This week, I attended two funerals – one of a person whom I can only describe as a gentleman through & through. At his funeral service was spoken words of his scholarly aptitude, his work ethic, his deferral to his wives, his dedication to family, his push of education as a goal, his love for his grandsons, his conduct as a manager of others. All words which bore out that epithet of gentleman. He died quietly and to all intents, peaceably, one day after the birth of his first great-grandchild. I know of some heartbreak which he endured.
I attended the other funeral out of respect for one of my partners. His youngest maternal uncle passed away. Leaving to mourn him no children of his own. Got there late, lingered awhile in the graveyard, greeting mortals, and reading tombstones, searching in vain for a marker for my father-in-law.
My father-in-law has been dead just shy of three decades. I knew him not. But my BH adored him (and that was probably an understatement). There is little I have heard during my married life that has endowed him with clay feet. BH adored him and from all recounts, he adored BH. His death was a blow that left BH reeling. The love and attention of a father are important for all children. The grave of BH’s father lies next to his own mother and is unmarked.
Which brings me to my father – my beloved charismatic pragmatic eloquent father whose feet of clay both YoungerBrother and I well recognise and which did not diminish for me the esteem, realistic and pragmatic, in which I held him. This year will mark 5 years from his passing. I never doubted that he loved us or that our children in their own turns received from and gave to him unreservedly love and adoration. My youngest/only nephew knew him not. He was a man of many many parts – certainly when I read his autobiography, one wonders how one man could have achieved so much in one lifetime. And we knew that there was much left undone – his desire to play secondary school football went unquenched in the face of his parents’ dictates and the cost of a pair of football togs, his ambition to be a school supervisor was realised very late in his life, decades after being appointed the youngest Muslim primary school principal in Trinidad in the last century, his appointment to the national cricket team never materialised despite decades later YoungerBrother and I being regaled by tales of his batting and his sprint ability. I cannot say whether it was development of our own self-sufficiency or not, but we cannot say that we ever felt neglected or ignored. We were toted all over every cricket field in Trinidad, we went on every excursion to find young cricketers in all sorts of hills and fields, we grew up in the Oval, we went to county sports, school sports, lounged in the back seat of the car with our own games & books while he attended meetings, I went to Arabic classes with him, we played endless games of pedro when we were in our late teens, we listened to him speak at many many functions, we watched him lead the qurbani for years, and we followed behind his imamship, we watched his relationship with his mother, and his being ‘Baya’ for his siblings, and we watched and listened and learned from his relationship with our mother. And we learned at his table and around him. He was our father. And he too, is buried beside his own mother. And his grave too, is unmarked.
Today, in New Zealand, many Muslims died when they obeyed the command of Allah swt and left off their trade and attended the Jummah salaat. Amongst them no doubt, were fathers.
Qalloo nafsin za’aqatul mawt. Every soul shall taste of death.
And to Him is our eventual return.
The word ‘father’ appears 119 times in the Holy Qur’an. Usually in relation to wrong practices. But the following verse is Verse 8 of Surah 20:
” Our Lord! And make them enter the Gardens of Eden which thou hast promised them, with such of their fathers and their wives and their descendants as do right. Lo! Thou, only Thou, art the Mighty, the Wise.”
And finally, the father of Rasool saws died before Rasool saws was born. And he, Rasool saws was a father. A beloved father.