Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi rajioon (Indeed we belong to God and to Him we return.)
I’m hesitant to write this because I consider myself a pretty private person and I don’t want to make my personal business public, but I’m going to write this, Inshallah, because I think writing will help me deal with some feelings I have.
My grandmother (nanamama), Fareeda Khan, died Saturday night around 7:30. She died in her sleep in our house, probably of bowel ischemia. She was eighty.
We had her janaza (Islamic funeral) today. We also buried her. In keeping with her wishes and with Islamic custom, we buried her right away. Traditionally Muslims bury their dead within three days of the passing.
Alhamdulillah, she went very peacefully, but I don’t want to focus on her death. I want to share with you something of her life, of her character, of who she was.
She was such a loving person. She had three adult children, my mother, Aisha, my aunt, Zahida, and her only son, my uncle Nasser. She loved them deeply and they loved her. And I know we all love our mothers and our children, but I want to convey the depth of this love. Every weekday, all three of her children would call my nana to say they had arrived at work safely. Every evening, Monday through Friday, they would all call nana to say they had come home safely, except my mother because nana lived with my parents and me. She had a special relationship with each of her children. My mother was her main caretaker. My aunt was like her confidante. And my uncle was her baby, the youngest of her children. My mother, my aunt, and my uncle all chose to live in the same town, Naperville, within a few miles of each other so they could always be close. I cannot remember a single time, in my whole life, when any one of these three siblings, ever went more than a week without seeing my grandmother. They have always worked together to make sure nanamama was happy and healthy.
She had six grandchildren – my sister Mairaj, my brother, Atif, me, and three of my cousins, Bilal, his sister Nabihah, and my other cousin, an only child, Zahra. She had a special relationship with each of her grandchildren. Some might say she had favorites, and maybe my sister was her favorite, but I prefer to think that she just loved us all but in different ways.
Her love went beyond our family. She had the most courteous manners and the most elegant way about her. I’ll give you an example. We have had some maids come to our house from time to time to tidy up. Honestly, I try to ignore them and wait until they leave. But not my nanamama. She would insist that they clean her room first and she told the maids that, even if they didn’t speak English. But she wasn’t pushy or at least, she tempered that pushiness with sweetness. Before the maids left, she would make sure they each got something to eat and drink – a coke, a samosa, or maybe some chole (spicy chick peas). She even made dua for the inventor of the microwave, whoever he/she may be, because she appreciated a quick, warm meal. She had a good sense of humor too.
She had so much piety, Mashallah (May Allah be pleased). She was very regular about her prayers. She fasted until the point where her doctors (my mom and my aunt Zahida) told her she couldn’t any more, about two years ago. She read Quran every day until her eyes made it very difficult to read, and even then, she would often recite what she had memorized. I once told her that a college friend of mine, Kamran, was a hafiz, and she was very impressed with that. In fact, she told me some times that she had faith that my generation would put Muslims on the right path.
It’s tough to lose someone like her, but I’m doing ok, Alhamdulillah. If you would like to do something for me, there are two three suggestions I have. One – give to the refugees in Pakistan, http://www.irw.org/. She mentioned towards the end how badly she felt about that. Two, recite Surah Ya Sin (36) even if all you can recite is “Ya Sin,” and when you finish ask for her to be granted Paradise. Three, she had a favorite dua (request to God), that I would like you to recite, and it goes, “Ya Allah, make the Muslims be (true) Muslims.”