A Temporary Gift..by Asmaa Hussein.
I stumbled upon this book on Facebook actually. No not Instagram, but yes Facebook. 🙂 Tons of people were sharing their thoughts, their love and deep admiration for the book and its writer, Asmaa Hussein. A lover of good novels, and even more, a lover of ones written by Muslim authors, it did not take me long to get my hands on this book.
And a couple of weeks later it arrived! I was planning to travel for the next month or so, and was excited to have this book, accompanying me on the long, cross-Atlantic flights. Because seriously how many movies can you really watch in one flight? (Quite a bit actually, just ask my husband:) I dove into this book very quickly after we took off…
and well… wow…just wow. Wow, where do I start? Wow, how do I describe this book? Wow, what a writer. Wow, I was not expecting this…
A Temporary Gift is a collection of journal entries written by Asmaa Hussein during the days, months and years following the death of her beloved husband, Amr Kassem. In her book, Asmaa lovingly and gracefully recounts the beginnings of her lovely marriage to her husband Amr, life as newlyweds and subsequently, life as new parents. With the same grace she then shares the moments surrounding the horrifying news of her husband’s death and documents her life after Amr. Through her words, Asmaa takes us on her journey of ups and downs, highs and lows, through which we see the light that was once briefly illuminated her life and the new uninvited painful darkness that takes over.
But, what starts out as an emotional and heart-wrenching read, gradually becomes a beautiful spiritually uplifting testimony of utmost trust and faith in Allah (swt). Asmaa does what a lot of people would not be able to do. She courageously accepts this tragedy as none other, but a test from Our Creator. Her patience is not only beautiful, but becomes more and more admirable as days go on. Enduring life after Amr, all the while strengthening her relationship and closeness to Allah (swt).
I personally could not put this book down. My eyes filled with tears, my heart felt her sorrow, my mind understood her pain. I have read it for a second time now, and have almost half the book highlighted. (and I think I might read it for a third time, yes its that good!) Asmaa’s words are not only inspirational, but her optimism is highly infectious and motivating. Her words and reflections are not only raw, but absolutely full of truth and wisdom.
I commend Asmaa for taking and accepting this unimaginable tragedy, not as a punishment, but rather as test from Allah (swt). I commend her for using it as a way to get closer to Allah (swt). For using it as a way to reflect on the Quran. And for using it as a way to remind the rest of us, that it will all end one day.
Asmaa does a remarkable job of reminding us all that death, although usually an uninvited guest, will inevitably come knocking on each and every one of our doors. The way we live our very short and temporary gift of life here will determine how we open that door.
May Allah (swt) reward Asmaa for her patience, may He continue to bless her with patience and strength to carry on in her life, while maintaining her closeness to Him.
Favorite line (s) from the book:
Note: I tried really hard to narrow down my favorite line/lines from this book to just one or two. That was extremely difficult, or let’s just say impossible. Like I said I have highlighted at least half the book, and ear marked the other half. Too many lines are my favorite. But just for you to understand the beauty and wonderfulness of this book, I did my best to include a few of my favorite below:
“Perhaps when Ruqaya is all grown up, I will tell her that this difficulty caused my heart to become disconnected from this world and it should only make us work harder and longer to reach our home near Him.”
“I thank Him for what I have and I thank Him for what I don’t have. If He had given me everything I desired, perhaps it would have been a means for me to forget Him and go astray.”
“As long as you are alive, you still have the chance to redeem yourself”
“We may already own the clothes we are going to die in. I know that everything comes at its time and perhaps it may take someone years to have the courage or stamina to practice Islam as he or she should. While I respect each person’s journey, I now feel the urgency in not waiting. I can’t wait on mending ties of kinship until it’s more “convenient”. I can’t wait on praying properly or dressing more modestly or going for hajj until after I retire. I can’t wait on giving charity until I have more to give. I fear the moment I will be alone in my grave with nothing to shield me from my fate but my deeds. I fear that in that darkness, in my ultimate hour of need, I’ll say to myself: If only I had done more good and less evil…I beg of you, my soul: please don’t wait. Your chance may never come.”
“It has taken me the greatest loss to truly understand that whether you are alive or dead, material possessions are absolutely worthless. They don’t give you what your heart really needs in this world, nor do they come to your aid once you have died. Remove the love of material possessions from you heart and give away everything you can afford.”
TO READ OR NOT TO READ?
definitely, TO READ