Facing Death with cancer …thoughts of a Muslim
From the Author
I wrote this article to share certain knowledge that I gained throughout my ordeal dealing with cancer since 2002. But for personal reasons, I prefer this article to be distributed to others after my death:
22nd July 2005
(The author passed away peacefully at the age of 39 in his Taman Permata home on the 27th. November 2005 due to terminal cancer. He is survived by his wife, a young son and two younger daughters. He left behind a clear request to distribute this article only after his death. Pray that Allah give His Mercy to his soul and reward him with Jannah. Ameen) – his elder brother
Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim
Assalamu’alaikum Brothers and Sisters in Islam.
First of all, please allow me to identify myself on as K. My main reason to remain anonymous is because I want the readers to concentrate more on the content of this article rather than to concentrate on the character of the author, i.e. me. This is because this article contains things that I learned from personal experience throughout my ordeal in facing death, which I feel is now my obligation to share with my Muslim Brothers and Sisters.
At the same time, however, I know I am far from being a perfect Muslim, and I am still unsure of the state I would be in when my Creator finally calls me. I am still worried whether I would really pass the test i.e. the pain, the agony, especially during Sakaratul Maut. Therefore, I do not want the state of my death to affect the credibility of the knowledge that I want to share with you in this article.
As the main purpose of this article is to share my knowledge and experience, you may distribute this freely to others. Those who know me, if required you can mention verbally about the author, but no name please. The same applies to those who receive the information. Like I said earlier, it is not important to know who the author was. What is more important to ponder the information I am sharing with you in this article.
Last but not least, the views expressed in this article are solely my opinions. This means that I could be right and I could also be wrong. If you have doubts on some of my views, by all means consult the experts, the Islamic Scholars in particular.
If I am proven wrong, take the article from the Islamic Scholars and please ignore mine. What I am doing here is just sharing with my fellow Brothers and Sisters in Islam what I have learnt to the best of my knowledge, hoping that we could all learn something from it.
1.1 A Brief History of My Illness
In the fourth quarter of year 2002, I was diagnosed with Choroidal Metanoma, a cancer of the choroids behind the retina in my right eye. By the time it was correctly diagnosed, the cancer had already grown to a considerable size where it was no longer possible to save the vision through an operation, although there was still a chance to save the eyeball.
But such an operation would be very costly, as it could only be performed in a foreign country. Furthermore, there would be costs for the subsequent treatments (radiation therapy), etc; and yet the risk of “recurrence” would still be very high, plus some other possible complications. A better solution as suggested by the local experts was “Enucleation”, i.e. to remove the right eyeball completely.
It was a tough decision to allow the doctors to enucleate my right eyeball. But Alhamdulillah, after a lot of prayers and putting a lot of thoughts to it, I decided to have it done. To cut the story short, Allah s.w.t. gave me another one and a half months before the operation could take place; at first because of my request to spare me from the operation for another two weeks. Subsequently the operation had to be further postponed due to the unavailability of the correct size of the artificial eye that needed to be placed in my right eye’s orbit.
The one and a half months is a period that will be referred in this article, so please allow me to term it as Grace Period 1.
The enucleation and the artificial eye implant took place in November 2002, during the month of Ramadhan. I had to miss a few days of fasting, but I could no longer postpone the operation due to the high risk of it spreading to other parts of the body. Alhamdulillah, the operation went well, and Alhamdulillah, Allah made me recover from the operation fairly quickly, making it possible for me to carry on with my fasting for the remaining days.
The histopathology report that came later confirmed that the cancer was confined to the eyeball and there was still a considerably good margin separating the cancer cells from the eyeball’s main blood vessels, Alhamdulillah.
Having done the enucleation was not the end of the story. I became aware by reading articles from the internet and also from doctors, that I was still at risk of experiencing “recurrence” or worse, the fatal metastasis cancer (cancer that spreads to other parts of the body). As for metastasis cancer, the most common part that would be affected due to choroidal melanoma is the liver.
Therefore I always had to go for medical checkups every 6 months, to do a CT Scan of the brain and orbit, and an ultrasound of the liver. All praise is due to Allah s.w.t., I lived a normal life from the moment I recovered from the enucleation in November 2002 until the last quarter of year of 2004. For easy reference later in this article, I term this period as Grace Period 2.
In the middle of year 2004, I started sensing some changes in me. The changes were in terms of my energy levels; I started to feel very tired at the end of the day. There were times when I just felt a bit tired all out of a sudden, but after a while I felt ok again. I also discovered I had to take a long time to recover from a simple flu, instead of my normal 2 hours (using panadol + sleeping under a blanket), I now took 2 days to recover.
I then began to realize that something was not very right with me. It could be either my fitness level had dropped due to the lack of exercise (unlike before the enucleation operation), or because of the possible metastasis cancer mentioned before. Anyway, my next scheduled CT Scan and Ultrasound was just around the corner, i.e. in early August, which would be a good opportunity to check the cause of the problem.
The result of the ultrasound scan confirmed that I had Multiple Liver Metastasis. It was indeed a heavy blow to me, previously I was loosing my eye and now I was going to loose my life. I was told that if not treated, I might only have 6 months or so to live. To make things worse, the Head of Oncology Department confirmed that at present, metastasis cancer of the liver due to choroidal melanoma has very limited solutions. And all these solutions have low percentage rate of success. At best even if successful, the solution would only help to prolong life for a few more months or so. Anyhow, he still suggested that I go for the proposed treatments, and I did.
So that is the condition I am in today at this point of writing. Still struggling with the cancer. I have gone for most of the proposed treatments (chemotherapy, chemo embolization, etc.) and Alhamdulillah, I am still alive at this point of time. It has been more than 11 months since I was first diagnosed with the metastasis cancer, and I am referring to this period as Grace Period 3.
But from the medical reports, I have the feeling that this period will not be long, because the metastasis cancers are still growing and I am beginning to feel and experience the effects. It may just be a matter of time now, before Allah s.w.t. decide to end my life or to cure me through His miracles.
The above is a brief history of my illness, which I think is important to know before you will be able to understand the remaining content of my article.
[For more information about Choroidal Melanoma and Metastasis Cancer, just do a google search, insyaAllah you will find lots of information about it. One example is the site below:
2. The Principle Attitude to be adopted
It is not easy to list down in the right chronology the things that I learned throughout my ordeal, as they involved various time spans. So I will try my best to arrange them according to what I think is best. Honestly, I do not have much time to think about the strategy to write this article. So please forgive me for all shortcomings.
I will start with what I term as “The Attitude” to be adopted when facng a situation like mine. This is important as it will determine your next course of actions.
“Have a Strong Will to Fight it!”
When I was told that I had choroidal melanoma in my right eye, and the best solution was to remove the eyeball completely (enucleation), I was really in total state of confusion. This was because while all the doctors advised me to go for the enucleation immediately, my close relatives and friends said that there existed alternative medications that could help remove or reduce the tumor size, citing several personally known cases, and advising me that I should give some time to try them out.
But everyone of them shared one particular common principle, which was that “You must have a strong will to fight this cancer”. In other words, I should do whatever necessary to fight the cancer not only from the physical treatment point of view (surgery, chemotherapy, alternative medications and supplements, etc.), but also from the emotional, mental and spiritual point of view (positive thinking, meditation, constant prayers and supplications to Allah s.w.t. for recovery, constantly reciting certain verses of the Quran and some shalawat related to Asy-Syifa’, etc.).
I subscribe to this idea to “fight this cancer from all aspects mentioned above”. I used my granted Grace Period 1 from Allah s.w.t. to try all other kinds of alternative treatments that I could find. I spent a lot of money going from one place to another for treatments, etc., hoping that the cancer could be reduced or at least controlled from further growth.
I also used this same period to “fight the cancer” from the spiritual, emotional and mental point of view by increasing my daily Quranic readings and night prayers, crying in front of Allah s.w.t. while asking for His mercy for my recovery, constantly reciting the recommended Quranic verses and shalawat, meditation, and so many others.
Nevertheless despite all these efforts, I could see that the cancer was still growing (remember, the cancer was in my eye, so I could see the spot that was affecting my vision becoming larger and larger). At the time when the artificial eye was available (end of Grace Period 1), I could see that there was no improvement, which meant that I had no more reasons to ask for further postponement.
It was also becoming too risky, i.e. the gap was becoming narrower between the cancer spot and the main inlet/outlet for the eye, where the main blood vessels are, i.e. the blind spot. So I decided to proceed with enucleation, convincing myself that this was what Allah had wanted. I forced myself to “redha” (true acceptance) with Allah’s decision, as that was the only choice I had in order to overcome my frustration.
As you know, more than one and a half years later I got the news that I have metastasis cancer. It was a big blow to me when I received the news. Before this I was about to lose my eye, and now I am about to lose my life.
I spent a considerable amount of time pondering about all these things that I had gone through and about to go through. I also prayed to Allah s.w.t. for His guidance, as I was not sure what was going to happen to me and what I was supposed to do. I already had the experience fighting the eye cancer before in which I failed and had caused me a little bit of depression. So I was not sure now if I really could go through it all over again fighting even more severely for something which was more crucial – my life.
But Alhamdulillah, Allah s.w.t. then helped me “see things” I had never “seen” before. I suddenly realized that my ordeal while facing the eye cancer problems actually contained lessons for me to face my second ordeal, the possibility of losing my life. The lessons are:
The fact that I could not save my eye despite all the efforts I made physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually, reminds me that none of my body parts actually belong to me. They are merely “lent” to me by Allah s.w.t. Before this, I only understood this fact “theoretically”, now I really know it for sure.
When Allah s.w.t. had willed to take away my eye, nothing could stop this decision. So what makes me think now that I can stop Allah s.w.t. if He decides to take away my life?
Throughout Grace Period 1, I never knew what Allah s.w.t’s final decision would be for my eye until I discovered that it was too risky to postpone the enucleation. So, was adopting the “fighting the cancer” attitude, especially from spiritual point of view, really worth it? What I discovered was that I was still having some feelings of disappointment at times, as if Allah s.w.t did not answer my prayers despite all the spiritual efforts I made. These were the whispers of Syaitan, who continuously try to divert mankind away from Allah s.w.t.
All the above now contribute to a very important lesson in my life, which is as follows:
The advise to “Have a strong will to fight cancer from all aspects of life (physical, emotional, mental and spiritual”) could actually be a very dangerous attitude for a Muslim to adopt. I was lucky I had that first experience, and the thing I was fighting for was only to save my eye. But what if at that time, I was actually fighting for my life? What if while I was fighting for my life suddenly I discovered that the Angel of death was now in front of me about to take my life away?
I could have died while being displeased with Allah s.e.t’s decision to take away my life; because I had made a lot of efforts, prayers and supplications to Him but yet it would seem then as though He had not answered any of my prayers (na’udzubillah). Had I died in this situation, i.e. with the feeling of displeasure to Allah s.w.t. do you think Allah s.w.t. would still be pleased with me? I don’t think so.
I therefore realized that the attitude to “Have a strong will to fight cancer from all aspects of life (physical, emotional, mental and spiritual)” is definitely a wrong and dangerous attitude for me to adopt, especially now when I am about to lose my life due to this metastasis cancer.
So What Attitude to Adopt?
My ordeal fighting the eye cancer was a very important lesson for me. I know for sure that “having a strong will to fight” is a very wrong thing to do. Why fight for something when I am not sure what the outcome would be? Especially after knowing that Allah s.w.t. has already decreed for each one of us how long we shall live in this world, and that none can stop it when the time comes.
“But to no soul will Allah grant respite when the time appointed (for it) has come; and Allah is well-acquainted with (all) that ye do”. (Al-Munaafiqun: 11)
“Wherever ye are, death will find you out, even if ye are in towers built up strong and high!….”(An-Nisaa’: 78)
“We have decreed Death to be your common lot, and We are not to be frustrated.” (Al- Waqia’ah: 60)
“He is the Irresistible, (watching) from above over His worshippers, and He sets guardians over you. At length, when death approaches one of you, Our angels take his soul, and they never fail in their duty.” (Al-An’am: 61)
The above are just four out of so many Quranic verses talking about Life and Death, all reminding us of whom we are, nothing but weak human beings who live in this world at the mercy of Allah s.w.t. So to put up a strong fight for my life while not knowing what Allah s.w.t. has decided for me (as it is totally beyond my knowledge), is definitely not the right thing to do. Furthermore, as I have discussed previously, this attitude could be very dangerous as I may die while being displeased with Allah s.w.t’s decision.
The next obvious question is “What then should be my correct attitude in facing this possibility of loosing my life?”. The answer lies in the Quran in the following verse:
“To Allah do belong the unseen (secrets) of the heavens and the earth, and to Him goeth back every affair (for decision):then worship Him, and put thy trust in Him: and thy Lord is not unmindful of aught that ye do. (Hud: 123)
The above verse clearly indicates that we have no knowledge of the Unseen (including the time of our deaths) as they belong to Allah s.w.t. alone, and that all affairs are for him to decide. We are asked to put our trust (tawakkal) in Him alone. Allah s.w.t. also said in the Quran:
“Be sure We shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods or lives or the fruits (of your toil), but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere. Who say, when afflicted with calamity: “To Allah we belong, and to Him is our return”. They are those on whom (descend) blessings from their Lord, and Mercy, and they are the ones that receive guidance. (Al-Baqarah: 155-157)
Based on these facts, I therefore have chosen to let Allah s.w.t. decide for me, whether to heal me or to take away my life, as I realized that it is not for me to decide on this unseen thing.
My supplication to Allah s.w.t. have also changed. Previously when I was about to lose my eye, I did a lot of prayers and supplications to Allah s.w.t. asking Him for my recovery. But this time, all I ask from Allah s.w.t. is whatever His decision will be, let it be the best for me; i.e. if He decides to heal me, make me a better person and a very obedient servant of His; if on the other hand He decides to take away my life, I beg Him to take me away during the time He is truly pleased with me and to bless me with His forgiveness and mercy. I also asked Allah s.w.t. to make me among “those who patiently persevere”, as I do not know how much pain and agony I will have to face later on in the future. That is all I ask from Him, and I put all my trust in Him as is commanded by Him in the above verse.
This is the concept of “Redha” (true acceptance) of what Allah s.w.t. has decreed upon us, and “Tawakkal” i.e. putting all trust to Allah s.w.t. It is not something that can be easily achieved without the help from Allah s.w.t. Therefore, you will have to continuously ask Allah s.w.t. to help you achieve it. That is what I did, and I discovered Allah s.w.t. is so Merciful and He will help you when you sincerely ask for it. I will talk about this in the next section insyaAllah.
What is more important to tell you at this stage are what I have personally experienced after adopting this “Redha and Tawakkal” attitude in replace of “You must have a strong will to fight the cancer” attitude. The things that I discovered are as follows:
With the “Redha and Tawakkal” attitude, I discovered that I began to really enjoy doing my prayers, supplications to Allah s.w.t. and all kinds of other ibadah (Solat, Zikrullah, Quranic readings and studies, etc); as I now do all these only with the hope to obtain His blessings and forgiveness and nothing else.
With the “strong will to fight the cancer” attitude, I was having a lot of conflicts within myself when I performed all the above ibadah, because I was not sure if I was doing them to get Allah s.w.t’s blessing and forgiveness or because I was desperate for recovery. Sometimes I felt guilty of being selfish, I felt that I did all these because I was only thinking for myself (i.e. for my recovery), not because of trying to please Allah s.w.t. Honestly, it was really awful to have that kind of feeling while doing your ibadah.
With the “Redha and Tawakkal” attitude, I really have a very peaceful mind (mentally, emotionally and spiritually). I am not under any kind of pressure at all due to my sickness, in fact I am totally relaxed, alhamdulillah. When I feel sick, I make a lot of Istighfar as I know this is one method for Allah s.w.t. to forgive my sins. When I feel ok, I praise Him as I really feel thankful for His great Mercy towards me.
I think this is the blessing you would get from Allah s.w.t. once you adopt the “Redha and Tawakkal “attitude, as you let Allah s.w.t. decide the best for you, compared to when I was adopting the “strong will to fight the cancer” attitude where I was really under a lot of stress. I guess back thejn I was really desperate to recover, I believed I could fight the cancer and so I tried my best, I never prepared myself to be on the “loosing side”, so I was really under pressure to win the battle.
Having a peaceful mind (mentally, emotionally and spiritually) in itself is a form of healing. Even if it does not help me to survive the cancer physically, it is already helping me to face it mentally, emotionally and spiritually, which is more important.
It is important to note that when I said that I began adopting the “Redha and Tawakkal” attitude, I did not mean I also started refusing to go for any kind of treatment. The “Redha and Tawakkal” attitude that I adopt is for my mental, emotional and spiritual point of view only. Physically, I still go for recommended treatments suggested by the medical doctors and complimentary medical practitioners, as long as the recommended treatment is against Islamic teachings (of course I also have other criteria before I go for my treatment, but they are my personal preferences, e.g. it must not be very expensive as I prefer to save the money for my children).
But when I go for any of these treatments, I never put on any hope on them because I have put my hope and trust only to Allah s.w.t. Whether or not I will be healed, it is up to Allah s.w.t. to decide. I therefore do not have any stress about the possible failure as a result of the treatment.
One might ask why then do I still go for treatment if I have put my trust and hope only to Allah s.w.t.? The answer is because we never know what lies ahead of us, i.e. in my case, whether Allah s.w.t. will heal me or take away my life. But we do know that most of the times Allah’s help come via the people around you, as Allah s.w.t. is in control of everything in this world.
I therefore should not refuse any help offered by anybody especially when they are sincere to help and the proposed treatment does not go against the criteria I mentioned earlier. From my own experience, if the proposed treatment works (even if it only reduces the pain) then there is more reason for me to thank Allah s.w.t.; and if it doesn’t work, then there is always a lesson to learn from it.
To summarise this lesson, ““Redha and Tawakkal” is a much better attitude to adopt as it brings you so much greater benefits from all aspects of life (Physical, Emotional, Mental and Spiritual)
2.3 How to Achieve the “Redha and Tawakkal” Attitude?
I have mentioned earlier that the “Redha and Tawakkal” attitude is not something easily achieved without the help of Allah s.w.t. We have to continuously ask Allah s.w.t. to help us on this matter. Even for me at this stage, I still think I have a long way to go to make sure that I can maintain the “Redha and Tawakkal” attitude. This is because I do not know what lies in front of me, for example, in terms of the agony and pain that I would probably face later. Every time something ‘bad’ happens to someone (pain, sickness, bad news, etc.), that is a test from Allah s.w.t. But it could be so bad that one might lose his/her patience (na’uzubillah). This is what I am worried about, therefore I must continuously ask Allah s.w.t. all the time to help me to maintain this attitude.
And from my experience, yes Allah s.w.t. will answer your prayer once you put your full trust in Him alone. And sometimes the answer came in a manner which you did not expect.
For example, after I was diagnosed with metastasis cancer, and was told that I probably have 6 months or so to live, I was really upset. A few days later I was arranged to meet a Professor who was also the Head of Oncology Department of a local hospital. He told me further bad news, where he honestly said to me “You have of the three cancers that I hate to treat, because there is really no cure for it”. He then explained to me the types of available treatments and the success rate of each, which definitely would be very depressing for anyone in my position.
But Alhamdulillah, before I met the Professor, I had already decided to adopt the “Redha and Tawakkal” attitude and started to ask Allah s.w.t. to help me on this matter. Allah s.w.t’s help came in the manner I least expected, as He made me “see” more things I had never “seen” before. I suddenly realized that the ‘bad news’ where I have only about 6 months or so to live was actually not a bad news at all, but a merciful message from Allah s.w.t. telling me to get ready for a possible death.
So many other people have died from sudden deaths either by accidents or from natural disasters (earthquakes, tsunamis, etc) and perhaps many of them were not prepared for their deaths at all. But I am actually given early warnings about how my life could possibly end. I will be the most stupid person on earth if I do not heed these early warnings. Realizing this, I became no longer upset with the news.
The news that I have “one of the three cancers” the Professor hates to treat “because there is really no cure” was also another blessing from Allah s.w.t. For many people, they would have probably cried “O God, why did you give me one of these three cancers? Why not a different cancer where I would have a better chance of survival?”. I would probably have cried the same thing if Allah s.w.t. did not help me “see” things differently.
Instead, when I received the news from the Professor, I said to myself “Alhamdulillah”. Why? Allah s.w.t. has actually answered my prayers. He forced me not to put any hope in any medication because as the professor had said, there is really no cure for it. So I have no choice but to really accept the fact (Redha) and rely on Allah s.w.t. (Tawakkal). That is why whenever I go for any treatment, I am never under any mental or emotional pressure because I no longer put any hope at all on these treatments, but I let Allah s.w.t. decide what the outcome will be. Like I said before, I just pray that whatever Allah s.w.t’s decision is for me, let it be the best for me in this world and hereafter.
Allah s.w.t’s help also come in other forms, such as the knowledge you gain from Islamic books you read and from Islamic lectuires and courses you attend. I find it sometimes amazing how Allah s.w.t. plan things for me, like when all out of sudden the lecturer would touch on issues like “Redha”, “Tawakkal”, “death” or “Sickness” (which is so informative and beneficial for me), while the main topic of the lecture was not really meant to discuss any of these issues. These sorts of things happen so many times with many different lecturers discussing different topics.
And you will be surprised to know that there are so many stories with regards to the concept of “Redha” and “Tawakkal” shown by the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. and his companions r.a. Most of these stories I obtained from the lectures I attended on Islamic knowledge (fiqh, syariah, tasauf, tafsir, whatever that I can afford to attend). All these stories also helped me to gain a better understanding about the benefits of “Redha and Tawakkal”, how this attitude helped the Muslims to receive the help from Allah s.w.t. during wartime with the Musyrikin, during the time of difficulties in their daily life, and so many more.
The stories also helped me to understand why this attitude was firmly accepted by the Prophet s.a.w. and his companions, they truly accepted (Redha) what Allah s.w.t. had decreed upon them in so many difficult situations, and to the extent that Allah s.w.t. granted them with the title “Radhiallahu anhum” i.e. (Allah s.w.t. is also pleased with them). This is one big advantage of the “Redha” attitude, which would help us gain Allah s.w.t’s pleasure towards us. If this is achieved, insyaAllah we would be saved from all kinds of punishment in the hereafter and would be granted to enter Paradise. That should be the ultimate aim for every Muslim.
To understand better about the value of “Redha”, I would like to quote you the story I learned from one of the lectures I attended. Please note that I can convey this story only in my own words as I heard it from a lecture, not reading from a book. It was the story of Saad bin Abi Waqas r.a. one of the great companions of Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. Saad’s supplication (du’a) was known to be very “mustajab” (i.e. after he requested Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. to pray for this ability for him).
Saad was also known to have spread the message of Islam all the way to China. After spending so many years on foreign soils, a time came when the people in Mecca heard the news that Saad r.a. was coming back to Mecca to perform Hajj. The people of Mecca immediately began to make a “queue” list by listing the names of people who would be allowed to see Saad r.a. in turn.
Once Saad r.a. arrived in Mecca with his helper, the people of Mecca were surprised to see that Saad r.a. was already blind. But this did not stop them to request Saad r.a. to make supplications in their favour. And so Saad r.a. did. One particular young man who was very curious, also lined up to meet Saad r.a. When his turn came up, he asked Saad r.a. “Oh uncle, your du’a is so mustajab, why didn’t you make a du’a so that Allah s.w.t. will heal your blindness so that you will be able to see again?”. Saad r.a. simply answered “Iam much happier to take this opportunity to accept wholeheartedly (i.e. Redha) what Allah s.w.t. has decreed upon me, rather than to be happy to see again”.
This is the value of “Redha” that the companions r.a. understood. They know that in order to gain Allah s.w.t’s pleasure towards them, they must first accept “wholeheartedly” whatever decision that Allah s.w.t. had made for them. As for me, I know I am so far, far away from obtaining the level of faith as shown by the Companions of the Prophet s.a.w. But at least stories like the above and other knowledge with regards to the benefits of “Redha and Tawakkal” would hopefully help me to try my best to maintain the “Redha and Tawakkal” attitude, InsyaAllah.
In summary, in order to achieve “Redha and Tawakkal” attitude, we must constantly ask for help from Allah s.w.t. in this matter. We also have to make some efforts to increase our knowledge in Islam by reading or by attending Islamic lectures, even though the lecture topics may not be relevant to the problem we are currently facing. And InsyaAllah, you will find some very useful information despite the irrelevant topics; as I mentioned before Allah s.w.t. is in control of everything in this world and would plan something for you as long as you request for your help.
So, do not be too choosy, as learning as much as possible about Islam (fiqh, syariah, tafsir, whatever that we can afford to attend) is still very important even if we know our life may end soon and that we may not be able to apply the knowledge we gained. This is because attending Islamic lectures is considered as a great ibadah and is also another way of obtaining Allah s.w.t’s blessings and forgiveness. There are so many hadiths talking about the benefits of sitting in such gatherings, which are available in many books. Therefore I think it is not necessary to discuss them here in this article.
3. The Preparations.
When I was told that I had metastasis cancer which can lead to an early death, I knew I had to do some kind of preparations to face the problem. As mentioned earlier, I had to tackle the attitude to be adopted, which was one of the most important things to do first. This is because only with the right attitude, would we be able to think correctly and do the necessary preparations to face the problem. Adopting the wrong attitude, e.g. “Strong will to fight the cancer”, may end us with failure to do the necessary preparations (especially in terms of mental, emotional and spiritual preparations) in case we lose the “fight”.
So, what are the necessary preparations? Since I have adopted the “Redha and Tawakkal” attitude, I always remember that there could only be two possibilities, i.e. either Allah s.w.t. (a) heals me or (b) takes away my life. I therefore have to make sure that I am prepared for both possibilities. It is obvious to me (and I believe to everybody else) that if I do all the necessary preparations for possibility (b), I have automatically covered the necessary preparations for possibility (a). In other words, I have to make the preparations for what people would normally term as the “worst case scenario”.
The necessary preparations for this “worst case scenario” can be further divided into two parts. The first part is the worldly preparations, normally meant for the people, especially the family that we are going to leave behind. The second part is our own spiritual preparations, since as Muslims, we must make certain efforts to die as a Muslim and obtain Allah s.w.t’s Forgiveness and Blessings.
3.1 The First Part: The Worldly Preparations.
As for the first part of the preparations, I started it only after I was told of the metastasis cancer. As a Muslim, I should have started the preparations even when I was healthy, because we actually do not know when we are going to die. So when I realized my mistake, and discovered that Allah s.w.t. is so merciful to me for giving me the second opportunity to do the preparations especially throughout Grace Period 3, I cried because I know I could never thank Him enough. With these facts, how could I even complain about the sickness that I am experiencing, when the reality is what actually is happening to me is all due to Allah s.w.t’s mercy?
This is what many of us fail to realize many times when we are faced with calamities, but alhamdulillah, Allah s.w.t. made me “see” things totally different. It is not because of I am a pious or a good man, but because Allah s.w.t. is so merciful to any of His servants who try their best to adopt the “Redha and Tawakkal” to him alone. I am so thankful to Him to let me taste the sweetness of this attitude.
Anyway, from my understanding of Islam,the most important thing that we have to prepare for this first part is the preparation of Wasiyyah (Will or Bequest). Many Muslims do not realize that this is such an important command of Allah s.w.t. as stated in the following verse:
It is prescribed when death approaches any of you, if he leave any goods, that he make a bequest to parents and next of kin, according to reasonable usage; this is due from the God-fearing. (Al-Baqarah: 180)
There are many verses in the Quran that talk about the importance of Wasiyyah (e.g. Al-Baqarah 240 and Al-Maidah 106) and others explaining in detail how the distribution of wealth should be carried out. The importance of preparing a Wasiyyah is mentioned in many Hadiths too, one example is as follows:
“Ibn ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with them, reported: Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: It is the duty of a Muslim who has something which is to be given as a bequest not to have it for two nights without having his will written down regarding it”(Compiled by Bukhari, Muslim, At-Tirmizi and many others).
It is therefore important for us to prepare a Wasiyyah, no matter whether we are sick or healthy, as mentioned in the above hadith. Another reason why a Wasiyyah is important is to ensure that if anything happens to us (i.e. death), there will be no dispute or disagreement between the beneficiaries during the distribution of wealth. The importance of this is also mentioned in one hadith:
Narrated by Abd Al-Razaq from Abu Hurayrah, the Prophet peace be upon him says, “a man may do good deeds for 70 years but if he acts unjustly when he leaves his last will, the wickedness of his deed will be sealed upon him, and he will go to hell. And if (on the other hand) a man acts wickedly for 70 years but is just in his last will, the goodness of his deed will be sealed upon him and he will enter the paradise”.
Realizing this fact, I started studying the requirements to prepare a Wasiyyah, consulted Syariah Lawyers and consultants who then advised me on what and how to prepare the necessary Wasiyyah, according to Islamic recommendations. I encourage all brothers and sisters to do the same, i.e. consult the experts in preparing your Wasiyyah, as the Islamic Law of Inheritance (Faraid) can be fairly complex for some people (including me) to understand.
Besides Wasiyyah, other preparations that I think are necessary involve mainly with the people I am going to leave behind. This involves both the material and spiritual support that they require. From material support point of view, the Wasiyyah is sufficient but there is no restriction e.g. create financial savings and transfer a reasonable amount of my savings under the name of the person who will most likely look after my children (in this case my wife) when I am gone. Since this is done while I am still alive it is considered as a gift, and as far as my knowledge on this matter goes, there is nothing wrong with it (but please check with your local Islamic Scholars).
From the spiritual support point of view, I have to counsel them (my wife and children especially) almost everyday. I have to let them “see” how all these “supposed-to-be bad news and conditions” are in reality “signs of Allah s.w.t’s mercy on all of us”. I was lucky to have a good example to give to them which involved the death of two of my wife’s own brothers (the eldest and the second in the family). Both of her brothers died of heart problems, but the second brother died first, in a sudden heart attack, while the eldest brother died after 7 months of suffering the consequences of a heart failure. We had observed ourselves how the wife of the second brother took so long to recover from her shock and sorrows, while the wife of the eldest brother was more calm and it didn’t take her too long to get back into her daily life.
This contributed a great lesson to us, as sickness before death does not only provide opportunity for mental, emotional and spiritual preparations for the person who is sick, but also for the people he/she is going to leave behind. Even Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. was sick before his death, which was actually providing the opportunity for his followers who loved him so much to be prepared for it.
Another important thing to do from the “worldly preparations” point of view is to make my best attempt to improve the status of things involving my daily life and family, and correct whatever mistakes that I may have done before. For example, alhamdulillah, I have managed to settle almost all my debts, except for one which I hope will be taken care through the use of my Wasiyyah.
I also know I had not spent much time to make sure my children are well-equipped with Islamic knowledge, so I try my best now to personally educate them, from Quranic reading to toher branches of Islamic knowledge. These are part of the counseling that I am giving to them, telling them the beauties of Islam.
I also check if I had missed out any prayers or zakat payments, and if there are, I will try to correct these mistakes. There are many other things that I had to take care of, but normally these things are only applicable to me and in my situation, and not applicable to others. In other words, these other worldly preparations will vary from one person to another.
In summary, I have no reason not to thank Allah s.w.t. for the Grace Period 3 that He is granting to me. As you can see, being sick before death actually provides better opportunity to ensure that the necessary preparations for me and for my family can be carried out. In comparison, I will be totally ungrateful to Allah s.w.t. if I just lie down complaining to Allah s.w.t. about my sickness, when in reality Allah s.w.t. is actually doing me a big favour!
3.2 The Second Part: The Spiritual Preparations.
I did touch on Spiritual preparations in the previous section, but that was for the people that I will be leaving behind. In this section, I will discuss what I think I need to prepare for myself in order to meet my Creator, Allah s.w.t. This is in fact a very serious question that one should ask oneself!
But to be honest, at this point of writing this article, I am already feeling very weak. It has been several days since I began writing this article. However, I have not been spending most of my available time writing it due to my illness. I am worried I may not be able to finish it at all, and hence my desire to share the knowledge may also die off with me. I am therefore deciding to simply summarise this part. I hope the readers would on their own put the necessary efforts by consulting the scholars and so on.
I realize that all the good things that we think we have done in our life in this world may not be helpful to save us from Allah s.w.t’s punishment. The fact is nobody can ever enter the Paradise due to his good deeds alone (there are stories about this). This is even more so after I realize that there have been so many shortcomings in my ibadah (solat, etc). Khusyu’ while performing my solat was probably non-existent, and my intention to be ‘ikhlas’ in all my ibadah and actions could be also be questioned. If that is the quality of my life and ibadah, I don’t think I can really be saved from His punishment (na’udzubillah).
But I do know from the stories and knowledge I have gathered that one could be saved only with Allah s.w.t’s mercy and forgiveness. And if Allah s.w.t. is pleased with us, the chances of getting His mercy and forgiveness are even better, insyaAllah.
I then realize that my only chance perhaps to be saved from Allah s.w.t’s wrath is to obey everything that He has commanded us to do, and to please Him with whatever opportunity I have. The first part can be achieved by first studying seriously the Teachings of the Quran, while the second part is to use whatever remaining time of our life to please Him (I am granted Grace Period 3 to do this – again this shows how merciful Allah s.w.t. actually is to His servants only if we ask from Him).
3.2.1 The Quran
There are so many things that I want to talk about the importance of Quran in our daily life, but I have to cut it short for the time being. So I will only touch on a couple of issues and one of them is Aqidah.
It is important to know that the Quran contains the fundamental teachings for your Aqidah towards Allah s.w.t. Aqidah is so important such that Allah s.w.t. made the Prophet s.a.w. spent about the first 10 years solely in teaching and enhancing his followers’ in their understanding and firm belief of the correct Aqidah. Without the right Aqidah, our chance of obtaining Allah s.w.t’s pleasure could be very slim or perhaps nil.
Aqidah has several branches of knowledge and it is not the purpose of this article to discuss them here. I encourage all brothers and sisters to make efforts to enhance our knowledge in this area by attending Islamic courses and consulting the scholars. This is because is indeed a sad state of affair for majority of the Muslims today, as they lack knowledge in this area. Many of us think that simply bearing witness “La illaha illaAllah” and “Muhammadur Rasulullah” (the syahadah), plus performing the remaining 4 fundamentals of Islam (solat, fasting, zakat and hajj) is sufficient for us to be called good practicing Muslims, and will have a great chance to be saved from Allah s.w.t’s punishment and earn his paradise.
Let us take the Syahadah as an example. Many amongst us Muslims, out of ignorance, do not realize that when we recite the Syahadah we are actually making a great oath! It is a promise that we will submit and obey all the commands of Allah s.w.t. by following the teachings and examples of prophet Muhammad s.a.w. The Syahadah is not something that we just say with our mouth but yet make no commitment to follow through throughout our daily life. The Syahadah is a promise we make to Allah s.w.t. on how to lead our daily life!
So after making this promise (the Syahadah) to Allah s.w.t. (i.e. to submit ourselves and to obey all His commands), we have no choice but to prove our commitment. Imagine dear brothers and sisters, if we make an important promise to our good friend, but we purposely do not fulfill the promise without any reason and we do not even feel guilty for not fulfilling it. Do you think our good friend will still treat us as his/her good friend? Probably he/she will not even treat us as a friend nor believe us anymore, and may instead label us as a great LIAR and as a person to keep away from!
Now imagine if we purposely break our promise (the Syahadah) to Allah s.w.t. what do you think will happen to us? I simply could not imagine the wrath and punishment that Allah s.w.t. might impose on those who purposely break their Syahadah, Na’udzubillahi min zalik.
So the next question is how to show our commitment after reciting the Syahadah ? One commitment that we Muslims cannot run away from is to hold firmly to the commands of Allah s.w.t. in the Quran. And Allah s.w.t. further commands us in the Quran to follow the examples of Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. (the Sunnah) on how to obey His commands.
Today, many Muslims do not take seriously the commands of Allah s.w.t. but yet they still think they are the examples of good practicing Muslims. For example, many of us have some reservations in the importance of implementing Hudud Law, a command clearly stated by Allah s.w.t. in the Quran, as we think it is not really practical in today’s life. Many of us make such a judgment based on today’s conditions and the so-called Human Right’s philosophy, which is totally a man-made concept. Who are we to decide that the law created by humans is better than the law created by Allah s.w.t.?
Having such a simple reservation on any of Allah s.w.t’s. command is a clear violation of our oath, the Syahadah, that we will submit and obey all Allah s.w.t’s. commands. Some scholars even say having such an attitude will nullify our Syahadah and is sufficient to make a person as kafir. And Allah s.w.t. has given us a warning on this matter in one Quranic verse, where Allah s.w.t. warns us not to become like the Children of Israel who disobey some of Allah s.w.t’s commandments in Taurah, as stated below:
“…. Then is it only a part of the Book that ye believe in, and do ye reject the rest? But what is the reward for those among you who believe like this but disgrace in life? And on the Day of Judgment they shall be consigned to the most grievous penalty. For Allah is not unmindful of what ye do.” (Al-Baqarah: 85)
Allah s.w.t. also reminds us to enter into Islam whole-heartedly, as clearly stated in the following verse:
O ye who believe! Enter into Islam wholeheartedly; and follow not the footsteps of the Evil One; for he is to you an avowed enemy. (Al-Baqarah: 208)
The word “Kaaffah” in the above verse is translated as “whole-heartedly”, where some scholars have interpreted it that we are clearly instructed to follow all Allah s.w.t’s. commandments without any question or any reservation. This is what being a Muslim is all about, i.e. totally submit ourselves to the will of Allah s.w.t.
We are further reminded by Allah s.w.t. with the following verse:
O ye who believe! Fear Allah as He should be feared, and die not except in a state of Islam.(Al-Imran: 102)
It is so clear that Allah s.w.t. warns us to fear Him (i.e. to really obey Him in all matters with no reservation at all against any of His commandments), and to make sure that we die in total submission to His will (“in a state of Islam”)
In other words, there is no way for us to obtain Allah s.w.t’s. forgiveness and mercy if we purposely ignore ANY of His commands. And with the fact that there are so many things around us today which are totally against the commands of Allah s.w.t. we have to be really careful in what we do everyday. It is important to guard not only our deeds but our attitude towards what is happening around us.
This is very clear from the statement made by out Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. in one of his Hadiths about the importance of preventing “mungkar” with our hands, mouth or heart. And the Prophet s.a.w. clearly stated that preventing “mungkar” with our hearts is the “weakest of iman”. In other words, if we see an act of “mungkar”, but we are not even bothered about it, that shows we actually have NO IMAN at all Na’udzubillah!!
So our attitude (the feelings we have) towards things that happen around us is also considered as our deed that will be accounted for in the hereafter. We have no choice but to make sure we hold on to the right attitude in order to please Allah s.w.t. For example, when we see something that is obviously against the commands of Allah s.w.t and we know we can’t do much about it, the least we can do is to have the feeling of displeasure about it, support those people who voiced out against it, and pray to Allah s.w.t. to continuously give guidance to the Muslims.
Brothers and sisters, I am not saying the above because I am a member of any political party or organization (as I am never in any one of them). But I say the above because I question myself, how am I going to face Allah s.w.t. soon if I still have any reservation on any of his commands or simply ignoring the state of “Mungkar” around me?
I don’t think I will be questioned about which political party or organization I joined or supported. What I will be questioned will be with regard to my deeds (amal), including my attitude that I adopted for things that happened around me, i.e. whether all my actions were in accordance to the teachings of the Quran and sunnah, as clearly commanded by Allah s.w.t. I will be doomed if I had failed to abide to all the rules that had been clearly laid out by my Creator, Allah s.w.t. (na’udzubillah). So how will all of you, my dear brothers and sisters, whether you like it or not as you will also one day die and have to face Allah s.w.t., answer the same question?
Today, there are so many groups of people claiming to promote the correct version of Islam, using various names to impress and fool the people, quoting verses of the Quran out of context and making incorrect translations of its meaning in order to enhance their arguments. Following blindly any of these groups’ claims can destroy our Aqidah, and hence prevent us from obtaining Allah s.w.t’s blessing and forgiveness.
Only a careful study of the messages of the Quran can help us determine whether these groups’ claims are true or otherwise, because the Quran is very clear in terms of its messages of truth and Justice, and nobody can change this fact.
The word of thy Lord doth find its fulfillment in truth and in justice: none can change His words for He is the One Who Hereth and Knoweth all. (A-An’am: 115)
It is therefore important to make our own efforts to study the messages of the Quran (by translation and tafsir, plus learning from qualified scholars) from the beginning verse of Al-Fatihah to the ending verse of An-Nas. It is important to do this daily so that our efforts to try and understand what Allah s.w.t. is instructing us to do, does not stop. Doing so will help us gain blessings, forgiveness and guidance of Allah s.w.t. insyaAllah.
My recommendation is to read the translations of at least 5 to 10 verses a day, and to ponder about them. Read the Quran with the intention to try and get to know His messages and to obey it as best we can, i.e. hoping only to please Him.
Ibadah is another branch where the information is also available in the Quran. In the Quran, Allah s.w.t. instructs the Muslims to perform certain obligatory ibadah and recommended ibadah. But Allah s.w.t. purposely does not mention in detail how these commandments are to be performed (e.g. the methods to perform solat, solatul Jumaat, Hajj, other optional ibadah like zikrullah, and even how to lead our daily life).
The Quran touches only on some basic fundamental rules and conditions for the ibadah. This is because Allah s.w.t. has also instructed us to follow and obey the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w., as Allah s.w.t. is the One who has taught the Prophet s.a.w. every single thing involving ibadah and our daily life’s activities.
By the Star when it goes down, Your Companion (Muhammad) is neither astray nor being misled, Nor does he say (aught) of (his own) desire. It is no less than inspiration sent down to him. (An-Najm: 1-4)
Allah s.w.t. also says in the Quran:
So establish regular Prayer and give regular Charity; and obey the Messenger; that ye may receive mercy. (An-Nur: 56)
The above verse is a clear indication that we have to follow the examples and methods shown by our Prophet s.a.w. for ibadah such as Prayer and Charity. In fact the instruction to follow the Prophet s.a.w. and to obey him is found in so many verses of the Quran, such as the following:
Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger, and beware (of evil): if ye do turn back, know ye that it is Our Messenger’s duty to proclaim (the message) in the clearest manner. (Al-Maidah: 92)
He who obeys the messenger, obeys Allah; but if any turn away, We have not sent thee to watch over their (evil deeds). (An-Nisaa’: 80)
Ye have indeed in the Messenger of Allah a beautiful pattern (of conduct) for any one whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day, and who engages much in the praise of Allah.(Al-Ahzab: 21)
But no, by thy Lord, they can have no (real) Faith, untilthey make thee (Muhammad) judge in all disputes between them, and find in their souls no resistance against thy decisions, but accept them with the fullest conviction. (An-Nisaa’: 65)
In other words, to really understand the Quran and obey and carry out the instructions given by Allah s.w.t. in it, we have no choice but to also refer to the Sunnah of our Prophet Muhammad s.a.w., which are available in the vast collections of Hadith.
I encourage myself and all my brothers and sisters in Islam, to also make efforts to study the Sunnah as it will help us understand better the messages of the Quran, and to carry out the commands of Allah s.w.t. in the proper manner, insyaAllah. This is why we are asked to take the oath “Muhammadur Rasullah” in our Syahadah. Failing to do so will only hinder us from getting the blessings, guidance and forgiveness from Allah s.w.t.
3.2.2 The Beauty of Learning the Quran
The Quran is really a miracle from Allah s.w.t. When you put the effort to study it sincerely, you will find the beauty that lies within it. I have a lot of personal experiences on this matter but I don’t think I can tell the stories now. Anyway to cut it short, I realize how Allah s.w.t. uses the Quran (if we study it daily) to give some lessons to you.
Allah s.w.t. knows what is going to happen to each one of us, so Allah s.w.t. will put you in a certain problem or dilemma on one day, but the next day when you read and ponder your next 5-10 verses of the Quran, Allah s.w.t. gives the answer to you.
Sometimes I felt the answer was like a “punch to my nose”, knocking me from my silly senses! In some other cases, Allah s.w.t. gave me the answer to some Aqidah issues that I had trouble with. In some other cases, Allah s.w.t. gave me the answer on why I was put through a problem related to wealth or other social issues. True, this is really true. This is not because I am a pious person but because this is the miracle of the Quran and Allah s.w.t. is so merciful and is the planner of all things!!
I also now understand why we are encouraged to repeat reading and pondering the Quran continuously even though we have finished doing one time. This is because the lessons that Allah s.w.t. may have planned for you will come around during your second reading, or the third, in fact all the time. So stick to Quranic studies and my personal recommendation is to put some efforts to try and understand the meaning of the Quran from its original Arabic texts, as they will give you much more benefit.
Note that I also discover that reading and studying of the Quran has several levels. It really depends on your intention. The non-believers, who study the Quran to find problems with it, will only see what they think as “problems” and they will learn nothing else. For example, they might only see that it has lots of repetitions, and they don’t find it interesting.
Those who read the Quran without any efforts to understand the meaning will only get rewarded for their effort to read, but will not get the full benefit of it. Those who read and study the Quran using volumes of tafsir but for the purpose of academic achievements, will only gain what they desire, perhaps a PhD, etc. But those who really study and ponder the meaning of the Quran, asking for Allah s.w.t’s guidance, solely to please Him, will understand the deeper meanings of the Quran.
Now I understand why the elaborations of Quranic verses as described by Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jailani throughout his book “Sirrul Asrar”, are so deep, that at times I couldn’t even understand them. He saw the much deeper meanings of the Quran, especially from purifying the soul point of view, because Allah s.w.t. guided him through it.
In summary, learning and pondering the messages of the Quran is very important for every Muslim to do. It shows our commitment to submit and obey Allah s.w.t’s. commands, which is what being a Muslim is all about.
3.2.3 Pleasing Allah s.w.t.
Apart from studying the Quran, we must also try to please Allah s.w.t. throughout all the things that we do in our daily life. The following are just some guidelines that I can think of at the moment:
Putting “Redha and Tawakkal” into Practice.
Once we have chosen the “Redha and Tawakkal” attitude, that makes things easier for us to do all the ibadah and our daily activities solely for the sake of pleasing Allah s.w.t., insyaAllah. But choosing this attitude alone is not sufficient if we do not put it into practice in our daily life. To so this, we must train ourselves not to complain about the “bad” things that happen in our daily life.
For example, when we feel sick or pain, we should make a lot of istighfar to Allah s.w.t., and praise Allah s.w.t. for making the pain or sickness still bearable for us, and continuously ask him to help us going through it, We must remind ourselves that sickness and pain are indications that Allah s.w.t. is actually giving us the opportunity to be forgiven for our sins, so we must also thank Him for the opportunity.
Apart from sickness and pain, we should also control ourselves from getting angry or cursing anyone who makes us angry. This always happen throughout our our daily life, e.g. people jumping queue while shopping or driving, or reckless or inconsiderate drivers on the road. It is not easy, but we must try our best.
On the other hand, if we are blessed with some good news, e.g. recovering from our illness, or easing of the pain we currently may be experiencing, we should really thank Allah s.w.t. Even if we find out that we can still perform our prayers despite being sick, we should thank Allah s.w.t. for it. Allah s.w.t chooses whom He pleases to give His blessings and forgiveness, so if we are still chosen and given opportunity to do it even during our difficult times, we should thank Him.
Frequent Going to the Mosque for Jemaah Prayers
Frequenting the mosque is very important in order to please Allah s.w.t. and therefore obtain His true guidance. It is mentioned in the Quran in the following verse:
The mosque of Allah shall be visited and maintained by such as believe in Allah and the Last Day, establish regular prayers, and practice regular charity, and fear none (at all) except Allah. It is they who are expected to be on true guidance. (At-Taubah: 18)
From the above verse, it is very clear that in order to obtain the true guidance, we are asked to frequent the mosques of Allah s.w.t., as a means to strengthen our faith in Allah s.w.t. and the hereafter, and to perform the regular prayers and charity, and to strengthen our taqwa so that we fear none but Him alone.
There are also numerous hadiths that talk about the importance and benefits of praying the jemaah (congregation) in mosques, and how the mosque should become the central point of knowledge and strength for the Muslim community. I therefore encourage all my Muslim brothers and sisters to learn about this from the scholars, and take advantage of frequenting mosques not only for offering our prayers but also to learn about Islam from any Islamic lectures at the mosque.
Increasing Our Supplications and all other Ibadah
Especially when facing death, we should try our best as we can, to increase all our spiritual activities in order to please Allah s.w.t. These include:
• Performing a lot of istigfar and Salatut taubah.
• Increasing daily Quran reading (apart from studying the 5-10 verses of the Quran).
• Increasing our supplications to Him, asking Him for His forgiveness and blessings.
• Memorizing more and more surah from the Quran, if we can.
• Increasing our efforts to know more about Islam by attending conferences, lectures, etc. The best would be to attend lectures held in a blessed place like the mosque.
There is a hadith that mentioned about how all the ibadah and other good deeds of man would terminate upon his death, except for three rhings – his sadaqah jariah (charity), his children who uphold righteousness (salihin), and beneficial knowledge which he spread to others.
It is therefore important that we put some efforts in these three matters in order to ensure that we would still get continuous rewards from Allah s.w.t. even after our death. Below is just my simple summary for each of these matters:• Sadaqah Jariah (Charity)
We often pride ourselves for the savings that we make in our bank accounts in this world, but we often forget to increase the savings in our bank accounts in the Hereafter. Whereas we are told that the money we save for the Hereafter (through sadaqah) will be rewarded multiple times, and will be the one that could help us in our life after death, a life which is more permanent than the life in this world.
For those who give in Charity, men and women, and loan to Allah a Beautiful Loan, it shall be increased manifold (to their credit), and they shall have (besides) a liberal reward.(Al-Hadid: 18)
The benefits of Sadaqah (Charity) are very great and are mentioned in so many verses in the Quran. Even those who have died will regret not having spent more on charity before their death. This is what Allah s.w.t. has reminded us of, as mentioned in the following verse:
And spend something (in charity) out of the substance which We have bestowed on you, before Death should come to any of you and he should say, “O my Lord! Why didst Thou not give me respite for a little while? I should then have given (largely) in charity, and I should have been on of the doers of good.” (Al-Munafiquun: 10)
Note that sadaqah (charity) is not only in terms of monetary, but any kind of contributions that we give (including our own efforts) for the sake of the Muslim ummah and for the propagation of Islam.
Please consult the scholars about what type of charity or sadaqah that we can perform, which could help us get everlasting rewards from Allah s.w.t. My personal preference would be for Islamic Education and schools, especially those that groom our children to be scholars of Islam. Wallahu a’lam.
• Children who uphold righteousness (salihin)
It is important to make sure that our family will be among those who have strong faith in Allah s.w.t. and work righteousness. Allah s.w.t. says in the Quran:
O ye who believe! Save yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is Men and Stones, over which are (appointed) angels stern (and) severe, who flinch not (from executing) the Commands they receive from Allah, but do (precisely) what they are commanded.(At-Tahrim: 6)
As we know from the history of our Prophet s.a.w. among the first people he invited into Islam were his family members. We have to do the same, we cannot simply be happy by thinking it is sufficient that we continuously put great efforts to improve ourselves but at the same time we totally ignore our own family members.
It is therefore important to train them to know Islam, to teach them the Quran and encourage them to read it everyday in our house, to encourage and bring them to attend Islamic lectures and congregational prayers at our local mosque, and so on. Having children with righteous qualities will be a great advantage to the parents. But since Allah s.w.t. chooses whom He pleases to receive His guidance, we must also continuously make supplications to Allah s.w.t. that all in our family will continuously receive His guidance and stay on the right path.
• Spreading Beneficial Knowledge.
Last but not least of the things that could help us to continuously receive rewards from Allah s.w.t is the knowledge that we share with others, especially knowledge that would benefit the Muslim ummah. As the knowledge is passed from one generation to another, we would be getting a share of the rewards even after our death, insyaAllah.
This is one reason why I am writing this article, despite knowing that I am not a perfect Muslim. This is also why I prefer to remain anonymous, because it is not important to know who I am, but is more important to learn the things that I am sharing in this article. My only hope is to get continuous rewards for this work from Allah s.w.t., and to please Him. Please pray for me that I will be able to get this from Allah s.w.t.
There are many hadiths again talking about importance of knowledge. I think it is therefore not necessary for me to elaborate on this matter. What is important is that we strive to obtain more knowledge and understanding on Islam, until the day we die.
Again, please consult the scholars on this matter. They can definitely give you better advice compared to me, insyaAllah.
Having said and recommended all the above, I must admit that I myself am struggling hard to do all the things that I have said above. However, I continue writing them down because this will act as a reminder to me especially, apart from sharing the knowledge with my fellow Brothers and Sisters in Islam. Let us all continuously pray to Allah s.w.t. so that He will give us the strength to uphold righteousness to please Him, and hence for us to receive His blessings and forgiveness.
4. My Final Chapter.
4.1 Some additional Advice
Below, I will try my best to summarize things that I have learnt throughout my ordeal. The summary listed is not only for those who are stricken with terminal sickness that will lead to death like mine, but can be used by all Muslims, including those who are healthy. This is because none of us really know when we will be called back by our Creator.
1) Do not despair over any ‘musibah’ that may happen to you. As clearly stated in the following verse, everything has already been planned by Allah.
No misfortune can happen on earth or in your souls but is recorded in a decree before We bring it into existence: that is truly easy for Allah. In order that ye may not despair over matters that pass you by, nor exult over favours bestowed upon you. For Allah loveth not any vainglorious boaster. (Al-Hadid: 22 – 23)
The ‘musibah’ that happens to you could be a blessing in disguise. This is what I learned from my own experience, when I lost my eye. As I mentioned before, it contained such a valuable lesson for me to face the bigger ordeal, i.e. losing my life due to metastasis cancer. But I only realized and understood why Allah s.w.t. put me through that first ordeal much later, after more than one and a half years after the enucleation.
2) The best thing to do when we are faced with a “musibah” is to adopt the “Redha and Tawakkal” attitude. By doing so, Allah s.w.t. will help us through the problem, as is clearly stated in the following verse:
No kind of calamity can occur, except by the leave of Allah: and if anyone believes in Allah, (Allah) guides his heart (aright): for Allah knows all things. (Al-Taghabun: 11)
As I explained earlier, Allah s.w.t. helped me “see” things differently, something I could not even see when I had my two eyes. I saw good news in the bad news; I saw Allah s.w.t’s. mercy in a “musibah”, and so many others. All of them are showing that Allah s.w.t. is actually doing the planning for everything, especially when you put your trust in Him alone.
3) Al-Quran should be our most important reference in our life. We should never stop reading and studying it. If we do it with the right intention, Allah s.w.t. will let us understand the deeper meanings of the Quran. This is especially true if our intention is to try and understand His messages and commands so that we can obey them and please Him at the same time.
Ane we have to obey ALL the commands in the Quran, not just part of it. As I said earlier in section 3 which I think is very important, I cannot imagine how Allah s.w.t. will treat us when we face Him later, if we had ignored His messages in total or part thereof; or worse, acted against them! So here it is again, a reminder from Allah s.w.t. so that we do not become like the children of Israel who disobey some of Allah s.w.t’s. commands in Taurah, as stated in the following verse:
“…… Then is it only a part of the Book that ye believein, and do ye reject the rest? But what is the reward for those among you who behave like this but disgrace in this life? And on the Day of Judgement they shall be consigned to the most grievous penalty. For Allah is not unmindful of what ye do.” (Al-Baqarah: 85)
4) Failing to prepare for our death while spending so much of our time for worldly gains is the most common mistake made by many Muslims today. Allah s.w.t. mentions so many times in the Quran about how the life in this world is just play and amusement. One example is the verse below:
“Know ye (all), that the life of this world is but play and amusement, pomp and mutual boasting and multiplying, (in rivalry) among yourselves, riches and children. Here is a similitude; how rain and the growth which it brings forth, delight (the hearts of) the tillers; soon it withers; thou will see it grow yellow; then it becomes dry and crumbles away. But in the Hereafter is a Penalty severe (for the devotees of wrong). And forgiveness from Allah and (His) Good Pleasure (for the devotees of Allah). And what is the life of this world, but goods and chattels of deception?”(Al-Hadid: 20)
Ponder the above verse carefully, there is so much truth in it. We work hard to get more money and become rich, comparing and competing with others for the worldly status, but we make little efforts to enhance our understanding on Islam or to please Allah s.w.t. The similitude given in the above verse is fitting, as once we are struck e.g. with illness or accidents that we know will lead us to death, only then will we realise all the worldly gain we worked hard for will be totally meaningless (“soon” it withers; thow will see it grow yellow;”). And when the Angel of Death comes to take us away, then everything we had worked for will be of no use anymore (“then it becomes dry and crumbles away”).
4.2 My Final Departing Words.
As I said earlier in the Introduction chapter, I prepare this document because I feel it has become my obligation to tell my fellow Muslim brothers and sisters about what I have learnt. I have learnt so many things, all due to the great mercy of Allah s.w.t. Am I am not a pious person. I am still struggling hard to improve the quality of my ibadah and akhlak and I think I still fail most of the time.
And I still do not know whether I would pass all the remaining tests and whether I would successfully obtain Allah s.w.t’s. Forgiveness and Blessings when He takes my life away. But I still write this article to share the knowledge and lessons I learned from my ordeal, and especially to tell you HOW MERCIFUL ALLAH S.W.T. is, if He can be so merciful to a “very imperfect” person like me, know that He will also be merciful to any of you, provided that we continuously put our trust and hope in Him alone.
I also take this opportunity to apologise for all the shortcomings found in this article. I had a hard time to finish it because of my health status. So please forgive me if you find the arrangement of information not in order or confusing. Note that I also made a request to the person who is going to distribute this article, only to distribute it after my death. I therefore make a humble request to all my Muslim brothers and sisters, to pray so that Allah s.w.t. grants me His Forgiveness, Mercy and Blessings. Since I prefer to remain anonymous, perhaps you could still make the supplication in favour of “the author who wrote this article”. I thank you all in advance.
Last but not least. To all those people who know me, I like to take this opportunity to apologise for any of my sins where I sincerely beg for your forgiveness. At the same time I extend my deepest gratitude and thanks to all the people who have given me a lot of help and support during my hard times, especially my beloved mother and father who have never stopped giving me the support I need and prayers for me, my lovely wife who tirelessly execute and manage all the activities required by my family and taking good care of me and the children, my brothers and my sisters (including all my in-laws), some of them working hard to arrange for me the necessary treatments and some others contributing other necessary supplements and support. Also to all the doctors who work hard to diagnose the problem and to treat me, and put a lot of efforts to help me get back on my feet. And to all my friends (just too many of them to mention here), each having contributed a lot to me in so many different ways. To all these people, I pray Allah s.w.t. reward all of you multiple times over for your kindness.
May Allah s.w.t. continuously bless us all with His Mercy and Forgiveness, and may we see each other again in Jannah, insyaAllah.
Wabillahi Taufik, walhidayah, wassalamu alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh.
Our Lord! Accept (this service) from us: For you are the All-Hearing, the All-knowing. (Al Qur’an 2:127)
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~ by yahyasheikho786 on October 18, 2009.
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