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Saying goodbye to a treasured comrade, Fuad Ismail

Fuad Ismail

Fuad Ismail

Published Feb 3, 2021

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by Brian Williams

I received the news of the passing of my brother and comrade Fuad Ismail, of Kensington, with so much pain and grief.

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“Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un” (“Verily we belong to Allah, and truly to Him shall we return”). My heart was shattered and I could not contain the emotions that burst the walls of my soul. Less than 24 hours before his passing on January 22, I enquired how he was doing.

He messaged me in capital letters “MUCH PROGRESS”. I had also sent Fuad a photo of Islamic prayer beads that I had bought in Istanbul as a gift for him.

He replied in capital letters “AMAZING. THANKS”. In Istanbul I kept thinking of Fuad. He had told me that he wanted to visit Istanbul and travel across Turkey, a country steeped in deep histories.

I imagined the two of us walking around the streets of Istanbul. Fuad told me that he comes from a Catholic mother and that as a young boy he attended church services and rang the bell at the local church. I am a devout Catholic and asked Fuad to take me with him when he goes to the mosque in Kensington.

I told Fuad that His Holiness Pope Francis had stated that God is not Catholic or Muslim or Buddhist or Jewish… God is God, a divine supreme being that all of humanity belongs to.

Fuad devoted every day of his life to doing good deeds and he was one of the most active Peace Ambassadors in the Kensington-Factreton area. During the coronavirus pandemic, Fuad was active with the humanitarian relief programme. He was busy all the time helping with food deliveries and other essentials needed by families.

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On the morning of January 23 I decided to go to the funeral site at least an hour before the procession of mourners arrived. I watched the grave diggers prepare the earth. Everything in Islam has meaning and funeral (janazah) procedures must be followed in the same way Muslims are buried throughout the world.

The location of Mecca, the holiest city in Islam, is central even in death. The direction of the burial site is connected to Mecca. In Islamic burial rites, the body must be placed lying on the right side, facing towards Mecca.

I watched intently as three people were inside the burial hole. They carefully received his body for final resting.

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One of the mourners said “please make sure his head is comfortable”. I thought this was so profound and there was a gentle recognition that Fuad was resting for his final journey.

I listened to duas (prayers) that were made for Fuad and the reverence of each of the mourners. There was no howling or screaming but quiet dignity that was spiritually enriching to watch.

Those who placed the body into the grave recited “Bismilllah wa ala millati rasulilllah” (“In the name of Allah and in the faith of the Messenger of Allah”).

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Fuad was buried and has a tree as his guardian with green grass interspersed among the different grave sites. Flowers were visible everywhere and there was an air of serenity. This earthly place, on the lower side of the mountain in Mowbray, from where the Atlantic Ocean is visible, is where Fuad will rest until Judgment Day.

Good Muslims will go to paradise and experience peace. Those who led sinful lives are destined for hell, and will begin their suffering.

Peace Ambassador Fuad Ismail succumbed to the coronavirus and we ask the Almighty to grant him a high place in Paradise.

* Professor Brian Williams is a Visiting Professor in fields of Peace, Mediation and Labour Relations, University of the Sacred Heart, Uganda, and chief executive: Williams Labour Law and Mediation.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

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