On the authority of Abu 'Abd ar-Rahman 'Abdullah ibn Masud (may Allah be pleased with him), who said: The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), narrated to us:
"Verily the creation of each one of you is brought together in his mother's belly for forty days in the form of seed, then he is a clot of blood for a like period, then a morsel of flesh for a like period, then there is sent to him the angel who blows the breath of life into him and who is commanded about four matters: to write down his means of livelihood, his life span, his actions, and whether happy or unhappy. By Allah, other than Whom there is no God, verily one of you behaves like the people of Paradise until there is but an arm's length between him and it, and that which has been written overtakes him and so he behaves like the people of Hell-fire and thus he enters it; and one of you behaves like the people of Hell-fire until there is but an arm's length between him and it, and that which has been written overtakes him and so he behaves like the people of Paradise and thus he enters it." Related by al-Bukhari and Muslim
When one reads the above hadith and then the story below, one will clearly see how the remarkable life story of Jacques Baston is the perfect example of the above hadith and a time to ponder about one's life.
Jacques Baston was born on August 31, 1970 in Oakland, California to John and Myrna Baston. His early education was nurtured and developed in the parochial and public school systems in Oakland. He attended junior high school at Wentworth Military academy in Lexington, Missouri, where he graduated. After completing his high school in Nevada, Jacques returned to Oakland where his life took a turn for the worse. Although Jacques had good parents and was raised a Christian, he began getting involved with the wrong crowd and eventually started selling drugs.
Then in May of 1991, Jacques Baston was shot in the knees and chest with a 9 millimeter handgun by some gang member. It was during this time when Jacques was hospitalized that he began reading the Holy Quran. A Muslim brother came to visit Jacques in the hospital and brought him the Quran to read. It was from this time that Jacques began to analyze his life and the purpose of it. He realized that he was caught up with drugs and wanted a way out.
After his release from the hospital, Jacques would come to the mosque. He attended Jumha prayers on a regular basis and it was during this time that he learned how to make salat (prayer). And although Jacques had not accepted Islam yet, he wanted to learn how to pray. The shooting had left Jacques with a slight handicap but he still insisted on praying, even though he felt slight pain when bending to his knees.
Another Muslim brother, named Tashiri, used to speak to Jacques about Islam. Tashiri used to give Dahwa (invitation to Islam) and talk about the Akhira (after-life) and explain how this life was only a temporary life. Jacques would exclaim that he believes in his heart that he was a Muslim and that Islam was the true religion. He used to say, "I know I am a Muslim. I know Islam is the truth. Islam is real!" But he felt that he was too caught up in selling drugs to become a Muslim. He believed that he had to give up selling drugs before he could accept Islam. But it was during this time that he began telling his friends that he wanted to quit selling drugs and become a Muslim.
Also, it was after being shot that Jacques realized that it was no coincidence that the Brother had visited him in the hospital and gave him the Quran to read. He realized how Allah was giving him a second chance to live, change his lifestyle, and become a Muslim. He knew that Allah must be extremely Merciful to give him another chance.
In 1992, Jacques got married to De Jahnee Jackson and had a son named, Jacques Baston, Jr. Being married to De Jahnee and being a father to his son were some of the high points in Jacques life. He used to discuss Islam with his wife and explain to her how he believed it was the right religion. Jacques had never believed in the trinity and said that he did not want his children growing up believing in it.
Even though he started reading and praying at the mosque, he did not enter into the fold of Islam as he said he had to be perfect and give up selling. He continued, however, to come for the Jumha (Friday prayers).
On Friday January 8, 1993, Jacques came to the mosque in Oakland, performed the Jumha prayers and left to see some of his friends. After Jumha, Tashiri went to visit Jacques. With Jacques were three friends. Tashiri started speaking about the Akhira (after-life). He started telling the four men that if anybody does bad things in this life, eventually he must face Allah alone on the Day of Judgment. Tashiri also explained that Muslims believe in Predestination-that their time of death was already known. And, that they could leave the building that same day and be killed or die in a car accident. After a moving talk that touched their hearts, Jacques' three friends were ready to embrace Islam. They declared their faith in the "One God, (Allah) and that Muhammad (PBUH) is the Messenger of God." The three also chose their Muslim names--Terry chose the name Ali, Eric chose Hassan and Rodney chose Hakim. Then his friends asked Jacques what was holding him from accepting Islam. He responded that he was ready. Because Jacques was always smiling, the name S'aid (happy) was appropriate. So Jaques became S'aid Mohammed. The next day Said was killed in Richmond, California. Thanks to God, he was guided to the true religion of Islam.
Tashiri went to S'aid's family's house and explained to the family that since Jacques had accepted Islam, he would now need to be buried Islamically. They agreed to the Islamic burial because they were accustomed to hearing about Islam from Jacques. The family only wanted to make a viewing of the body for family and friends. The Islamic funeral ceremony was arranged where S'aid Mohammed was washed and wrapped in cloth. His body was viewed by his family and friends at Fuller Funeral home in Oakland. No music nor touching of the body was allowed. Three hundred people came to the funeral home, mostly non-Muslims, including major drug dealers dressed in suits and silk shirts. Brother Tashiri opened the talk with Surah (verse) Al'Fatiha (Qur'an Surah 1). Surah Yasin (Qur'an Surah 36) was then recited. Imam Abdulmalik followed with a talk and the ceremony was closed with Surah Al'Asr:
"By the time, Verily Man is in loss, except such as have Faith, and do righteous deeds, and (join together) in the mutual enjoining of Truth, and of Patience and Constancy." (Qur'an Surah 103)
A few of S'aid's Muslim friends, who were dressed in Islamic clothing, were surrounded by police cars while they were going to the Islamic cemetery. They were taken to the police station for questioning. The funeral procession proceeded to the grave site. The Imam then started the Janaza (funeral) prayer as the Muslims were forming a straight line and were joined by the other non-Muslims and a priest who were repeating "Allah Hu Akbar"!! S'aid was carried from the casket and lowered into the grave and placed on his right side facing Qiblah (Mecca).
May Allah have mercy on his soul.
Editor's Comment: The Hadith quoted at the beginning shows how a man behaves like the people of the Hell-fire and is an arm's length between him and it; and that which has been written overtakes him and so he behaves like the people of Paradise and thus enters it. Inshallah we must all take a good look at the lifestyles we are leading. None of us have any guarantee that Paradise awaits for us. Now is the time, especially during Ramadan, to repent to Allah and begin to lead true Islamic lifestyles, Inshallah!
The Islamic Bulletin
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|March / April 1993|
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