of February 2011, the Sultan Bahu Centre launched the Cataract Project, whereby 63 cataract operations were completed in its initial year, in commemoration of the 63 years of the life of the prophet of Islam, Muhammad (SAW). Since then more than 2000 operations have been completed in service of those who cannot afford it, not only in South Africa but also in Zimbabwe, Somalia and Ethiopia. Below is the story of one of those patients.
My name is Zeenat, I am 42 years old and I’m a housewife. In December 2013, I went for an operation and during the recovery period I had found that my eyes had gone weaker and blurry; I could not see well. Initially I thought perhaps it’s just part of the recovery process from the operation, and with time it will get better. Three months went by, six months went by and it got worse. Prior to the operation, I already had issues with my eyesight and used to wear contact lenses, so I thought the cause was my lenses, so I booked an appointment at the optician. I was shocked to hear the optician tell me. “You are building up cataracts in both your eyes.” At first I thought that he had made a mistake. At the relatively young age of 41, it seemed unlikely for me to get cataracts, as it usually only affects older people; or at least that’s what I thought, until the optician explained that cataracts can build up at any age. Even newborn babies can get it. He gave me a letter to go to any hospital and see where I could get an operation to have the cataracts removed. Unfortunately, cataract operations are expensive for those of us who do not have medical aid; it really makes life difficult.
I went to a few government hospitals but as expected the process was painstakingly slow and frustrating; my appointment just to open a file before seeing a doctor was months away. Fortunately, I spoke to some family members and friends who told me to contact the Sultan Bahu Centre as they have a cataract removal project. I then contacted their office and spoke to Tasneem and Muniera who made the necessary arrangements to put me on their list. A few months later they hosted the cataract camp and I was sent to see Dr. Bawa, who set my first operation date for November 2019 for my left eye because it was the weaker of the two. I had my second operation for the right eye in June 2020.
After the first operation, I could see clearly out of one eye but the other was still so blurry. Cataracts really disturbs your vision in so many ways. The finer things are difficult to see; reading on the phone or on the PC, you can’t tell the difference between a 3 or a 8, or a 5 and an 8, and you end up making such silly mistakes, but it’s not you that’s making mistakes, it’s your vision. After my operation and gaining back my sight, I realized just how important one’s eyes really are.