By EMAN ELKHOLY
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "Give charity without delay, for it stands in the way of calamity." (Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 589)
It was all over the news. Raging fire in Bronx, NY leaves many family members dead. When I was first asked to engage in this Young Muslims (YM) initiative to ease the pain and hardships of the Maggasi family from the Bronx I was caught up in the sensationalism that television often creates. I thought to myself, ‘I will actually meet the family that appeared on TV!’
Glory be to God, little did I know, the matter was greater than that…
As news of the deaths spread far and wide YM, Young Muslims decided to step in and help this Muslim family. The sisters in Jersey City decided to visit them. The weekend before the visit we went shopping for school supplies for the children. Afterwards, the feelings I carried were quite ambiguous. Perhaps, I felt disconnected from it all. I felt that it wasn’t enough, that more should be done for this family.
A few days later, I was at work speculating about ways I could offer my help. I decided to ask the group of people I pray with while at work. I figured maybe they could contribute something for the family. I sent out an email to the group, and left my desk for five minutes. Upon my return, I discovered at least ten replies from people who wanted to help. Immediately I remembered the verse from the chapter in the Quran entitled ‘Divorce’:
“And whosoever fears Allah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty)”
Since the beginning of this YM project God made it very easy for us to buy supplies and raise funds for the family. I can only assume the reason for this ease was that God must love this family for remaining strong during this time of tribulation.
Finally, the day had arrived. I met up with the most kind-hearted, beautiful sisters (inside and out) anyone could ever meet. We began our journey to visit the family. We first picked up boxes donated by students from Miftah ul Uloom (Key to Knowledge)
High School in Union City, NJ. We went through each box one by one to distinguish the good clothes from the bad, boxed the good ones, and labeled it for each of the families we were visiting. Then we drove off. The directions were easy to follow, the trip there was free of traffic, and finding the buildings was even easier. I knew that was God’s way of helping us help them. The hardest part awaited us inside that apartment.
We visited the first wife, who lost at least 5 of her children. She was left with an older son and daughter. Looking at her, I felt the sense of utter despair and emptiness. She did nothing but thank us, but that feeling of discontent entered my heart once more. I felt as if I had done nothing for this family. Nothing can ease the pain and suffering of losing a child, never mind five! I wish I had said more to her, done more for her, but words were just trapped inside me. What can I as a sister say or do to ease this sister’s pain? God, grant her patience. I wish I had told her the story of Prophet Ayub (Jacob) who suffered more tribulations than anyone in this world, yet he uttered a prayer to God more beautiful than anything that the ears can hear:
"And (remember) Jacob when he cried to his Lord "Truly, distress has seized me, but You are the Most Merciful of those that are merciful." ‘The Prophets’, Verse 83 The Quran
I couldn’t grasp the idea that the person before me has been through a flaming, burning fire; lost her children, her belongings, everything that she ever owned, possessed, and loved. I couldn’t help but wonder what would I have done in her situation? In the Chapter of the Quran called ‘The Believers’ 23.62FhFF, it is stated:
'On no soul do We place a burden greater than it can bear.'
Yet, this sister handled this better than anyone I know can. She did not shed a tear in front of us. Despite her despair, I sensed her strength. May God grant her strength and patience in her faith.
My favorite part of the day occurred next. We visited the other mother who, Praise be to God, did not lose any of her children, but suffered a few minor burns. The children, as well, had a few bruises but nothing major by God’s will. The children were cuter than words can describe. They melted my heart, especially the baby. We started to open up the gift bags (full of school supplies) and handed each to its rightful owners. To their excitement, they couldn’t help but smile and checked out the cool new stuff these strangers had bought in for them. I handed the remaining money to the mother, and we exited the apartment leaving a smile on each family members face, and that was priceless!
This visit made me realize regardless of all the hardships of this world, it cannot equal the troubles and hardships of the next life (i.e. heave and hell). God promises in the Quran, in Surah (chapter) ‘The Morning Hours’, Ad Duha:
Verily, the hereafter will be much better for you than the present.
Have we not found you an orphan, and gave you shelter and care? Have we not found you wandering, and gave you guidance? Therefore, treat not the orphan with harshness, nor turn away the petitioner unheard; but the blessings of your Lord Rehearse and proclaim!
This chapter has nothing but wisdom and truth. God gave us everything, and in a blink of an eye, can take it back. Brothers and sisters, do not assume that God will not test you in this world. And when He does test you, remain steadfast on your faith, because no one but HE can help you endure the hardship.
A hadith (saying of the Prophet Muhammad) narrated by Abu 'Abbas 'Abdullah, says:
"Remember God in times of ease, and He will recognize
you in times of distress. What hit you could not have
missed you, what missed you could not have hit you.
Remember that victory comes with patience, relief comes
with affliction and ease comes with hardship".
God give us strength to endure the hardships that you will bestow on your believers. And give us strength to emerge from all the trials and tribulations of this life victorious.