The Werthers Original Grandfather
Cuddled into the arms of a big friendly giant, the comfort, the warmth and the peace I gained in the arms of this man, I was perhaps the most powerful little girl in the world in that moment in time. This was the place I would escape to after mischief, this was the place I knew no one could tell me off, not even my mother. This was my safe haven.
I grew up staring into big blue eyes, filled with oceans of wisdom gained through life, stroking and resting my head on a soft white beard, which i would often tug to get his attention. A wrinkly face that I would shower with kisses, especially for sweets resulting in a laugh that would confirm times were indeed happy.
A six foot man who would take gigantic strides and I would take lots of tiny steps to catch upto. This was my Big friendly Giant Grandad and nothing in the world could harm me as long as I was with him. A man that lived by his principles, a man that was a leader and Sadiq. And indeed he lived by his name. A man that no one answered back to, was now bending his rules, he was showing his softer side and more importantly he was doing things he had never done before.
He would watch the Werthers Original 90’s commercial and peruse the local sweet shops for this particular candy, so he could sit in his chair and share the moment with his grandchildren. It was in these precious moments I would watch and listen to him teach me the foundation of my deen. It was in these precious moments I realised his love was the purest form of love, I will ever experience. As we both increased in age, so did our dreams for each other. He wanted to see me educated strong and confident, I wanted his blessings. He wanted to see me settled into married life, I wanted him to walk me down the isle. He wanted to see me happy and I wanted to be the reason he was happy and proud.
I was so engrossed that I had almost forgotten that ‘Allah also Plans and Allah is the Best of Planners.’ Undeniably Allah gave his ultimatum, and my big friendly Granddad suffered a severe heart attack, no matter how hard he tried to fight the disease, the road to recovery was not in sight. But his love didn’t change, it grew stronger. Confined to his hospital bed, a prisoner in his own body. He would reach out for my hand and squeeze it, slowly take it to his heart and then when he gathered enough energy he would kiss my hand and tears would fall from his big blue; where once I saw knowledge and strength. He would say soon It is my time to go. Holding back the tears I would tell him I need him, and this is not what Allah has planned. Meekly holding on to my hand he would reply I need to fulfil my promise with my Lord, and then point to the sky. The room would fill with silence and the only sound were my whimpers of helplessness. Soon after, his pain and time in the dunyah came to an end.
Respecting grandparents is a universal concept, which has been enshrined in Islam. The best of examples is that of the Prophet Muhammed (saws) and Abdul Mutalib (Rahim Allah); whose children sat on the floor and the Prophet would sit on the mattress besides his grandfather. After the death of his parents it was the love of his grandfather that protected him. We also see the Prophet Muhammed (saws) as a grandparent himself to Al-Hasan (RA) and Al-Hussain (RA). When Allah’s Messenger (saws) was asked which member of his family was dearest to him, he replied, “Al-Hasan and al-Hussain.” He used to say to Fatimah (RA), “Call my two sons to me,” and then would sniff and cuddle them.
My grandfather would often describe his love for his own grandchildren by saying: to a farmer the fruit from the tree is more valuable than the tree. This was because the fruit is what makes the profit, it brings wealth. He saw his grandchildren as wealth, which no amount of money could have comparison to.
Grandparents are mahrams, and perhaps they deserve more respect than parents; purely because they sacrifice their retirement plans to do it all again. The only benefit they want in return is love, respect and your happiness. It is because of their sacrifices that Family Law orders that were once only used by parents are now extended to grandparents and widely used to maintain ties with their grandchildren. But why then are these grandparents ignored in old age. Visit a hospital, the old grumpy man lying in his hospital bed in daylight with his eyes shut; is not sleeping. He is escaping from the sad reality of loneliness. Visit the old lady, sat in her chair staring out of the window. She is not looking at the view and the green grass, but longing for her children and grandchildren to fill the room with happiness. Why go far, if your lucky enough to still have a grandparent then spare a thought to your own grandparents. When was the last time you stopped and sat down to have a heart to heart. Or to hold wrinkly hands that have thousands of dilated veins which reveal a secret, a deep secret that your grandparent is now weak. So lower unto them the wing of submission and humility through mercy, and say: My Lord! Bestow on them Your mercy as they did bring me up when I was young. Imam ibn Kathir (RH) explains this verse beautifully, he mentions that you lower your wing of submission of humility in your actions and then pray when they are old an when they have died. The onus first, is in your actions; which includes your speech and reactions.
Do not ignore the generation that know how to make sincere du’a. Do not ignore the generation that love you without any expectation. Do not ignore the generation that even in their frail state walk to the masajid and stand in the front row. It is the duty of parent to demand respect for his or her parent, to show their children the way to love and respect their grandparents.
By Sadia Zaib