KHARTOUM (Sudanow) - Legislators, everywhere, devote much attention to the wording of provisions and clauses governing will matters because of legal and other consequences that automatically ensue upon a testator’s death. It is no wonder then that the Islamic laws (Sharia’a laws) place great emphasis on will matters.
Writing a will in Islam is an indication of deep faith in the first place, as it represents a believer’s preparedness for the hereafter and his readiness to forsake earthly riches any time. Prophet Mohammed, PBUH, recommended that a Muslim believer should not sleep three successive nights without having a personal will ready and at hand alongside him.
A personal will usually contains matters pertaining to a Muslim believer such as the way in which a believer would like his funeral proceedings arranged, part of his wealth disbursed or disposed of for charity purposes, and general directives adopted as regards personal arrangements of his dependents’ affairs after his death.
A testator’s nominated successor is morally and legally obliged, in Islam, to literally carry out the will of the testator at whatever cost.
The story of a strange will that saved an Indian Muslim convert from cremation was related to Sudanow by Mr. Ahmed Hamid Bakheet, a merchant at Omdurman market. Mr. Bakheet told Sudanow reporter than Omdurman had, since very long time, been a cosmopolitan town where people of different nationalities and ethnicities resided or conducted business. Indian traders and businessmen had chosen Omdurman as their domicile of choice and hub place for their business activities. Most Indian businessmen and traders, at the time of the narrated incidence, were of the Buddhist faith, where it was a recognized religious practice to cremate bodies of the dead according to certain rituals using fragrant sandalwood.
Mr. Bakheet related that he had an Indian neighbour and friend with whom he used to exchange social and courtesy family visits on various occasions. One day, said Bakheet, that neighbour paid an unexpected visit to Bakheet’s place carrying a big envelope containing his will and asked Bakheet to go with him to the police station to act as a witness, so that his will would take legal form.
The will contained the Bakheet Indian friend’s personal testimony that he had converted to Islam without the knowledge or consent of his family members, and his wish that upon his death he would like his funeral proceedings to be conducted according to the rituals of Islamic faith and his body buried in a Muslim cemetery. In his will he also authorized the law enforcement officials and police force to interfere and protect his body from cremation in case his family objected to his will.
Upon proper signing and attestation, Bakheet happily took copy of his Indian friend’s will and kept it in his shop safe. Years passed by and the new Indian Muslim convert kept practising his new faith rituals in total secrecy from his family members as he feared for his life and his family reprisals back home. After more than twenty years of issuing that personal will, Bakheet’s Indian Muslim friend fell seriously ill and was hospitalized in Omdurman Hospital. His illness was diagnosed as terminal, and as he knew that his days were numbered, he kept reminding his friend Bakheet of the will issue and the need to carry his wishes as stated therein at any cost.
Meanwhile, Bakheet received news from his hometown, El-Obayed in western Sudan, that his father was ill and hospitalized at El-Obayed Hospital. So, he traveled to El-Obayed to see his father. But one night while he was sleeping alongside his father’s bed in hospital, he dreamt that his Indian friend had died and saw in his sleep family members of his Indian friend gathering in a circle around his friend’s corpse ready to cremate it.
Bakheet woke up in a very disturbed mood and told his brothers that he would have to travel back to Omdurman to attend to some urgent matters. Means of transport were not easily available at the time. Bakheet told Sudanow reporter that he had spent long hours that seemed like ages looking for some means to take him to Omdurman. At last he found a lorry that took 24 hours to reach Omdurman. When he got off the lorry, Bakheet said he immediately went to his friend’s ward at Omdurman Hospital, but his friend was not there.
Upon inquiry, some hospital staff told him that his friend had passed away at dawn time on the same day. Bakheet rushed out of hospital in a very disturbed mood shouting like crazy. All shops were closed at the time. He knew that the cremation site lied at the far end of Ombadda district near what is now known as Suq Libya. Knowing that he had to act swiftly and wisely, Bakheet pulled himself together and went to his shop where he took out his friend’s will and reported immediately to the police station requesting help to have his friend’s will executed.
The police patrol raced along the streets towards the cremation site, with Bakheet heartbeats increasing faster with every police car sirens, as he said. When they approached the cremation site a very strong dusty wind blew off, but they recognized in the far distance ahead of them a group of people that turned out to be family members and friends of his dead Indian Muslim friend getting ready to cremate his body.
The group of mourners was trying to set the fire on fire, but it was too windy to do that. Eventually they formed a circle around the body constituting a wind buffer in order to be able to set the deceased body on fire. At the exact moment the police patrol car arrived at the scene where Bakheet quickly got out of the car and collapsed helplessly on the ground near his friend’s body that was placed on a wooden stretcher ready to be cremated.
When Bakheet came to his senses, he immediately got up and started to push burning wooden logs away from his friend’s body against the will of some group members who were very much disturbed and astonished of this most unaccustomed interruption of rituals. They tried to force Bakheet away from the coffin, but the police interfered and showed them the deceased’s attested will containing his testimony of embracing the Islamic faith and wish to be buried according to Islamic rituals. At that declaration the group agreed to hand over the body to the police and dispersed peacefully.
That was the exceptional story of Bakheet’s Indian Muslim friend. One has nothing but to admire Bakheet’s faithfulness to his friend, and his insistence to act upon his sleep vision while attending to his sick father, as he wisely thought that executing a Muslim friend’s wish was the most urgent and direct duty at the time, even if invoked by a sleep vision that miraculously turned out to be true in every single detail.
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