Numbers and places 

The lives lost simply numbers and places. No photos. No names. No stories. But each and every one of them is a person like you and I. With families and loved ones. With livelihoods and paths they crafted for themselves. Destinies and dreams. This is just too many. Before we can even be done mourning there’s another one. Another death count. We hold our breaths praying it’s not someone we know. For if it’s not someone we know then they’re just a number.

We write a message online and send our prayers. Create a hashtag. #PrayforTurkey #PrayforBangladesh #PrayforIraq. And then we forget until the next and then the next.

And of course if it’s in the global south then we will forget very soon. Only the ones with roots there will know or care to know. No flags, no vigils, no news coverage. If it’s in the west we will mourn a little longer. But they too will be forgotten soon.

Unless it is your home, your friends, your family. Just numbers and places. Far away stories of evil men (and it is always men) continue. But it’s ok. We can breath, it’s not us. This time.

May Allah accept the fallen as martyrs and bring peace to their loved ones. And may we have peace and stability in our homes.

How we live now

Seconds to minutes to hours to days to weeks to months to a whole year. A whole year has flown on by and here we are in a world void of so many that filled it with their breath and voice and movement.

It was in last Ramadan that the world mourned for our dear brother, our leader and our friend Bashir Osman. Those who had met Bashir, even once, will tell you how they fell in love with his warmth, his humour, his character. He made everyone feel like his best friend. And for how well he was known and how much he achieved he still remained grounded and humble.

The response after his death was equally warming and numbing. He had messages from scholars across the world, people who did not even know him got to know him. People donated to the building well project he had started. It was truly exceptional to witness.

As I remember him now I remember one of his last tweets, hope simple yet so powerful.

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When I think of Bashir I think of the amazing life he led. But in all he did – leading FOSIS, all his charity work, the immense friend he was – he did as a student. A young person just like you and I. I wonder how I will be remembered after my inevitable demise. Will strangers sing my praises and wish to know me? Will my acquaintances mourn me even after a year? Will my loved one be proud of me? Will I have a legacy that can live on?

Bashir fills me with hope. We all have the potential to be like him. So let us take heed of his advice. Take advantage of today, worry not of the past.

The Prophet (pbuh) said: “Allah said: ‘O son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind. O son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you. O son of Adam, were you to come to Me with sins nearly as great as the earth and were you then to face Me, ascribing no partner to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great as it.’ ” [Narrated by Tirmidhi]

This is my entry for Ramadan diary: day 15. 

Ramadan diary: day 6

Yesterday I spent my morning watching the beautiful memorial service for Muhammad Ali. Never before had I seen an event with people from so many different faiths, tribes, cultures and backgrounds all there, unified under one cause. The loving stories they shared about this great man, this champ, welled me with tears. I had no idea just how generous and kind he was. A black man willing to believe in himself at a time when this was not meant to be possible. And later a Black Muslim who did not compromise on his faiths despite the threats and powers that stood in the way.

I cried and I cried. What a hero we have lost. And I promised myself that I would try to be just a little more resilient and a little more thoughtful and a little more loving just like him. Keep his legacy going.

“When a man passes away, his good deeds will also come to an end except for three: Sadaqah Jariyah (ceaseless charity); a knowledge which is beneficial, or a virtuous descendant who prays for him (for the deceased)” Narrated by Abu Hurairah, Sahih Muslim

Muhammed Ali has all these things – charities he built, peace be bought, people who he helped. The inspirational messages he spread to this day are used by people to love themselves, trust themselves, trust Allah. And as for children he has many.

Two thoughts crossed my mind once I had finished.

  1. What will people say about me when I die. What stories will they share? What good deeds will continue? How many peoples’ hearts will I have touched?
  2. I wish I had someone who could just hug me right now. I was emotionally drained and lying in bed in a ball. And all I wanted at that moment was to be a little spoon.

I spent almost the whole day on my phone yesterday. Either that or napping. Right now I feel angry and disappointed at myself. I just don’t understand why I have no self discipline. I know who I want to be and what I need to do it. So why do I still just sit there in bed on my phone? Please pray for me guys and give me your tips on making Ramadan productive. It’s nearly 10 days I am yet to memorise even a line. 😦 Feeling very low right now.

The legend

“Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go ten thousand miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?No, I am not going ten thousand miles from home to help murder and burn another poor nation simply to continue the domination of white slave masters of the darker people the world over. This is the day when such evils must come to an end. I have been warned that to take such a stand would put my prestige in jeopardy and could cause me to lose millions of dollars which should accrue to me as the champion.

But I have said it once and I will say it again. The real enemy of my people is right here. I will not disgrace my religion, my people or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting for their own justice, freedom and equality…

If I thought the war was going to bring freedom and equality to 22 million of my people they wouldn’t have to draft me, I’d join tomorrow. But I either have to obey the laws of the land or the laws of Allah. I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs. So I’ll go to jail. We’ve been in jail for four hundred years.” – Muhammad Ali

Innallahi wa innallahi rajiun – surely to Allah we belong and to him we return. I pray Allah grants you abundant space in the highest of heavens. Ameen.

What a man. What a legend. Thank you for teaching us to unapologetic in our faith, against oppressions and to be unafraid of the state. You taught us love and strength.

And to our Lord we return

Yesterday I was devastated to hear the passing of an amazing guy, who drowned in an accident whilst abroad. A leader, a friend, a brother to so many. Innallahi wa innallahi rajiun. To our Lord we belong, and to Him we return.

I am still in shock. He was active on Facebook just eight hours before I heard the news. At first I thought it was a joke, I just saw him the other day, he’s so young – still in his 20s, how can this even be?

I cannot explain to you how loved he was, and by so many – he was so warm, so funny, so humble, always thinking of others. People knew him from all over the country and abroad. He has raised thousands for charity, organised soul-enriching events, and he has revived a whole movement. In the few years he walked this earth, he dedicated his life to Islam and Muslim youth. World renowned scholars and artists are writing statuses about him – testament to the legacy that his work, his character and his efforts have left behind. He knew thousands of people, and I don’t think even one of those people could say a bad word about him. How many of us can the say the same about the much smaller group of people that know us? Even though I had met him twice, his character was such that I am grieving like I’ve known him for years.

The time and circumstances of his passing are among the most honourable of ways to return to our Lord. He has drowned, a shaheed, and in the blessed month of Ramadan when the doors of Hellfire are closed. Please keep him and his family and friends in your prayers. How glorious that Allah chose to take his life in that way – in a place that he had described as the most beautiful lake he had ever seen and in water, where he had dedicated himself to building wells. Please donate what you can to his final charity project.

A reminder to myself, death does not wait for us to grow old. I look at what I have achieved and wonder if I am ready for my Lord. The answer is no. Even in death he has inspired me.

If we do not meet again, I pray Allah unites us in Jannah – Bashir Osman Ameen