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Death taught me…

My cousin passed away yesterday. She was a cancer sufferer and was sick for an extensive period. My intention was to visit her yesterday and upon confirmation that I will definitely be going,

we receive the news that she has passed on. I felt overwhelmed with emotion. She was my first cousin and I hardly knew her. We have never gone for coffee, I can’t remember having a conversation with her for more than 5 minutes, nor have we ever called each other up just to ask ‘how are you?’. I remember seeing her at family functions, we would greet, smile politely and move on. I don’t mention this with pride, but with utter humiliation. We forego so many relationships because we have ‘better’ things to do. We filter our list, because we don’t want more commitments. It is an innate decision we make so that our social circles remain small so that we are involved in less drama, less bickering, less family politics, less everything. For some reason we have convinced ourselves, that we can simply live better that way. I don’t know about that anymore, the ‘less complication’ kind of living, has alienated my consciousness from many connections that could have otherwise spiritually have uplifted my life more. Life is so much more than me, my and I, it is about everything that exists around us and building connections.

Human interaction is integral to human life, isn’t it? Don’t we live to make ourselves happy through the smiles of others, through touch, gestures and kind words? Are we not meant to develop a sense of knowing how to interact amicably with each other? We kid ourselves in this modern ideology that we need to depend only on ourselves. The human being has a basic need to connect, feel wanted and valued. But, often enough in this fast paced society, we feel that we just don’t have the time to engage, because well the me, my and I matter more or we simply just don’t have the time. Sometimes our reasons for disengagement often involving senselessly judging others and this is often based on our assumptions or because that person looks less interesting. We disconnect because knowing more people means more time taken away for those days we want to be alone. Really? Were we even created to be just alone, when realistically, we know that even in that space that we think we are alone, Allāh is there, and those days we think we are spending time alone, energy is surrounding us in other forms connecting itself to our souls. Thus, we are never really truly alone.

I must admit, it is through a very heart wrenching guilt, that I am writing this post. In my studies, one of the most integral lessons was the Muslim’s right over each other. We are compelled to pray for each other, give charity, to nurture and value human life and interaction. And I didn’t uphold this fundamental aspect of my faith that is basically essentially part of every pillar of Islām. This reality dawned upon me. My duty is extended beyond my individual needs but the needs of others too. We are the vicegerents of Allāh’s creation, does this not include mankind? There are many aḥadīth and āyāt that emphasizes this, but one sūrah particularly stands out:

“By the oath of time, verily mankind is at a loss, except those who has imān, do good deeds, encourage one another to the truth and encourage one another to patience”

(Sūrah al-‘Asr)

Tomorrow is not promised to us. The use of time is integral and how we use our time essentially speaks to the eternity our souls will dwell in. It is determined within in each moment because we can either use it for good or bad. While this surah is short, its lesson and values speaks volumes to the importance of our spiritual path and how this path links to human interaction and how it is integral to our individual development. It is through our interaction that we can advance change not only within ourselves, but others too. We are not meant to be quarantined and be isolated from the world, but to revolutionise change in our ever growing society and doing this knowing that we require patience and heaps of it. Be mindful in speech and action towards others and we probably will find ourselves in situations that may not have gone the way intended, and we will be tested, or be faced with conflict and so much more, but be patient and persevere. Adopt tolerance, love and be merciful towards others misgivings. Learn to have patience and renew this practice everyday because the lesson I have learnt from this death is that this world can no longer be just me, my and I…

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