by Raiiq Ridwan

The death of Phil Hughes has had a very personal impact on me. Generally, I am known to be slightly more emotional than the average person, and thus more affected by pain, suffering, and bad news more than others. Alhamdulillah though, I recover well.

Phil Hughes is a different story.

Phil Hughes suffered an injury that is very rare. Medical folks will understand, that the ball hit the back of his head, exactly where one of vertebral arteries are. The vertebral arteries are one half of an important blood supply system to the brain. And as he burst his artery, he fell unconscious, into a stroke, never again to recover.

This is extremely, extremely rare. There are arteries to the brain which are more prone to others to rupture, but not the vertebral artery. In fact, just millimetres this way or that, and all that Hughesy would suffer from is some concussion, and he would have been up again. This was just surreal.

This takes me back to a time about four years and 11 months back. My best friend, Sahim, died while sucking on a chicken bone. He sucked on a bone marrow, which entered his windpipe, got lodged towards the bottom, and choked him to death. That has affected me a lot, and to this day it has totally changed my life around.

After that for years I struggled to make friends, I avoided getting too comfortable with someone, always with the fear that I might lose them. I used to have dreams of my family members passing away. At times in my head I would draw up scenarios of how I would cope if so and so died, if such and such happened, what should my response be, etc. Suffice to say, it was ridiculous, and mentally unstable.

The lesson I learned from all of this is that death is the only reality that is guaranteed in life, and nothing else is. Whatever we love, seek, or get attached to will today or tomorrow just perish. Our jobs will go, our friends will go, our family will go, our ego will go, our dreams will go, our goals will go. When death comes calling, it will just come, no matter how “absurd,” “rare,” or “unusual” it may be.

This has totally changed my perspective on life. As the ayat of Surah Rahman goes, Everything on earth will perish, but the Face of your Lord, Owner of Majesty and Honour will remain. [Quran 55:26-27] Everything that I do without seeking the pleasure of God will just go, but that which is seeking His pleasure and His Grace, will endure. Death, loss, heartbreak, and detachment are no longer that painful anymore, because at the end of the day your expectations come down to zero.

Whatever you get, see it as a gift from God. Every second with a loved one is now precious, because you know that it is a gift. Every second of fun and pleasure is great, because it is a gift. Every time it hurts, its not worth much, because you know that that’s going to end as well!

Your focus becomes Allah, Master of the Universe, not how many likes you get on Facebook, who likes your picture, who gave you a compliment, etc. Life seems much more than these petty issues. You learn to forgive people who hurt you, cherish those who love you, and get over your ego, because what use is an ego for one who is going to be worm buffet six feet under the ground two days later?

Jose Addison said human beings need three things to be happy— something to do, something to love, and something to hope for. I find all three of them in this verse of the Quran:

And hasten to forgiveness from your Lord and a garden as wide as the heavens and earth, prepared for the God-conscious. [Quran, 3:133]

  1. Something to do— hasten to forgiveness
  2. Something to love— forgiveness from your Lord
  3. Something to hope for— Paradise as wide as the heavens and the earth

Everything good that you do seeking His pleasure is worship, and hastens you to His forgiveness.

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