Mourning those that have gone...

Okay.. I wrote this last week but only did manage to finish it today, mainly due to laziness and the festive season...but still, enjoy the read..

This morning Roe blogged about her officemate that had recently lost her baby to a freak accident. Though the true cause of death was not investigated, it was assumed from the state of the baby that she had drowned on her milk. Apparently that is not at all an uncommon cause of death. I wouldn't know. Roe however discussed the aftermath of such an incident and how we deal with such events. That post kind of got me thinking. You know me and thinking cannot be divorced... hehehe.. Maybe that's why I have trouble sleeping at night?

I come from a rather young family. Both my parents are the eldest children of their parents and at on my father's side, my grandma is the eldest in the family and on my mum's side, my late grandfather was the eldest. This means that I grew up having great grandparents. My great grandmother in Kelantan was still alive until I was in my late teens and I met my great grandfather on my mum's side in Singapore when I was 12 or 13. In a sense I am lucky to have met my great grandparents, but in another perspective it also means that I have to deal with losing them one day. That is always in the back of my head. Most recently, almost 10 years ago my grandfather on my mum's side passed away. For me that was the most glaring reminder of death. When my grand parents passed away I was far away, and I never really knew them very well, but this time this was my grandfather who I was quite close to. It was also the first time I saw my uncle and mother cry. We did the jenazah washing at home and this made it all very intimate and close as all the relatives and neighbours were at home. It would've been quite different had it been at a mosque.

But how does one deal with death? It's easy for us to blame others or even oneself for deaths, and to even swear revenge on those who one thinks causes those deaths but this is not the way we should behave. I believe in things in life being pre-ordained and humans having the will to choose. But with death no one has a choice as to when they or others will die... This thought comes at a time when I had just finished a chapter on Hamzah in the book "Men behind the Messeger". His story can be used as a lesson to us all on how to deal with losing a loved one.

If you are unaware who Hamzah was, here's an excerp from the book:

Muhammad (s) was not yet a serious problem to the Quraysh. But he had started to draw their attention, for his call was spreading secretly. Although the number of his followers was still very small, there were people among the non-believers who loved and respected him. They yearned to declare their belief in him and become his followers, but their fear of the prevailing atmosphere and the inhibitions of inherited traditions prevented them. Among them was Hamzah ibn 'Abd al-Muttalib, the Prophet's paternal uncle who was at the same time his brother trough fosterage (i.e., they had been breastfed by the same foster mother). Hamzah was fully aware of the greatness of his nephew and truth of the message he conveyed. To him Muhammad (s) was
not only a nephew, but also as a brother and a friend because they belonged to the same generation. They played together, walked together and grew up together. But in their youth they departed, each taking after his own inclination: Hamzah preferred a life of leisure, trying to take his place among the prominent men of the Quraysh and Makkah, while Muhammad chose the life of seclusion from the crowd, immersed in the deep spiritual meditation that prepared him to receive the revelation.

You can see how the two men were very close to eachother. For quite a while Hamzah was the prophet's protector. Never letting any harm to happen to his beloved nephew. One excellent example of this is wonderfully explained in the book:

One day, Hamzah went out to the desert carrying his bow to practice his favourite sport of hunting, in which he was very skilled. He spent most of his day there. On his way home he passed by the Ka'bah for circumambulation as was his usual practice.

Near the Ka'bah, a female servant of `Abdullah ibn Jud`an saw him and said, "O Abu `Umarah! You have not seen what happened to your nephew at the hands of Abu al-Hakam ibn Hisham. When he saw Muhammad sitting there, he hurt him and called him bad names and treated him in away that he hated." She went on to explain what Abu al-Hakm-or Abu Jahl, `father of ignorance'- had done to the Prophet of Allah (s).

Hamzah listened to her carefully and paused for a while, then with his right hand he picked up his bow and put it on his shoulder. He hastened to the Ka'bah, hoping to meet Abu Jahl there. He had resolved that if he did not find him, he would search for him everywhere till he got him.

As soon as he reached the Ka'bah he glanced at Abu Jahl sitting in the yard in the company of Qurayshi noblemen. Hamzah advanced very calmly towards Abu Jahl, hit him with his bow on the head till he bled. To everybody's surprise, Hamzah shouted, "How dare you insult Muhammad while I follow his religion and I believe in what he says? Come and retaliate upon me. Hit me if you can." In a moment they all forgot how their leader Abu Jahl had been insulted and they were all thunderstruck by the news that Hamzah had converted to Muhammad's religion and that he saw what Muhammad saw, and believed what he said. Could Hamzah really have converted to Islam when he was the strongest and most dignified man of the Quraysh?

In a time when muslims were persecuted in Makkah towering men like Hamzah prevented harm to be cause on to Muhammad (s) and most of his early followers. The prophet (s) honoured him with the noble title "The lion of Allah and his messenger". Not long after the Hijrah to Madinah, the Quraisyi declared war on the muslims. This was the 1st battle in Islamic history, the battle of Badr. The muslim army was commanded by Hamzah - he was therefore first standard bearer in Islam. In this battle many Quraisyi noblemen lost their lives including Abu Jahl. This defeat was not taken lightly by the Quraisy and soon the began amassing another army ready for battle. This 2nd battle will be known as the battle of Uhud. In this battle the Quraisy targetted 2 persons, namely the Prophet (s) and Hamzah.

Abu Sufiyan, the leader of the Quraisy wanted revenge. They had sent a slave named Wahshi to assinate Hamzah at this battle. None was more keen to have Hamzah's head than Abu Sufian's wife, Hind. She had lost her father, uncle, brother and son at the hands of Hamzah. She had promised Wahshi his freedom and jewelry if she brought Hamzah's liver to her.

During the battle of Badr, Wahshi stalked Hamzah, waiting for the right opportunity to strike. These are his accounts of the event:

"I was an Abyssinian. I used to throw the spear, Abyssinian style, that hardly missed its target. When the armies met I looked for Hamzah till I found him in the middle of the crowd like a huge camel. He was killing every one around him with his sword. Nothing could stop him. By Allah, I prepared for him. I wanted him. I hid behind a tree so that I might attack him from a distance. At that moment Saab` ibn `Abd al-`Uzza approached him before me. When Hamzah glanced at him he shouted, `Come to me, you son of the one who circumcises!' and he hit him directly in the head. Then I shook my spear till I was in full control over it and threw it. The spear penetrated him from the back and came out from between his legs. He rose to reach me but could not and soon died. I came to his body and took my spear and went back to sit in the camp. I did not want anything else. All I wanted was to be a freeman.
"When I returned to Makkah, I was set free. I stayed there till the Prophet (s) entered Makkah on the Day of the Conquest. I fled to 'Ta'if. When the delegation of Ta'if went to declare their conversion to Islam, I heard various people say that I should go to ,Syria or Yemen or any other place. While I was in such a distress, a span said to me, `Woe to you! The Prophet (s) never kills anyone entering his religion'. I went to Allah's Prophet (s) in Madinah, and the moment he saw me I was already giving my true testimony. When he saw me he said, `Is it you, Wahshi?' I answered, `Yes, Messenger of Allah'. He said, `Tell me, how did you kill Hamzah?' l narrated to him, and when I was done, he told me, `Woe to you! Get out of my sight and never show your face to me'. From that time, I always avoided wherever the Prophet (s) went lest he should see me, till he died.
"Afterwards, when the Muslims fought Musaylamah the Liar in the Battle of al-Yamamah, I went with them. I took with me the same spear I had killed Hamzah with. When the armies met, I saw Musaylamah standing with his sword in his hand. I prepared for him, shook my spear till I had full control over it, threw it, and it went into his body. If I killed with this spear the best of men, Hamzah, I wish that Allah might forgive me, as I killed with it the worst of men, Musaylamah."
So the man who the prophet (s) had such great love for had lost his life to a slave. It was not just that he had died, his body had been cut up and mutilated. The book recounts:
The battle ended and the polytheists mounted their camels and led their horses back to Makkah. The Prophet (s) and his Companions examined the battlefield to see the martyrs. There, in the heart of the valley, the Prophet (s) was examining the faces of his Companions who had offered their souls to their Lord and had given their lives as a precious sacrifice to Him.

The Prophet (s) suddenly stood up and gazed deeply upset and sorrowful, he ground his teeth and closed his eyes. He had never imagined that the Arabs could be so savage that they cut and mutilate a dead body the way they had done to his uncle, the Lion of Allah Hamzah ibn `Abd al-Muttalib. On opening his eyes, the Prophet (s) once again looked at the body of his uncle saying, "Losing you is the worst calamity in my life. I have never been more outraged than I am now."

Then he turned to his Companions saying, "It is only for the sake of Safiyyah (Hamzah's sister) who would be grieved and I am afraid that it should be taken as a practice after me; otherwise, I would have ordered him to be left without burying so that he may be in the stomachs of beasts and in the craws of birds. If Allah destines me to defeat the Quraysh, I will cut thirty of them into pieces.,'

To this, the Companions shouted, "By Allah, if one day we conquer them, we will cut them in a way that no Arab has ever done before!" Allah honoured Hamzah by making his death a great lesson for the Muslims to learn justice and mercy, even in situations when penalties and retaliations were justified.

No sooner had the Prophet (s) finished his threatening words, than a revelation came down to him while he was still standing in his place with the following verse:

Call mankind to the Way of your Lord with wisdom and sound advice, and reason with them in a well mannered way. Indeed, your Lord is well aware of those who have gone astray from His way, and He is well aware of those who are guided. And if you retaliate, let your retaliation be to the extent that you were afflicted, but if you are patient, it will certainly be best for those who are patient; and be patient, yet your patience is only with the help of God, and do not grieve over them, distress not yourself at what they devise. Indeed, God is with those who are pious, and those who are doers of good.
Al-Nahl, 16:125-127
Okay, so this is a case of murder but I think the principles still hold. From the verses above you can see that the common message here is that of patitience. In case of murder, we are allowed to claim our justice but up to a level we were inflicted with but God also states that the best of men are those who are patient. So being patient in the aftermath of a tragedy is the best a person can be. Though it is like most things, easier said than done, we should strive to control our emotions and stay calm in the face of calamity....