Last night, my 20 year old son came home in a solemn mood. One of his dear school friends had passed in an operating room from complications. We spoke of death, funerals and post funeral customs and how people of different cultures observe it. Ssome celebrate it and others morn for months on end. I recalled the most consoling A’zaa (wake) I had been to was one celebrating the life of the deceased. Death is the only certainty and hard as it maybe one must accept Gods’ will and the universal truth.
Tonight, we arrived at Ali’s A’zaa to see dozens of his young friends walking in, filling the hallways, on their faces a look of shock and sadness. For many of it is the first time they experience the passing of a loved one. I fought back the tears at the sight of his sweet sister telling my son “he’s inchaAllah where he belongs, in heaven, we should celebrate his life, thank you for coming to remember him”.
I didn’t expect Ali’s parents to be the ones consoling their visitors. Dressed in their everyday clothes, they greeted us warmly. They stood, with a warm smile receiving hugs, telling guests “Allah chose him in a blessed month, pray for him”. The walls covered with Ali’s photos and a quote he loved; the TV displayed photos of Ali smiling, living life with his friends and family. A table of his favorite chocolates and drinks held a sign inviting visitors to eat his favorite candy. His friends took turns going up to his room.. a sign leading to it said “Take a souvenir to remember Ali”. Ali’s family graciously gave everyone permission to breath a sigh of relief and reflect on Ali’s spirited life.
Ali’s parents have always been role models; both spiritual and calm with a lighthearted outlook on life. Today, they taught us all what resolve and unwavering faith in Allah’s judgement means. “Pray for him, and ask everyone to do the same” was his father said with a smile.
I ask you all to pray for Ali and for our sons and daughters in Palestine, Syria, Iraq and Egypt. May their souls rest in peace. May Allah continue to grant his family strength and mercy.