A Woman of Indomitable Spirit

Mrs. Irum Rashid Shares Memories, Pride and  Pain of Being the Wife of a Martyr

Fate is a divine plan, which plays its pivotal role in shaping the events and creating desired results in one's life with the precondition of having complete faith in and submission to the will of Allah SWT. Sometimes life thrashes out challenges that are seemingly beyond us but this faith is what carries us through; even if it is the loss of the one person that we believe would be by our side and take care of us through thick and thin. One such relationship is that between a husband and his wife. “Marriage is a bond shared between a man and a woman, which is pre-written. It is however, not a rosy affair but a rollercoaster where the couple is bound to experience happiness and sorrows simultaneously. What matters is that the couple becomes each other’s sanctuary and sticks through the tough times with a little bit of understanding, a lot of patience and some conscious efforts,” explains Mrs. Irum Rashid, wife of Lt Col Syed Rashid Hassan Shaheed. But what happens when one partner has to leave for the eternal abode and the other is left behind to pick up the pieces and rebuild their life in the absence of the security that having a partner means. This can clearly be understood by taking a look at Mrs. Irum’s life after her husband, Lt Col Rashid Shaheed, embraced shahadat.
Lt Col Rashid embraced martyrdom while performing his duties on August 9, 2017 and left behind a son and two daughters in the care of his beloved wife, Irum. Mrs. Irum narrates: “Rashid was serving in Azad Kashmir at an altitude of 13,000 ft. He developed a clot in his blood, which travelled to his lungs and he had a cardiac episode. He was evacuated from the post and was brought to AFIC, Rawalpindi. The very next morning Rashid left for the eternal abode due to multiple organ failure. He died in uniform serving his country in the most unfavourable of conditions.
“At first it was very difficult for me to accept that Rashid had left us and in that moment I felt as if the ground underneath my feet had split. It was not until I saw my kids that I was able to accept the harsh reality and it was Allah who gave me unwavering strength to stay steadfast.”
Mrs. Irum Rashid says that whatever happened was preordained and her husband achieved the highest of honours through courage and valour that was gifted by Allah, and nurtured by family, friends and the Pakistan Army. With this belief, she has found her peace and has continued on the journey called life.
Following are the excerpts from a conversation with Mrs. Irum Rashid. This conversation with the very strong and courageous Mrs. Irum not only strengthens one’s faith in the will of Allah but teaches us to seek support from none other than Allah Almighty.

How would you describe Lt Col Rashid as a person and what were his dreams and aspirations?
Rashid was very humble and down to earth. He had a heart of gold. He was a great conversationalist and always carried a big smile that was contagious. One could never get bored in his company. He was a man of great strength and his greatest trait was that he was also a very keen listener. From the very beginning he yearned for shahadat. Rashid shared with me that he had prayed for shahadat while performing Umrah and he was certain that Allah will accept his dua. I believe that it was his strong faith in Allah that earned him shahadat. May Allah be pleased with his beautiful soul. 
How was Lt Col Rashid in all his relationships (with parents, you and your children)?
Rashid was exceptionally kind in all his relationships. He was the best son a widowed mother could ask for, a very caring brother to both of his siblings and mine, an affectionate and protective father and of course he was an extremely loving husband. He used to make every effort to make his kindred happy. 
The pain of losing a loved one is unimaginable. How did you cope with your husband’s martyrdom?
My husband was only 31, when he received shahadat. When I heard the news I decided right away that I will be strong for my three kids. Even though we are financially stable Alhamdulillah, my kids always asked who would take care of  them. They motivated me to take the lead. I completed my studies and started working at ISPR. On the outside, this transition might look smooth and easy but I can tell you that it was not. I might look like a strong person on the outside but on the inside, my heart aches each day for having to live without my beloved husband.
Living a life without a husband is difficult but raising children without a father is a monumental challenge. When Rashid embraced shahadat, my eldest son was only nine while my daughters were six and three, respectively. It was extremely difficult and stressful to explain to them that their father had left for the eternal abode. I remember consoling them and telling them that we will all reunite one day Insha’Allah. 
Like every wife I felt the weakest when I lost my husband. I remember I felt that I had lost all will to live, I felt numb. Then one day my son came crying to me and asked, “Mama who are we going to call baba now?” In that moment I gathered all my strength and replied, “From now on I am your mama and your baba as well.”
Allah has been very kind to us. It is He who has given me the strength to raise my children without Rashid. I tell my kids that they are special, which is why their father was special and this is why Allah gave him shahadat and that it is Allah who has taken the responsibility to protect them. Strong faith in Allah and Islamic teachings have made this difficult journey easy for us. What I have learnt in these few but very lonesome years is that there is no greater satisfaction than placing our contentment in the Will of Allah. 
If you ask this question from ‘Irum’ you see on the outside who is strong and whose spirits are indomitable, all you will see is pride and honour; that is the ‘Irum’ you will see smiling and laughing. But who can tell that the same ‘Irum’ is fighting her battles quietly behind closed doors with silent tears. Yes, I am a mother who is struggling to raise three children alone and there are days when I feel extremely overwhelmed but even then I carry on, for I have no choice but to be resilient like my Rashid. 
How did you cope with the challenges of the world outside your home after the martyrdom of your husband?
It has been very difficult to cope with the outside world. I always try to count my blessings and look at those who have more sorrow. In every hardship, I have turned to Allah with the belief that everything will be fine. With every small step that I have taken towards Allah, He has taken ten, making me stronger with each step. I must also share that I lost my father just two years after Rashid’s shahadat. I was totally shattered with no shoulder to put my head and cry on. All I had at that time was my ja-e-namaz (prayer rug). I used to put my head and cry my heart out for hours and I realized that there is nothing like crying in front of Allah; there is no greater support than His. I am very grateful to Allah for everything he has blessed me with and for being my only and greatest support in my times of distress. 
How did Army support you through all these hardships?
Army is a prestigious and very caring institution. It may at times have scarce resources but is always magnanimous in extending respect and support towards the families of shuhada. Rashid’s unit has supported us a lot. To date, Pakistan Army has treated us like family even after its son was martyred. 
What message would you like to give to our readers?
To all those who are reading this seek help from no one but Allah. Hardships are a part of life and are there to test us. We must stay strong and find refuge in nothing but raza-e-ilahi. Do not let any hardship make you pitiable. Instead, use it to strengthen your Imaan. Life can become very distressful sometimes and losing a loved one can change your life forever. But know that this life is only temporary so make it worthwhile and work for your Akhirah. May Allah unite us all in Jannah, Ameen. HH

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