It’s always interesting when our lives change course due to a major life event, be it a wedding, graduation, the birth of a baby, or a funeral. Though some may cause more emotions than others, in the end they all define us in one way or another.
In May of 2015, amidst our large family gatherings and between what always seems to be bundles of blessings folded in endless weddings, graduations, and reunions, we lost the gem of our family: my beloved ayeeyo Dahabo. My grandmother (may Allah have mercy upon her soul) was a fierce, bold woman who built the foundation of her life around the teachings of our Islamic faith. Give in charity. Smile. Be honest. Adore your parents. Take care of your neighbors. Honor your elders. Stand for the night prayer. In fact, one of the last pieces of advice she gave me before her passing was to be good to your parents. “Be dutiful to them,” she instructed.
A strong woman in every realm, and matriarch by circumstance, Ayeeyo was fierce. But, more than anything, she was a gem. Her name, Dahabo, translates to “Gold” in the Somali language—a name she lived up to. Ayeeyo was indeed gold. Throughout my childhood I was in awe of how her daughters were so merciful to her in action and speech, and as I matured, found them to be the epitome of bir’ al walidayn (Respect and Kindness towards parents). I am a firm believer that, God places specific events on our path so that we may learn, and with deep contemplation, reflect. The kindness my mother and aunts engendered towards their mother serves as a reminder and clear instruction on how to treat my own.
They say tribulations sweeten you and illuminate your true purpose. The loss of my ayeeyo not only served as a reminder of the fleeting nature of this world, but also taught me of the strength Allah grants to those who are constant on His path. My grandmother was the definition of La ilaha illallah Muhammadur Rasulullah—she breathed it. In a beautiful hadith the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:
“When Allaah wills good for His slave, He sweetens him.” He was asked, “What is this sweetening?” He said, “Allaah guides him to do righteous deeds before he dies, then He takes (his soul) whilst he is in that state.”
I’d like to think that in the days, even the years leading to her passing, Allah sweetened my ayeeyo.
Sifting through my grief of her death, I learned the following sweetenings, or lessons:
1. Life is fragile. Don’t forget to tell the people you love that you love them.
2. Take care of your soul. Take good care of your soul.
3. In times of hardship, find ease in prayer, and keep to it.
4. If a loved one has passed make the intention and give in sadaqah on their behalf (sadaqah jariyah)
5. Make duaa for them, always.
6. Your mother. Your mother. Your mother.
7. Be patient and steadfast in all matters and situations.
8. If you remove the difficulty of someone, God will remove difficulty from you.
9. Seek spiritual guidance, but also seek professional help when necessary.
10. Learn the Qur’an and its meaning. It will serve as an intercession on your behalf and will change your life.
11. Forgive for the sake of God.
12. Whether your parents are present or not, make this particular duaa for them: rab-bir hum huma kama rabbayani sagheera – My Lord! Have Mercy on my parents as they did when I was young.
These are all things that I try to live by, and lessons that I am learning every day. Perhaps the loss of my ayeeyo was a redirection from Allah, a slight reminder for when I forgot, because indeed, even when Allah takes, He gives.
After living for more than seventy-five years, surrounded by seventeen grandchildren, and over twenty-five great-grandchildren my ayeeyo left this earth, well pleased and well rested. I remember looking at her shortly before her burial and seeing the ease radiating from her face. It encapsulated her. The last words she uttered were: Subhanallah wabihamdihi (All Glory is to Allah and all Praise to Him) Subhanallah Azeem (Glorified is Allah, the Great)
Today marks two years since my ayeeyo’s passing and I pray to Allah that He enter her from the gates of Al-Firdaws. My grandmother was a woman of God. And so I ask Allah to forgive all her sins and grant her a dwelling that is far less painful and more eternal than this world. May Allah have mercy upon your soul, ayeeyo macaan. You were the sweetness of our family.
“And those who are patient, seeking the countenance of their Lord, and establish prayer and spend from what We have provided for them secretly and publicly, and prevent evil with good—those will have the good consequence of this home,
Gardens of perpetual residence; they will enter them with whoever were righteous among their fathers, their spouses, and their descendants. And the angels will enter upon them from every gate, saying,
"Peace be upon you for what you patiently endured. And excellent is the final home."
Surah Ar-Rad 13:22-24
I ask Allah to give us all a good ending and reunite us with those we have lost in His Ultimate abode.