I remember sitting through a funeral ceremony at the mosque for a relative of one of the mosque attendees some time back. The prayer leader’s remarks included the familiar reminders on the transience of life and the need for conscientiousness about death’s imminence. However much funerals are moments to honor the life and memory of someone close while grappling with our own finitude, they are also critical moments for us to learn how to cope with grief. The imam slowly concluded his speech by offering a few words of advice on how to deal with trialsome periods like death. He mentioned reading the Qur’an after every prayer, and adding, “if a misfortune befalls you, remember the pains of the family of the Prophet”.
This is an oft-quoted line in different Shi’i Muslim majālis. I remember pausing on hearing the advice, having the persona of Imam Hussayn (a) conjure in my mind.
Today, after having witnessed the burial of a beloved friend – i’ll need time and focus. But at the moment, i’ll find consolation in the serenity and innocence she lived and left behind. The kind of unwavering surrender, islam, to Love’s call that can, in her situation, only be miraculous. I see beauty.
Commemorating Muharram, contemplating a history that is scarred, but meaningful still, offers its consolation now. Translating beautiful elegies that are not meant as lamentation, but pleas for us to reform – also soothes. perhaps an odd word, but now, now, what’s slow and difficult in my soul finds comfort in remembering the sacrifices of the Prophet (saws), of Imam Hussayn (a), of Sayyida Zaynab (a). Individuals who don’t see anyone but God. Who break, who struggle… but beautifully. And more critically, willingly. Remembering the pain of the Prophet, of his family because their pain is for truth. It’s for God. It’s a cry against all those who think life has nothing to say, that existence is not beautiful.
I am blessed. Because I witnessed my friend’s struggle embody this. If only I keep remembering. If only I don’t make this about me, my weaknesses. If only, I keep calling her to my heart as she truly was, is.
Kullu man alaiha faan, illa wajhu rabbika dhul jalali wa-l-ikram.