Thursday, January 26, 2017

A Tribute to My Grandfather, my first qawwam

My grandfather is the first man who exemplified what #TrueQawwam means to me.
He was a man whose circumstances didn't allow for him to pursue higher education, yet whose love for learning ensured that he never stopped seeking knowledge in some way - whether that meant being a voracious reader, watching National Geographic non-stop, keeping up to date with both local & world politics, ensuring that his children and grandchildren understood the importance of knowledge, of all types.
He had married young - at age 18 - but never lost his spirit of wanderlust, his love for adventure, his willingness to work hard & do whatever he could for his family.
He was an incredible husband, father, and grandfather - though I don't know nearly enough about him when he was younger, I have so many amazing memories of him and his relationship with my grandmother in particular.
She had a habit of sleeping early, before Isha, and waking before Fajr in order to pray Isha and Tahajjud and recite Qur'an. He would awake with her, making sure that she had water next to her, making her coffee and bringing her biscuits as she sat in her bed and recited in the lamplight. He would rest for some time, then get up for Fajr & while my grandmother went back to bed, he would get up and go about his day.
I'd creep out of bed, following the sound of the deep murmur of his voice at the dining room table, where he would be reciting his own daily wird, wearing his house thobe and topi. Sometimes I'd fall asleep again on the couch behind him, and then wake up again to find him reading the newspapers with a cup of coffee and cookies at hand. He'd always save the last few sips for me, and then he'd make me breakfast and we'd watch weekend cartoons together - he loved the Looney Toons as much as I did, and we could watch the same old classics for hours.
But then it was time to be a man and take care of things. He always dressed sharply, even on weekends - he would iron his trousers with a crisp crease, his shirts impeccable and always paired with a waistcoat or knitted vest, even if he was only going to be at home. On Jumu'ah, he would always wear a suit and tie and gleaming dress shoes, scented with 'itr and carrying himself with great dignity.
His level of care for my grandmother was without peer.
He would help her choose an outfit for the day, iron her clothing, & make her breakfast; they would discuss what they were going to cook or bake on that day (they were both amazing in the kitchen), and he would set out all the necessary equipment & ingredients. If my grandmother didn't feel like doing much in the kitchen (which was rarely), he'd often decide to make something anyway. He hated to buy samosa pastry or puff pastry from the store -he had his own recipes he'd perfected over the years.
Before I first got married, he made sure to teach me how to make both pastries - from beginning to end. (Unfortunately, I didn't inherit his culinary genius, & have made neither recipe since that day.) He had no shame whatsoever in rolling up his sleeves & tying on an apron.

Instead, he took pride in his work - he showed me that a real man does all things with Ihsaan, whether it's wielding a rolling pin or sharpening his blade before slaughtering the Udh'hiyah.
That was another one of our family traditions; he would slaughter on behalf of all his family every 'Eid al-Ad'ha. For a long time, he would slaughter animals regularly for zabiha meat, both for the family & the community.
He'd make an event out of it; we would drive up island to the farm of a butcher he knew, & we'd take samosas & badha roti, & my siblings & I would watch in fascination as he scratched the ears of the lambs before speaking kindly to them, laying them down, & reciting the basmala.
The knife flashed, blood would spurt, & between my grandfather & the butcher, the animal would be taken care of, skinned, & cut up in a matter of hours. Strange as it may seem, those moments taught me what it meant to have compassion even while ending an animal's life.
He was a gentleman of the old school: always courteous, always chivalrous, always smiling. He would hold the door open for my grandmother & others; he would refer to everyone as Sir or Ma'am or Young Man or Young Lady; he always tried to assist those who needed help.

He was definitely a people person, always interested in people's life stories and experiences. Right till the end, he would make a point of learning people's names and their family histories; his nurses commented on his sense of humour and his interest in everyone, no matter that he might never even see them again. He made everyone feel special and cared for, truly embodying the Sunnah of RasulAllah.
There is so much more about him that I don't know, that I can't recall, that would take hours to mention... but this is just a glimpse of one of the greatest men in my life, who impacted the life of everyone he ever came across.
May Allah have mercy on him, forgive him his sins, and grant him ease in his grave, ameen.

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