كُلُّ نَفْسٍ ذَائِقَةُ الْمَوْتِ
Indeed all souls shall taste death
A few hours ago, I received a text message from a friend that one of my closest friends in Qatar, Khalid al-Malki, had passed away in an accident.
At first, I read the words “father of” (Khalid) into the message. Emotions have a strange way of clouding your vision. As my mind quickly jogged through ways I will send my condolences to Khalid for his father, I re-read the message and there was no “father of” in the text. I stood still. I was in disbelief. The same Khalid, who I had hugged 2 days ago at work before leaving for a vacation trip to Malaysia (from where I write)? The same Khalid whose bubbly personality lit up the entire workspace?
I quickly dialed another friend and he confirmed this tragic news. My heart dipped, my mood darkened and I just wanted to sit down right there, in the center of a Kuala Lumpur mall, and cry. But I collected my emotions, and relayed the news to my family. My wife couldn't believe what she was hearing (Khalid's family had come over to our place a few times so our families knew each other). I told her to continue with the kids, while I come back to the hotel as vacationing was the last thing on my mind at this time. It is as if I had lost one of my anchors in Qatar.
I came to the hotel and immediately sat down to write this. Dear readers, if you are wondering why I am sharing this personal story of the passing away of my friend, that is because you have to know Khalid. Khalid was no ordinary person. In my social and community circles, I have met hundreds of people and gotten know quite a few quite well. That comes with the territory of being active in da‘wah circles. But Khalid wasn't your average person. He was special.
I first met Khalid in my first few days at work when he gave me the standard building tour in his capacity as the Healthy & Safety coordinator. As we started talking and I mentioned a few of the troubles I was having settling in Qatar, Khalid's eyes lit up. It was as if he reveled in helping people.
Before long, Khalid was running around with me, here and there, trying to get this and that sorted out. Every time I wanted to take Khalid out for lunch, just to reciprocate a little bit, he would have already made a deal with the restaurant people to take his money. He called this true Qatari style, I called it Khalid style. It was never about reciprocation for him. When I brought gifts for him from my travels, I had to convince him to accept it for friendship (which was also true), and not because I was paying him back. Indeed Khalid soon became more than just the go-to helper. In less than 2 years of knowing each other, we shared our problems and concerns, helping each other in self-improvement. When we became frustrated at work, we could count on each other for encouragement and patience… we both didn't want the other to leave!
Not long ago, I had a car accident, and the first person I called of course was Khalid. In fact, Khalid insisted to all he knew, esp. the expats who might have difficulty with Arabic, that if anyone got into any trouble, to call him. So, Khalid was there by my side on the accident scene in a jiffy and spent the next 3 hours of his busy life dealing with accident, the police and just being with me. I have lost count of how many times I called Khalid for help.
Truly, Khalid encompassed the spirit and actions of a true ansaar (the Arabic word for helper). It was as if he was a transplant from the times of the Prophet (S), from Madīnah, the city to which the Prophet (S) migrated from Mecca and formed a bond between the people of Madīnah and the migrants from Mecca… one Makkan for each Madīnah resident. The hospitality shown by the people of Madīnah became an unparalleled story of love, brotherhood and acceptance of immigrants, bonded only by faith. For Khalid, it was even beyond faith. His help did not depend on your being Muslim. He was an equal-opportunity ansaar.
Whenever I went out with Khalid, we'd almost certainly run into one or more of his friends on the road or at location. He was extremely popular and it was his generosity and kindness in his dealings with people that made him so. I should add that he was the wrong person to go shopping with, because he could sometimes become too sympathetic to the seller as well!
Khalid had completed his Hajj just last year alhamdulilah and he would impulsively drive off to umrah every so often.
Khalid leaves behind a wife and three beautiful little girls, the youngest an infant. He sometimes brought the older two to work and you could see that they were really daddy's girls. Ironically, he too was planning a trip to Malaysia this summer and had already made some reservations. Man plans and plans, yet it is Allāh who is the Best Planner.
Death is indeed a strange thing. Everyone will experience it, yet everyone goes in disbelief when it happens to one close to us (see this post “Tuesdays with Morrie” and our Death Denying Culture).
When I bid farewell to Khalid a couple of days ago, little did I know that this was the last time I was going to see him. I didn't just lose a friend, the world lost an ansaar and Qatar lost an exemplary citizen. There are some people in the world who mean so much to so many, that they probably don't even realize it themselves. They are the secret warriors, going about their daily dose of helping others without beating their chest about it.
Khalid had another passion, car racing. I had gone with him a couple of times to the track. It was this passion that took away his life, though all the details of his accident are unknown at the time of this writing. We cannot blame a lifestyle choice because truly the “how”, “where” and “when” of his death were written. But we can take heed from such incidents to remind us of how fragile our bodies are, and to make careful choices of what we engage in because while Allāh is in charge of all affairs, the means we choose lead to the ends that Allāh chooses.
It greatly pains me that I am not able to attend my friend's janazah (funeral), being thousands and thousands of miles away. But I know that there will be throngs of people there by his grave side, to pay homage to a great man, as his family and friends engage in the final rituals to return Khalid to His Lord.
I pray that Allāh grants Khalid the highest paradise (jannatul firdaus) and raise him with the Ansaar of Madīnah, and reunites us in Jannah. I pray that Allāh give his family patience and gives them the fortitude to raise his three girls to become lights for the ummah.
If you are reading this and knew Khalid, you are welcome to leave your thoughts. Regardless, whether you knew him or not, please take a moment right now to make a quick prayer for Khalid and his family. I am going to miss you my friend!
Also, for those of you have been exposed to death, whether distantly or personally, feel free to share your thoughts and reactions.
I leave you with this small, comforting section from Tafsir ibn Kathir:
Allāh issues a general and encompassing statement that every living soul shall taste death. In another statement, Allāh said,
كُلُّ مَنْ عَلَيْهَا فَانٍ – وَيَبْقَى وَجْهُ رَبِّكَ ذُو الْجَلْـلِ وَالإِكْرَامِ
Whatsoever is on it (the earth) will perish. And the Face of your Lord full of majesty and honor will remain forever. [Qurʾān 55:26,27]
Therefore, Allāh Alone is the Ever-Living Who never dies, while the Jinn, mankind and angels, including those who carry Allāh's Throne, shall die. The Irresistible One and Only, will alone remain for ever and ever, remaining Last, as He was the First. This āyah comforts all creation, since every soul that exists on the earth shall die. When the term of this life comes to an end and the sons of Adam no longer have any new generations, and thus this world ends, Allāh will command that the Day of Resurrection commence. Allāh will then recompense the creation for their deeds, whether minor or major, many or few, big or small. Surely, Allāh will not deal unjustly with anyone, even the weight of an atom, and this is why He said,
وَإِنَّمَا تُوَفَّوْنَ أُجُورَكُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَـمَةِ
185. And only on the Day of Resurrection shall you be paid your wages in full