Core Blog

“Timekeeper” – The Timelessness of Grief

July 28, 2017

Words Sakina N.  
Photograph Alifiya S.


I absolutely love the arts, specifically, the Italian Renaissance, have a love – hate relationship with the Arabic language and am extremely passionate about stickers, socks, animals and plants!

Timekeeper Theme Blurb:

Time is about as large a semantic field as you can find for writing about. I once said that about war, but I think this is even more so. Over the next month, you will read courageous, funny, bolstering and thought-provoking pieces about that universal mistress. Called Timekeeper, this month’s theme may be a misnomer; after all, who here professes to keep time instead of being kept by her.

Grief to me was always just an emotion. One that was felt in varying degrees by people all around the world. It is the constant companion of death and other terribly horrendous occurrences in life. I never thought of it as being timeless until I read Euripides’ The Trojan Women.

Though this fictional play was written in 415 BC for a tragic competition in the City Dionysia, it still evokes emotions in modern readers. It tells the tale of the surviving motherless and husbandless women of Troy, a terrifying epilogue to Homer’s The Illiad. The sorrow felt by Hecuba, the once great queen of Troy, and Andromache, Hector’s wife, at the death of their respective grandson and son, Astyanax, is still relatable. Our hearts still wrench, our throats still tighten and our eyes still sting from unshed tears. Why are we still able to relate to something that is approximately 25 centuries old?

What ties us to this drama, making it so relatable, are the raw emotions. The agonising screams of Hecuba and Andromache in response to the young Astyanax’s death are still relevant. Despite the various modernisations and developments in contemporary civilisation, life has not fundamentally changed. It is still unpredictable and difficult where death continues to be inevitable. We have all experienced grief in some way or another – most noticeably through the death of a loved one. Though centuries separate us from the ancient Romans and Greeks, our emotions unite us, managing to transcend both time and space.

As a community, we the Dawoodi Bohras illustrate these notions of grief. Every Ashara Mubarak we gather, coming from all around the world to commemorate the Battle of Karbala and Imam Hussain’s AS shahadat. For 10 days we mourn together, anguishing and lamenting the tragedies that occurred. Our grief is timeless, surviving more than 1350 years. It unites us, transforming us from individual members of a religion to a community.

Similarly, our grief brought us together when Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin (RA) passed away. Our heartbreak and despair overwhelmed us, as individuals we were lost and confused. How could this have happened? What were we to do now? The sorrow was too large and unmanageable to deal with alone, we leaned on each other, supporting one another. Again, it brought us together and continues to bring us together every year on the 16th of Rabiul-Awwal.

Grief, therefore, is not only an emotion, it’s a timeless catalyst for growth. It leads to communities being forged, friendships being formed and love being shared. This emotion ensures that we never forget, reminding us every day what we have lost but also what we have gained.


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