For a while I’ve been thinking about writing about death. Not because I want to be awkward or because I’m a pessimist or what have you but because in the past six years of my life I’ve received news of the deaths of some loved ones and got to know someone who had terminal illness and since passed away. These events have got me thinking for sometime about what life is about and what life isn’t about. While I struggled to see how such a topic would fit in on this blogsite, I always felt strongly about the topic. However, a tweet on the death of a man in Sydney, Australia that was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, along with an interview that he gave sometime ago after he was told he had months to live on the surface of the earth got me thinking about writing this post.
Brother Ali Banat returned to Allah in this blessed month, but let his words inspire us to do more to help those in need.
May Allah continue to elevate him and accept his good deeds. Ameen. pic.twitter.com/efrOehh3hG
— . (@Alhamdhulillaah) May 29, 2018
Watching the video and listening to how he decided to eschew his worldly comforts and dedicate his life and belongings to his life’s values and ultimate call – setting up ‘Muslims Around the World Project’ – got me thinking about death and my purpose in life. Hence, for the purpose of this blogsite, I want to pick a lesson from the video and situate it on how to reach out to children in need in one’s immediate community. This lesson is on his setting up of a school for indigent children in Mali, West Africa.
While not everyone would have the luxury to be able to thousands of miles across oceans, continents and time zones to carry out a charitable act, everyone can be of help to a child in need around us. This brings me to the little help we can all offer the indigent and underprivileged children’s education in our immediate community. I know it’s easy to feel detached from the society we live in, without noticing it, but it is always best to regularly take a pause and observe the goings-on around us and ask ourselves – what role am I playing in making this community a better place. Most times we talk of making the world a better place but we forget that that world starts from the immediate community we live in. We imagine and aspire to grandiose things in life; we imagine at times that we have to make impacts like Nelson Mandela or have money like Aliko Dangote before we can make any meaningful impact in the world, or better still, our immediate community.
But at times! We need certain events in life to make us reflect and act. Sometimes, we feel overwhelmed with the plethora of challenges in front of us and think – there’s no way things can get better and I can’t just do it. And most times we are burdened with our daily needs – the need to meet our wants and luxuries, to provide the basics of food, clothing, shelter and education for our families. Or those times, lonely times, when we encounter our everyday doubts, fears, hopes and aspirations or those dreadful calls of being told told of a loved one’s ill-health or death. And there are times of ephemeral losses, like the loss of a job or a replaceable property.
Let me be clear and apologise to you if you think I’m using death to coerce you or make you feel guilty about things you’ve left undone or you should be doing. No, that’s not the purpose or intent of this post, rather, this post is intended to remind you and me that time is ephemeral and time waits for no one. Don’t wait for that day when everything would be set and perfect before you start acting and doing something constructively to change the status quo of that very thing you feel strongly about and think should get better. Go out there and engage with the world in a positive way, find people of like minds and commit to a good cause. The more you reach out to make positive contributions in your community, the more you’ll get from your community.
Perhaps, that advice you’ll give to that child would be the silver lining in the child’s life, or that toy that your child is no more in need of and you decided to give to another child in need or that book that you gave that child or that little time you gathered the kids in your neighbourhood together and help them out with their education or tell them stories might be the sunshine in their life. There are many things you can do that do not need you to be the next Nelson Mandela or Bill Gates in order to make the future of the children around you better. The world already knows those people but the world needs you more.
Maybe you are wondering and thinking – well, I live in an affluent neighbourhood and I’m not sure how I can be of help in this regard; I empathise with you and I appreciate your genuine feeling on the issue but remember there are many causes that are out there that need you, from far and near places. If you’re short of ideas ask friends, families, your local networks or just google it, and I can assure you you’ll get more than you bargained for.
I remember a chat I once had on the train with a man who had been to Zambia and helped to set up a charitable project there. As we got talking, he made a statement that I always remember, he said something in the line of ‘by the time you’re 55 there’s nothing much you can do but make sure you dedicate yourself to one or two causes in life and put in your best effort’. But does everything have to be in the physical world only? No, not necessarily. A good phone call or text message to someone in need will go along way in brightening that person’s day. And if you are the type that enjoy talking or writing, why not consider blogging or making short audio or video clips, talking about educational issues that would add value to society’s wellbeing.
Finally, remember charity begins at home. Take good care of yourself and your family.
As I remember those deaths, I pray God grants them tranquility and paradise.
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