Thursday, December 1, 2011



Muhammad Mahtab Bashir


Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee … ? -John Donne

I am always saddened when death invades a family circle, and quite naturally so. I am devastated because of my loneliness, my fears, and my uncertainties. However, as I remember my beloved ones’ – nature snatched away in hurry, let me turn my fear into faith, my sorrow into joy, and my loneliness into Divine Companionship, that reach out to God- my ‘Divine Comforter’.

I have special reverence for Moharram but my personal losses during this holy month has made this month more special, sacred, emotional and so precious as I lost my elder brother Moazzam Bashir (45), who breathed his last on 4th of Moharram, (14 January) 2008, my close associate (streetmate friend)Tahir Mehmood (30) expired on 10th Moharram, (17 December) 2010, while I handed over my father-in-law Muhammad Farooq Siddiqui(63) to the Almighty on 1st Moharram-ul-Haraam, (27 November) 2011, who sung his swansong on November 26, few days after performing Hajj- a religious obligation of great prospect for Muslims.

Sardion ky udaas mosam mein
Khud ko dekhoon' to yad aay koi
Kaash aik bar yoon bhi ho jay
Mein pukaroon to laot aay koi

With an advent of Moharram every year brings tears to my eyes and pain in my heart whether this is due to my emotional attachment with those sacred souls who presented their sacrifices at the Karbala or my heartfelt love to my family members who I lost during Moharram. This holy month saddens me every year and makes me emotional on trivial matters. Thus every beat by a mourner during Moharram processions or any Noha it relates my heart to my personal loss which always attaches me my feelings, and my emotions with Imam Hussain (AS) and his followers and I feel myself sacrificing my loved ones’ who departed as sacrificing those in the midst of Karbala.

This month also brings blessings to all Muslims and they are also equally blessed with those sacred souls who presented sacrifices at Karbala and it makes me feel that my loved ones are also kept at the same elevated space in paradise.

Death is the ultimate- but a sudden premature death of a beloved is devastated that shattered the world for survivors- who instantly remain busy to ask three unanswerable ‘Whys’ to Almighty- ‘why’, ‘why this happens to us’, and ‘why bad things happen to good people’?

A sudden, accidental, unexpected or traumatic death shatters the world as we know it. It is often a loss that does not make sense. We realize that life is not always fair and that sometimes bad things happen to good people. The sudden death leaves us feeling shaken, unsure and vulnerable, no matter who we are.

I heard someone saying ‘Allah the Almighty doesn’t make an individual suffer to an extent that he doesn’t survive’. Another one while trying to pacify aggrieved rubbing his shoulder comments, ‘time is a healer, my dear’ and ‘sooner or later everyone has to meet his maker’.

For them, time may be a great healer but to me - every passing moment gets me spiritually and emotionally more closer to my beloved ones. And trust me, the nostalgia; the happy chirping moments spend with the dear departed can never been subjugated by time- because my memories are timeless that can be hit back my mind and heart anytime, anywhere.

The search for meaning of the loss can challenge a survivors religious and spiritual beliefs to a greater deal. Sudden losses in particular can precipitate an existential crisis as the survivor searches for meaning. They start questioning their internal belief system and values. Goals, plans and purchases which were important the week prior to the event, abruptly seem trivial in comparison. Survivors are forced to look at and re-evaluate life priorities after this lurching time.

The principles of Chaos and Complexity have become a very real part of who I am and how I form my world view. It therefore becomes crucial for me to understand and interpret the death of my dear one’s and survivors’ grief in terms of the understandings of chaos and complexity.

When a family member dies, there is not only the sense of loss of an individual and the relationships with that person, but there is a fundamental change in the sense of identity and meaning for remnants.

The discontinuity caused by the death is reflected through all fractal levels. The effects are felt in the family, the community and, depending on the individual or even planetary level. Even at levels lower than the individual, the death of a family member can affect bodily processes and the functioning of bodily organs, right down to the cellular level of all involved.

The grief and confusion which is evident after a death creates an increased level of fuzziness. The usual sense of control we have over our lives is stripped away to reveal our inner insecurities. If we have the courage to embrace the fuzziness we can reveal greater depths to our being.

Spiritual perspectives can form a framework of meaning around the experiences of death. It can also enable the emergence of a new level of understanding of the true nature of our being. Death often leads us to re-examine some of our basic beliefs. This is particularly so if the there is something about the death that challenges our existing beliefs.

Unfortunately spiritual perspectives can also be used to further deny the reality of death. I believe that seeing death as merely moving into another room or going to a better place can become ways of trivialising the loss and disrupting the healing process.

We form an image or a map of who we think we are within ourselves so we can compare it to what we are experiencing from the outside world. This is used to ensure that our actions are consistent with the identity that has been already formed. We must similarly form images of the other people in our lives through which we judge their behaviour. We therefore have a map of each person in our lives WITHIN our own identity. When a person we know dies, a part of us literally dies as well. The image inside us no longer matches the outer world and we must realign our inner world.

Death enables evolution. A creature that lived forever has little adaptability. If there was no death, we would not have been able to evolve beyond the level of bacteria. The process of death with a built in ability to self organise from generation to generation to become what we are and evolve towards possibilities beyond our wildest dreams. Thank God for death.

I know well this is where no one can help you but one can feel sorry- that's what only they can do & that's what perhaps, only we all need.

May the Holy Spirit comfort us and give us strength, may God illuminate your eternal souls, and may you all “dwell in the superlative spot in the heavens.”

I love you all – RIP!

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