On Saturday morning, I prepared for a workshop on Interviewers & Writers, and an appointment at 7a.m. In the kitchen preparing what would turn out to be crudites and tuna with tamarind dip, post fajr, I could hear my phone pinging, and then ring off after 1 ring. (I am a checker of my phone messages in the mornings). I delayed checking. When I did, it was to see news that made me check again. Several sources reporting the same thing.
Qalloo nafsin za aqatul mawt – my friend, Maulana Mohmad Kholwadia had passed away. Stunned by its unexpectedness, I checked BH who was awake enough for me to share that news. And later on, BD. And even later on, while at my appointment, and with reddened eyes from various involuntary spurts of weeping, I shared with another friend that I could not go to see the family yet. But this post is not about me. This is about my friend.
We met Maulana almost 14+ years ago, when he became the first teacher of our first child who attended madressa. Our female child who attended madressa at a masjid which did not facilitate female attendees. Maulana was recommended by another friend of ours, who knew of his gentleness with children, his command of English, and his ability to teach Arabic without the urdu influences. Alif baa taa and not alif bay tay. Our second child started with him a year later. Then our eldest and Maulana’s youngest wound up in the same class with each other, and formed a fast friendship that lasted them throughout primary school.
From then until his death, we moved along the path of friendship – this Maulana who always wore white (with occasionally a grey trouser), who always wore a white topi and who I can visualise even now pushing that topi up on his forehead and settling it back into place. A Maulana who when he saw me walking with a child (or was it children) from the doctor’s office, years ago, stopped to give us a lift. A Maulana who was quiet and reserved and who I often teased about stepping up and speaking in public, and who agreed that he should. A Maulana whose elementary schoolteachers thought was mute but whose parents knew otherwise. A Maulana who introduced my family to his family and whose home became a frequent stop for us and the second stop for us on almost every Eid day over the last decade. A Maulana who frequently took my children home with him or dropped them to my office from school or madressa. A Maulana who I think was a foodie – never in excess, but he seemed to like trying new foods, and who was able to share recipes and flavours. Last year, BH was able to let him taste baked turkey, and he thought we should try caviar. A Maulana who was my go-to for contacts for cooks in the community, for questions on inheritance, for easy access to answers on fiqh. A Maulana who smoothed the way for BD when I was traumatised by the early onset of her menses and no one was ready for any of the girls in her class to experience that. A Maulana who was surrounded by family – his parents, his wife, his daughters, his sons, his sisters and all of their families, and to whom we were introduced. A Maulana whose wife and elder daughter now say to BD and me, that when they see us, it brings Maulana to mind strongly. A Maulana, the walimah of whose offspring we attended. A Maulana who allowed his daughter to accompany BD and our family to outings because he felt she should experience them before the expected strictures settled. A Maulana who began teaching BH how to read Arabic and who continued to wish to continue to do so. A Maulana who often said that he wished he could show us India, the birth-land of his parents and spouse. A Maulana who was known for his gentleness with children – and sometimes berated for what was seen as his softness – but whom children loved. A Maulana who I have since come to know was one of the first three Barbadians to travel abroad to undertake Islamic studies. A Maulana who introduced his students to the essay (possibly as punishment). A Maulana who loved Trinidad and who accompanied his youngest daughter there just weeks ago to enrol her in school. A Maulana whose father was a Maulana. A Maulana who has sired three haafiz, and one aalimah and was grooming another. A Maulana who was an obedient son. A Maulana whose doors were open to Muslims from all walks of life, and all ethnicities, and backgrounds. A Maulana who always encouraged and did not admonish/discourage. A Maulana who attended all of the programmes we invited him to. A Maulana who encouraged me by saying some years ago, that soon, my sons would be able to make public Quranic recitations and du’as at events held in our home. A Maulana who embraced email and whatsapp. A Maulana who at one time feared that he was forgetting. A Maulana who was interested in legal matters. A Maulana who was friend to my husband. A Maulana who my office staff knew by sight. A Maulana who was allowed by BH to drive his car. A Maulana who was brisk but never brusque with us. A Maulana who walked or drove to masjid. A Maulana who was humble and self-effacing. A Maulana who performed the Hajj with his beloved wife last year. A Maulana who earlier this year, offered with his wife to make gulab jamoon for us to share out when Youngest completed Qur’an . A Maulana whose suddenness of death and whose return to Allah swt, have made both BH and me cry. A Maulana whose friendship we are grateful to Allah swt to have experienced. A Maulana who was our friend and who is and will be missed.
Allah swt says:
To Allah we belong and to Him we shall return.
(Qur’an Surat Al Baqarah 2:156)
“Every soul shall have a taste of death, then to us you will be ultimately returned.”
(Qur’an Surat Al Ankaboot 29:57)
“Truly! The Muttaqun (pious and righteous persons – see V.2:2) will be amidst Gardens and water-springs (Paradise). “(It will be said to them): ‘Enter therein (Paradise), in peace and security.’ “And We shall remove from their breasts any sense of injury (that they may have), (So they will be like) brothers facing each other on thrones. “No sense of fatigue shall touch them, nor shall they (ever) be asked to leave it.”
Quran 15: 45-48
Truly, Allah will admit those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah Islamic Monotheism) and do righteous good deeds, to Gardens underneath which rivers flow (in Paradise), wherein they will be adorned with bracelets of gold and pearls and their garments therein will be of silk. Quran 22: 23
Verily, the dwellers of the Paradise, that Day, will be busy in joyful things. They and their wives will be in pleasant shade, reclining on thrones. They will have therein fruits (of all kinds) and all that they ask for. (It will be said to them): Salamun (peace be on you), a Word from the Lord (Allah), Most Merciful. Quran 36: 55-58
And those who kept their duty to their Lord will be led to Paradise in groups, till, when they reach it, and its gates will be opened (before their arrival for their reception) and its keepers will say: Salamun ‘Alaikum (peace be upon you)! You have done well, so enter here to abide therein.” And they will say: “All the praises and thanks be to Allah Who has fulfilled His Promise to us and has made us inherit (this) land. We can dwell in Paradise where we will; how excellent a reward for the (pious good) workers!”
Quran 39: 73-74
Verily! The Muttaqun (pious – see V.2:2), will be in place of Security (Paradise). Among Gardens and Springs; Dressed in fine silk and (also) in thick silk, facing each other, So (it will be), and We shall marry them to Houris (female fair ones) with wide, lovely eyes. They will call therein for every kind of fruit in peace and security;
Quran 44: 51-55
The description of Paradise which the Muttaqun (pious – see V.2:2) have been promised is that in it are rivers of water the taste and smell of which are not changed; rivers of milk of which the taste never changes; rivers of wine delicious to those who drink; and rivers of clarified honey (clear and pure) therein for them is every kind of fruit; and forgiveness from their Lord. (Are these) like those who shall dwell for ever in the Fire, and be given, to drink, boiling water, so that it cuts up their bowels?
Quran 47: 15
Verily, The Muttaqun (pious), will be in the midst of Gardens and Rivers (Paradise). In a seat of truth (i.e. Paradise), near the Omnipotent King (Allah, the All-Blessed, the Most High, the Owner of Majesty and Honour).
May Allah swt forgive Maulana for any wrongs which he may have committed, and may He grant him mercy in the grave and on yawmul qiyyamah and may He grant him his Book of Deeds in his right hand and grant him entrance into Jannatul Firdaus, and may He guide his family and keep them on the path of those whom He has favoured. Ameen.