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What consolation could be given to parents on the death of a child?

In His Name.

There is nothing that does not glorify Him with praise.

Give good tidings unto the patient who, when they are visited by an affliction, say: “We belong to God, and it is to Him that we are returning.” (2:155-56)

The death of your child has grieved me. But since the judgment is God’s, accepting His decree with resignation is one of the pillars and signposts of belief. May the All-Mighty enable you to endure it in becoming patience. May He make your deceased child the means of your prosperity in the Here-after. For my part, I would like to take this opportunity to clarify five points to console God-revering, pious believers like yourself and to give them good tidings.

First point: What the Qur’an means by immortal children is this: If a believer’s children die be-fore puberty, they will live eternally in Paradise as lovable children. They will be the eternal means of happiness and pleasure to their parents, who will enjoy their love for them in their embraces. Some argue that the people of Paradise will enjoy all pleasures except love for children, because Paradise is not the place of generation. However, the Qur’anic expression immortal children indicates that they will be eternally rewarded with the pure affection of their deceased children, whereas in this world that love or affection is restricted to 10 years at most, and then is wounded frequently by grief and filial ingratitude.

Second point: Once a man was thrown into prison along with his child, for whom he was responsible. Not only did he have to endure his own affliction, but he had to care for his child as well. While he was suffering, the city’s compassionate governor sent a messenger with an offer to care for the child in the palace, because the child was his subject.

The man’s response was the aggrieved cry: “This child is my only means of consolation. I cannot give her up.” His fellow prisoners, however, advised him:

Your grief makes no sense. If you pity your child, let her be taken out of this suffocating, dirty prison to a beautiful, spacious palace. If you prefer to have her stay here for your own advantage, consider how much effort it costs you to look after her. It is in your interest to give her to the governor, whose compassion and sympathy she will certainly arouse, so that he will wish to meet you. The governor will not send her to prison, but instead will summon you on the condition that you obey and trust in him.

It is as in the parable above, my brother, that all believers whose child or children have died should think thus: (Prepubescent) children are innocent. Their All-Compassionate and All-Generous Creator has taken them into His care out of His perfect Compassion, whereas I would be unable to give them adequate training in mind or morals. Also, their Creator is much more affectionate toward them that I could be.

How happy the children are, since God has taken them from this world’s wearying life to the highest Heaven. If they had lived longer, they might have been led astray. So I should not grieve. They might have done me some good if they had grown up to be righteous people, but now they are enjoying eternal happiness. In addition, they will be the means of everlasting pleasure for me through parental love and will intercede with God for my eternal happiness in Paradise. For this reason, one who obtained a reward far greater than a merely probable reward should not weep and wail.

Third point: Children are God’s creatures and servants, and so belong to Him. He has placed them in their parent’s care for a fixed term and for their own sake. In return, God has caused their parents to feel a pleasure-giving affection toward them. Therefore believers should not wail for their children when God, the All-Compassionate Creator, takes them away out of His Compassion.

Fourth point: Parents might have some right to wail for deceased children if the world were eternal and humanity lived forever. But as this world is only a guest-house, eventually death will take us to where they have gone. As separation is temporary and reunion has been decided in the Intermediate World (between death and the Last Judgment) and Paradise, believers should thank God for everything and endure every calamity in the full conviction that the Judgment is His.

Fifth point: Affection, one of the sweetest and most beautiful manifestations of Divine Compassion, is a kind of water of life that leads humanity to God more quickly than love. As love for temporal beings can change into love for God, although after much difficulty, affection can make one’s heart sincerely devoted to God, but without as much difficulty. Parents love their children as much as they love everything connected with their world. If they are believers, they will renounce the world when their children are taken away from them and turn completely to God. They will come to feel great interest in the place where their children have gone and, convinced that this transitory world deserves no heart-felt interest, will attain a high spiritual state.

Misguided people, however, are in a very poor state after losing their children. They lead disso-lute lives and neglect God’s commands. As a result, they believe that death takes their children from a soft bed to the dark soil of the grave and so are quite dismayed and aggrieved. Their unbelief in Paradise, which God has prepared for His servants out of His Compassion, increases their grief. But believers are convinced that the Compassionate Creator of the children has taken them to Paradise out of this foul world, and so endure the children’s death with “becoming patience.”

So do not worry, my brother. This is a temporary separation. Say: “The Judgment is God’s. We belong to God, and it is to Him that we are returning”—and be patient.

 

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