Miracles in Edinburgh: Life after “Death”, and I Didn’t Mean the Hereafter



Assalaamu’alaikum warahmatullah wabarakaatu,

At this opportunity, inshaaAllah, I would like to share a story about a miracle that can come non other than from Allah Azza wa Jall. It will be a very long post, but Wallaahi, it will be worth a read, inshaaAllah

Do not get me wrong, though. He has indeed given signs through everything. Everything and everything is a sign of Allah’s greatness, and are miracles in their own respect. It is interesting how some people could ignore all these signs, but they go bananas when someone posted a picture of a potato or carrot or whatever with Allah’s name etched on it.

However, at times we do see many things that appear seemingly miraculous, and we appreciate them as miracles before us. Some say that the birth of a child is a miracle, others might say ‘love’, others would say ‘I got accepted in that job when I thought I was underqualified for it’, and all sorts of things. However, within The Power of Allah, all of this is nothing out of the ordinary, not any more miraculous than the existence of a potato. Wallaahi, there are tiny little things around us that we seem to overlook, yet they are all signs of Allah’s Greatness.  It is just us humans that sometimes view some things more miraculous than the other.

What I wish to share, inshaaAllah, is something that is very easy for Allah to do. Just one out of an infinity of things that Allah can do, being The Almighty. However, inshaaAllah, this can serve as a reminder for all of us that Allah has no boundaries of what He is capable of. At times we forget, but actually signs are all around us.

Life and death has always been a mystery. Stories of the Pharaoh in the time of Musa a.s. displays arrogance in this matter. Pharaoh claims to be in control over life (by just letting someone live), and in control of death (by killing another person). Some can go more extreme by saying that they can manipulate the making of life, as seeds grow when they are planted and babies made through conjugal relations, and voila: creation of life. Wallaahi, this is not creation of life by humans or any natural process. There is Something behind all that in control.

This story is about death. One can perhaps say that one can prolong life and delay death, however the truth is that we do not. We can try, but that is not necessarily true. We hear doctors say “you have three months to live”, but continues to live for decades. Perhaps there are also doctors saying “you have 9 months to live”, but they die five minutes later due to heart attack upon receiving the news.

This is the limitation of science. True scientists will never refrain in using what scientific method they know of, but they will always admit –no matter how overwhelmingly certain they are in their conclusions—that the margin of error is never 0%. We have witnessed masterpieces of scientific laws that made so much sense and has been widely used, but at some point a flaw was discovered, such as how the Newtonian mechanics turned out to not apply in velocities approaching the speed of light. Something that Isaac Newton did not even think of.

This story is about death, and how little humans know about it.


Mr Jiddee

It was Tuesday, 11 March 2014, just a little after the weekly meeting of the Islamic Society of Edinburgh University. Just outside the Chaplaincy of the University, I was having a very fun conversation with two of my good friends, Rami and Mariam. Mariam Berrada, will be a very important character in this story, but not the main.

I am not entirely sure what we were talking about, I think there is a mix of politics of the Islamic Society (an election is coming up soon, and I am really supporting Mariam as candidate President) and other things. Mariam left us first, while I continued talking to Rami about really interesting stuff about the situation in Syria I think.

Still enthusiastic about the election, I recalled sending Mariam a message on Facebook about how I thought that she and Adam would make a nice pair of President-Vice. However, she replied something with a tone very opposite to my enthusiasm:

Mariam, 8.19pm     : My grandad has just been taken in to hospital. Please. make duah for.him Hes old and frail. Wallahi there is few I hate more than hospitals.

Upon this news, I and other members of the Islamic Society submitted lots of prayers to Allah for his health, so that Allah will restore his health. The news spread on Facebook and twitter, comments that reiterate prayers were numerous.

Half an hour later, another message came through.

Mariam, 8.50pm : What does it mean if someone’s in resuscitation?

At that time I did not know what that meant. All I know is that a resuscitation pack, in games, are used to revive the character to full health after losing all their health points. It turns out that it means that he is unconscious. At this point, even people from other countries even sent their prayers for Jiddee (Jiddee is how Mariam calls her grandpa).

Only Allah knows how many people were praying for Jiddee that night, which went on until approaching midnight. However, Allah has His own plans. Just 9 minutes before midnight, Mariam sent me a message.

Mariam, 11.51pm: He’s gone now fajri. Thank you for everything.

Indeed, Allah is the Master of both Life and Death. If Allah wills, not even the entire creations in the heavens and earth conspiring could prevent it. If Allah does not will, not even the entire creations in the heavens and earth conspiring could make it happen. The medical team at the hospital certainly have done all they can to help Jiddee, family members did their best at the hospital to do whatever it is within their powers including to be perhaps the most sincere in praying for Jiddee, while friends all across different countries also have prayed.

Innalillaahi wa inna ilaihi raaji’uun

Indeed, from Him we came, and unto Him we return.


The Limits to Our Prayers

When we pray for Manchester to win a match, but then it injury time has elapsed with 3-0 for the other team, we stop praying and start sulking. Just like when we pray for someone’s health, when they pass away we stop praying for his cure and start praying for Allah’s mercy instead. Why did we stop a certain prayer in those situations? Have we reached the limit of Allah’s ability to grant us what we ask for, or we have presumed that Allah will not grant us any further?

At this point I recall my conversation with a good friend of mine back home, the medical criteria for death is no longer the stopping of the heart but the stopping of the brain function. In the laws of UK, one can only be declared to have passed away when it has been confirmed by at least two qualified medical practitioners. To most, if not all, you can get wrong in analysing someone’s state of health, but when someone is dead then he/she is dead. Especially when there has been cross-confirmation, and we are talking about one of the best health services in the world.

I sent Mariam my condolences, tweeted to my followers to thank them and request them to do shalatul ghaib. For non-Muslims or less informed Muslims who read this, Islam teaches us to do a special kind of prayer upon the death of a fellow Muslim. If we can be present beside the janazah (deceased person), it is called shalatul janaza, but if we cannot be present, then we can do it from wherever we are with the same rules and it is called shalatul ghaib. This kind of shalat is unique, as it has no prostration involved, unlike any other kind of shalat.

I don’t think I have lost my ablution from the night prayer (shalatul isha), so I just stood up towards the qibla and did my shalatul ghaib. Midnight has passed when I did the shalaatul ghaib. It was already 12 March 2014: the first day without Jiddee.

Mariam told me that Jiddee was a very pious and wise man. Allaahu Akbar, at that time I thought that the world has lost one very valuable man. It is taqwa that differentiates the degree between one man to the other. Allah Knows best while we don’t know what is in people’s heart. But from what little I know about Jiddee, I had great hopes.

In the shalatul ghaib or outside of it, I prayed for Allah’s Mercy for him. Other members of the Islamic Society thought the same, our Facebook group was flooded with more prayers and condolences. That was the best we could do for him at that point.

Or so we thought.


The Miracle that is Jiddee

A bit over half an hour after the heart breaking news, a message came through.

Mariam, 00.25am               : I went to see him. The doctor said he was gone. Fajri wallahi his eyebrow moved. They were meant to take him off life support 20 minutes ago. They said he’s gone, the islamic guy is here. Everyone has been called but wallahi his eyebrow moved. And he looked like he swallowed.

Allaahu Akbar. I started to tremble at this news. Is this the usual muscle flexes that happen after death? I know that it has happened after deaths of animals, as I have slaughtered some goats before, and also in biology experiments in high school. The thought of comparing Jiddee with goats and frogs was just unacceptable to my mind. My rational, that many have praised despite all of its shortcomings, at the spur of the moment through my rushing thoughts, concluded beyond any rational evidence at the time: this cannot be muscle flexes. I refused to believe that!

No. There are no limits to our prayers. To those who are among the believers, I believe Allah will respond to any prayer with either: “yes” or “something better awaits ahead”. It does not hurt to give it a shot, a pragmatic would say, but wallaahi my prayers were sincere. I asked Allah to show His miracle. Something that I know He is capable of, despite me giving up on asking for it moments ago, but now I ask for it: Ya Allah, please bring him back.

Barely a few minutes later, another message came through.

Mariam, 00.31am               : My brother said he moved his right hand and his finger was most pointed. And my mum said he had tears coming from his eyes

Allaahu Akbar! I guess even a frog knows that it is not the best idea to post anything on twitter or facebook about this, or at least not just yet. However, I cannot help but to inform the person closest to me –my fiancé—of this occurrence, and ask her to pray as well. Allaahu Akbar, this cannot be muscle flexes! Allaahu Akbar, please, do not let this be muscle flexes! Allaahu Akbar, You are the Master of Death!

Moments later, a very beautiful message came though.

Mariam, 00.43am             : Fajri, this is nothing but a miracle. Wallahi my grandad just woke up. He did shahada. He moved himself up, he opened his eyes. He is breathing for himself.


Lessons Learned

Allaahu Akbar! Everything that happens in this world are miracles in themselves. However, some miracles seem so overwhelming to our eyes. Upon hearing this news, I could feel a surge of warmth in my heart, gratitude and amazement. If any experience could increase the imaan even of the weakest amongst us, it would be this. Allaahu Akbar!

Afterwards, Jiddee’s condition stabilized further and further, and started to talk to people as well. Subhanallah. His “revival” was announced on Facebook and twitter over 12 hours later, and nobody has heard this news except responding in praise to Allah AwJ. Today, Jiddee is still in hospital but his condition is improving.

Allaahu Akbar, Laa ilaaha ilAllaah, Walhamdulillah yaa Rabbal ‘Alameen.

There are many things that I learned from what I have (indirectly) witnessed that night.

First, that this is yet a reminder how Allah can do absolutely anything. Life and Death is all under His control and command. Doctors can do their best. However, whether they succeed or not succeed in curing the person is subject to Allah’s Will.

Second, there is no such thing as “too much to ask for”. Allah can grant us anything, ANYTHING, if He wills it. So long as we believe, Wallaahi, His answer is either “yes” or “I have something better for you”. Never hold back in making prayers, and always trust Allah.

Third, we should not be arrogant. Science is a very beautiful thing, and it is a very important tool in our life to achieve what we need. Islam does encourage the advancement of science, and many important discoveries have been made through the Islamic civilization. However, we must realize that science always has its limitation. People who learn empiricism would understand this best. Not to discard science altogether, but it is essential that we always bear in mind that it is Allah that is in control. He is the Alknowing, while we know nothing but a tiny bit.

I mean, from the Quran and the Sunnah we know that people dont die then come back. The only explanation is that he did not really pass away yet, perhaps his brain function went so low that the two medical practitioners could not pick it up. But still. This is exactly where science has its limitations. Wallaahi, even within things that could be observed by the five senses, science has limitations. This is not to mention those that are not empirically observable but we know exist, e.g. conscience, third person subjective, morality, etc. Use these tools to ease our lives, but again, do NOT be arrogant!

Certainly, the aforementioned lessons are non-exhaustive. Wallaahi, there are more. Definitely more. However, what is most important is that we take these lessons that we know of, and let it increase our taqwa to Allah AwJ.

Please always make prayer for this family, especially Jiddee. Allah has brought us a very important reminder through him.

Surah Al Baqarah 28

How can you disbelieve in Allah when you were lifeless and He brought you to life; then He will cause you to die, then He will bring you [back] to life, and then to Him you will be returned. (Surah Al Baqarah, ayat 28)


(PS: this story is one of the inspirations for me to write this poem—-> click here )