To gatekeepers of tears


By Furera Bagel, PhD

I have recently noticed some things happening to bereft people, whenever they try to cry out in grief, people will shush them up with “ Do not cry! It is haram! Every drop of tear from your eyes is a scorching burn on the deceased’s flesh!”

Haba! Which one would they have to deal with?

Last year my cousin lost her firstborn who got married 2 years ago. We lost both her and the baby.

Because the zaman makoki was at the girl’s house we spend the 3 days in her room.

On the first night after the burial, as we woke up to pray fajr, the mother was praying beside me and as she finished the prayers for the first time since her daughter’s demise she let the tears out accompanied by heart-wrenching sounds of weeping.

Immediately she started crying, they all came! “ Stop this crying! You should pray for her instead! What is this now? You have been so brave and steadfast but now you want to spoil everything?”

Also, recently when my friend arrived from far away after losing her mum, as soon as she entered the mother’s room she began to weep, and lo and behold the custodians of tears began to preach!

“Addu’a zaki mata ba kuka ba! Kada kiyi kuka!kar ki zubar da hawaye! Zai zame mata azaba!

In both cases, I didn’t keep quiet because I have had enough of that.

I told them to stay off and let the women cry out their pains.

I told them to show me the Hadith that said we should not shed tears when we are bereft. I know a Hadith that said:

“He who slaps (harms himself physically) after being bereft is not part of us!
He who tears his clothes and prays the payers of the Jahiliyyah

Is not part of us!”

Therefore according to the Hadith what is forbidden in Islam is not crying but saying some things like “ Oh how can I live without you! What would I do without you? … oh I am finished! My own has finished! ..” for that is implying the dead person is everything to you, and not Allah!

Durin Jahilyyahh wailing used to be the announcement of the death of a neighbor. Some go as far as hiring professional wailers in

order make their family appear more sorrowful.

There’s also another Hadith I read in Riyad- As -Salihin that said that the Prophet (SAW) once went to the graveyard and saw a woman weeping over the grave of her daughter, and he went to her and said, “Be steadfast.”

The prophet saw a woman grieving and weeping in a graveyard but did not send her away like some people do, saying women aren’t allowed in the graveyard, nor did he reprimand her for crying over the death. He told her gently and kindly, to be steadfast.

But here are some people trying to criminalize crying for someone’s lost one.

Do they know that having that ability to cry after you lose someone is special mercy from Allah?

Because not everyone can do that. Myself, I couldn’t.

When I got the call that I have lost my sister Waheeda, I cried from Kaduna to Bauchi in the car. Not loud sobs, the tears were flowing and the person sitting next to me must have known I was weeping but that was the last time I was able to get such relief.

When my mum died I was serving in Gusau and I did not cry because I was in denial. I was kidding myself that it was all a mixup, that I would come and meet her revived after a faint. But when I arrived home at 9:pm at the night and saw many people outside my house I knew it was true. Sadly I couldn’t cry.

When I lost my sister Zainab at the Sani Sami ward of ABUTH Bauchi, I saw all my sisters crying as if in a dream. Because I didn’t want to be part of that reality I simply picked up my bag and went and sat across the ward, hoping that a miracle would happen and my sister will be declared not dead. I remember my sister Sadiya saw me sitting there and she came to me crying and shaking me saying “ Adda Furera don Allah kiyi kuka!” but I couldn’t.

From there I witnessed the arrival of my brothers, my dad, close relatives, neighbors, and everyone, and lastly the ambulance. I saw them wheel my sister on a stretcher from inside the ward, I saw them put her at the back of the ambulance and got into their cars. It was then that my brother Ibrahim signed me and came over hugged me and took me to one of the cars.

I said goodbye to my Zainab with a kiss on her cheeks, without tears in my eyes. Someone tried to stop me from kissing those cheeks but Ibrahim said it was okay and that was the last time I ever saw my sister’s face.

I got to cry 3 weeks later when it was time to empty her wardrobe and give away her things.

When my dad died we arrived at the hospital with my siblings and they all went to his bed silently crying but I didn’t have that luxury.

For me, it takes me a long time to be able to cry after a loss, and even when I finally do, it is the only way I can, with tears coming out of my eyes and some terrible sound I don’t recognize as mine forcing itself through my throat – because there’s this thing stuck in my gut and soul that wouldn’t let it completely out – and I am left with this deep hollow space in my heart.

Therefore whenever you see someone crying when they lose a loved one, try to comfort them with kind words but never reprimand them over their grief. For not everyone is blessed with that opportunity.

So please let them cry. Let them grieve in peace. Comfort them with kind words, and hug them, for it’s a relief not everyone gets to experience.

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