Lessons Learnt from my New Muslim Mother’s Demise (raḥmatullāhi `alayhā)

My mother embraced Islām four years ago at the age of 57. She always strove to provide the best for her children as every mother does. Yet she suffered immensely for many years as she witnessed how her children were lost, living lives of misguidance pursuing the world. I preached Islām to her for about ten years, and despite knowing that it was the truth and in her view that the best type of people she had ever met were Muslim, ‘very generous, kind-hearted and sincere’ in her own words, she would not submit. Her eldest son [‘Isa] became a Muslim 10 years earlier and was by now a scholar, married, and a father to 3 of her grandchildren; her husband had been a Muslim for two years now, but this was not enough to move her heart. She was waiting for the miracle to happen to her youngest son, the one who had suffered the most. So she was a non-Muslim mother pleading to God to make her youngest son a Muslim – this was her utmost desire. And only after his reversion to Islām, and my mother having witnessed for herself the marvellous positive changes that this faith brought to her youngest son [now called ‘Umar], she decided to accept the advice of our respected Shaykh Muhammad Saleem Dhorat ḥafiẓahullāh to become a Muslim and she was named Ḥawwā.

After her last visit to the UK in December 2010, my mother returned ill to Mexico. She was hospitalised with pneumonia and soon afterwards she was diagnosed with cancer and passed away on the 11th of March 2011. May Allāh Ta`ālā forgive her sins and grant her a high stage in Jannah. It is about her few qualities, and how she passed away that I want to draw lessons from for the benefit of the readers, inshā’allāh, and for iṣāluth-thawāb for her and all beloved deceased as well.

Ḥawwā’s Islām  

My mother practiced Islām within her own capacity. She never met Muslims in Mexico. She did not know how to pray ṣalāh in the correct manner, neither the positions nor the phrases. However, Ḥawwā made her prayers in the mornings in her own way and in the evenings before going to sleep.

Ḥawwā tried to abstain from the major forbidden things. It was her nature never to hurt anyone – never ever. She would prefer to keep quiet rather than say something that would hurt someone. She always had a smile for everyone and tried to make everyone laugh and feel happy. She loved giving gifts to all. In brief, she was loved by everyone she met. In the days before she was hospitalised, she mentioned to all of us, “I have forgiven everyone who has hurt me in my life, I hold no grudge or hatred for anyone. I want to keep my heart clean.”

Mother’s Diagnosis

My brother and I arrived in Mexico just before her first discharge to conclude with her head’s radiotherapy. We found her as cheerful as ever. The family had not disclosed to us the full diagnosis: 6 major tumours in her head, a ring or crown of small tumours around her head, dozens of minute tumours in her lungs, metastasis that had spread in her body for over a year from the kidney. Yet in the words of my mother, she never experienced any pain all those months; just twice she lost her sense of location and got lost in her school and started walking round and round in circles, but when she became normal, she did not inform anyone to avoid worries. The absence of pain for so long was an immense ni‘mah (favour) of Allāh Ta`ālā. For Him is all praise and gratitude.

The Blessings of Īmān

After such a severe diagnosis, I assumed that I had to prepare her for death, but in her own way she was already ready for this. In solitude, Ḥawwā mentioned to me, “Allāh is the best of doctors. If He wills, He will cure me; and if it is my turn then I submit to His will.” When I contacted the respected Shaykh ḥafiẓahullāh from the hospital, he offered words of encouragement and support for the affairs of both this world and the Hereafter. She in reply mentioned to Shaykh that she had been told she was going to die in the next 2 months to a year. She explained that if it was not for the gift of Islām, she would have become depressed or even insane. She stated that she felt immense apprehension about the future, but also immense peace within. She wanted to live, yet she also said that she would be prepared to meet Allāh Ta`ālā if that was His Will.

It is clear that the blessings and benefits of Īmān are precious, especially in the most critical moments of one’s life; to submit to the Will of Allāh Ta`ālā gives the human being unimaginable strength. Ḥawwā’s immense inner peace and literal absence of physical pain, points out to the literal manifestation of the ḥadīth quoted by Imām Bukhārī raḥmatullāhi `alayhi. This ḥadīth explains that if a person believes, then he will experience peace, tranquillity and blessings in this world as well as the Hereafter.

We should not look at what we perceive we will lose if we obey Allāh Ta`ālā, we just have to submit; make an intention in our hearts to love Allāh Ta`ālā and become His friend and His servant for a short time on earth, and in return He will make everything easy.

When my parents were not sure to accept Islām, my beloved Shaykh ḥafiẓahullāh told them, “Believe, whether you practice or not is a different matter. (This was the biggest hurdle for them.)” He also said, “Allāh Ta`ālā may punish you or He may forgive you, but eventually you will enter Paradise.”

Born and brought-up Muslims have Īmān for free; hence, it is taken for granted and is not valued. But at the time of death, we will realise its value.

Ḥawwā was destined to pass away but we did not know how soon. Being the loving mother as usual, she commanded me to go back to the UK and that she would call me over if her condition became more critical. I made her promise to call me if it seemed her condition worsened and the worst could be expected.

I returned to the UK and within weeks my mother had lost her speech and mobility, yet the family had not informed me of her health deteriorating so rapidly. Once my father passed her the phone for me to greet her, but Ḥawwā’s mumbling was not understandable. Only then I gathered her time was somewhat near but could not narrow it to weeks or months. I took 6 months leave from work and flew to Mexico with my family and her kafn. I saw Ḥawwā lying in the bed, nearly an unrecognisable breathing corpse unable to hug her son. My ears would never be able to hear her loving words and motherly advices.  Three days later she was hospitalised being unable to breathe. By now Ḥawwā could not eat, nor see, but she could understand. On a night at her hospital bed, for nearly an hour I could hear her gentle mumble of ‘Allāh Allāh.’  Few weeks back my mother had asked me to write for her the Arabic kalimah in large writing so she could remember it, because she feared she would forget it later on, but now it would not possible for her to read it.

We phoned my brother to come with his wife as death was imminent. During his journey he prayed that Allāh Ta`ālā bless her with death on a Friday. He arrived in Mexico on a Wednesday.

Four Immense Favours of Allāh Ta`ālā

Now, I would like to narrate to you how Allāh Ta`ālā made it easy from here onwards to Ḥawwā’s demise and burial.

1-  I feared she would pass away anytime and my brother living in the UK also would demand to wait for him, but he agreed and even encouraged me to bury her as soon as possible if he could not arrive on time, as is the dictate of the Sharī‘ah.

2-  There is no Muslim cemetery in Mexico so we had to make immediate arrangements. Incidentally, my parents had bought a grave many years ago. I feared the grave would not be aligned properly with respect to the qiblah, and she would be in the midst of everyone else. Allāh Ta`ālā – through His sheer Grace and Mercy – had arranged for her grave to be facing, more or less, towards the qiblah; and we were granted a bigger grave at the end of the row of graves, so we could turn the coffin exactly in the direction we wished.

3-  By law every dead body has to have a post mortem or autopsy carried out by prescribed staff; so, there was no possibility for an Islamic ghusl. We sought permission from the local authorities and after much toil, we were allowed to take the body and perform the Islamic ghusl at home.

4-  In the last few days before mother’s demise we were forced to transfer her from the general hospital to the local hospital of our area. Only one visitor was allowed for half an hour twice during the day. I feared she would pass away alone or in the company of my non-Muslim relatives who could not understand the importance of a Muslim being at the side of another dying Muslim. Alḥamdulillāh, my mother did not pass away on the night she was being looked after the non-Muslim family members.

Comforting words

Shaykh Muhammad Saleem Dhorat ḥafiẓahullāh said to me, “In the last moments, the good servants of Allāh TA`ĀLĀ are granted some degree of consciousness. This is why it is important for a Muslim to be by the side of another Muslim, to give him targhīb (desire) for the Hereafter.” My plea was ignored, and since it was decided that the non-Muslim sister would stay overnight with mother, I prayed to Allāh Ta`ālā not to let her pass away that night. The following day was my turn. 

The Final Moments

It was Friday and my visiting hour had commenced. I only had half an hour to spend with my mother. Her eyelids were sealed with immense discharge like conjunctivitis. I cleaned her eyelids with wet cotton wool so at least we could open her eyes.  Her tongue had become dry and porous like a rock. This is when tears burst as it settled in my heart that the moment of her departure was near. I tried to give her water but she could not swallow, so I put my fingers in her mouth and I moistened her tongue and lips.

I took hold of my heart and spoke to her loudly, sternly, and lovingly, “Mother you have to prepare for the Hereafter now. You have to forget about us. Think about Allāh Ta`ālā, prepare for the best journey of your life. You always loved to travel, so now you will travel to meet Allāh Ta`ālā.”   

Ḥawwā opened her eyes and glanced at me. It happened just as Shaykh had mentioned to me the previous night. Then her eyes closed. I told her to think in her heart and mind ‘ALLĀH ALLĀH’.

I was called out and feared she would die alone. The visiting time was over. But I had no choice but to leave her.

My father, Abdullah, arrived and he knew the doctors well so I was allowed inside once again. Then, while by her side approximately at 4 p.m. I started reciting ṣalāh ‘alan nabī (ṣallallāhu `alayhi wa sallam). I was looking at the heart-monitoring machine as the lines were becoming more and more horizontal. I could not open the Qur’ān since my wuḍū had broken.

It was a race against time, I wanted my mother to pass away right there and then, before I was told to go back to the visitors’ waiting room, before the day of Jumu‘ah was over, and between ‘Aṣr and Maghrib. I was beseeching Allāh, “O Allāh Ta`ālā! Take my mother’s soul now. Take her soul now.”

She had to cross the finish line soon in order that she could pass away after ‘Asr, but not so late that I would be taken away again, or that my non-Muslim relatives arrived and demanded their turn.

Then all of the sudden within my heart there was a need to start reciting:

“O content soul! Come back to your Lord, well-pleased, well-pleasing. So, enter among My (special) servants, and enter My Paradise.” (89:27-30)

By the Grace of Allāh Ta`ālā, Ḥawwā’s son started reciting this verse a couple of times looking at the heart-monitoring machine, wishing that all the graph lines become straight and the alarm sounds. After a couple of minutes, the graph became straight and is started beeping with one solid tone. My mother’s soul had left this world – Innā lillāhi wa innā ilayhi rāji‘ūn.

At that moment I felt so happy. She had made it. She had succeeded! She won the race, with the Help of Allāh Ta`ālā, and she passed away with Islām.

The words of the Ḥarām ibn Milḥān raḍiyallāhu `anhu ‘Fuztu wa Rabbil Ka‘bah’ (By the Lord of the Ka‘bah! I am successful), jumped to my mind, who had said these words moments after treacherously being killed. Despite being fatally wounded, he was rejoicing because he had succeeded, dying with Īmān.

It was a mixture of grief but also of immense joy. I felt much more joy for her that day than on the occasion when she accepted Islam in Shaykh’s flat in Leicester with all the ṭalabā (students) as oral witnesses.

And to conclude, after her ghusl took place, her face looked so radiant, so bright with a tender smile and very peaceful in her white kafn, as if she was clothed in a white iḥrām, and as if she had just come for Ḥajj which she never managed to perform. My wife and my brother’s wife performed the ghusl, guiding the close female relatives; with the ghusl having such an effect on Ḥawwā’s children, one of her daughters [Miriam] has accepted Islām witnessing the peace with which her mother departed from this world. I request the readers to make du‘ā that Allāh Ta`ālā also accepts the daughter, just as He accepted the mother. Āmīn.

Dear brothers and sisters, Islām is not hard; it is easy to practice if we make the intention to follow it. Allāh Ta`ālā does not look at how much we succeeded in obeying Him, but rather at how much we attempted to obey Him as none of us can obey as is His right that He is obeyed. Even if we are alone, and there is no one around to help with or share our Islām, Allāh Ta`ālā still looks after us, loves us and forgives us.

Our Shaykh always tells us that the biggest ‘ibādah (worship) is to abstain from the disobedience of Allāh Ta`ālā. Friends, surely we can make an effort to stop our wrong doings, and with the Help of Allāh become His special friends, so that one day we are also able to say ‘Fuztu wa Rabbil Ka‘bah’. Āmīn.


© Riyāḍul Jannah (Volume 20, Issues 11 & 12)