A Mother’s tribute:
My youngest daughter, Baraka, returned to her eternal home after a valiant three-and-a-half year battle with Stage 4 lung cancer. The twenty-four years that she was with us seems far too short. It has taken me nine months to get the courage to write about my daughter, though I think of her every living moment.
It’s very difficult to sum up Baraka’s life in a few paragraphs for she was, like the meaning of her name, truly a blessing – from the moment I was expecting her until she left this world.
Baraka’s name was chosen even before she was born. It was in the seventh month of pregnancy that Allah put a book in my hand that had the story of lady Baraka (the blessed Prophet called her a lady of Paradise). By this stage in my life I already had two daughters and our mothers on both sides were hoping for me to have a boy. But I decided after reading the beautiful story of lady Baraka that I would pray for this child to be a girl and I would call her Baraka.
“Die once and live twice” was Baraka’s motto; she believed in it and lived it with all her heart. Baraka lived a good life and had a deep impact on every person she met. Her life was based around sincerity and purpose. She had a good parting and left an enduring legacy which continues in the hearts of all those who got to know her.
Baraka taught us how to live through her good times and also through her testing times. She beautifully portrayed how to part gracefully from this temporal life. She was blessed with so many wonderful qualities. Some we saw from her early life and some we discovered during her later life while she was suffering from her illness.
From her youth, she was always humble and level headed. Baraka believed that there was no shortcut to success. With a twinkle in her eye she used to say “I have an average brain; I just have to work harder”. She never took any credit for her success and would remind us that wisdom could not be measured in test results! As she progressed through various schools, I was always happy to see that her teachers were very pleased with the quality of her work in each of her subjects. Baraka would often ask me to enquire: “why didn’t I get full marks, what could I do better?” The teachers would respond with a smile that they withheld full marks so as not to make her big-headed! Aside from her meticulous academic work ethics, Baraka was wise, witty and compassionate beyond her age.
When her twin brothers were awaiting their GCSE exam results in Ramadan, she bought them a cake to eat and celebrate before the start of the fast. I said: ” should we not wait until the results?” And she replied: “they should know that we love them no matter what their exam results will be tomorrow”. That was a great consolation to her twin brothers and a lesson for all of us.
If my patience was running low with her siblings she would remind me of the story of Jacob (peace be upon him); how he waited so many years patiently for his sons to realize their mistakes and repent. She would say “wisdom comes to everyone at different stages, so give them time Mama.”
Baraka had a very active and healthy life till her diagnosis. She loved sports and was a good all-rounder at all of them. She was a rower at her college in Cambridge and loved cycling, swimming, tennis, basketball, skating and other sports. When she was diagnosed after four months of tests with the worst possible news anyone can get at the prime of their life, it was the bitterest blow to her entire family and friends. Baraka accepted the news of her cancer with tremendous faith, grace and courage. From the moment of her prognosis she thanked Almighty God for His many blessings and started to learn everything about her terminal condition. She knew after some research that there were very few treatment choices in the medical world. So she sought divine guidance through her prayers before resorting to chemo. She sought the goodness in a very difficult situation and never complained.
She had a very caring soul and got on with people of all ages, making them all feel very special; a quality not many of her age possess these days. She believed in the jurisprudence of priorities and made time for friends and family. She loved reading and learning and was proficient in several languages – Arabic, French and German, with English being her first language.
Baraka was blessed with strong faith and many good friends from all backgrounds. Her easy going and happy personality was due to the fact that she was never judgmental towards anyone. Everyone who knew her respected her and loved her very much. Baraka was blessed beyond measure throughout her life. At every stage of her life she had the best teachers, friends, and mentors. Two such mentors were Sheikh Faid Mohammad Said, her Quran teacher, and Ustadh Mustapha, her Arabic calligraphy tutor. Even in her short marriage she was blessed to have the best husband and friend in Modasser. May Allah bless Modasser and elevate his rank for the joy he brought in her life. It was as if she had known him forever.
Although the last three and half years after her diagnosis had altered her life drastically, she continued to love life and enjoyed it fully to the end. She bore her illness with grace and faith; living her life with a pure and forgiving heart. Her faith and strength gave her peace and tranquility till her last breath. She taught us not to worry about her pain and suffering. She had everything under control by God’s grace and through the prayers of the multitude of her friends, our friends and our families.
Amongst her many great gifts which she left for us to cherish forever were her beautiful recitations of several chapters of the Quran, her amazing poems, and above all her unflinching faith in Allah that He is the best disposer of all our affairs. She would say: “for a believer it’s a win-win situation, no matter how long our duration is in this world.”
Baraka executed her will discreetly, not showing that she was always prepared for the return journey! She lived with peace and trusted that, whatever the outcome was, it would be for the best. She was always grateful for the extra time that Allah bestowed upon her despite her aggressive chemo treatment. She was courageous and very grateful in every state. Baraka left this world very gently and peacefully with my husband and I both praying for her by her side, by Allah’s mercy, and being witnesses to an inspiring life lived with purpose and dignity.
She achieved this state of tranquility right up to her last breath by Allah’s mercy and through the love, prayers and support of all her good friends, our families and our friends across the globe and at home. May Almighty God bless each and every one of you for your love and prayers and untiring support at our deepest moment of need. May Allah in His mercy forgive Baraka and elevate her rank to be amongst those who are in the highest level of Paradise. Ameen.
She used to lovingly call me “Mammy amie” (Mummy my friend). I miss my daughter and my friend beyond words. Every day I live with the belief that she is in a better place and I am grateful to have been blessed with my Baraka.
She was truly a star that never diminishes,
glowing right until the end,
With my heartfelt best wishes to you all for your support and prayers,
Shaista (Baraka’s Mammy amie)