According to local news reports in New York City, over the weekend a husband and wife lost their seven children in a fire in which the mother and another child were critically injured. The accident was described by Mayor Bill DeBlasio as "an unbelievable tragedy". The facts of the fire are now well known, but when I heard the news reports I was reminded of a similar tragedy in the Bronx eight years ago. That time eight children died and one adult. The Bronx family were Muslims. The Brooklyn family were Jews. The magnitude of the deaths are the same , and who amongst us can fail to be moved by such occurrences?

These events remind me of these sacred and authenticated narrations of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him):

 أنه صلى الله عليه وسلم وأصحابه قاموا لجنازة فقالوا : يا رسول الله إنها يهودية ، فقال : إن الموت فزع فإذا رأيتم الجنازة فقوموا – صحيح مسلم

Translation of meaning: He (peace be upon him) and his companions stood for a funeral bier and [people] said: O Messenger of Allah, it is a jewess. He (peace be upon him) then said: Indeed death is a fright, then if you see a janaaza (funeral) , then  stand. (Sahiih Muslilm)
and also

   إِنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيهِ وَسَلَّمَ مَرَّتْ بِهِ جِنَازَةٌ فَقَامَ ، فَقِيلَ لَهُ إِنَّهَا جِنَازَةُ يَهُودِيٍّ ، فَقَالَ : أَلَيْسَتْ نَفْسًا – صحيح البخاري

Translation of meaning: A funeral bier passed by the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) and he stood, and it was said to him that it is the bier of a jew. He replied: “Isn’t it a soul?” (Sahiih Bukhari)

Allah tells us that every soul shall have a taste of death. As human beings we feel compassion for all such afflicted families, and may Almighty God comfort them all in their grief, ameen.

Also, let this tragedy serve as a reminder to us all to have both smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in our homes, and to change the batteries at least once a year. 


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