During my stay here in Singapore, as lonely and depressing as one can feel, there is always company close by.
There was a a brother in his late 50s, who had 3 major operations in 4 years due to the deadly disease of cancer. This brother was living in the room next to me.
Since meeting him over a week ago, I noticed something about his character and the way he communicates with people. I arrived on a Sunday night and it was just before Esha salaat. As I was shown into my room, I walked past his and although his door was closed, I heard a beautiful melody coming from his room. At first I was not sure whether he was singing or humming, but then I realised he was reciting Surah Yasin, in such a beautiful voice. From the voice alone and without seeing him, I assumed he was a young chap. How wrong was I to be.
After settling in and unpacking for my stay and preparing for my own operation, which was to follow the next morning, I was just contemplating on my past, until suddenly I heard a knock on the door.
I went to open it and there stood in front of me a man, a uncle, frail looking yet seemed strong in his stance. He introduced himself as, Abu Yusuf and shook my hand and asked for my name. Instantly I introduced myself as Abu Zahra but also mentioned my full name. By that he said “Alhamdulillah…it is time for Esha, would you like to pray with me?” How can I refuse to pray salaat when I am in need and when someone reminded me that it was due.
After prayer, we sat in his room and chatted for a while and he asked me why I was there and he relayed his story. After about 30mins or so, as I was getting severe pains, I said salaam and he mentioned “Can I wake you up for fajr?”. He said it with such a beautiful and gentle tone. I replied in the affirmative.
As I prepared to get in to bed and suddenly faced with severe pains, the nurses came and gave medication to help relieve the aches. I got into bed and could hear the recitation of the brother. It was peaceful and helped my mind focus away from my agony. I couldn’t help but think, all the medication and treatment I was having could not compare to the recitation I was hearing, it was the beautiful words of the Qur’an that helped my mind focus away from the pains.
Anyway this story is about Abu Yusuf and the 11 days I knew him.
This brother had terminal cancer, yet everyday he lived as if nothing was wrong. He relayed that the doctors expressed clearly that they could not operate on him to save him, instead they could operate to reduce pain.
Abu Yusuf was a father of 5 and had 4 grand children. He was hajji (meaning he had been to Hajj, and not only once, rather 5 times in his life). He lived in Naples, Italy. He was not rich, neither poor. He dressed well every day, applied Itr (colone) and looked healthy.
His piety showed, his Taqwah of Allah was noticeable in his everything action. He was well versed and intelligent as well as witty. He uplifted other patients by motivating them through humour, laughter and relaying stories of from Qur’an and Seerah.
He could make a crying person laugh so much.
After my operation, I could’nt get out of bed for a few days nor speak or move around too much. This brother would come and recite the Qur’an next to me out loud. It was beaufitul.
He would help other patients by doing what he could. Whether making them drinks, or chatting to them, read them a book or two, whatever it was, he made sure he could do it.
A few days ago there was a few of us including Abu Yusuf, sitting outside the hospital just enjoying the warmth and kicking a ball and chatting. It all felt normal, as if we were’nt patients, rather a social group. For those few hours Abu Yusuf made us all smile and laugh. Those few hours will last a life time for those of us who were there at the time.
The next morning, as a routine, myself, Abu Yusuf and a few other patients would sit in the lounge nad have breakfast together. Something different about Abu Yusuf that morning. He didnt seem himself for some reason. However, he smiled and talked.
That day after Dhur, he said he was feeling tired and exhausted and said he will go sleep for a little while. He asked me to wake him up at Asr time to do salaat. I was excited as I was being discharged the next day and wanted to get his details before I left, so thought I’ll ask him after asr.
When Asr came, I went to knock on his door, and the doctor stopped me saying he’s sleeping and not to wake him as they have given him some medication. That was the last time I saw Abu Yusuf alive, although asleep and his last words I heard was “Please wake me up for asr”.
From Him we belong and to Him is our return. Abu Yusuf passed away early hours of the morning on Wednesday. May Allah grant him Jannah and Sabr to his family and reward him for all his generous acts of charity.
He has truly touched our lives.
It is truly amazing to realise there are many people around us, people whom we never met before, people who pass our lives momentarily and leave a mark of courage and strength.
Abu Yusuf truly displayed “Love for your brother what you love for yourself”.
Cancer is a form of disease that if not caught in its early stages, it cannot be cured, but there have been numerous factual events where Muslims relayed their personal stories of miracle that Allah blessed them with.
If time comes, then nothing can prevent our departure, but through the time we have, we can certainly make du’a.
12:86 He answered: “It is only to God that I complain of my deep grief and my sorrow: for I know, from God, something that you do not know
12:87 […and do not lose hope of God’s life-giving mercy
12:88 Verily, none but people who deny the truth can ever lose hope (of God’s life-giving mercy
Ya Muqallibal-Qulub, thabbit qalbi `ala deenak
O Controller of the Hearts make firm my heart in Your Religion