Thirteen Ramadhans ago, I was in the midst of a spiritual transformation (from a nominal Muslim to a practising Muslim) whilst running a large Islamic discussion board. Before that, I was still practising but merely did it out of habit, mindlessly mimicking movements and routines that we were inculcated from a young age. As a teenager, I intended to change that so I started researching Islam from a clear vantage point using intelligent reasoning, reflection and critical thinking. It was there and then that I decided that Islam was the religion for me. There is a profound sense in rediscovering the reason why you exist, Alxamdullilah.
Shortly after that, I hit a temporary wall that shook the foundation of my growing
I felt restless for weeks whilst trying to reconcile between these two seemingly contradictory beliefs. Being an intellectual novice to the religion, I had a hard time digging up the right resources (this was at a time when the internet was still at a nascent stage) and the ones that I could find failed miserably in refuting their claims. The dissonance in my heart grew restless. I distinctly remember the zombie-like trance that engulfed my mind, so pervasive that it permeated practically all aspects of my daily life – from my studies to my daily interactions. I needed answers pronto! Anything to remove this growing and fearful doubt, so I prayed like I never prayed before, asking Allaah to provide me with an answer, and verily, Allaah did in the form of a blog post – Shahid’s blog post.
Who was Shahid? Shahid ran an Islamic blog, whose considerable body of writing, albeit mostly polemic in nature, demonstrated an intellectual breadth and depth that left the curious reader engaged and engrossed. He had a knack for the essential, picking apart controversial assertations and refuting it with sound evidence. The only downside was that his blog was buried in search results and hard to locate, but by the Grace of Allaah, I did.
I emailed him, introducing myself, and proceeded to ask him my burning question. Not only did he take the time to send me a detailed and intellectually satisfying answer that ultimately solved my doubts (I remember the imaan-boost I received that day) but he was also kind enough to turn it into a blog post, expanding it with more historical sound evidence. He became my personal hero, and I genuinely loved him for the sake of Allaah even though I never met him. His online demeanour was warm and supportive, always starting his email with “My dear brother”. We kept in touch, occasionally sending each other salaams and I receiving his latest posts before he published them online. Our contact gradually tapered off and stopped the moment I transferred the forum to a British Muslim organisation and life got in the way.
Recently, as I was going through my email archives – looking for a specific unrelated email – I stumbled across my old emails to him. Naturally, I emailed him to wish him Ramadan Mubarak but instantly received an ‘invalid e-mail address’ error. I went on his blog, and just what I feared; his blog was offline. Being a tech-savvy Faarax has its perks so I managed to dig a snapshot of the last time his blog was active. The time-stamp caught my eyes, specifying that it has been off the net close to a decade. I scrolled up to his last post and saw a lengthy entry that he posted asking people to pray for him. Shahid was involved in a nasty car accident and on top of that was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He went through “two painful surgeries, radiation therapy and chemotherapy” (his words).
He further wrote: “However, that is not something that my Creator (Allaah) has as my fate for me. The results of my entire CT scans, MRIs’ and other lab works have confirmed that I must go through with more trials before meeting my Creator. The cancer has spread further in my body. It started with lung cancer and now I have cancer in my chest beside lung cancer and also I have cancer in my bones as well. So it is now lung cancer, bone cancer and chest cancer… This is Allaah’s Will and I submit to that with all my willingness and submission. I am ready and I say, Allaah has created the cancer and only Allaah can cure it, if He Wills. Otherwise, what can be better for than, meeting my Creator!”
Reading his last public message overburdened me with grief — like I lost a loved one even though a decade has passed since he returned to his Creator. Against the backdrop of feeling sorry for what he went through, I couldn’t help but be imbued with profound admiration at the level of his conviction whilst facing such a painful trial. The sad part is that I never physically met him, nor did I know which city he was living in or whether he was a husband or a father. I only know that in the grand scheme of things, our interaction was relatively brief; nonetheless, his knowledge left a lasting impression on me that will benefit me both in this Dunya and the Aakhira.