"Sister Sumaiyya has passed away today. She recently reverted to Islam. As all relatives of the deceased are non-Muslims, you are requested to attend the funeral at 5.30 pm." "To Allah we belong and to Him is our return." August 1, 2011, 4.28 pm.
I received the above message on my cell phone while working in my office. I was just wondering who the sister could be, when I received a phone call saying that her husband was not allowing her body for burial. Later her husband finally agreed to hand over the body for the funeral.
When I reached the funeral site, I realized that there were no relatives of the deceased around. A group of female volunteers had shrouded the late sister. The funeral prayers were attended by a large number of people. Somebody called her son to join the funeral who came to participate in the ceremony. I offered my heartfelt condolences to her son. Her last journey had been in the month of holy Ramadan. He said my mother must be in paradise.
My curiosity to learn about this lady was piqued and this is what I discovered.
Here is the soul stirring story of Reena Manwani (name changed to protect identity). 52 years old Sister Reena belonged to a wealthy family and had all the luxuries of life at her disposal. Over a period she had developed various diseases like diabetes, asthma, and kidney trouble. She was undergoing treatment with Dr. Ayesha Shaikh (name changed to protect identity).
In March 2010, Reena felt ill and visited Dr Ayesha at her clinic. On examination, the doctor suspected Sister Reena may be suffering from swine flu and sent her for an H1N1 test. Sister Reena tested positive for swine flu and was quarantined along with other patients at a government hospital. There were around 8 -10 swine flu patients along with her. More than 50 people from the city had already lost their lives due to swine flu. One by one all the swine flu patients in the H1N1 ward died except Sister Reena. She recovered completely from swine flu and started leading a normal life again.
When asked how she survived from the dreadful disease, Sister Reena remarked that she had been saved by Dr. Ayesha's 'Bhagwan' (God/deity), as Dr. Ayesha prayed for every patient visiting her clinic.
In June 2010, Sister Reena came down to Dr. Ayesha's clinic to express gratitude and told her how she knew she had survived because of her 'Bhagwan' (God in Hindi). Reena wanted to know more about this' Bhagwan'.
The doctor explained the concept of monotheism in Islam, that there is one and only one God (Allah) who has created everything. He has ordained for humanity a very simple and straight path which is Islam. She explained how people have carved various shapes of idols and associated numerous partners with God. Allah's divinity is exclusive and all-powerful and he is not dependent on any other entity or human form to complete Him.
God has saved your life. You are His chosen one. Now it is your test whether you recognize Him. This was the turning point in the life of Sister Reena. Sister Reena was so impressed by the concept of monotheism that the Holy Ka'aba of Makkah began appearing in her dreams. She came to Dr. Ayesha to know whether she could visit Makkah and Medinah. Dr Ayesha replied, "Yes. Provided you accept the faith." To know more about Allah (SWT), Sister Reena was given a copy of Hindi translation of Holy Qur'an and other books. Thus began the holy journey of the sister from darkness to light.
In July 2010, Sister Reena came back to the doctor and said she had studied the books and decided to accept Islam. She pronounced Shahadah (the proclamation of faith) in the clinic and entered in the fold of Islam. She changed her name to Sumaiyya, a name she found in the internet.
Sister Sumaiyya's world had changed. She wanted to keep her faith confidential. But at the same time she had a sense of urgency; "I have very little time. I want to learn how to practice Islam in the best way."
On Sister Sumaiyya's request she was provided with female teachers who taught her the ways of worshipping and took care that her faith was not revealed to anybody.
After a while, she started covering herself fully in accordance with the Islamic way of modesty. She cherished the noble and pure teachings of Islam. People who visited her said she was an extremely warm and cheerful person, very eager to learn and practice her new faith. When asked about her previous life, she would confidently respond, forget about my past, now that I have found the Right Path I am least bothered about my past. Simultaneously she was counseling her acquaintances to adopt her way of life. Sometime in December 2010, her family members began growing suspicious about her life style and started questioning her. Those were the testing times for her as she dealt with opposition and resistance from her family.
In spite of her illnesses and torments from her near ones, she never regretted her decision. She was the epitome of steadfastness and stood her ground. As the frequency of her dialyses increased, she wanted to make a will, proclaiming that she was a practicing Muslim and in case of her demise she should be buried in a Muslim cemetery. In July 2011, an affidavit was made as per her will witnessed by her only son and nephew.
On August 1st, 2011, when Ramadan had dawned in some parts of the world, Sister Sumaiyya departed from this temporary abode to meet her 'Real Bhagwan', who had transformed her life from oblivion to eternity.
"O (thou) soul, in (complete) rest and satisfaction! Come back thou to thy Lord well-pleased (thyself), and well-pleasing unto Him! Enter thou, then, among my Devotees!. Yea, enter thou my Heaven!" (Qur'an Chapter 89 verses 27-30)
As I reflect on her case, I wonder how many more Sumaiyya's may be in the waiting to be told of the Creator's message.
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