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Friday, March 03, 2017

Reflections on the passing of Sidi Luqman Williams

Sidi Luqman Williams passed into the mercy of Allah (the Exalted) on 27/1/2017. These are some reflections that were written shortly after his passing.

I first met Luqman in the blessed city of Fez. He was teaching English and I was learning Arabic, in different parts of the same institute. The first time that I saw him; I recognised him. This happens to me from time to time, as I am sure it does you. I might see a person for the first time and then realise that I know them already. Sometimes, you might meet someone during the day that you met in your dreams but you do not realise it. This reminded me of the following hadith:

عَنْ عَائِشَةَ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهَا قَالَتْ سَمِعْتُ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَقُولُ : " الأَرْوَاحُ جُنُودٌ مُجَنَّدَةٌ فَمَا تَعَارَفَ مِنْهَا ائْتَلَفَ وَمَا تَنَاكَرَ مِنْهَا اخْتَلَفَ . " البخاري
Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said that she heard the Prophet (may Allah bestow peace and blessings upon him) say, "Souls are like recruited soldiers; whoever came to know each other became acquainted and those that denied each other, differed." Bukhari.

Souls were created with similar souls at the same time. They came to know each other in that realm. They became familiar with those who were like them, in their proximity, those who were created like them. Other souls who were created with others, denied those who were not like them. When souls went into their bodies and they would meet each other in the world. They would recognise each other without knowing how, sometimes feeling as if they had known that person all their life. They did not know each other rather their souls had met in the realm of the souls. This is why people, like people who are like them. Therefore, they will promote those they like and so forth. This is why people dislike Awliyah because they are not like them. Often, a Wali is hated in his region and this is a common sign, unless he has moved from his original home. This is why people often hate Ahl Al-Bayt because they are not like them. 

I felt like I had met Luqman before. I had a rather large unkempt beard at the time and I noticed his glance at it. He would later explain to me how people in Muslim countries saw a large beard. This came as quite a shock to me because many religious people in the Muslim world kept their Islam to themselves. You could not tell those who were religious from those who were not, if you based it on outward signs. 

We would sometimes go for a burger after Jummah. I found that he was inspired by traditional knowledge such as I was; he had even met some of those who I had merely heard. He was following Imam Malik in Fiqh and had a Sheikh. 

A reporter from Arabian television channel wanted to interview Muslims about Sufism. Luqman and some of us met the reporter. The reporter was confused about Sufism and Luqman was able to distill the knowledge that he was taught and speak. I was unable to speak because I had not reached the stage of distilling the knowledge that I was learning. I was at the beginning stage of my journey. Luqman explained that the knowledge of Tasawwaf was about purifying the heart. All this was cut from the program that was broadcast.

Luqman taught English all over the Arabian world. He once said that attaining English teaching qualification was one of the best things he had done in his life. After we left Fez, we kept in touch by emails and eventually Facebook.

We tried to meet when I went to Hajj in 2010 but I was in Mekkah and he was in Medinah. We laughed aloud and said we would meet next time.

In the last few years, we were out of touch. We finally met each other last year in Liverpool. He was visibly thinner than he was before and I was alarmed, when I first saw him. He was dressed in Mauritian traditional clothes and was doing what we spent time doing in Fez. He was encouraging someone to exit the masjid from the right side. He would often encourage me to enter a building from the right. Sheikh Saad Al-Attas would do the same thing with me. I would often position myself on the left side to make them enter or exit the building on the right side. I was upset at seeing him in a weakened state.
We went out for a burger and guess what he paid for it. I had promised myself that I was not going to allow him to pay but he presented the money to the cashier first. My money being 'no good.' 

He was recovering from his operation and the doctors gave people two years with this cancer. We returned to his house and I gave him steel plates with the ayahs of Shifa/healing engraved on them. We listened to each other and I left him after a few hours. He was constant in his prayers even though he was in pain. I thought that he was strong enough to beat the cancer and if anyone could beat it then it would be him.

About two months ago, we were due to meet but that did not happen because I was delayed setting off. He said that we would meet later and I thought we still had time. I did not know that this was the last chance and I had wasted my last chance to see him.

A few weeks ago, he sent an email explaining that the doctors had only given him a few weeks. I joked that I would come to see him, if my beard would not get me into trouble at customs! He wrote the word smiles and lol. I wanted to speak to him on the phone and asked him to let me know, when he was ready. I did not want to push him.

He passed away on 27/1/2017 on a Friday. I had expected it but it was mixed with the fact that his suffering was over. I had to face up to the fact that I would not see him again.

He once asked if I was doing my bit for Islam. I wrongly thought that I needed to be a scholar to benefit people. This is not true because one can benefit people with their manners and state, more than ones knowledge. Luqman was not a scholar nor was he learned in Arabic. However, he continually sought knowledge to improve himself. Yet, I found that he understood spiritual realities that were only in the books of Tasawwaf that he did not have access to, except by the means of his teachers. He practiced whatever knowledge he learnt and that is what made him better than many people. I saw this and wanted to encourage him to learn Arabic in the hope he would become a scholar. I knew that he needed to reach people. 

الَّذِينَ إِذَا أَصَابَتْهُم مُّصِيبَةٌ قَالُواْ إِنَّا لِلّهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَ البقرة2:156

"Those who, when tribulation befalls them, say, 'we belong to Allah and to Him we return." Quran: Al-Baqarah 2:156.

We often say this when someone dies. It is a reminder that we were created and belong to Allah (the Exalted) and then we return to Him. Everything belongs to Allah and our stay in this world is temporary and we return to Allah. We return to where hence we came.

Our bodies return to the earth and the soul returns to Allah. The angel of death takes the soul so the body can return to the earth. To either paradise or hell, which is its final abode. If you say this after loss of something, the lost thing will be replaced. Our time is limited, so spend it with people who make it count and spend your time doing things that count.

He did not want people to feel sorry for him or feel remorse. He wanted to make a positive impact on the world and he did just that. Just look through his Facebook page and read the testimonies that are being made. Make a positive change in your life and know that what Allah (the Exalted) has planned for us, is better that our plans. He said, 'Allah is never wrong,' after he was given his diagnosis.

We met in the realms of the souls before entering the bodies and we will meet again in the afterlife, in sha Allah. He would finish each comment off with a smiley face or just the word smiles. Therefore, I am signing off this obituary with :-).


1 comment:

  1. As Salaamu Alaikum. Sidi Luqman was a Blessing to know and spend time with!