By Adil James, TMO
Franklin–April 2–Death seems to have reached to several unlikely places recently in Michiganâ€™s Muslim community–and although religion is a contemplation of such almost unthinkable issues as the coming of death and the description of the invisible spiritual realities that surround us, it remains startling when we are confronted with the proofs of deathâ€™s ability to reach any creature at any time.
Recently Ramsey Saleh, a young man from the community of the Huda School in Franklin, passed away–really at the threshold of adulthood.
In honor of Mr. Saleh, a meeting was held Saturday at the Huda School to discuss his death with other young people–the event was coordinated by Ratib Habbal and Muhanad Hakeem after maghrib prayers. Slowly people trickled into a room set aside for the meeting, in total perhaps 150 souls were present, ranging in age from childhood to adolescence up to old age.
The imam, Shaykh Shadi, gave a beautiful speech emphasizing the wisdom of Allah in the timing of life and death, saying that since people die in stages rather than living and dying all together. He said that many people think they will live forever, but he quoted Prophet (s) as saying that death is a constant reminder. Believers, he said, should have death in mind at all times, should always calculate for akhira.
The father of Mr. Saleh gave a beautiful short speech which showed tremendous poise and faith. He showed sincerity but also real forbearance–he thanked all those who had come to the event, and the theme of his short talk was that as Muslims we must believe that everything is written. He said many other beautiful things but what was so striking about his speech was the poise and patience he showed after losing a son. Very few people could show such faith and strength. He reminded the audience of good qualities that his son had had–that he had bought artificial flowers from a man–flowers he did not really need but he wanted to help the man–he had done this to help the man and not for himself.
â€œWe and our family submit to destiny,â€ he said, and quoted a poem from Imam Shafiâ€™i with the point that if you do not believe in Divine destiny than your faith is lacking.
The two moderators tried to elicit the responses of the audience to this death, and various members of the audience spoke on their fear of death, about the clear lesson that it could be any of us dying, about the lesson of gratefulness for our remaining life, and about asking forgiveness from people.
The format of this part of the event was almost a Phil Donahue show, with Mr. Habbal tossing questions back and forth with the audience, exhorting young people to give their honest opinions.
At times the focus of the conversation devolved to unrelated issues of interpersonal relations in the community.
The mercy of this death was that it is a reminder to all of us of the fragility of life and the proximity of another world, it was a way of showing the beautiful faith of a family tested–faith that is so strong and few of us could emulate it. It is truly a reminder of Godâ€™s great power and perfect plan into which every one of us fits in some way that we cannot perceive, although He is always with us, and watches us until and after we leave this short life.