Saturday evening, two days ago, we were establishing healthy boundaries in my year-long Cherished Seasons course. I prayed my maghrib evening prayers before starting and was really overwhelmed with gratitude to Allah. I had done it – I had incorporated boundaries into my Cherished Muslimah training and was going to deliver it for the first time. I had worked for almost ten years to get here. When I started as a Surrendered Wife trainer, my coaching had not included any boundaries.
You don’t need boundaries in Jannah
A few days earlier, I had instinctively sent out some voice messages to a few ladies. “I just want you to know that this Saturday we are going to be establishing boundaries, and I think you will find this coaching session really useful and would love to see you there.’ Funny – thinking about it now, I never sent Nibela Asghar a voice message.
Little did I know, she didn’t need boundaries anymore. Allah had His own plans for her that evening. She was going to leave that evening for the hospital, her worldly waiting room, so she could make her journey of a lifetime the next morning, where she would be going to a world where she would not need boundaries anymore.
You see, you don’t need boundaries in Jannah (Paradise). You don’t need fences in your inner garden of Jannah to protect you from intruders. The good will always stay in; there won’t be any bad you need to let out. There will always be good in your inner garden of Jannah. There won’t be any bad things coming in. Nibela has left us to be with Our Lady Khadija, The Wise (may Allah be pleased with her) where she will InshaAllah be able to visit her house of pearls wherein there is no clamour or discomfort or fatigue.
“And give her the glad tidings of having a house of pearls in Paradise wherein there will be neither any noise nor any fatigue.”
The Cherished Muslimah Mother
Nibela wasn’t married, nor did she have any children, but boy, did she have strong Mother energy. She was always checking up on those she loved, ensuring they were looked after. She would ask me if my feet were warm when I was menstruating and if I was taking enough rest when I was running around like a headless chicken. Nibela got me to take off one day a week for self-care so I wouldn’t and up doing too much and burning out. Nibela was our Lady Mary (may Allah be pleased with her), The Devoted. Indeed, the fact that she didn’t have these responsibilities gave her the opportunity to be alone with her Lord in her worship, well provided and nourished.
Every time Zakariya entered upon her in the prayer chamber, he found with her provision. He said, “O Mary, from where have you got this? She said, “It is from Allah. Indeed, Allah gives provision for whom He wills without measure.”
Surah Al-Imran (3:37)
Motherly concern, being judgemental, and self-doubt for the good
Nibela was always checking herself. ‘I’m being bossy again’ ‘I feel so judgemental’ ‘I’m getting over-confident’ – each time she would say things like this, I would evaluate her words and see that there was actually good in her being bossy, her judgement would often be piercingly discerning, and when she would be self-critical, she was checking to see if she wasn’t making any mistakes, striving to be her best self.
Nibela was our example the forthright Lady Fatimah, The Youthful, (may Allah be pleased with her), the daughter of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ who would speak to the truth and place impeccably high standards on herself, simply because it was the way of her father.
The Prophet ﷺ said, “I am not interested in worldly things.”
Fatima said, “I am ready to dispense with it in the way he suggests.”
She gave to others, and in doing that, she received joy
‘None of you (truly) believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.’
Those of us on the Cherished Muslimah Sisterhood and the Soul Sisters Circle will know that Nibela posted flower pictures often. In one post she spoke of how she bought some yellow roses and then decided to give them her neighbour, and when her neighbour placed those flowers on her windowsill, Nibela could see them from her own window! She expressed her joy in being able to enjoy the flowers even after having given them to someone else.
‘When I returned home from work the next day, I had received a lovely card from her thanking me for my kindness. As I went to pull down the blinds in my living room, I had a beautiful view of the bright yellow roses on display in her front room! I couldn’t believe it, I had actually wanted to buy a bunch for myself but decided to share the joy with a friend, but their destiny was to be elsewhere and me being able to enjoy them! And miraculously those roses stayed fresh for over a month – my neighbour commented she had never seen anything like it!’
Her last post in the sisterhood was a picture of blossoming Gladioli, the Cherished Muslimah flower of Justice. She wrote of how she bought some for a friend and herself, and then decided to give the ones she bought for herself to another friend, and in doing so had made three people happy, and so she was sharing the picture to make the rest of the sisterhood happy too!
‘So Sara, Mash Allah through your work, you’ve brought Joy to 3 of us and hope the sisters here also share this joy too InSha Allah!’
She made the best of the life she was given
For those who knew Nibela were aware that her life wasn’t easy. She had health challenges and personal struggles which she took in her stride. If she was poorly, she focused on getting better. If she was better, then she worked on continuing on her projects. After passing, we are reading so much of how she loved the children of other’s like her own – she was truly from The Aunty Brigade that Elizabeth Gilbert talks about. Nibela would take each difficulty as it came and then move the next moment of striving, moving continuously, as my teacher Shaykh Faid always exhorts us, from one act of worship to the next.
So, when you are finished, strive on. And to your Lord turn your attention.
Al Inshirah (94:7–8)
She was always prepared
Nibela was super organised, even though she felt like she was not on top of things. She would regularly inform us which days she worked and didn’t and would be berating herself when she was falling behind on what she intended to do. One of her last messages to me was in regard to attending an optician’s appointment that she needed to go to, and how she was quickly completing her chores before she left.
“If the Final Hour comes while you have a palm-cutting in your hands and it is possible to plant it before the Hour comes, you should plant it.”
Al Adab Al Murad (4)
She was always looking to please Allah
Nibela was our Lady Asiya, The Queen (May Allah be pleased with her), the wife of the pharaoh. She was always doing things according to Islamic scruples, and only spoke of her desire to do things that would please Allah. Regardless of what life or work threw at her, despite any frustrations or challenges that she had, her heart stayed attached to her creator – this all of the Cherished Muslimah team who knew her can testify. Her idea of chilling out and doing self-care was listening to Sami Yusuf’s 99 Names of Allah. As I prepared Saturday’s zoom room and fixed my zoom-ready sofa covers in the background, I was sharing my computer’s sound and was playing this same song, and smiled, remembering that in the last coaching call she had commented how she loved that song and hoped she would like it this time, too.
My Lord! Build for me a home with thee in the Garden!
Surah Al-Tahrim (66:11)
She was always concerned about the health and welfare of women
Nibela and I were working on a project called Cherished Mercy – combining the wisdoms of Mizan therapy and womb-health with self-development. We spent many meetings discussing (perhaps somewhat over-excitedly) how looking after and honouring our womb-space and cycles would enable us to tap into our inner-mercy and compassion for ourselves and others and would nurture the connection with The Merciful and His Merciful Messenger ﷺ. Nibela was passionate about helping women to heal, and this urge, almost an ache was driving her to become proactive in an area that she didn’t feel she had enough confidence.
‘The similitude of believers is that of one body; when any limb of it aches, the whole body aches, because of sleeplessness and fever.’
She left us a legacy
And perhaps the most profound thing about Nibela’s life is that before she left us here to ascend to the higher world, she prayerfully and purposefully wrote down her intentions and plans for the future and emailed them to me, on the 1 October. Ta-da! And that just brings me so much delight, that she will InshaAllah have the reward for all of those intentions and plans as though she had completed them, InshaAllah, ya Rabb!
The (reward of) deeds, depend upon the intentions and every person will get the reward according to what he has intended.
InshaAllah, the Cherished Muslimah team intend to use that email as a template for our Cherished Mercy development plan so that it can be ongoing charity for Nibela. One of the sisters from Cherished Seasons sent me a message this morning, and it just filled me with so much happiness and peace:
‘Accept my condolences, dearest, on this tragic day, for those of us left behind tragic due to her loss, but InshaAllah for her, the best day of her life, and will only get better InshaAllah, ya Rabb.’
Smile. Tearful Smile. The Best Day of Her Life.
While on death bed, Our Master Bilal’s (may Allah be pleased with him) wife cried, ‘wa hazanaa’ (what a great grief), to which he replied, ‘Wa Tarabaa’ (what a great joy); “Tomorrow I will meet with my loved ones — Muhammad ﷺ and his companions,”
I end with the words of our teacher Shaykh Sulayman, who advised us upon hearing of Nibela’s passing:
It is not ‘Farewell’. It is ‘See you soon.’