Lina Ayoubi is dying to talk
Lina Ayoubi is a practising Muslim and a pastoral care coordinator at the Islamic Council of Victoria. Next week she is speaking in Melbourne about ‘Death and dying the halal way’. Register for the free Palliative Care Victoria event here.
Below, Lina answers questions from the Dying to Talk Discussion Starter. For support in discussing your end-of-life wishes with your loved ones, download it from www.dyingtotalk.org.au
If you had a condition that you could not recover from, what would be important to you, towards the end of your life?
I have vivid understanding of life on this earth and beyond as per the holy Quran. Hence, the priority for me would be to reassess my relationship with my Lord and to try to perfect my relationship with him.
The second most important thing would be to settle my affairs with other human beings. There would be no procrastination in regards to asking for forgiveness or giving it to those who wronged me.
In an ideal Muslim life, we live each day as if it is the last one. Our prayer needs to be prayed as if it is the last one. When we sleep, we need to understand that there might not be tomorrow. However, the fast lane on this earth can sweep us off our feet and sometimes, maybe most of the time, we forget this. We need constant reminders that we will not live to 110 and there is not ample time to reach the spiritual height we dream to reach.
I pray that I would be blessed with having warning of my death and not die suddenly. I pray that I would be blessed with an opportunity to settle my affairs, and have a last chance to get my act together and set up an ongoing charity.
Are there any pets that you would like to see or be with you, if this is possible?
Yes, Tinker-Belle, my daughter’s cat of nearly two years, has become central to a routine of love and attention that I give every day and night. I am yearning for grandkids and Tinker-Belle has assumed that role.
I would certainly like to see her daily, but knowing her mood and hate for traveling, I should settle for pictures of her and video links.
Would you prefer a quiet environment or do you prefer activity and chatter around you?
I adore my solitude and private quiet moments. I enjoy the company of my thoughts and reflections. I enjoy dialogue with my Lord. Toward the end of my time, I would love to keep this going.
I would like to have only loved ones and spiritual people around me. At the moments near death my soul will be yearning for quality nourishment and despise materialistic and trivial distractions.
Ideally, I would hear recitations of the Quran around me all the time and spiritually uplifting lectures.
Would you like music to be playing and if so, what style or what music?
The only thing that I would want to have around me in the form of audio would be a melodic recitation of the holy Quran by an excellent reciter such as Al Ghamidi, Alafasi or Sudais. To hear a sample, click here.
I would also like to listen to CDs that have the sound of nature and birds if I am not already in a natural environment.
If possible would it be important to you to have time outside?
My ideal situation would be to die at home. It would be very important for me to feel the fresh air and rays of the sun, to see and smell colourful flowers and enjoy the calming colours of green grass and trees.
Would you prefer to be surrounded by lots of family and friends, or would you prefer one or two closest people to be with you?
Only chosen family and friends who have been supportive of my spiritual journey would be asked to come and given permission to visit. I would also want personal space and reflective times without interruptions.
Are there any cultural or religious practices you would like to observe?
As a practising Muslim, I would like to perform my five-daily prayers until the last moments of my life. Fortunately, we have the permission to pray sitting if we can’t stand, laying on our backs if we can’t sit and with our eyes only if that is all we can move.
I would like my bed to face towards the Qibla, the direction of Makka, so that I can pray from bed. (Makka, in current Saudi Arabia, is a home for the first house of worship of the One God “Kaaba” built by Prophet Abraham and his son Ishmael. Peace be upon them both).
I would like my family to have access to my bedside any time of the day or night.
I would like to be surrounded by people who are spiritual and only uttering words of wisdom, hope and forgiveness.
I would like recitations of Quran and hadeeth (sayings of our beloved Prophet, peace be upon him) to be around me at all time.
I would want to die without heroic measures to save me.
I would prefer same gender nurses and medical practitioners if possible, but especially when I was being bathed.
I would like it for my death certificate to be processed soon after my moment of departure, as my soul is on a journey. Its passport is the death certificate and its seat is the grave.
Is there anyone you would like to see or talk to?
I would welcome anyone with spiritual depth and love them to visit, so we could sit together, reflect and feed upon one another’s spirituality.
I would prefer those visitors to be women as I can’t be with men alone. Men who are spiritual Muslims or not Muslims are only welcome if they accompanied by a woman or are in the presence of my family.
Is there anything else you can think of that you would like?
I would like to be aware of my surroundings and not administered with pain killers in a way that makes me pass out or unable to make decisions. I would only want sedation to bring any excruciating pain to a bearable level, as pain and suffering is a purifying and cleansing mechanism for the soul. In a way, it is securing a first-class seat on the journey, rather than economy class.
Prophet Muhammad said, “Blessed are those who suffer before they die, for their sins would shed just like the trees shed their leaves in autumn”.
What is on your bucket list of things you would like to do or achieve before you die?
I would like to leave a legacy of some sort. I would like to do good work or establish a charity, as these are the things that continue to benefit a person after they die.
How did you feel during the process of completing this form? Was there anything about the process that interested or surprised you?
This form was to me like an exam cheat sheet. It is like a quick revision before sitting the final exam.
Let’s be honest. It is always going to be sad and miserable when farewelling loved ones. We miss them and they miss us and that always bring tears to the eyes and souls. Thinking about it leaves me longing to see my two children right now and hug them forever.
On another note, we Muslims greet our dead when visiting the graveyard with the following glad tiding. It is a greeting for all dwelling in the graves.
"Peace be upon you believing men and women dwelling here. May Allah grant mercy to you who have preceded us and to those who are to follow. Certainly, Allah willing, we will join you soon.”