Lifestyle Society

Bonds of Brothers & Sisters

My Uncles and Aunts personify this. A history of its own.

Anas ibn Malik reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Whoever is pleased to have his provision expanded and his life span extended, let him keep good relations with his family.Source: Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 1961, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2557

On 10 June 2020 it all seemed normal after I had just come out of self-isolation after a teacher at our school was confirmed COVID-19 POSITIVE and was thrilled to at least meet family and see them in real time. Amongst them was my 83 year old Uncle. Uncle Suliman Sujee, still upright and full of vibrancy at the time and the short meeting will be forever etched in my mind. Our meeting was brief but it was always worthwhile. My day turned out to be one of routine.

12 June 2020 at 11:00pm I heard my cell ring … My brother informed me that my Uncle Solly has passed away. Shock, awe, grief, bewilderment, tears, sorrow and sadness overwhelmed everything. My Uncle Solly is the fourth of the brothers and sisters to pass away. My beloved father, Ali Bhai Sujee passed away tragically in an accident 37 years ago and my Uncle Yusuf Sujee passed away four years ago aged 70 and; my beautiful and stylish aunt Sakina passed away more than a decade ago. Surviving them is my cool, calm and collected eldest Uncle Hassan walking upright at 90+, my spiritual guide Hafidh (one who memorised the Holy Quran) Ahmed walking upright in his late 70s, my Sufi like mentor, Uncle Ismaeel still upright and fluent in discourse at 85 is an intellectual marvel, my smiling and praying Gori Fooi healthy in her late 70s and my saintly Chootifooi in her late 70s are all still in unison makes me confident that life is good. I looked at all of them on the day of funeral keeping to the COVID-19 restrictions of public gatherings and felt so reassured that Allah, the Compassionate, has a plan of greatness for us.

The body of my beloved Uncle Solly laid in state in the room where only immediate family members congregated and each of his siblings were there. In my mind I played out the reality of how they laughed, played as children, fought as siblings, teased each other, did the chores of their dear parents, gave up school to look after each other, took care of business, shared food, went visiting, attended each others weddings and celebrated births and all the trimmings of life and its tragedies too. I lowered my head and realised that our generation don’t have the grit for such greatness.

I felt how they must have felt when their dear mother passed away. I was still very young then to witness their father die after long illness but cannot forget their sobering patience in all these calamities. The day of the funeral it all looked so heartwarming and genuine because here were old people emboldened by life’s trials and tribulations and who gave refinement of character and superlative spiritual guidance to the whole family in more ways than one can imagine. They were standing tall on faith in Allah and love for each other – that was courage and patience personified. This sight gave us all a sense of calm because you felt the pulse of faith – their mourning were silent tears, their last looking on the brother’s face and sitting amongst all taught all the overwhelming strength of patience, fortitude and forbearance. No loud wailing only the whispering of incantations glorifying Allah, the Giver and Taker of life. How reassuring and calming to troubled souls seeking solace in this time of need? Inexplicable in words but not to the heart.

Lets indulge in the conversations of the brothers and sisters who wanted to know how did their stylish brother died. Yes he was in his young days – a man of guts, sports, business and fun. His jovial and beloved wife and good children said that he finished what was routine for him on a Thursday night i.e. reading Quran {(Surah Sajda, Sura Wa’qiyyah, Sura Mulk – daily routine), Sura Yaseen and Sura Khaf}. He complained about an ache in the stomach and shortness of breath. The doctor was called and examined him and then he complained about a sever chest pains. He read the Kalimah (Declaration of the Oneness of Allah) twice and in peace his soul departed from this transient world. What a moment! How does one not stammer or stutter during the pangs of death? One does not stutter and stammer because there was in the man a genuine desire to meet with Allah, the Irresistible, the Inviter. His last actions comes out of a routine of a connection with Allah and that is what gave him a great death on a Friday and he was laid in the grave at around 10:00 am. How are we going to meet with Allah, the Everliving, the Eternal.

My mind is exuberant in imagining how my uncles and aunts grew up as children – the games they played and how each of them chose a friend in each and how each were each other’s pals – I mean here they are at 75 years old on the average and they have such a genuine connection that you feel it, envy it and love it because it all looks so cute too. They hugged each other and they talk so softly and kindly to each other that it enlivens the atmosphere and yes, they still laugh and joke with each other. Oh! how when we as nephews and nieces would tease one of them and how the sisters would defend their brothers is just a case of amazing grace.

This indulgence is to concretise the reality that we all can have but, we have grown apart as brothers and sisters but, still cry to Allah for the unity of Muslims and grace for humanity at larger. In my mind it played out that these brothers and sisters, my dear uncles and aunts, when they called out to Allah, the Beneficent, for family unity, Muslim brotherhood and peace for the whole of humanity, it reached the throne of Allah, the Unrelenting with great acceptance because what they wanted for humanity, they achieved it amongst themselves and in broad-strokes within their extended families. My gaze fell upon their time together at home of the beloved brother who had just passed away and it was clear that they gave us values over money and material possessions.

Our circle of nephews, nieces and elder cousins were reflective on the values we saw and learnt from our Uncles and Aunts. No doubt, we all agreed that they taught us the importance of five times daily prayer, honesty in affairs, kindness to all, reading of the Holy Quran and reading in general, aversion to love worldly possessions and care for the establishment of Islam in our homes and all over too. These points permeated various moments in the circles of discussions and the very young and newly weds listened intently making way for the heart to receive the depth of values practiced sincerely because the craving to passing such greatness to kith and kin is more overwhelming than the majestic rising of the sun.

At about 11:00am after returning from the graveyard where the COVID-19 restrictions had to be followed i.e not more than 50 people at the site, I was spiritually jolted. I learnt that my Uncle was completing his reading of the Holy Quran and his daughter completed that reading before the body was lifted for funeral rites before burial. Again, the rewind of all actions tell me that he was a silent saint that traversed the earth with a spiritual routine that became apparent only when he departed the world. It was like Allah, the Revealer, showed us the qualities of a man who earned a death on a blessed day of Friday. This made me reflect deeply on my Uncle Yusuf, a vibrant teacher of Science and his passing on just a few years ago.

He travelled the world in the effort of Tabligh (Effort of spiritual reformation of the self by travelling and spreading the word of Allah) and his life to signified a choice. A choice to live in the obedience of Allah and to engage with humanity in such a way that they are are attracted to good. This is a phenomenal human feat because in this world of high uncertainty human beings have lost their humanity and are struggling to become human again. His legacy is now tied with the hundreds of people he spent time with in Tabligh and the hundreds of pupils’ lives he influenced to do good action. His late brother, my dear father, Ali Bhai’s legacy is alive in hundreds of pupils he taught and who today engage in good humanitarian work on his example manifests that the bond of the bothers and sisters were genuine to please Allah. How unique and that is what truly wealth is. I can only fathom how the surviving siblings will turn to Allah in prayer for their brothers and sister. This is profound!

I am drawn to the moment Nabi Zakariyya (as) prayed to Allah in his old age after seeing fruit that was out of season in the room of Chaste Miriam (as). He called out to Allah in such a feeble voice and his prayer was answered with the birth of a son. I think therefore, that these old brothers and sisters, my uncles and aunts; when they lift their hands to pray for their brothers and sister it will be a communication of the lovers with the Beloved. Really, this is what gives me hope and the concrete reinforcement that life is good when you have genuine relationships with your brothers and sisters.

The ravages of wars, the globalisation of poverty and the despair of humanity sent pangs of pain to my body begging for answers. Answers to how brothers and sisters in the excruciating circumstances of misery and social dislocation, still manage to keep that bond. How strong must that connection be that they will hold on to the ropes of family more than the desire of anything worldly. Place yourself the picture below and ask yourself what your heart says. This child and his sister have a bond greater than wealth of the world and they speak the love that Allah wants to see us establish within our homes.

“And those who break the covenant of Allah, after its ratification, and sever that which Allah has commanded to be joined (i.e. they sever the bond of kinship and are not good to their relatives) and work mischief in the land, on them is the curse, and for them is the unhappy home (i.e. Hell)” (Surah Ar Rad)

Today as I pen the concluding words to this article, I feel so sorry for those brothers and sisters who have lost their bonds to the temporal delights and material possessions of this world. It is really a scar on the face, a dagger to the heart and a heavy boulder on the soul to have no genuine relationship with those who came from the same womb. It is beyond my imagination to think of a conversation between mum, dad and the children on where all went wrong in the court of Allah under the majestic Throne. No matter where the fault lies, today we have a chance to make amends because tomorrow you have to make amends with your deeds in place we call the grave. The morbid feeling of death one cannot escape when you think of brothers and sisters who don’t talk to each other and feeling nothing about it therefore, avoid that morbid moment and make the call to meet and greet that sibling you once held hands and shared a lollipop or more with. It was cute then and today, when you share the moments its not just cute, its actually beautiful in the eyes of the one who is Most Beautiful, Allah. So on the day the rites of passage are read on your passing you will be united with the companions of Nabi Muhammad (s) who loved maintaining family ties.

It is narrated that Nabi Muhammad (PBUH) said: 
“O God, forgive our living and our dead, those who are present among us and those who are absent, our young and our old, our males and our females. O God, whoever You keep alive, keep him alive in Islam, and whoever You cause to die, cause him to die with faith. O God, do not deprive us of the reward and do not cause us to go astray after this. O God, forgive him and have mercy on him, keep him safe and sound and forgive him, honor his rest and ease his entrance; wash him with water and snow and hail, and cleanse him of sin as a white garment is cleansed of dirt. O God, give him a home better than his home and a family better than his family. O God, admit him to Paradise and protect him from the torment of the grave and the torment of Hell-fire; make his grave spacious and fill it with light.”

I am blessed and wish that for you. To my brothers and sisters, may we grow old and be like our uncles and aunts who in the old age still look young like the first day they shared a little something of the world.


12 thoughts on “Bonds of Brothers & Sisters”

  1. How very true,our elders,our unsung heroes, who strived in excellence in all facets of their lives,and thus,in doing so, have achieved the ultimate end to a fruitful life.

    Many memories to recall,ponder upon n reflect over .

    A great man indeed.

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Alhamdulilah, we are indeed SO fortunate to have elders who have truly set beautiful examples for us to follow and weave into our lives and that of our family. May Allah swt keep us united and grant us that true and genuine muhabat and love. Ameen

    1. You make such an important observation on our elders. I agree. We must work hard to be like them in action and in character.

  3. A beautiful and heartwarming reminder of how important family ties are and no matter how different paths our lives may take, our bond as siblings will never break. May the Almighty bless all our beloved marhoom with Jannatul Firdose and reunite us all in Jannatul Firdose Aameen Thumma Aameen Ya Rabbal Aalimeen

    1. What you say is true. May our lives inspire the bonds of unity between families. Yes, the different paths that we take should not be the cause of division rather that of unity.

  4. Alhumdulillah, brilliantly written, truly from the heart. Thought provoking and heart warming. 👌 . InshaAllah your story resonates the hearts, mind, body and souls of all who have the opportunity to read your story.

  5. Truly a heartwrenching piece. My hearts emotions that this piece stirred cannot be put down in this comment. A sad reality that is very rife in our Muslim community and so painful. Almighty guide all of us n mk us of those who always join family ties.

    1. Thank you for the comment.
      Yes it is true that we need to supplicate to Allah to guide us in maintaining family ties.

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