Written by: Salah Ibrahim Jimi,
This week, the Eritrean Community in Melbourne was deeply saddened by the death of one of its members, Hayat Abulrahim Khalifa Mahmoud, a young mother of two. Hayat passed away on Saturday 24 September 2022, and her body was laid to rest two days later amid a somber mood and community solidarity with the bereaved family. Although the burial took place on Monday, still a large number of her compatriots managed to be at her funeral. The community could not but deeply mourn her departure at such a prime age.
I am compelled to write this brief tribute because the death of a young person is always shocking and saddening. Though one can’t object to Allah’s judgement, a tragic loss like Hayat’s should not pass unnoticed. It is in this context and on the basis of “remembering the good deeds of deceased people” that I write this tribute about Hayat.
First, my brief encounter with the departed – I saw Hayat only once in the company of her husband, Bader Dafla. Our meeting was very brief, no more than 3 to 5 minutes. It was before COVID-19, but I can’t tell the exact month and year. However, I do vividly remember the date of the week. It was Saturday morning at the well-known Lebanese bakery and pastry shop, in Dandenong, South-eastern Melbourne. Hayat and Bader were having a meal, having had dropped their children at the nearby Arabic and Islamic college, which is a weekend community school. Bader invited me to sit and to share a meal with them. For her part, Hayat repeated the invitation extended to me by her husband. I told them I was getting takeaway and I continued talking to them. Because I know Hayat’s family reasonably well, I found it easy to talk to her and ask a few questions about her family. It was in the mist of our brief conversation that Hayat offered me a slice of food which I accepted graciously. As they say, first impression lasts, and that is how I will always remember Hayat – generous, kind, sweet and really welcoming.
I only knew about Hayat’s illness about two months ago. Her father, Ustaz Abdulrahim Khalifa Mahmoud has the habit of calling people selectively to discuss issues of concern to our community in Australia and our home country. He always shares his knowledge, wisdom, experiences with those younger than himself, in the hope that they will develop broader understanding of challenging issues facing our communities in Australia and back home. It is during one of those conversations that he informed me about his daughter Hayat’s health setback. He finished the conversation by asking me to pray for her so Allah gives her the strength to endure and that she recovers from her sickness eventually. The bad news deeply shocked me, remembering the nice person that Hayat was following my one and only encounter with her and Bader. I wish I knew her more to write a deservingly detailed tribute.
I conclude this brief remark of respect to Hayat by citing stories that I heard from people who knew her closely. She showed remarkable strength during her sickness despite the ongoing pain she had to endure. She never lost hope; she was resilient and patient in the face of it all. She continued to care and show love to her children, her husband (who equally loved and cared about her), her parents and a lot of people close to her. Hayat was unique in that sense and in many other ways.
May Allah reward for her patience! May Allah take care of her children!
Salah Ibrahim Jimi, 30/09/2022