We found a dead mourning dove on the other side of the glass door. I remembered hearing a thud earlier at the front door but didn’t bother to see what had caused it. Moona was saddened and fascinated at the same time. She knew the word “die” but did not understand the concept.
“Poor bird. It died. Poor bird is dead. When will it wake up?”
I explained to her that it wouldn’t wake up, that it was now somewhere in the mercy of Allah. Only its body was left but its soul went up into the sky. All animals—lions and tigers and birds and dogs and cats—live for a while on this earth and then they die and return to Allah. (I don’t think she’s old enough to learn that human beings are temporal too)
“Can we give it some honey so that it feels better? When is Allah coming to take the bird away?”
We got in the car and my mind was preoccupied with how to talk to a three-year-old about life and death. I finally noticed Moona, in a soft, high-pitched plaintive voice, making dua.
“Ya Allah, ishfi al-usfoora. Ya Allah, limadha? Limadha matat al asfoora? Ya Allah, a’ti al-usfoora asal kay tarja’ ila baytiha…ila ushiha. Limadha Allah? Ya Allah, ishfi al-usfoora.”
O Allah, cure the bird. Oh Allah, why? Why did the bird die? O Allah, give the bird some honey so that it goes back to its house...its nest. Why Allah? Oh Allah, cure the bird.
That night, Moona and her father buried the bird in our garden. I think it gave her some closure. Two days later, riding in our car, I heard her making dua again in the same high-pitched, soft, sing-song voice,
O Allah, cure the butterfly when it dies. O Allah, cure the lion when it dies. O Allah, cure the … other birds when they die. O Allah, cure the …rhinoceros when it dies.
And then, a few minutes later, she started repeating some dua we had taught her, adding her own touch,
Ya Allah, let us into jannah. Ya Allah, let my mother and father and grandparents into jannah. Ya Allah, let us into jannah so I can ride a white horse in jannah…and a brown small one for
O Allah, please make all of our children those who call upon You, with love and reverence, and humble themselves before You.