Words for Amr

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Reflections from Sister Asmaa Hussein whose husband was martyred in the Rabaa massacre:

“The eyes roll up at the moment of death, following the soul as it is emptied from the body. It is the moment we fear, that which we loathe, what we would give all our riches to avoid: death. I remember seeing Amr like that after he was killed. I remember his body and face resting, motionless, the blood that had dried on his face and beard. It wasn’t really him anymore – just the shell that once held his soul. I remember those tears as I stood over him wondering what my life would be like after losing a love so great.

That moment of death–the one that makes our hearts recoil in fear, the one we see daily pictures of in Gaza, Syria and many other places – it came to them as a decree from their Lord. The pictures are gruesome, and the reality even more so. Devastated parents standing over their children’s bodies, women standing over the bodies of their beloved husbands…it is certainly one of the hardest things anyone will ever have to do in this life.

Most faces of the dead have one thing in common – their eyes are still open. They are open because they have seen what we have yet to see, tasted that which has not yet tingled our senses: death.

We ought to remember that as gruesome as it looks, and as much as our stomachs turn in disgust and anger at the perpetrators – the souls of our dead are now free. The men and women who truly believed in Allah, and stood tall in the face of injustice have had their sins wiped clean at the first drop of their blood.

That which looks gruesome to us, was perhaps a most beautiful experience for them. The Prophet Muhammad (saw) said: “When the believer is about to depart from this world and go forward into the Next World, angels with faces as bright as the sun descend from the heavens and sit around him in throngs stretching as far as the eye can see. Then the Angel of Death comes and sits at his head and says, ‘Good soul, come out to forgiveness and pleasure from Allah!’ Then his soul emerges like a drop of water flows from a water-skin and the angel takes hold of it. When he has grasped it, the other angels do not leave it in his hand even for the twinkling of an eye. They take it and place it in a perfumed shroud and a fragrance issues from it like the sweetest scent of musk found on the face on the earth.

“Then they bear it upwards and whenever they take it past a company of angels, they ask, ‘Who is this good soul?’ and the angels with the soul reply, “So-and-so the son of so-and-so,” using the best names by which people used to call him in this world. They bring him to the lowest heaven and ask for the gate to be opened for him. It is opened for him and angels who are near Allah from each of the heavens accompany him to the subsequent heaven until he reaches to the heaven where Allah the Great is. Allah, the Mighty and Majestic, says, ‘Register the book of My slave in ‘Illiyun and take him back to earth. I created them from it and I return them to it and I will bring them forth from it again.’

“To have beautiful angels wrap you in sweet-smelling shrouds, call you by your most loved names, and take you into the company of Allah, the Most High – that is the definition of success. I often wonder what Amr was called by the angels as they were lifting him to his meeting with Allah. I hope they called him “Abu Ruqaya” as he loved his kunya greatly.

When we look at the countless photos that have been coming out of Syria, Palestine, Egypt and elsewhere, we cry because we think they have suffered greatly. And they have suffered! But look where our beloved ones are now. Look at how they have been freed from the darkness and distress of this world into the light and pleasure of the hereafter… We are the ones imprisoned. We are the ones who are still not safe. They, on the other hand, have won. They are free.”

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