Reflections on the Elderly

A year ago, when I visited him, he was able to walk and communicate, but now he was bedridden and barely speaking.

A year ago, when I visited him, he was able to walk and communicate, but now he was bedridden and barely speaking.

A few months ago my granddad had suffered a stroke and was left paralyzed on one half of his body. At the same time, my grandmother was taken ill and had to receive treatment in a different city, five hours away from her home. It was the first time in their 60 years of marriage that they were separated from one another for such long a period of time. As my grandparents live in a different country to me, I decided to book a ticket and visit them. After a number of delays and flight difficulties, I finally landed and went straight to my grandparent’s house. I saw my granddad and couldn’t help but cry. A year ago, when I visited him, he was able to walk and communicate, but now he was bedridden and barely speaking. Truly, it is only Allah that has the power to give and take away.

Wisdom beyond years

Every day groups of people would come to visit my granddad to see how he was doing. They would speak of all the acts of kindness he showed them, with a pattern with all their stories: everything my granddad did was out of pure, sincere love for that particular person. A quote my granddad often says: ‘simplicity and sincerity are the cardinal principles of Islam’. My granddad tried to live a life in light of such a poignant quote, and I hope that we all can too.

Sat beside my granddad, the one hadith I kept reflecting upon was the one in which the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said:

“Take benefit of five before five: your youth before your old age, your health before your sickness, your wealth before your poverty, your free-time before your preoccupation, and your life before your death”

(Hakim and Shu’ab al-Imān 9575).

My granddad like many others had youth, health, wealth and free time, and only Allah knows whether or not he spent it well. I pray that Allah accepts his efforts. Looking at my granddad’s hands, I remember reflecting on how the hands that once raised his seven children had now found it difficult to hold a cup of tea. I was forced to reflect upon how I spent my life so far; had I taken advantage of these five things? I was constantly reminded that I will weaken and eventually one day I will perish as ‘there is no deity except Him. Everything will be destroyed except His Face.’ (28:88).

Grandparents have blessings and reciprocate love

I never really got to see my paternal grandparents because they passed away when I was young, so seeing my maternal grandparents is a blessing in itself. There are certain days where I think about my paternal grandparents. Though I can’t hear their voices again or give them hugs anymore, I remind myself that I too will depart from this world and will have the chance to meet them in another world far greater than this one.

For those of you who have grandparents, an elderly aunt, uncle or neighbour, make sure you visit them and hear their stories because there will come a day when you will no longer have that chance.

The sole reason I wanted to see my granddad was because of my love for him, and I can only hope that if my service to him was not good enough for me to attain heaven than it is my love for him that does. I pray that Allah instils within us love and respect for the elderly and that we can serve them to the best of our abilities, and I pray that Allah cures my grandparents and all those who are unwell, amen.

‘If a young person honours an elder person on account of his age, Allah appoints someone to honour him in his old age.’


By Nazia Sultana


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