“An ocean of knowledge which once resided on the seabed of humbleness has now submerged below it, forever.”
“Why didn’t you tell me!! You call me your younger brother, but you couldn’t even tell me you were ailing?!”
I could’ve called you or visited you so I could apologize for all the pain I caused you; thank you for all the good you did for me throughout my life despite all that pain. if nothing else, just so I could say goodbye to you.”
(My selfish mind continued to cry out as I stood in front of his grave— praying.)
As I sat down to compile my thoughts, upon returning home, I put my feelings of loss aside and tried to analyze your decision of not informing me about your illness from a different perspective.
Possibly, your own.
Why would you tell me?
This was just like you. You never wanted to hurt a soul; forget about making them worry about you, augmenting their own worries. For you were the sponge for our worries, the shock absorber of our concerns, and the solid wall that shouldered the pain of those around him.
You weren’t just a big brother, my big brother, you were a true human. A lesson on humanity.
You were always there for me.
“I GOT A QUESTION” sent at 2 AM.
“Sure” was your response.
We spoke for over 40 min.
Your strength reflected my weakness- always urging me to do better, be more like you.
I was told you were in hospital by a close family member early Friday morning before Jummah prayers. I was supposed to call you. That was my responsibility. However, the preparation of the Friday Sermon was my excuse not to do so.
As I exited from delivering the Friday services, I received a message from you, the one who was spending the last days of his life in a hospital, never to be seen outside of the confines of those walls ever again.
That message you wrote- you knew me so well.
“As-salaam alaikum, I thought you were already American?”
(You were catching up with me as I had become an American citizen the day before. You wanted to congratulate me, without complaining to me.)
“I heard you are in the hospital?! How are you? What’s going on?” I asked immediately.
“Getting some treatment done. Mubarak on your American citizenship” was your response.
Diversion. A stubborn man with a heart of gold. You wanted to celebrate people even at the cost of your own life.
Your last words to me were digital, even though your connection with me spans a lifetime. As much as I wish I had heard your voice one last time, I try to find the beauty in that communication too as I can save and cherish those last words.
We grew up together in Canada in the ’80s- Mufti Umer and I. Our fathers were tight- childhood buddies. He ended up becoming the inspiration for my family to trek towards a path devoted to Islam, beginning with my brother and then myself.
He was my support from the time when I came to England to study at the Dar Al Uloom and wanted to call it quits and go home, to when he hosted me when I visited him in Austin in 2002, all the way till 2019, after I was married and settled with kids he loved like his own.
He visited us here in Dallas and had met them in his unique way of showering them with love. And why wouldn’t he? My wife and I are here under one roof all because of his earnest desire to help people.
He introduced us to each other.
“I want you to marry my younger brother.” A message he sent to my wife over 17 years ago.
She was his student. He was her mentor, support beam, confidante, and best friend. (Well, we all feel like he was our best friend, only because he truly was.)
I am sharing my life story not only because he was an integral part of it, but throughout (he was also a major part of my wife’s life when she really needed him) but because that final text message wrapped it all up- the gift that he was to me and my family. It showed how much he was invested in us as individuals, as a couple, and as a family.
That message wrote:
“I thought you’ve been a citizen since marriage.”
(FRIDAY, AUGUST 30TH @ 3: 07 PM)
This is just my story featuring Mufti Umer Ismail.
I am confident that there are thousands more out there without exaggeration.
I’ll conclude with a word he corrected for me as I misspelled it on my Facebook page a few months ago when Molana Haaris Mirza, a dear colleague, passed away in New York. He didn’t do it publicly, he did it through that same Facebook text messenger that kept us in touch- with love and sincere care for me in his heart.
“As-salaam alaikum the word is Godspeed. Sorry for being [a] grammar freak.”
(MARCH 28TH, 2019 @6: 04 PM)
Godspeed, my dear brother. Godspeed.
The post Reflection On The Legacy of Mufti Umer Esmail | Imam Azhar Subedar appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.