The most certain concept in life is death. But the uncertainty lies in not knowing when and how it will occur.
This is a very uncomfortable truth except to the believing Muslims who prepare ample provisions for the Hereafter and who are in great hope of meeting their Lord with a book full of righteous deeds. Seven days ago today, on the 4th of July, Bashir Osman, the President of FOSIS (Federation of Student Islamic Societies) sadly passed away at the young age of 26 years old. He was involved in a tragic drowning incident in Switzerland where he was visiting colleagues of FEMYSO (Forum of European Muslim Youth Student Organisations). The online community is overwhelmed by the vast number of heartfelt tributes, inspiring testimonials and loving stories of how Bashir had touched the hearts of thousands, whether they know him or not. For those who are grieving, be sure to find consolation in the words of the Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) who said,
“Allāh says, ‘I have nothing to give but Paradise as a reward to my believer slave, who, if I cause his dear friend (or relative) to die, remains patient (and hopes for Allāh’s Reward).”
You may wonder why a vast community is grieving the loss of this young Muslim brother. What impact did he achieve in the short life that he lived? Bashir Osman was known foremost to be an awe inspiring leader. But his humility and gentleness compelled many Muslims to seek his advice, support and counsel, as though he were a close companion and a sincere adviser. If you came to him feeling despondent or at loss, he would make you feel uplifted and motivated, reminding you of Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) and His Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam). In fact, he was well known for his humorous character, contagious laughter and optimism. He was especially loving and supportive towards his family members and had intended to go to Hajj this year with his mother. Bashir was also welcoming towards new people that he used to meet throughout his everyday encounters and left a memorable impression. He regularly encouraged those around him to excel in good actions and realised that while human beings have imperfections, through constant striving, one can achieve greatness. Not long before he passed away, he posted on his Facebook:
‘Half way through Ramadhan now. Time literally just flew by. If you think you haven’t made the most of it, you still have two weeks left. May Allah make us productive in our worship’.
Those who are mourning his passing truly felt that they were his closest friend from his beautiful and attentive treatment. Capturing the people’s hearts is an integral part of the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) who held the greatest leadership characteristics. Amr b. al ’Aas (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) narrated that he asked the Prophet, (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam)
“Who is the most beloved person to you?” He said, ‘Aisha.’ I asked, “Among the men?” He said, ‘Her father.’
Due to experiencing the most excellent treatment from the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) Amr b. al’Aas felt he was the most beloved to him. The Prophet interacted with his people with such respect and attention that many companions thought they were the most beloved to him.
Bashir was known to emphasise the importance of unity, especially in the Muslim Ummah of today where divisions are strife and create weakness. In another Facebook post, he said:
‘Public warning of others is sometimes needed but most of the time it is extremely damaging to any community. It creates an ‘us and them’ atmosphere and the love between people disappears. We should really focus on the work and attract people based on the quality of our work and you’re only going to get that, by being sincere.’
His journey towards serving the U mmah
Bashir Osman initially started serving his community by organising youth conferences and working with UBISOC (University of Birmingham Islamic Society), where he was studying an undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering. His leadership skills and proficiency were immediately recognised and he was selected to take the role of Head Brother. He planned, structured and oversaw all activities, seminars and charity works that took place at the University. Driven by his ambition, he actively worked with FOSIS (Federation of Student Islamic Societies) where he supported the Islamic Societies of universities and colleges across the country, initially as a regional representative in the Midlands, and then as a Vice President of Islamic Societies. As he further developed his connections and skills, he was granted the responsibility of becoming elected as the President of FOSIS where his vision was to create empowering leaders in every field across the UK. He saw the need of cultivating the youth with good Tarbiyyah and empowering them to be the leaders of the Ummah that upheld the Word of Allāh and the Sunnah of the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam). Over the year, he helped expand FOSIS significantly and had created a strong unified movement towards this common goal. Bashir was not only a man with a noble plan, but had the determined character to accomplish his goals and attracted likeminded Muslims to join him in achieving his vision, a trait rare in leaders today.
His Charity Work and Humanitarian Projects
Bashir tirelessly worked to serve the Ummah by further organising and helping many charity projects. He worked with the African Relief Fund to set up Al Iman Institute a school offering primary and secondary education to over 200 pupils in Mandera, Kenya.
He contributed in building a Masjid by revising the concept designs and laying the foundation stone in Gambia in late 2011, which benefits over a thousand worshippers today. Locally, he also opened a Madrassah f or Muslims in Birmingham who struggled to find a place and facilities to learn the Qur’an and Islamic Studies. His last endeavour was one of his greatest projects to raise £165,000 to build 50 wells across East Africa. Sadly, he could not complete this before his passing. He emphasised the blessing of having clean water and was deeply saddened by how many people are deprived of such a basic necessity around the world. With this appeal, he set himself a challenge to improve his health and fitness, after a significant abdominal injury, and complete a tough 1012 mile obstacle course. He valued the importance of good health and never allowed it to be a hindrance in achieving his goals. Now through the support of ongoing donations, his target is well on its way to completion, inshāAllāh.
Bashir was always eager to work for charitable causes, realising that giving in Sadaqah never decreases wealth but brings about surplus rewards in this world and the Hereafter. In the Glorious Qur’ān , Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) says that,
The likeness of those who spend their wealth in the Way of Allāh, is as the likeness of a grain (of corn); it grows seven ears, and each ear has a hundred grains. Allāh gives manifold increase to whom He pleases. And Allāh is All Sufficient for His creatures’ needs, All Knower.’
This is an eminent reminder to us all to renew our intentions and love for spending in the way of Allāh, whether it is through your wealth, time and efforts. Life is simply too short to do otherwise.
His love of the Qur’ān
As busy as Bashir was as a leader, being an activist, fundraiser, student of engineering, counsellor as well as looking after his family and much more, he was very disciplined in reserving time for private worship and most importantly, dedicating time to strengthening his relationship with the Qur’ān. At a young age, he memorized the Qur’ān through the support and nurturing of his family and teachers. He was determined to become an expert in Qur’ān , studying Arabic, Tafseer and trying to perfect his memorisation while regularly teaching Tajwīd f the Qur’ān and aiding others in their memorisation. He emphasised the need to strike a balance between personal worship, self-development and serving the community. In one of his online statements he said:
‘We are all activists in some sort but all that is negligent if we work so hard and completely forget about own state. My teacher always mentions to keep at least one hour a day to the development of Iman’.
It is easy to see that his commitment to understanding the Qur’ān was manifest in his character, his mannerisms and in his productivity with serving the Muslims. Moreover, although the study of Arabic and Tafseer may seem more difficult for the non-Arab speaker, Bashir pursued his study in understanding the meaning of the Qur’ān.
After all, the true lover is desperate to read the message of their Beloved.
Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) sent the Qur’ān as a guidance to mankind and it is inexcusable to keep language as a barrier, especially when now, there are numerous opportunities of learning the Arabic language.
His passing, and subsequent lessons
The passing of an inspirational person to so many people is only useful if lessons are learnt from their legacy. We are, after all, hurtling towards our own demise. So ask yourself: what legacy are you working towards? What righteous deeds are you collecting? What wealth are you spending for the sake of Allah? In the few years he had, Bashir Osman worked tirelessly to strive for a place in Jannah, inshāAllāh. He did not hesitate in the face of difficulties or barriers, but rather sought help from his Creator and strove to serve the Ummah to the best of his ability.
‘At times of adversity and distress, there is only one way to go. Back to Allāh’ 
Death is a stark reality that we must all face, but blessed and intelligent is the one who remembers it often and prepares well for it.
Ibn Umar (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) said that he was sitting in the company of the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam). A man from the Ansar (the supporters) came, greeted the Prophet and asked him:
“O Messenger of Allāh, who is the best among believers?” He answered: “They are those with the best characters.” Then, that man asked: “Who is the most far sighted and the most vigilant among the believers?” He said: “They are those who remember death most often and are well-prepared for what is after it. Verily, those are the wisest believers.”
On the day of his death, Bashir was swimming with a group of friends in Switzerland, when he was submerged by a current under rough waters for over ten minutes. When the rescue team found the body of our beloved brother, he was pronounced dead at the scene. May Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) accept him as a Shaheed for it is said the one who drowns has achieved this status (according to ḥadīth found in Muslim). Furthermore, he died fasting in the blessed month of Ramaḍān and what better month is there to die in? Without any doubt, the gates of Jannah are wide open while the gates of Jahannam are closed.
The Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said: “When Allāh wills good for His slave, He sweetens him. ” He was asked, “What is this sweetening?” He said, “Allāh guides him to do righteous deeds before he dies, then He takes his soul whilst he is in that state.”
Bashir dedicated his life to serving Allāh ‘ azzawajal and so He honoured him in his life as well as his death. Above all, it should be noted that while Bashir has left behind such a large legacy with many achievements, he was just human like you and I.
Dear reader, take comfort in the circumstances of his passing, reflect upon his beautiful nature in which he never left anyone except that they felt self-worth and self-belief in their capacity to do good, and think about the importance of empathy for your fellow human being, a quality which Bashir personified in his everyday dealings with others.
Bashir, you will be dearly missed, but we are content with the Divine Decree of Allāh. May your good deeds be accepted, may your grave be a beautiful garden from Jannah, and may you rest in tranquillity until we all unite once again, in the Hereafter, ameen.
Upon the authority of al Bara’ ibn `Aazib (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) who heard the Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) say:
‘When the believer is about to depart from this world and go forward into the Next World, angels with faces as bright as the sun descend from the heavens and sit around him in throngs stretching as far as the eye can see. Then the Angel of Death comes and sits at his head and says, “Good soul, come out to forgiveness and pleasure from Allah!” T hen his soul emerges like a drop of water flows from a waterskin and the angel takes hold of it.’
At the time of death, Bashir was said to have had a serene smile on his face. May Allāh give us all a good ending.
 Al-Qur’ān, 2:261
 Online statement by Bashir Osman
 Ibn Majah
 Narrated by Ahmad, 17330
Written by both Mohib Khan & Shirin Choudhury