To God we belong, and to Him we return. One of my beloved teachers died yesterday.
The world looks to us in America as a highly educated, talented, successful, and deeply faithful people. We did not just become this way; pioneers paved the path with their struggles as slaves, their work in factories, on railroads, and in rural areas and industrial cities.
After the 1965 amendment to the civil rights act, this country benefited from the intellect and the work ethic of an amazing group of new immigrants. These immigrants came from the Indian subcontinent, from east Asia and from the Middle East for a better life for their family… and they stayed to serve their new country. They devoted their time to furthering innovative research in their respective fields, founded social and technical institutions, and still made time to give voice to their unique messages of culture and faith in this land of diverse voices. I have been blessed to call many of them my elders and my teachers and this is my message to them.
You took time to invest in me and my brothers, sisters, and friends. You raised a generation that watched the hard work, personal sacrifice, and ambition you modeled for the sake of service to others. Many of you were my teachers, my role models, and my family’s friends. And my generation? Well, we were not always obedient followers… we were too rash in our actions, too brash with our opinions, we thought the “uncles and auntis” didn’t understand us, and we made you all grow gray hair (way before your time) or lose your hair completely!
Your whole family became community property; Your children shared their father or mother with all of the “youth” and I know they may have wanted more of your time. I pray that God will bless them for their sacrifice of their beloved fathers/mothers for our community.
In the last few years, we have lost many of our buzoorgh
(Urdu for wise elders). Each of us is brought to life to do God’s work and He decides when we will return to Him. I pray that God takes each of my elders and teachers by the hand and leads them into paradise as they took each of us by the hand and raised us so that now we may continue the work they started.
As we age, we often ponder how we will be remembered. Please know that we have been honored to have your guidance, we have been nurtured by your talents, and we have been given the confidence to move our community to the next step by your model. May you have a beautiful rest in the Hereafter in the best of His gardens because you worked tirelessly in this world for your students.
I make this prayer for all my teachers, and for everyone who has selflessly served our community and raised a generation who now promises to continue to serve the generation that follows us.