Core Lessons from My Beloved Rehab
by Zaied Abbassi <http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1046380815> on
Monday, March 7, 2011 at 3:04pm
May the Peace and Blessings of God be Upon You
On Sunday night (March 6th, 2011) I gave a very brief reflection on core
lessons I learned from the life of my beloved wife. I have tried to
transcribe that message as accurately as possibly here for those around the
country, and the world, who would have liked to be there but could not.
In the Name of Allah the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
I have spoken publicly many times in my life but I have never been as
nervous as I am tonight. I was not sure if I wanted to speak tonight – and
let me explain my nervousness for a moment.
A few months back, Rehab learned of a close friend who had an illness in her
eyes that needed an operation that costs roughly $16,000. The girl’s
father had recently passed, and I believe her brother had also recently
suffered a tragedy – in short the girl had little support.
Rehab decided she wanted to help collect the $16,000 and planned to do a
bake sale after Friday prayers. Most people thought “it’s sweet, but no way
you’ll raise $16,000 from a bake sale. If you’re lucky and people are
generous, you might get to $2,000 – but even that is a stretch”. The bake
sale generated over $20,000 in sales and donations, and Rehab drove the
money to her friend in Baltimore the next morning.
You see there was a strange barakah (blessing) in her deeds near the end of
her life. Things would just work for her. And, as I sat here earlier
listening to Islam (Dr. Islam El-Fayoumi – a local speaker and teacher) give
his talk, I thought “How perfect! This is exactly how Rehab would want this
gathering to be. People coming together to understand the Book of Allah, and
from Islam – whose classes she loved to attend” I figured Allah was
protecting this gathering for Rehab. Islam would go until 8:00 and I
wouldn’t have the chance to ruin it. But, Allah has Willed that I speak and
I hope there is some benefit in it.
In my almost 6 years of life with Rehab, I learned quite a bit. The lessons
cannot be counted. But I wanted to share today two profound lessons, and I
want to explain them by telling you two stories from the last few months of
First – In October of last year, Rehab and I were driving to Memorial Sloan
(the cancer center where she was treated) for an appointment and Rehab was
talking to me about wanting to give up many of her projects and
responsibilities. For months the news on the cancer was getting
progressively less optimistic – we found more than 20 tumors in her brain,
new tumors in her ribs, etc – and Rehab was thinking she needed to focus on
her health. When we met with her oncologist that day, we received the first
piece of optimistic news for as long as we could remember – the tumors in
her brain had been stabilized (they had stopped growing) by her radiation
treatment, and we had some hope – some more time to wait for a new drug to
become available that could systemically treat her illness. As we walked
towards the elevator after the appointment, I looked at Rehab, and with
tears in her eyes she said “Wallahi [I swear by Allah] life is about ridaa
Allah [seeking the pleasure of God], everything else is just circumstance” I
immediately knew what she meant. She felt guilty that on the car ride over,
her goals had changed. Her goal became trying to get healthy – now there is
absolutely nothing wrong with focusing on her health, mind you – but she was
guilty that her end goal had changed. On the way back to the car she kept
repeating “Life is about ridaa Allah, and everything else is circumstantial”
Second – This past week in the hospital, the Muslim Chaplain at Memorial
Sloan would stop by Rehab’s room several times a day hoping to get in to see
her and praying for her. He would come sobbing, and would bring her gifts to
keep her comfortable even though we knew we were just waiting for her to
pass. He was so emotional, yet if you wanted to stretch it you could say
Rehab and the Imam had spoken for maybe two hours in their entire
lives. Now, as I observed on Rehab’s Facebook page this past week, and
through all the phone calls, emails, and text messages we have received it
became abundantly obvious that Rehab touched people in a unique way, and I
thought the Imam at Memorial Sloan was a perfect example.
A few months back, during one of Rehab’s hospital stays in the summer; the
Imam came into her room and sat with us for roughly an hour. He talked to us
about his strategies for the hospital, challenges he faced, how he handles
working with people of other fatihs etc – a very unusual visit for a
Chaplain to make in the middle of his rounds. It was obvious during the
conversation that the Imam held Rehab in high regard. Wanting to know why
this man was so enamored with my wife while practically ignoring me in the
room, I brought up the question of “why” – why did he feel so strongly about
her. His response was simple…
A month or so before that visit, the Imam was telling Rehab and I about a
program they do every Eid where they buy gifts for all pediatric patients in
the hospital and make a celebration of it. Every year, he explained, they
would fall short in financing and would have to skimp on the gifts and
decorations. Rehab, completely exhausted, with IVs running into every
possible vain looked up at him and promised she would get him the money.
Less than three weeks later, she handed him a check for $1,500. The imam had
a surplus of cash to hold over for next year’s celebration.
So, when I asked him why he was so enamored with my wife his response was
simple “She said she would do something, and she did it. Not many people are
like that” The lesson I pulled from this was – 3amal (action) trumps
everything. When you can combine the intention I mentioned from the first
story with action – Allah will make remarkable things happen.
Believe me; these two lessons were at the core of who Rehab was. If I was to
ask you for anything today, it would be that you take heed of these lessons
and live them out in your life.
Thank you, and if I may I will end with a small prayer for my wife.
Oh Allah, all Thanks and Praise are due to You until you are pleased with us
And all Thanks and Praise are due to you if you become pleased with us
Oh Allah you are the only one to forgive sins and accept repentance –
forgive us our sins and accept our repentance
Oh Allah we ask of you Paradise, and seek refuge in you from Hellfire
Oh Allah forgive Rehab’s sins and accept her repentance
Oh Allah you have tested your slave with a difficult trial, and she was
patient and content through out so accept her as one of the martyrs.
Oh Allah accept her as one of the martyrs
Oh Allah she lived her life only seeking your pleasure so be pleased with
Oh Allah her greatest du3a [prayer] near the end of her life was to be from
among the “sabiqoon” so accept her as one of the sabiqoon.
And we end by saying All Thanks and Praise are due to Allah, the Lord of the