Monday, 1 August 2016

battle of life


Through the journey of life there are many obstacles, challenges, difficulties that we all will inevitably face, for if we did not know or experience the hurdles life throws at us, life would be similar to that of a flat and narrow paved road, it would be safe and comfortable, but dull and utterly pointless. Through this journey there are people who will serve either as blessings or lessons to us - people who leave their resilience, their unwavering courage, and the warmth of their smiles footprinted in our hearts. This is where this story begins, of a young boy who was diagnosed with cancer, who served both as a blessing and lesson to us. A blessing because he had a smile and joviality that was almost contagious - and a lesson because he did not allow the narrow confinements of hospital walls and the reality of his looming death to diminish his aspirations, his optimism, and most importantly, his Taqwa.

This story begins as he mentions "I was diagnosed with cancer in November 2014 at the age of 17, not long before I was close to completing my Aalim course which I had studied for four years. When I was diagnosed I was told that I had already reached the fourth stage of cancer hence they had started my treatment immediately which I have been doing for the past one and a half years. The first thing that had come to my mind when they told me that I was to undergo chemo was that I had to shave my hair and beard which was inevitably going to fall off. Being a Haafidh and having the words of Allah preserved in my heart it is not only my obligation to grow my beard but also my pride and joy. I made Du'aa to Allah (SWT) hoping that the side effects of chemo would not allow my beard to dissipate. Alhamdulillah, I was able to keep my beard for atleast one year whilst undergoing chemo with the mercy and power of Allah (SWT)."

Not only did he let his cancer interfere with his spirituality, but he also did not allow it to become an obstacle in his zest for life. Something to remember that makes me laugh involuntarily was his ever-ready willingness to go out and involve himself in any kind of sporty activity, just a few days after he was diagnosed we shook our heads smiling when he told us his perfectly mapped out plans to go touring, biking, and horse riding. And even after he persuaded his parents that zip lining was perfectly safe for a cancer patient, it didn't tire him out, instead he said, "That was great, I'm going to do it again." It was almost as if the acknowledgement that we had a cancer patient amongst us existed, but when we looked at him his illness seemed non existent, to him it was never a burden or a death sentence, but rather an opportunity to make every day count. This was what I had found most amazing.

The question may arise that how did he possibly not allow knowing that he had stage four cancer, be an obstacle in continuing with life as if his terminal illness was not fatal? If one glanced at him the tell-tale signs of being a cancer victim were nowhere to be seen, all that would meet the eye was simply a teenage boy, one who was filled with an unprecedented radiance.
I personally recall whilst being in public with him and meeting people who would refuse to believe that he had Leukemia, often he would have had to show them the port on his chest, where his chemo therapy would be inserted, to confirm their refusal.

On one occasion, being unable to contain my curiosity any longer, I asked him, "Why don't you complain about it? Surely there must be pain, why don't you ever mention it? You always seem to be happy." Not wanting to delve too much into the topic, he simply replied that it is not always happiness he possesses, but contentment. Still not being satisfied with his answer, I persisted, for I needed to know what was the antidote of living in such a manner, despite being faced with the greatest difficulty, that even those around you benefit from being in your company, I think this is something that we all need to know the answer to. The response I received from him is something that will always be embedded in my heart, and if fully understood by those whom I share this with, I am sure it will leave an imprint in theirs too. With a pensive look in his eyes, he replied "The harsh reality is that we are all dying. Yes, you and I, all of our bodies are deteriorating, the only difference is that I can feel mine weakening, you might feel sorry for me, but consciousness of my own mortality is actually a gift, many of us live as if we are never going to face our creator, as if today might not be the last day we see, so I cannot ignore how priceless a reminder is."
It is no less than appalling that an eighteen year old boy could possess more wisdom and Taqwa than many of our elders today.

He seized having this illness as an opportunity to address everyone else in the same manner about how heedless we tend to become, how we go about leading our lives like we have guarantee that we're going to live long enough to change. In May 2015, a family reunion was hosted for us, Haafidh Abdullah could not attend due to him undergoing chemotheraphy, so via Skype and in his hospital bed, he delivered a speech which left tears welling up in everyone's eyes. He addressed us all saying,
Asa la Mu'alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu to one and all. I would like to begin by saying something that I hope every one of us here reflects upon in every aspect of our lives. You should never be depressed by your worldly situation as long as you are walking on the path leading to Paradise. Achieving Paradise is the great objective of this life, and the person who gains it is victorious, regardless of what he has achieved in this world.

As you are all aware I have been diagnosed with Leukemia, which is the worst type of cancer. I have come to understand that whenever I feel overwhelmed the only way I can find comfort is sitting with my favourite book, The Qur'aan. When I turn each of its miraculous pages my heart begins to feel lighter and the world around me brighter! The love, warmth, and security of each word sets in and it is in these very moments that I know for sure in my heart how much Allah loves me! Alhamdulillah.

For these past two years, through the roller-coaster of emotions I have been going through from being hospitalized and sick most of my days, I learned that its okay to feel sad, anxious, lonely, frustrated and confused, only because for me, these emotions are a constant reminder about the comfort and significance about remaining patient and turning to Allah for help.

I asked Allah for strength and Allah gave me difficulties to make me strong. I asked Allah for wisdom and Allah gave me problems to solve. I asked Allah for courage and Allah gave me obstacles to overcome. I asked Allah for favours and Allah gave me opportunities. Maybe I received nothing I wanted, but I received everything I needed - Alhamdulillah.

Family is undoubtedly one of the greatest blessings Allah has bestowed us with. I am so glad that we are gathered here today in an attempt to increase the Mohabbat amongst ourselves because it is only recently that I have realized the true importance of family. Support from my family is one of the main reasons as to why I have hope, why I don't give up this fight. I cannot describe or even endeavor to describe my gratitude towards my parents, my siblings, and the rest of my family for never failing to make me laugh on days I do not even feel like smiling and most importantly for constantly reminding me that when Allah loves a person, he tests them.

My dear uncles, aunties, and cousins. If I can learn so much from this illness then so can you.

You are all my family, I know that you are human and imperfect. Some are confused, some struggling, some tired, needing a moments rest. Tired of the rain and needing the rainbow. I love you all for the pleasure of Allah. Have no fear. Allah is with you and will not abandon you for a single heartbeat. The rainbow is coming, or maybe it is already here and all you need to do is look up. Always remember, if Allah brings you to it he will bring you through it."

As with most cancer patients, his illness gradually worsened, upon realizing himself that inspite of all medical measures taken there was no hope of putting his predatory cancer cells at bay, he told me "The doctors have given up hope for me, But I know that my Allah will never." It was during this time where he adamantly made the decision to go for Umra, risking all his health factors, this is infact the first thing he wanted to do the very moment he was diagnosed, but the Doctors had not allowed him to. After much persistence, the doctors had given him consent to travel , so 20 members of the Randeree family were gathered and they all set out to make Umra with him - a trip that each and every one of them describe as being beyond explanation.
Even though he was barely able to walk for long periods he would go to the Haram himself and make Tawaaf with a walking stick. On one such occasion he approached one of the security guards in the Mataaf area, due to his knowledge of Arabic from his Aalim course he was able to converse with the guard by telling him about his cancer. Now the security guards in Makkah come across millions of people, some who seek Du'aas, others who have deplorable stories to relate, some who request if they could be taken to touch the Ka'bah or Hajre Aswad, these requests from the masses of people are all alike so anyone would assume that the security guards pay no attention as their job is specifically to regulate the immense crowds. But it seemed like Allah placed a special liking for Abdullah in the heart of this security guard, and being overwhelmed with emotion he took Abdullah personally before clearing the crowds, allowing him to make fervent Du'aa at the Multazam and took him to kiss the Hajre Aswad. Afterwards a place in the first Saff (row) was secured for him for Salaah.

After the lapse of ten days, he and his entire family returned to South Africa, along with many joyous memories. During this time in the month of Ramdhaan, his health took a tragic plunge, and it was not long afterwards when he became bed-ridden. His mother related to me that a few days before he passed away, a few hufaadh had come to read for him, whilst one of them was reading, he corrected a mistake, such was his love for The Qur'aan that even in the process of loosing his memory and physicality the words of the Qur'aan was still immaculately embedded in his mind. Abdullah's father recalls that during his chemo he would spend hours reciting or listening to the Qur'aan.

A Monday morning on the 3rd of Shawaal saw the departure of Haafidh Abdullah Randeree from this worldly abode, the day when his creator called one of his most beloved servants home, and the day where many tears were shed and many reflective memories shared.
It is said that a wife who loses a husband is called a widow, a husband who loses a wife is called a widower, a child who loses his parents is called an orphan, but so tragical is the pain of loosing a child that there is no word for it. Abdullah's parents were devastated, for how can the loss of a child who brought so much of admiration and happiness to his parent's eyes and everyone else's not be severely mourned? He was their youngest and undoubtedly the apple of their eyes. A child who, as his father would say, fulfilled every single one of every father's aspirations for their son. Even though both his parents were grief stricken, knowing that they had brought up a son who had spent his entire youth in the path of Allah and passed away whilst being so steadfast on his Deen was a means of consolation, and even more so when a dream was related to them by a family member of ours, wherein he saw Haafidh Abdullah entering a Masjid with the prophet Muhammad (saw), Hadhrat Abu Bakr and Umar (RA) beside him - many of his Ustaadhs (teachers) had concluded that Haafidh Abdullah's level is one under the Ambiyaa and one above the Shuhadaah - SubhanAllah. Not only had he left memories behind, but he had also left lessons for us to learn, words for us to remember, and as both his parents would fondly say, the image of the almost permanently etched smile on his face.

On a concluding note, I would like to leave you with some of the advice of Haafidh Abdullah, a message that he would have liked to share with you all, and I hope that by the end of this, each one of you is captured by some sort of inspiration, I hope that everyone who reads this acknowledges all the lessons that can be extracted from here, and I hope that everyone ends reading this with some kind of resolve. Haafidh Abdullah has said, "Everytime I think about the fact that I have cancer or everytime my pain becomes unbearable, I close my eyes and remind myself that Allah is watching. My efforts and patience will never go wasted, I remind myself that it's all being written down for later reference, so I open my eyes and keep going, I keep fighting, I try to look pass the struggles and pass the pain because I remind myself about how good it would feel to have this all elevate my status and stages in Jannah, I am aware that even though every day I fight a battle to survive, I am not the only one fighting, I am fighting an illness but everyone out there is fighting some kind of battle that no one else knows about. So to those people - Allah knows what you are feeling and he knows your intention and he knows what it is in your heart. If you knew how Allah took care of your affairs you wouldn't worry, it is only a matter of time before things get better. Patience is bitter, it can be very bitter actually, but when the sweetness of it prevails you will forget every bitterness you have ever tasted. So pour out your heavy heart to Allah when your forehead is on the ground, remember that prayer is your greatest comfort, and there is no battle that cannot be fought without the help of Allah."

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