Hyddiaspora

In Memory of a Brother

By Syed Rasheed


Uncle Rasheed, or Javid-Bhai, as I called him, is seen in a photo taken in a studio in the mid 1950s.

Whenever someone passes away, the common and probably the wisest thing to say is, “Time is the best healer”. I am sure this is true in most cases especially if you bury an individual both physically and mentally. I never did bury my brother, Syed Moinuddin Hassan Jawwad. M y heart is still sore, my soul still restless, and my grief still as fresh as the day he died, and that is why it is so difficult , if not impossible to write about him. In every milestone of my life, whether it was an achievement or a defeat, I looked around and said, “Bhai-Jaan, what do you think?” He has always been with me when I framed my medical

school diploma, when society recognized me for my successes, I kept asking, “Where is Bhai-Jaan. Is he proud of me?”.

I have pondered about this phenomenon for a long time. I have heard my wife say time and time again, “It is time to let go”. I always promise I will, but I cannot. What was it about this brother of mine that I cannot quit grieving for him. surprising, coming from a “religious” person like myself, but in all honesty, it has been a barrier between the Lord and myself.

Why did God take away a man who made me what I am today? He gave up his career, his aspirations, his happiness in order that my brothers and myself could be educated. He created and challenged us to uphold the highest standards of humanity in its fullest sense of the word. Through his example he taught us that if you do the same injustices to others as those done to you, then you do the same injustices to others as those done to you, then you are no better but equal. This was not acceptable to Bhai-Jaan. He demanded better. His morals and his lifestyle brought out the best in each and every

human being he met. To this day l am astonished to hear how he left his mark on everyone he came into contact with.

After Father’s death, the exemplary manner in which he rose and took the strings of responsibility in his hands and managed l to keep us all together can be understood only by the few who were around him at that time. He taught us that by hard work done honestly and honorably, all odds can be fought. He taught us to look the enemy right in the face, without fear, and walk away. He taught us that each man has within him the capability of good and bad, and each one of us, as individuals, can rise above the bad and emphasize the good.

One of the greatest things about my brother was his refusal to judge people generally, to tie them into neat little parcels without this noun or that adjective and file them away. He regarded everyone he met as a whole human being with his/her own personality and thoughts to share. He even made small children feel wanted and important.

l was nine years old when my brother was taken away from me and all that l have written above are the memories I have cherished and will always carry with me for the rest of my life. His true life is personified by the following Hadith of the Prophet: the Prophet said, “On the Day of Judgment — God will ask each one of us ‘O’ Son of Adam I fell ill and you visited Me not. He will say: O Lord! How should I visit You when You are the Lord of the Worlds? He will say Did you know that my servant so and so had fallen ill and you visited his him not. Did you know that had you visited, you would have found Me with him? He will say my servant so and so asked you for food and you fed him not? Had you fed him you would have surely found Me with him. O Son of Adam, I asked you to give Me to drink and you gave Me not to drink. He will say “O’ Lord how should I give You to drink when You are the Lord of the Worlds? He will say “My Servant so and so asked you to give him to drink and you gave him not to drink. Had you given him to drink you would surely found that I was there.”

I have total faith in my heart that my brother will not be asked these questions by God because he always sought to visit the ill, to feed the hungry, and quench the thirst of the thirsty. I can quote specific incidents of the greatness of my brother, but writing each one would make this article voluminous. Suffice it to say, the day my brother died not only did I lose a father figure, but the whole world lost a decent, kind, good, and remarkable human being.

I ask myself if he had been alive today, would this world have been a better place. This is a question who no one but only those of us who knew and cared for him can answer.

I doubt that I will ever stop grieving for him. It just does not seem possible. I only wish our next generation could have known him and learned from him, and known what it is like to be a true Muslim.

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