The One on Losing Lee Kuan Yew


On 23 March 2015, at 3.18am Singapore time, we lost our first Prime Minister.

Having faced a few deaths in my life, I knew, way before the passing happened, that I would be affected by it. To me, it’s really difficult not feel the pinch when someone passes on. This happens to me  regardless of whether I am close to the person or not. There is just something about being aware that there is not even a remote possibility of seeing the person in Duniya again that makes me feel an odd sense of loss.

I do not agree with all of Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s policies. I definitely do not agree with all of his views. In fact, I still remember the day when I was sitting in Constitutional Law class in school. When I heard about the people who were thrown into jail without trial, I fell back in my chair, aghast.

However, I cannot deny that Mr Lee Kuan Yew was instrumental in shaping Singapore’s history. He was dedicated. He was bold. He was a true visionary. Our grandparents used to have to carry heavy pails of water back to their homes. Under his leadership, we have advanced so rapidly that we now enjoy clean and safe drinking water straight from the tap. We can’t even imagine queuing up at standpipes for water rations.

That’s how Muslims are, aren’t we? When we see a fellow human being who is imperfect just like us, we make 70 excuses for him. We try to see the good. When we experience negative feelings bubbling in our hearts, we pray for Allah to change the person because we acknowledge that only He is the turner of hearts. We forgive, knowing that we want Allah to forgive us for our many mistakes too.

Honestly, during the mourning period, I felt inundated with the outpouring of emotions all around me. I saw how people struggled to come to terms with his death. Some people queued up for 8 hours just to go past his casket. Some people bought flowers. Some people wrote poems and letters. Some even became instant patriots who were suddenly extremely ready to sing the national anthem, bellow National Day songs and wave the Singapore flag. Above all, the images of old folks sobbing their eyes out are still etched in my mind.

While my thoughts were in a whirl, my husband asked me, “Bee, how do you think it was like when our Prophet SAW passed away?”

Subhanallah. Where do we even start? We are talking about the one with his exemplary akhlak. The one was brave enough to fight for the rights of women during a time when it was a norm to oppress them. The one who taught us that the strongest person is not the one with the most muscles, the strongest person is the one who can control his anger. The one who was so truthful that he was called “Al-Sadiq Al-Amin” or the truthful and trustworthy one, even by those who did not believe in his message. The one who was kind to everyone including those who only wanted to hurt him. The one who knew that each messenger could ask for an accepted prayer but kept his for the day of resurrection as an intercession for us – his ummah.

How do you think it was like?

When the Prophet SAW died, Muslims were at an absolute loss. They flapped around in a state of utter shock and confusion. People, including Umar, flat out refused to believe the news of his death. Aisha radiallahu anha said: “When the Prophet died, Abu Bakr was not around. Umar stood up and addressed the people saying: ‘I swear by Allah that the Prophet has not died and that Allah will send him back to cut off the hands and legs of those who claim that he has died.’ Then, Abu Bakr arrived at where the Prophet was lying, uncovered his face, kissed him and said: ‘I would sacrifice my father and mother for your sake. You are just as fragrant after your death as you were during your life. I swear by the one in whose hand my soul is, Allah will never let you die twice.’ Then, he went out to face the people and said ‘O you who is swearing by Allah, calm down!’ When Umar heard Abu Bakr, he fell silent and sat down. Abu Bakr praised and thanked Allah and said, ‘Whoever was worshiping Muhammad, then Muhammad is dead, but whoever was worshiping Allah, then Allah is alive and will never die.’ 

Then, he recited Allah’s statement, “(O Muhammad) Verily you will die, and they also will die.” (Quran 39:30) He also recited, “Muhammad is no more than an Apostle; and indeed many Apostles have passed away, before him.If he dies or is killed, will you then turn back on your heels? And he who turns back on his heels, not the least harm will he do to Allah and Allah will give a reward to those who are grateful.” (Quran 3:144)

Allahu Akbar!

We know that the Prophet SAW did not die until his message was conveyed. Allah attests to this when he said, “This day, I have completed your religion for you, completed My Favour upon you and have selected your Way of Life, Al-Islam.”

How then do we live our lives based on our Prophet’s example?

Let me put this to you – What better way to start than to read and strive to apply our Prophet SAW’s last sermon?

After praising, and thanking God, our Prophet SAW said “O People, lend me an attentive ear, for I know not whether, after this year, I shall ever be amongst you again.  Therefore, listen to what I am saying to you very carefully and take these words to those who could not be present here today.

O People, just as you regard this month, this day, this city as Sacred, so regard the life and property of every Muslim as a sacred trust.  Return the goods entrusted to you to their rightful owners.  Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you.  Remember that you will indeed meet your Lord, and that He will indeed reckon your deeds.  God has forbidden you to take usury (interest), therefore, all interest obligation shall henceforth be waived.  Your capital, however, is yours to keep.  You will neither inflict nor suffer any inequity.  God has Judged that there shall be no interest and that all the interest due to Al-Abbas ibn Abd’el Muttalib shall henceforth be waived…

Beware of Satan, for the safety of your religion.  He has lost all hope that he will ever be able to lead you astray in big things, so beware of following him in small things.

O People, it is true that you have certain rights with regard to your women, but they also have rights over you.  Remember that you have taken them as your wives only under a trust from God and with His permission.  If they abide by your right then to them belongs the right to be fed and clothed in kindness.  Do treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.  And it is your right that they do not make friends with anyone of whom you do not approve, as well as never to be unchaste.

O People, listen to me in earnest, worship God, perform your five daily prayers, fast during the month of Ramadan, and offer Zakat.  Perform Hajj if you have the means.

All mankind is from Adam and Eve.  An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, nor does a non-Arab have any superiority over an Arab; a white has no superiority over a black, nor does a black have any superiority over a white; [none has superiority over another] except by piety and good action.  Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood.  Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly.  Do not, therefore, do injustice to yourselves.

Remember, one day you will appear before God and answer for your deeds.  So beware, do not stray from the path of righteousness after I am gone.

O People, no prophet or apostle will come after me, and no new faith will be born.  Reason well, therefore, O people, and understand words which I convey to you.  I leave behind me two things, the Quran and my example, the Sunnah, and if you follow these you will never go astray.

All those who listen to me shall pass on my words to others and those to others again; and it may be that the last ones understand my words better than those who listen to me directly.  Be my witness, O God, that I have conveyed your message to your people.”

May Allah grant us the strength and sabr to follow in our Prophet SAW’s footsteps and stay on the straight path to Allah, in shaa Allah.


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