By Imam Murtadha Gusau
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
All praise is due to Allah, Lord of all creation. May Allah extol the mention of the Prophet in the highest company of Angels and may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, his family, his Companions and all those who follow him exactly till the Day of Judgement.
Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raaji’uun: From Allah do we come and to Him is our return!
Just around 4:00 am, before Fajr (Subhi) Prayer of today, Tuesday, November 5, 2019, Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala in His infinite mercy, reclaimed one of his beloved servants: Alhaji Salawu (Muda) Yakubu Wokili Okene. Baba or Maigida, as we fondly and respectfully called him, was to us and his family, a devoted husband and a loving father. We all knew him, not only as Alhaji Salawu, he was also a much-loved father and respected leader to all of us. Even though we should be prepared for death at any time, the suddenness of his departure has left us all in a state of shock. We still have to come to terms with our sense of loss.
Perhaps we should remind ourselves, brothers and sisters, that the late Alhaji Salawu (Muda) Yakubu Wokili, was merely on loan to us from Allah. And Allah has now taken back that loan, which was only given to us for a time, in trust. The truth is, we are all on loan from Allah, and surely, some day we will all return to our Rightful Owner, Allah.
Wallahi I know, the coming days, weeks, months and years, will be a period of trial and perseverance for us and the late Alhaji Salawu family, and for all the friends and associates, who are near and dear to them. It is our Islamic duty to stand by this family, to offer them help, support and comfort during this critical time. And, while we are still nursing our own sense of grief and distress, we must never lose hope. We must be positive. We must believe that Allah is with us, always. Surah Al-Baqarah reminds us in verse 153:
“O you who believe! Seek help with patient, perseverance and prayer: for Allah is with those who patiently persevere.”
As Believers in Allah, our journey through life will not be an easy one. Even the beloved Prophets and Messengers of Allah had to undergo severe difficulties, before they earned the good pleasure of their Lord.
Again, in Surah Al-Baqarah, Allah promises us with absolute certainty, that we will have our share of hardship at some point in life:
“Be sure we shall test you with something of fear and hunger; some loss in goods or lives or the fruits (of your toil) but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere. Who say when they are afflicted with calamity: Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raaji’uun: To Allah we belong and to Him is our return. They are those on whom (descend) the blessings from Allah and Mercy and they are the ones that receive guidance.”
In Surah Inshirah, Allah tells us:
“so, truly with every difficulty there comes relief, truly, with every difficulty there comes relief.”
This is the promise of Allah, and Allah never breaks His promise. The key is to remember Allah at all times, especially when life is going just fine; when we feel so happy and secure, that we may not feel the need to pray or to seek help from Allah.
Also there is a beautiful Hadith, narrated by Abdullah Ibn Abbas. It says:
“Remember Allah in times of ease, and He will recognise you in times of distress. What hit you could not have missed you, what missed you could not have hit you. Remember that victory comes with patience, relief comes with affliction and ease comes with hardship.”
Dear brothers and sisters, the death of a parent is a big loss for their offsprings no matter how old they are. These are a few things you can say to a bereaved person:
1. Say something good about the dead. How he/she had been good to you or any fond memories you have of them.
2. Remind them of how they can be of benefit to the parent even after his/her death.
Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said:
“When a person dies, all his deeds come to an end except three: sadaqah jariyah (ongoing charity, e.g. a waqf or endowment), beneficial knowledge (which he has left behind), or a righteous child who will pray for him.” [Reported by Imam Tirmidhi]
Respected brothers and sisters in Islam, we have all remembered Allah when things were going well for us. Most surely, Allah will not forget us now that we are in distress. We must accept that despite our best intentions and despite our most meticulous planning of our affairs, Allah is still the best of planners.
My beloved people, one of the most difficult times that we have to face is the devastating period we go through when someone very dear and precious is no longer with us. The feelings of bereavement and deprivation overcome us and we tend to go into a state of depression and grief. It is at this stage that we require the emotional support of close family, friends and associates.
Our beautiful religion of Islam places dire stress on expressing condolence and showing sympathy towards fellow human beings. We are social creatures who are meant to indulge in activities that enhance interpersonal relationships which in turn help to boost the feelings of love, compassion and acquaintance in the depressed soul.
Islam teaches us to condole with our brothers and sisters in the way of the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). It is wrong to wail and complain with the thought of showing discontent with Allah. Instead, the lamenter should speak a few words and recite any Du’a (Prayer) for the deceased. The quality of patience should remain within the mourners for this is what Allah Almighty has commanded for us. While expressing sympathy towards the distressed and anguished person, one should try to minimise the pain and suffering of the afflicted by mentioning the great reward for patience and the eternal life of the hereafter.
It is desirable to utter certain specific verses of the Qur’an or particular virtues that are present in the Sunnah. For instance it is recommended to mention the following Hadith:
“O Allah! Reward me in my calamity and replace my loss with a better one.” [Muslim]
“Indeed! Whatever Allah gives or takes belongs to him and everything is predestined by Him.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
Verses of the Qur’an that can be recited during condolence are:
“All that is on earth will perish, but face of your Lord will abide (forever), full of Majesty, Bounty and Honour.” [Qur’an Surah Rahman, 55:26-27]
“Every soul shall have a taste of death and only on the Day of the Judgement shall you be paid your full recompense. Only those who are saved from the fire and admitted to Paradise (Jannah) will have attained the object (of life). For the life of this world is but good and chattels of deception.” [Qur’an Surah Imran, 3:185]
It is permissible to weep silently or use short words that depict love for the deceased. However, showing impatience in any form is not allowed and Muslims should refrain from such acts as wailing, expressing loss and discontent with the Creator, praising the departed soul with exaggeration or inflicting pain by wasting possessions, beating the face/body or tearing clothes.
We as Muslims should try our best to imitate the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) so that we may receive the rewards for being patient and humble in our lives. As Allah says in the Qur’an:
“…and be patient. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.” [Qur’an Surah Anfal; 8:46]
It is Mustahabb to offer condolences to everyone who is affected by the loss of the deceased. It says in the book of Kashshaf al-Qina, volume 2 page 169:
“It is Mustahab to offer condolences to the bereaved family, even children and even friends of the deceased and so on, such as neighbours of the deceased.”
Shaikh Ibn Uthaimin (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
“He said “condolences to the bereaved” and not “condolences to the relatives”, so everyone who is affected by the loss, even if he is not related, may be offered condolences. When offering condolences about the plight of a relative, friend or acquaintance, it is Mustahab (preferable) to make Du’a similar to the following Du’a for your deceased brother. This is a Du’a which Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) recited to Ummu Salamah (RA) at the death of her husband:
“الّلهمَّ اغْفِرْ لأَبِى سَلَمَةَ وَارْفعْ دَرَجَتَهُ فِى الْمَهْدِيِّينَ وَاخْلُفْهُ فِى عَقِبِهِ فِى الْغَابِرِيْنَ وَاغْفَرْلَنَا وَلَهُ يَا رَبَّ الْعَالَمِينَ وَافْسَحْ لَهُ فِى قَبْرِهِ وَنَوَّرْ لَهُ فِيهِ.”
“O Allah! Forgive Abu Salamah, elevate his status among the guided people and look after the family that he left behind. O Lord of the universe! Forgive us and him, comfort him in his grave and lighten his stay (in the grave).” [Muslim]
It is desirable that your conversation with the bereaved person be aimed at lightening the effect of the calamity. This could be done by mentioning the reward of patience over that calamity, the transitory nature of life on earth and that the hereafter is an everlasting abode.
“إِنَّ للهِ ما أَخَذ، وَلَهُ ما أَعْـطـى، وَكُـلُّ شَيءٍ عِنْـدَهُ بِأَجَلٍ مُسَـمَّى.فَلْتَصْـبِر وَلْتَحْـتَسِب. أَعْظَـمَ اللهُ أَجْـرَك، وَأَحْسَـنَ عَـزاءَ ك، وَغَفَـرَ لِمَـيِّتِك.”
“Verily to Allah, belongs what He took and to Him belongs what He gave, and everything with Him has an appointed time. May Allah magnify your reward, make better your solace and forgive your deceased.”
There are other phrases that are said in general which means the same as in to have patience and making Du’a for the deceased, the scholars said these are also acceptable but of course the best is the Du’a from the Sunnah.
It is Sunnah to send food to the family and also help them take care of their affairs so that they don’t have to worry about anything else besides grieving. When the news of the death of Ja’afar Ibn Abi Talib came to his family, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said to Fatimah (RA):
“Prepare food for the family of Ja’afar, for there has come to them what has preoccupied them.” [Abu Dawud]
The phrase “what has preoccupied them” shows us that whatever we can do to help them in regards to their worldly affairs is good. So running errands for the family, informing their employers or school administrators so that they don’t have to, buying groceries for them, offering financial support, etc. are all things that lighten the load for them and fulfill this noble purpose.
Condolences should be offered to them whenever you see them at the Janazah or in public. Imams Malik and Shafi’i said in the Mosque or in the marketplace when they go about their business. In our days you can send a text message, email, etc. so that your condolence still reaches, but you don’t burden the family with having to receive you. And condolences are desirable, even if the deceased was a non-Muslim. Ibn Majah and Al-Baihaqi reported from Amr Ibn Hazm that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:
“Every believer who consoles his brother in distress, will be dressed by Allah in an apparel of honour on the Day of Resurrection.”
It is recommended, however, that the condolences be offered only once. [See Fiqhus Sunnah of Sayyid Sabiq]
Remember, the Sunnah way to console the family is to say to them what the Prophet (Peace be upon him) said to his daughter when she lost her child:
“Verily, to Allah belongs what He has taken, and to Him belongs what He has given. For everything He has set a term. So be patient and be content.” [Bukhari]
O Allah, forgive Alhaji Salawu (Muda) Yakubu Wokili Okene his sins, shortcomings and failings, elevate his status among the guided people and look after the family that he left behind. O Lord of the universe! Forgive us and him, comfort him in his grave and lighten his stay (in the grave), ameen Ya Rabbal Alamin.
And all praise is due to Allah, Lord of the worlds. May the peace, blessings and salutations of Allah be upon our noble Messenger, Muhammad, and upon his family, his Companions and his true followers.
Imam Murtadha Muhammad Gusau, writes from Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: firstname.lastname@example.org or 08038289761.