September and October 2020 saw the loss of two beautiful souls from our community. Both Mariam Mahmoud and Abdulrahman Elbayouk spent their lives in the service of others. While Abdulrahman gave khutbas and organised Qur’an classes, Mariam gave halaqas to young women and offered lessons to youngsters in her favourite subject, maths. Striving to do their best, both aimed for itqaan, perfection, in everything they did.
Mariam, no-one taught – or cared – like Mariam. A graduate with a first-class degree and Masters in Pure Mathematics. Patiently, she would sit with her students until they understood every step of the lesson she had planned to perfection.
Abdulrahman, a graduate of Medicine, had just become a junior doctor. Just like his eagerness to help in his profession, was his eagerness to help in his personal life. From a minibus pick-up to helping you move home – he was your man. Always reliable and loving, he put everyone before himself, always ready to help out, helped his friends even on his graduation day.
Both Mariam and Abdulrahman were selfless, giving their time and efforts to support others, be it academically or spiritually. Their deaths, though very different in nature, shook our communities to the core, leaving it heartbroken and fragile. Abdulrahman passed away suddenly in a car accident on his way home after helping some friends; a testament to the kind of man he was. He would pray two raka’s every night before witr his family say. He was focused on memorising the Qur’an and perfecting his tajweed, and teaching others Qur’an. We know from a Hadith that the Prophet ﷺ said that, “The best of people are those who learn the Qur’an and teach it.” Allahu Akbar! Abdulrahman was loved by all, his work with his university’s Islamic society, as well as his work with FOSIS and MAB, left all those around him deflated by his death. But how beautiful is it to be too pure and loved that your Lord wants you with Him?
The loss of Mariam, however, was anticipated, although we made duaa’ for her urgent and complete healing until the moment of her death. She had been diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer in July of 2019, where her journey saw pain and loss. She suffered the blow of having to have her ovaries removed and a stoma crafted, having major surgeries and both chemo and radiotherapy. Although her journey had layers of pain and suffering, she was rarely disheartened. She poured her heart out through her writing on social media, impacting people who hadn’t even met her. Mariam focused her energy on talking about the topics of cancer and its effect as she felt it was seen as taboo amidst the Muslim community. She spoke of the difficulties of being unable to have children, the ridiculous expectations placed on women in our communities to get married and bear children, and of the real importance of being vocal and active in changing these expectations. In the last five months before her passing, she could not eat and could barely drink, but still, she was resilient and patient, putting her hands up to make duaa’ after every prayer. Though she was dying, and cancer was spreading in her, she still organised and delivered halaqas via Zoom, focusing on the story of Prophet Ayuub AS, implementing a beautiful practice amongst the members – thikr or duaa’ of the week. She never lost hope in Allah’s ability to cure her and she was always content with the will of Allah ta’ala. Towards the end, she cried to me once, telling me she did not mind dying; she was only sad for the family to have to deal with the loss of a loved one. Even in her own death, she was selfless subhanAllah.
My sister and Abdulrahman were simply too beautiful, kind, and pure in character to remain in this world.
I’m not sharing their legacies for us to be sad about their departure, but rather, to remember and take from the many moments of comfort.
Abu Huraira reported that Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said:
“When Allah loves a servant, He calls Gabriel and says: Verily, I love so and so; you should also love him, and then Gabriel begins to love him. Then he makes an announcement in the heaven saying: Allah loves so and so and you also love him, and then the inhabitants of the Heaven (the Angels) also begin to love him and then there is conferred honour upon him in the earth.” [Muslim]
The news of both Mariam and Abdulrahman’s death reached all corners of the world. Messages from the Netherlands, Morocco, Canada, the US and Japan poured in. Over a quarter of a million pounds was raised as sadaqah jariyya (continuous charity) for both of them. Water wells, medical centres, and many other projects will be a continuous source of ajr for them. Both souls were loved by the inhabitants of the earth, and from that we have high hopes that they’re loved by Allah. May He envelop both of them in His infinite Rahma and Love.
“Nothing is heavier upon the scale of a believer on the Day of Resurrection than good character…” (Tirmidhi).
From their lives and deaths, we learn. The good characteristics they both embodied is where we can reflect on ourselves and try to improve. We learn kindness from the way they served our community; patience to endure our own tribulations from Mariam’s strength; thoughtfulness from Abdulrahman’s easy smile and selflessness.
May Allah have mercy on their souls…
Written by Aiyah Mahmoud, sister of Mariam Mahmoud.