Talking death

Since the Islamic new year just started with the month of Moharram, FZ always has questions regarding the story of Karbala and Imam Hussain.

I try to give her small doses of the events of that time without overdosing her with too many tangents. I talk to her in simple terms about simple issues that she can relate with. And when she asks about something too philosophical, I just say, “We will talk about that when you are older.” There is only so much young kids can chew on, and you don’t want them glazing over with information overload.

A big concern she has these days is death, and why people have to die, especially those we love.

“I am really sad for Nano, because she doesn’t have a Mama or a Baba anymore.”

And, this: “I don’t want you or Baba to die. I would be really sad.”

Sigh. I know, kid. It’s a tough one.

I’ve read to just approach death matter-of-factly without too many details. So when she gets sad, I just tell her she doesn’t have to worry about that right now.

But it does hit me straight in the heart.

And I think about Imam Hussain and the Battle of Karbala, and his 4-year-old daughter weeping over the death of her father, uncle and brothers.

And I think what is that beautiful love for God that would make Qasim ibne Hasan call death “sweeter than honey”?

Do you hear the cries of Hussain?
Do you hear him calling you?

When he brings his family to face hardships in the lonely desert,
Feeling their hunger and pain
He is calling you toward sacrifice

When he embraces the dust mixed with the blood of his kin,
Prostrating to God for the last time
He is calling you toward prayer

When he offers a second chance to his enemies,
Knowing they are ready to slaughter him mercilessly
He is calling you toward kindness

And when he stands alone –
Fighting for truth over falsehood,
Fighting for justice over oppression,
Fighting for humanity –
He is calling you toward Allah

Are you ready to say Labbaik ya Hussain (I am here Hussain)?
Are you ready to live with honor?
Are you ready to die with dignity?

If you are ready, then the Imam is waiting –
Labbaik ya Hussain, we are ready
Labbaik ya Mahdi, we are here

-S.B. Zaidi

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