In the Name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful
“May God have mercy upon him.” I am not used to appending that phrase to my uncle’s (father’s brother) name. Just last Sunday, we were talking about him at my father’s house. He had gotten sick, and he was hospitalized for a short period. I thought nothing of it. He had been hospitalized and released many times before. I had always taken it for granted that I would see him again.
Then came the phone call: “I am calling to let you know that your uncle passed away yesterday. He is already buried. The ultimate goal is to God.” I couldn’t believe my ears.
“What? He’s dead? He died?”
“Yes,” my mother said.
We had a memorial service for him yesterday. I can’t believe he is gone. Just like that, he is gone forever. He was like a father to me. He was such a sweet man, so kind-hearted, so peaceful, so calm. I had always loved him deeply. I had always taken it for granted that he would be around. I can’t believe he is gone.
God is the one Who gives life. And God is the one Who takes it away. It was my uncle’s time, and there was nothing I, or anyone else, could do about it. Like the Qur’an says:
But never does God grant a delay to a human being when his term has come, and God is fully aware of all that you do (63:11).
Sometimes, the thought of, “If he had been here, he would have survived,” will flash through my head. But, I quickly remember that this is not true. It was his time, and there was nothing I, or anyone else, could do about it. I just can’t believe he is gone. I wish I had spent more time with him. I wish I had called him more often. I wish I had invited him to my house more often. My two daughters absolutely adored him. They told me, “Baba, we like this ‘new Giddo (granddad)’.” It was really hard to tell them that he has died. It is really hard to believe he is gone. I will truly miss him.
It is poignant reminder that life is so short and so fragile. One minute, my uncle is with us. The next minute he is gone. I should not take that for granted. Since his death, I have tried to seize whatever moments with my family members I can get. I try to call my dad more often. I try to see my other uncle (my mother’s brother), who works in the same hospital I do, as much as I can. I try to call my mom more often. I can’t take for granted that these people – whom I love so dearly – will be around.
The same goes with doing good on this earth. We should try to do as much good as we can, because, we do not know when our time on this earth will be over. We can’t take for granted that we will be around for a long time. It brings this verse to mind:
And spend on others out of what We have provided for you as sustenance, before there come a time when death approaches any of you, and he then says, “O my Sustainer! If only Thou wouldst grant me a delay for a short while, so that I could give in charity and be among the righteous!” (63:10)
Whenever we get a chance to do good, give to charity, help someone else, we should. We can never take for granted that we will have time to do it later. I had always known this. But, the comings and goings of life on earth has made me forget this. It took my uncle’s death to remind me. But that is what death is for. May God shower down His Unending Mercy upon his soul. Amen.