Haji Akhtar Hussain (1933-2024)

Tribute to a Friend and Wonderful man

By Dr Musharraf Hussain

The death of our dear Haji Akhtar Hussain is a great loss for the whole community. Although I missed the Janazah, as I was travelling, I was informed of the huge outpouring of grief and sorrow from all around Nottingham and beyond. This is testimony of his good character and nature. Haji Sahib was a polite, respectful and calm gentleman. I wish to convey my deep condolences to his children Aurangzaib, Nadeem, Sajid, Tabassum and Shazia Hussain, you have lost a beloved father and a close friend.

The death of Haji Akhtar Hussain has seriously inflicted a wound that will take a long time to heal. Haji Sahib’s soft, gentle smile has mysteriously disappeared into heaven. Haji Akhtar’s going has darkened the mood, and the inevitable moment of truth has arrived. Our Haji sahib lived a long life mashaAllah, he was 91 years old, what will happen to us when our time is up? When we stand before Allah, will we be received with open arms or be rebuffed? That day neither our family nor our wealth and social status will save us from the judgement we deserve.

I want you to share your fond memories of Haji Akhtar, so we can keep him in our hearts and minds. His wonderful memories and our grief are a sign of our deep love for him. Death and funerals are two subjects that we often avoid talking about, it seems macabre and too challenging, so we leave them for others to organise for us. However, here are a few questions that might help us to make our lives more meaningful, purposeful, relevant and in a way preparation for our death. Unfortunately, some of us act like we are going to be the exception.

What we fear most about death I believe is that we will die alone and that we will die without meaning. However, Islam teaches that death need not be lonely or meaningless. An important question is ‘who is going to be crying at your funeral since these are the people you should be spending time with right now in your life’. What a provocative thought! When people are on their deathbed some remarkable confessions are made. However, no one on their deathbed says, “I wish I would have spent more time at the office.”

Another question that we should be asking about our funeral is “When your life is over, what will you leave behind?” What kind of investment are you making right now to the future of the world, your family, your masjid, and your friends?” It is best to realise that the only true and worthwhile investment that pays the biggest dividend is the worship of Allah and serving people.

Haji Sahib made a large investment in his family and friends. His life at the end can serve as a model to each of us about where we should invest our life, so we will leave something behind that is of value. They are the ones who were crying at his funeral. The Messenger (peace be upon him) said “When a man dies his deeds come to an end, he can no longer do anything, but for three things that continue to accumulate reward for him; a charitable endowment, beneficial knowledge, and righteous children who pray for him” (Muslim).

The final question is “Have I managed to please my Lord in my life?” When my beloved teacher Pir Karam Shah was diagnosed with prostate cancer and put on the operating table, his family stood around him solemnly, weeping and naturally commiserating, he looked at them all and said “I am ready for any eventuality, I have lived for my Lord and if this is the end then I am ready to meet him”. This kind of confidence in the face of death doesn’t happen by accident. Pir sahib looked death in the face and said, “I am ready.”. “He created death and life to test who does good deeds”.

Asma bint Yazid reports that when the bier of Sa’ad ibn Muaz was lifted, her mother screamed and wailed, the Messenger (peace be upon him) said to her “Your tears should stop now since your son is the first one for whom Allah has smiled and the mighty throne trembled at that” (Tabrani). We pray that Haji Akhtar is received like the disciple of the beloved Messenger (peace be upon him). Ameen!