To bersyukur (being thankful) is to be appreciative of what life has to offer.
About a week ago I visited a colleague whose father had passed away.
Having been unwell for a few months, he drew his final breath early Friday morning (considered a blessed time), a few hours after his family and friends recited the Quran in his home.
I was told by my colleague's son (the deceased's grandson) that the passing was swift and appeared peaceful. "His last breath was short and his hands were in prayer position (right hand over left, rested on his stomach just left of the belly button)".
To my question of "How do you feel?", my colleague said, "bersyukur(thankful)". Bersyukur? I inquired, as I thought she would have used the word "relieved" considering he had passed on and was no longer in the state that he was in.
She said that she was thankful for being able to have spent time with her father before his passing and was there when he passed away. She was thankful for being able to be with him in the hospital and later at home, talking to him, praying for him, wishing him good night and good morning, and tending to his needs.
She also said that she was thankful for having a supportive family, boss and group of friends. "Above all, I bersyukur because I was able to fulfil my duties as a daughter".
She also said that her son had provided a lot of help and support over the past few months. He had even gone as far as to quit his job, just so that he could help care for his grandfather.
I found this sacrifice as immense. This didn't appear practical and sat uneasy with my relatively neurotic self. My mind burst into a flurry of questions, from relatively normal ones such as “couldn't he still work and care for his grandfather at night or on weekends?” or “Why not take unpaid leave?” to the absurd such as “How will this look in his resume” or “Won't he get bored of hospital food?”
Piqued, my curiosity beckoned to ask, "Why?" His response is one that I will never forget for both its simplicity and the realisation that dawned upon me.
He said "What's a few years of my time for my grandfather, who had spent most of his, raising me to become who I am today?"
Simple, but deep.
At that moment I realised that I was finding excuses that appeared practicable, that would enable me to continue life as per usual, and not have to concern myself with “inconveniences” associated with tending to sick family members.
I felt that my pendulum of priorities tilted a little more towards my own personal worldly pursuits. I felt selfish.
Though I have never been in his situation, I am glad that the conversation took place. I now know the extent of a “sacrifice” that I should be willing to give and that I would expect of myself.
Having conveyed this to my mother, she suggested that a full time caregiver would suffice as she "understood" that priorities differed from person to person, and so too the need to sustain oneself. A cryptic answer, I’m sure. I was never one to pick up on mother’s hidden messages.
But she did say, “What your colleague’s son did was to be devoted, to be focused in his love. Love is sacrifice. This is the oldest story in the Holy Book of Ibrahim, who gave up his greatest love for Allah”.
Having had a very busy few weeks of work, I realise that it is important to take a step back and take a moment to reflect. With everything that is happening in front of us, it is easy to take those things too seriously and forget about the meaningful things in life.
To bersyukur or being thankful, is to be appreciative of what life has to offer. We are kinder, calmer and more content because of it.
This reminded me of a speech delivered by well-known Islamic speaker Ali Nouman Khan. Suffice to say, bersyukur is a powerful trait.
I am thankful for having made that visit. May the deceased rest in peace. DANIAL RAHMAN The STAR Home > Opinion > Online Exclusive Whats your status Thursday October 2, 2014 MYT 7:38:00 AM