By Aasiya Amir

The Fire Drill

Allahumma Ajirna Min al Naar (O Allah, Save Us From Hellfire) – Having made this du’a countless times in the past years, it has now changed for me in meaning forever. O Allah ﷻ, rescue us from the fire [of Hell], Amin.

How critical it is, to say this from the bottom of our hearts – to realize that we can’t even survive severe burns of the fire of this dunya (this world), how would we ever bear the pains and burns of a fire much more fierce than this, that will neither leave one alive nor culminate in death!

My one and only brother suddenly and tragically passed away after suffering severe burns last fall.  Inna liAllahi wa inna ilayhi raaji’oon (Surely, we belong to Allah and to Him shall we return). AlhamduliAllah a million times for our Iman (faith), which made us all sail through with needed strength and patience, the belief that it was all part of qadr (decree) and that everything decreed for a believer has ‘good’ in it even if it’s seemingly excruciating. Allah ﷻ loves His slaves and rewards them for sabr (patience); the greater the trial, the greater the reward for patience over it. His promises regarding sabr become anchors for drowning hearts.

From the time he got ablaze while starting a barbecue, to the days in the Burns Intensive Care Unit, to his last and final presence in the shroud, every memory is a challenge to even peep into…

From the moment I heard about his blaze accident, I was saying ‘Allahumma Ajirna Min al Naar’ with a different intensity. When a picture of his fully burnt, blackened face appeared on my phone, I couldn’t even look at it beyond a couple of seconds at a time. It was a few days later when his condition deteriorated, Allah ﷻ took me to him to spend his last few days, to learn some unspeakable lessons, which deepened the impact of many ayaat (verses) of the Qur’an on my mind and made this du’a a seriously heartfelt one, every time!

Eye witnesses to the blaze tell me that in total it was two minutes, a few seconds less or more, from the moment that flames suddenly caught and engulfed him, he ran for rescue till the fire was put out completely. And the result – the top part of his body, including face, receiving 2nd, 3rd and a few 4th degree burns. While the cause of death after 21 days was damage and infections due to internal burns, it was nerve-racking for all of us to see what the fire had done to his physical body.

With a ventilator tube in his mouth, he wasn’t allowed even a drop of water from the mouth in his last 10 days. Wounded, dried, burnt, swollen and bruised lips, tongue-blackened, dried and almost hardened due to the mouth partially open all the time. When conscious, he would feel very thirsty. He would try to speak, mouth moving painfully, gesturing with slight movements of head, hands or eyes – one could only guess. ‘Thirsty?’.., ‘let’s check with the nurse’, we knew the answer ….‘No’. Sometimes the male nurse would dampen a piece of cotton swab with glycerine and distilled medicinal liquid to barely touch and wipe over his mouth. I would turn my gaze away…it was so heart-breaking! Ya Rabb, Forgive him, Have Mercy on him [and us!], Amin. We drink water, ungratefully every day! Not following the Sunnah, not saying ‘AlhamduliAllah’ (All praise for Allah), not realizing the ‘freedom and privilege’ it is to ‘drink’ with our own mouth!

Sometimes, when awake he would want to say or ask something, and despite his repeated efforts to convey, none of his closest family members – his wife, mother, sisters – could really understand. We just made guesses, some received a nod and others just a disappointed stare!

Ya Rabb, this tongue and the ability to say what’s on our mind, what’s in our hearts, what blessing it is! And what pain it is to lose it! Qur’an tells us that people will lose this ability on the day of Qiyamah (standing, i.e. The Day of Judgement)!

AlhamduliAllah, his mind was alert and he would busy his lips and tongue in dhikr (remembrance of Allah ﷻ) whenever conscious or awake, as if he almost knew what’s coming, and also, because he had increased in his habit of frequent dhikr in his normal routine prior to the accident.  I tried to recite to him as much from the Qur’an as possible, whenever allowed in the ICU. Some ayat (verses) he would repeat after me, moving slowly his bruised lips. What utterances would be better than this, to take along.

Memory lane has so much more, but the essence is, I realized why Allah (SWT) warns the sinners of the torments of fire. It is because it’s simply horrific beyond description, painful beyond measure, and no human who truly imagines ‘being burnt’ would continue sinning, at least consciously. Allahumma Ajirna Min al Naar!

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