Monthly Archives: May 2019

Nereema, the sitting, & sisters’ spaces

Today I attended …. pre funeral (I had to pause to check the definition of funeral) sitting of Sister N who passed away last week. She was from Guyana living and working in Barbados. I had never met her. She is Muslim.

Present were many persons. Different races possibly different religions (Caribbean muslims can dress like every other Caribbean person or in gear which might be identifiable as Islamic- but that is a post for another time).

Anyway, my non Muslim acquaintance told me about her sudden death. And I saw the Demise Note on the Muslim funeral announcements media.

I went. I viewed the body. I sat. I recited (quietly I think). I spoke to my acquaintance. When I looked around I could identify maybe at most 2 persons from the Muslim community. If their clothes were a guide. I had never met them either.

It brought to mind for me the misperception that Muslims in Barbados are recognisable by dress, and conform to a particular… well not brand, but let’s say socialisation of Islam. It is a misperception. Many dress in a manner not readily identifiable as Islamic unless at the mosque. Or in circumstances only visible to few. Many interact with persons of other religions.

For years I greeted persons dressed in seemingly islamic garb (alright, it might be stereotypical but I mean scarf and long sleeved clothing for women and topis and kurtas for men). Few responded. For years I have greeted persons I know to be Muslim. Some respond some do not. (This is in Barbados, in Trinidad everybody responds and everybody greets).

Which brings me to how and where do I meet muslims? On the street, in the marketplace, at work. At play? At the masjid? How do I meet persons at the masjid (ie Muslims) if I am denied access to the masjid.

I do not know if Nereema attended the masjid (which of the 2 with facilities for women, oh wait make that 3 now, out of 6) or not. But the probability of me meeting her there would have increased if there were sisters spaces at all of the mosques (yes I know you’re all tired of my whining about the mosque that’s 5 minutes drive from my workplace that hasn’t said it has a sisters space). And the probability of other Muslim sisters as well.

In Barbados when a Muslim person passes away, there is a sitting at the home of the deceased. Women go in numbers, sit with the female members of the family, recite Quran, do dhikr, offer support. And the visiting continues for some time after the burial. (Few if any Muslim women attend the funeral service ir prayer or burial.)That presumes many things. That the family members are Muslim, or if not Muslim, are conducive to observing Muslim funeral rites. That the home can accommodate visitors. Etc.

Today’s ‘sitting’ was at the mosque that I whine about. Well in an open area in its premises. Some months ago, a young child passed away. I did not know how or where to ‘sit’ with the grieving mother.

We need sisters spaces. At mosques. That ought to serve as a community meeting place for us sisters. (Do men really feel that we want to attend the mosques to ogle and jostle them,).

We need those spaces to commune with our Creator, our God, to meet and greet and mix with other sisters, sisters who have or don’t have families, sisters who have or don’t have friends, to sit in peace and remember Allah swt, to contemplate His word and His world and His many many favours, to hear His word, to learn, to share, to be. Yes, we can do all of that in our homes. But our hones are discrete units. Our sisters spaces at our mosques should be open to all sisters.

Postscript: I haven’t been back to Masjid an Noor so I cannot tell whether audio has been enabled for the Sisters Prayer Area. It had been my intention to attend on the night of the first Friday of Ramadan to offer taraweeh prayers. No, do not be horrified. To offer taraweeh prayers on my own. Its optional not obligatory. Haven’t gotten there yet. And the last 10 nights of Ramadan are soon upon us. Perhaps BD and I will make use of the Sisters Prayer Area on one of those nights. Perhaps.

Ramadan Note 6 of 1440AH – Taqwa

Taqwa

Today, I was reading a WordPress post on secularism in Ramadan, and the authoress cited Imam Ibn Juzayy Al-Kalbi’s 5 stages of increasing taqwa (becoming a muqatti). I found this quote particularly insightful. I hope you do too! (Remember, we are enjoined to fast so as to attain taqwa).

Pre- and post- janaaza – a comprehensive hadith

The janaaza (funeral prayer) and burial of my maternal uncle is scheduled for this afternoon, the first day of fasting in Ramadan 1440AH.

The Prophet saws once stood at the edge of a grave and called out to his Companions:

“O my brothers! For this, prepare yourselves.” (Ibn Majah)

and in another narration, he saws, said:

“O people! Remember often the destroyer of pleasures: death.” (Al-Tirmidhi, An-Nasa’i, Ibn Majah)

The Prophet saws said:

“Hasten to do good deeds before you become busy. Are you waiting for such straitened circumstances which will make you unmindful of devotion? Or such prosperity which will make you corrupt? Or such disease which will disable you? Or such senility which will make you mentally unstable? Or sudden death? Or the Dajjaal (Anti-Christ), who is the worst apprehended (sign of the Hour)? Or (are you waiting) for the Hour? That will be most grievous and bitter.” (Al-Tirmidhi)

https://islamqa.info/en/answers/10403/three-questions-in-the-grave sets out comprehensively the sequence of events after burial. I have re-posted part of an answer given in that link:

It was narrated that al-Bara’ (may Allaah be pleased with him) said:

We went out with the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) for the funeral of a man from among the Ansaar. We came to the grave and when (the deceased) was placed in the lahd, the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) sat down and we sat around him, as if there were birds on our heads (i.e., quiet and still). In his hand he had a stick with which he was scratching the ground.

Then he raised his head and said, “Seek refuge with Allaah from the torment of the grave”, two or three times.

Then he said, “When the believing slave is about to depart this world and enter the Hereafter, there come down to him from heaven angels with white faces like the sun, and they sit around him as far as the eye can see. They bring with them shrouds from Paradise and perfumes from Paradise.

Then the Angel of Death comes and sits by his head, and he says, ‘O good soul, come forth to forgiveness from Allaah and His pleasure.’ Then it comes out easily like a drop of water from the the mouth of a waterskin. When he seizes it, they do not leave it in his hand for an instant before they take it and put it in that shroud with that perfume, and there comes from it a fragrance like the finest musk on the face of the earth. Then they ascend and they do not pass by any group of angels but they say, ‘Who is this good soul?’ and they say, ‘It is So and so the son of So and so, calling him by the best names by which he was known in this world, until they reach the lowest heaven. They ask for it to be opened to them and it is opened, and (the soul) is welcomed and accompanied to the next heaven by those who are closest to Allaah, until they reach the seventh heaven. Then Allaah says: ‘Record the book of My slave in ‘Illiyoon in the seventh heaven, and return him to the earth, for from it I created them, to it I will return them and from it I will bring them forth once again.’

So his soul is returned to his body and there come to him two angels who make him sit up and they say to him, ‘Who is your Lord?’ He says, ‘Allaah.’

They say, ‘What is your religion?’ He says, ‘My religion is Islam.’

They say, ‘Who is this man who was sent among you?’ He says, ‘He is the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him).’

They say, ‘What did you do?’ He says, ‘I read the Book of Allaah and I believed in it.’

Then a voice calls out from heaven, ‘My slave has spoken the truth, so prepare for him a bed from Paradise and clothe him from Paradise, and open for him a gate to Paradise.’ Then there comes to him some of its fragrance, and his grave is made wide, as far as he can see. Then there comes to him a man with a handsome face and handsome clothes, and a good fragrance, who says, ‘Receive the glad tidings that will bring you joy this day.’ He says, ‘Who are you? Your face is a face which brings glad tidings.’ He says, ‘I am your righteous deeds.’ He says, ‘O Lord, hasten the Hour so that I may return to my family and my wealth.’

But when the disbelieving slave is about to depart this world and enter the Hereafter, there come down to him from heaven angels with black faces, bringing sackcloth, and they sit around him as far as the eye can see. Then the Angel of Death comes and sits by his head, and he says, ‘O evil soul, come forth to the wrath of Allaah and His anger.’ Then his soul disperses inside his body, then comes out cutting the veins and nerves, like a skewer passing through wet wool. When he seizes it, they do not leave it in his hand for an instant before they take it and put it in that sackcloth, and there comes from it a stench like the foulest stench of a dead body on the face of the earth. Then they ascend and they do not pass by any group of angels but they say, ‘Who is this evil soul?’ and they say, ‘It is So and so the son of So and so, calling him by the worst names by which he was known in this world, until they reach the lowest heaven. They ask for it to be opened to them and it is not opened.”

Then the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) recited (interpretation of the meaning):

“for them the gates of heaven will not be opened, and they will not enter Paradise until the camel goes through the eye of the needle”

[al-A’raaf 7:40]

He said: “Then Allaah says, ‘Record the book of My slave in Sijjeen in the lowest earth, and return him to the earth, for from it I created them, to it I will return them and from it I will bring them forth once again.’ So his soul is cast down.”  Then the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) recited the verse (interpretation of the meaning):

“and whoever assigns partners to Allaah, it is as if he had fallen from the sky, and the birds had snatched him, or the wind had thrown him to a far off place”

[al-Hajj 22:31]

He said: “Then his soul is returned to his body, and there come to him two angels who make him sit up and they say to him, ‘Who is your Lord?’ He says, ‘Oh, oh, I don’t know.’ They say, ‘What is your religion?’ He says, ‘Oh, oh, I don’t know.’ Then a voice calls out from heaven, ‘Prepare for him a bed from Hell and clothe him from Hell, and open for him a gate to Hell.’ Then there comes to him some of its heat and hot winds, and his grave is constricted and compresses him until his ribs interlock. Then there comes to him a man with an ugly face and ugly clothes, and a foul stench, who says, ‘Receive the bad news, this is the day that you were promised.’ He says, ‘Who are you? Your face is a face which forebodes evil.’ He says, ‘I am your evil deeds.’ He says, ‘O Lord, do not let the Hour come, do not let the Hour come.’”

Narrated by Abu Dawood, 4753; Ahmad, 18063 – this version was narrated by him. Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami’, 1676.