Preparing for Departure


We were sat at her place and she was telling me about a woman she knew whose husband had passed away. The issue wasn’t the ‘widow’ status. The issue was that this woman knew nothing about her husband’s business affairs. Absolutely nothing.

Not long after the death of the husband, it happened that his uncle relocated to the same city and took over the running of his nephew’s business. Now, we won’t turn this into a drama and imagine how the uncle may have embezzled or changed everything into his ownership! I have no idea what happened next.

When my friend was telling me this story (no names were mentioned!), she was trying to make a point. The wife needs to know her husband’s business, what he does, how he runs things , what he owes and what he is owed.  Otherwise, it won’t be only the calamity of losing her husband but also the calamity of losing hers and her children’s livelihood.

I couldn’t help but wonder, how practical is that expectation? Traditionally and with many instances in our own time, many women focus a great deal of their lives looking after their children and household. So at what point is she meant to learn about her husband’s business? And learning about it and running the business are two different things. So do we also expect her to go on ‘work placements’ to get practice?

It may sound gloomy but I doubt many couples sit together and discuss their wishes if they pass way first. What would they want their spouse to know and do in relation to their children, parents, home and anything left behind?  We assume that death won’t knock on our doors until we have reached retirement age.  Life reminds us, time and time again, that death is the flip side of the same coin.

While the husband and wife are living their lives in good health, it would be ideal to live that life with transparency between them. The main point would be keeping records of any debts, first to Allah,  fasts to make up for example, and secondly to people, to return what’s owned to them. The Prophet peace be upon him said: “The soul of the believer is suspended because of his debt until it is paid off.” Reported Tirmidhi. “The soul of the believer is suspended”  was explained as ‘no judgement is passed as to whether it will be saved or doomed until it is determined whether his debt will be paid off or not’ [Al-Mubaarakfoori said in Tuhfat al-Ahwadhi (4/164)].

One can never prepare for every eventuality in the physical sense but can in the spiritual sense. Allah decreed that the uncle would relocate at an opportune time and take over the running of his nephew’s business. Who could’ve planned that but Allah the most exalted! It may have been that the man who passed away had some hidden good deeds or that he helped a needy person and they made sincere dua for him. It could be the wife who did any of these things. Or it could have been that dua that they thought was not accepted but Allah responded by averting a great calamity from the family. As Muslims we have at our disposal intangible means of bringing baraka into our lives to magnify the good we’re doing and cover up the deficiencies. This article in Productive Muslim is a must read “18 Sources of Barakah

Finally, I believe that our communities need to step up. We seem to be on fire-fighting mode all the time. Reactionary. Death is part of life and its repercussions are not unfamiliar in the grand scheme of things. What is the Islamic etiquette and laws/rules in dealing with the dead? How do we grieve in a manner that is not displeasing to Allah? How do we, as friends and community members, console and support the family of the deceased person? If there are children left behind, how do we support the single parent? The practical answers to these many questions require collective effort.

{ Every soul will taste death, and you will only be given your [full] compensation on the Day of Resurrection. So he who is drawn away from the Fire and admitted to Paradise has attained [his desire]. And what is the life of this world except the enjoyment of delusion.}

Quran 3:185


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