Legacy of a Mominah

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Ayesha Khawaja

Ayesha Khawaja is a freelance writer, based in Lahore.

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The daughter of a friend of mine, a stunning green-eyed 27-year-old, died on the 2nd of Ramadan. My sons were in the Masjid, attending the translation and Taraweeh session of her brother-in-law. They told me later that when he reached the Ayahs 156-7 of Surah Al-Baqarah: “Who, when afflicted with calamity, say: ‘Truly! To Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return. They are those, on whom are the Salawat (i.e., blessings, etc.) (i.e., who are blessed and will be forgiven) from their Lord, and (they are those who) receive His Mercy, and it is they who are the guided-ones” – at that precise moment, he received a text message stating that his sister-in-law had breathed her last.

Rohma, the grandchild of Dr. Israr Ahmed, had felt pangs of a stomach ache just a month earlier and had a persistent cough. A CT scan revealed lymphoma that was ravaging her entire body. After two failed attempts, the doctors decided to operate upon her yet again to do a biopsy for obtaining a detailed picture, so they could immediately start chemotherapy.

She dropped her three princesses – four-and-a-half year old Maryam, two-and-a-half year old Hajra and nine month old baby Safia – at her mother’s house and went with her husband and mother-in-law (who was also her Khala) to the hospital. Khala advised her to pray Zuhr and Asr together, because they weren’t sure how long the procedure would last. Rohma prayed with such humility and presence that even the nurses couldn’t help being moved. Before they wheeled her away, she said the Kalimah, proclaiming the oneness of Allah (swt) and testifying to the apostleship of Muhammad (saw).

Her condition began to worsen after the surgery – she had to be put on the ventilator.
Her mother and Khala kept a constant vigil by her side, reciting the Quran to her seemingly lifeless form. She was heavily sedated and no movement was detected in her body. However, one day, as her mother read Surah Rahman to her, tears started rolling off Rohma’s eyes. Her lips started moving soundlessly in perfect synchronization with the revealed words. Even though tubes protruded from her nose and mouth, she finished the Surah in a silent yet powerful confirmation of her faith. After ten days on the life support, the soul left her body for its eternal abode.

“(It will be said to the pious): ‘O (you) the one in (complete) rest and satisfaction! Come back to your Lord, Well-pleased (yourself) and well-pleasing onto Him! Enter you, then, among My honoured slaves, and enter you My Paradise!’” (Al-Fajr 89: 27-30)

Rohma was one of those young people, for whom it can rightly be hoped that they would deserve the honour of being under the shade of Allah’s (swt) grandiose and imperial throne, Insha’Allah, for she, according to a Hadeeth that promises this prize, was raised in complete submission to the will and decree of the Designer of the heavens and the earth. At an age, when teenage girls engage themselves in frivolous activities, she was gaining the understanding of the Deen of Allah (swt). After her marriage to Hafiz Mohsin Mahmood, it seemed like they were made for each other, each excelling the other in virtue and piety. Her husband gave her the impetus to memorize the Word of Allah (swt), and she took to it with a passion and love characteristic of her righteous soul.

She devoted herself completely to being a model wife and ultimate teacher and loving mentor to her little girls. The couple used to spend time listening to each others’ Quran recitation and utilized their time wisely for serving their Master. In contrast to children, who are brought up in a mindless consumption of junk TV, Maryam was being fed the epitome of supreme achievement, the Noble Quran – she knows 16 Surahs by heart and that shows on her intelligent face and in her sparkling eyes. Besides being a fulltime mother, wife and daughter-in-law, Rohma was also assisting her mother in conducting Quran classes, teaching translation, Tafseer and Tajweed.

Although her father is an affluent man, she had no desire for the glint and glamour of this world and hardly ever went to the bazaar. Her unswerving focus was the good pleasure of Allah (swt) and the life of the Hereafter, for which she strove with every ounce of her energy. She had an intense desire for martyrdom, which she confided to her sister just before leaving for the hospital. She knew that the one, who died of a disease related to the stomach, was considered to be a martyr.

Rohma knew the cancer had spread and that she was dying. When people worried about her small girls, she asked them in return if Allah (swt) was not enough for her children and would He not suffice for them?

During Rohma’s brief illness, she saw dreams that held the promise of honour and eternal bliss. She met her deceased grandmother (who was a very righteous woman) in one such vision, wherein she showed her two gardens, one belonging to her and the other to Rohma. She also escorted her to the place, where flowers grew in both their respective Jannahs. After one of her biopsies, she related a near death experience to her grief stricken mother. She said that when her heart had stopped, she had seen five stars of piercing brightness and experienced such an intense feeling of ecstasy that she didn’t want to return to the mundane world. The next thing she saw was doctors bending over her body in their desperate attempt to resuscitate her. This vision was the last thing that she spoke about.

Last Ramadan, this virtuous soul was extremely fortunate to have found the Night of Glory. As she sat in her darkened room doing Ibadah, she saw a radiant light that did not belong to this world, and then her right hand and heart became very heavy, as if angels were greeting her with a warm handshake. Out of her humility and modesty, she did not reveal it to anyone, except her mother – this incident became known only after her death.

The woman, who gave birth to this admirable young lady, Rohma’s kind-hearted mother, is comforted by the fact that she has indeed, Insha‘Allah, fulfilled the purpose of life, which is to please our Lord, the Most High. At Rohma’s funeral, she sat with a saddened face and sinking heart, but there was no wailing and no complaints. Her only utterance was what is pleasing to Allah (swt): “Inna lillahi wa Inna Elaihi Rajioon.”

I still remember the first time I saw Rohma at the occasion of Eid prayer in Bagh-e-Jinnah. “O my God,” I said to myself, “she’s so ravishingly pretty.” That was how Rohma was – beautiful inside and out. May Allah (swt) grant her an elevated rank in Paradise with all her loved ones, Ameen.

Rohma’s small daughters, who were so looking forward to their mother’s return from the hospital, now daily ask their Nano and Dado such heart rending questions as: “Is my mother never coming back? Did my mother die? I also want to die. When will I die?” But at other times, they are consoled by the fact that now they have two mothers: Dado Ammi and Nano Ammi. I pray that these precious girls be granted the good of this world and the next and that their loss is compensated in a way, which cannot be comprehended by us, mortals, Ameen.

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