“Surely we belong to Allah and to Him shall we return.”
إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَ
12/01/52 – 01/08/17
On Thursday 3rd August, I watched as the hearse drove away carrying my Mum inside.
My Mum, Suria Begum, was a special woman. Her messages of solidarity, compassion, generosity and piety were infectious to anyone who met her and her funeral is a testimony to the hundreds of people she connected with. She maintained generations of relationships and her commitment to the mosque was unlike most woman. In the words of the Imam:
“Today I attended the funeral prayer of one of the leading women of our society who was an inspiration for us all. She was without doubt, a pillar of the Southampton Muslim community and a great loss for us all.”
Mum was driven by a desire to keep the community spirit going. We would laugh that she was never home and it’s true. She was either fixing family feuds, rushing around to improve the mosque facilities, inviting family friends to prayer gatherings or attending them herself. Her role in the community can never be replaced.
She was full of witty one liners, showing us that banter was the way to deter difficult conversations. She was honest, funny, loving and so full of life. Despite her reservations, she encouraged me to pursue my dreams, even if that meant leaving her behind and living away from home for five years. She would stock the house with all my favourite snacks whenever I came to visit. And she prayed for me, she prayed for my success, for my health, for my betterment. It’s said that “a mother’s dua is the breeze of Paradise,” and I can only put the success of my education down to Mum and her blessings.
Throughout my life and most importantly, in her last few weeks, my Mum taught me so many lessons.
- She showed me that family comes above everything. If you love wholeheartedly, they will love you in return.
- Your good deeds continue even after you’ve left this world behind. She would listen to her favourite Surah, Ar-Rahman, at least once a day:
“Is the reward for good anything but good? So which of the favour of your Lord would you deny?” (55: 21)
- Patience and prayer = strength and understanding. There’s no need to react to negativity. Forgive but do not forget. Try your best to restore relationships and don’t give up easily.
“And be steadfast in patience, for verily Allah will not suffer the reward of the righteous to perish.” (11:115)
Everything happened very quickly. I left London to return home for Ramadan in June but within days, my whole life changed as I knew it. In fact, my “work/study life” was put on hold and it became more of a journey. As a family, we spent every single day and night of six weeks with Mum. She was diagnosed with recurrent cancer, 9 years after recovering from breast cancer, and she carefully began planning her peaceful exit from this world from thereon, something we were oblivious of up until now.
Spending her days reciting verses from the Holy Qu’ran, she persevered despite her medical condition. While it broke my heart to learn that she had been diagnosed with cancer once again, there was no doubt in my mind that Mum would fight with every cell in her body and she didn’t let us down. She tried every recommended herbal remedy, she ate organic vegetables, a daily spoonful of natural homemade honey, she drank substitutionary almond milk for weeks and self-controlled her blood sugar levels like a pro. She showed signs of improvement and her personality never flickered. I would ask her if she was okay every hour or so and she would always smile back in return.
She didn’t lose patience nor did she complain. She didn’t shed a single tear nor did she lose faith. Mum showed patience and conviction in the power of Allah (SWT) like I have never seen before. There wasn’t an ounce of fear of the unknown, rather she was preparing for the afterlife through settling her debts, organising her personal belongings, speaking to my Dad about any unanswered questions that he may have had. Having been extremely organised her entire life, she couldn’t leave without sorting all her affairs.
Little did we know she was in complete control of the situation that we were fighting to control ourselves. In hindsight, her small decisions don’t seem as small. Choosing to move to my older brother’s house instead of her own allowed his family the chance to spend quality time with her while breaking routines for us at the family home. Her choice to move back home from the hospital provided us with the ease and comfort to care for her around the clock. Daily visits from her friends gave her the opportunity to see everyone. Even until her very last day, she was happy with extended family members visiting her.
I’m in awe of the levels of strength that my Mum showed in her situation. In her last request to a family Imam, she asked that he prayed she would not become dependant or a burden on our family. Within a week of her request, she was gone. Even in her last few days, her priority was to make life easier for her children. She gave us every opportunity to spread love and bring us closer to our Creator. Our family spread nothing but positive thoughts and hopeful vibes. Mum courageously accepted her fate without questioning anything. She didn’t spend a single moment dwelling on the past but she left this world while genuinely smiling in the face of death. While I know that one day, death will be calling for me too, I wasn’t sure I’d be ready to experience something like this.
But in her last few moments, my Mum told us she was happy with us, all of her children, leaving us with confidence rather than regret. She was prepared for whatever Allah willed for her. I’m incredibly blessed to have been able to spend six weeks, however short that feels, by her side. I was able tell my Mum how much I love her, how proud I am to be able to call myself her daughter and how grateful I am for all of her sacrifices for this family.
Mum didn’t lose to cancer. Cancer lost to her. She didn’t give up her fight until the day she was ready. It didn’t take her by surprise. It didn’t cause her any pain or suffering. Her courageous battle is an inspiration to all of us and I can only aspire to become a fraction of the woman she was.
With every passing day, it hurts a little more and the weight of her absence gets heavier. I remember feeling positive and in control about Mum’s recovery. I took on various responsibilities, the main one was making sure all Mum’s medication was prepared for the day and persuading her to eat vitamin supplements. But now I feel completely lost and alone – similar to how I felt when I was younger and I’d lose Mum while we were shopping. I can’t help but keep looking for her whenever I see groups of women walking down our street. Nothing is right without her.
A mothers’ warmth, love, and protection is something inexpressible. After losing Mum, the feeling of complete ease and comfort is missing. When Mum was here, I knew she had my back through any situation but now it’s different.
It’s difficult but I’m trying to mirror the strength she showed by turning to patience and prayer to get through this. In reality, nothing will be the same again.
I can only pray that one day, we will be reunited in Jannah. Rest in perfect peace, Mum. May Allah grant you the highest levels of Paradise for you were the Paradise in my life.