Kobe Bryant was for years, to me and all Celtics fans the ”dragon slayer.” Even if his team was broken, we knew that with him on their side, the drive Allāh created in him was a constant threat with devastating results. And off the record, we admired it and feared it. It seemed insurmountable.
Kobe’s drive and focus were edifying and motivating. I would watch him and think, I wish I was as passionate in my work and studies as he was towards his craft. Being driven demands respect and acknowledgment. It is a part of ihsān that captures people, as al-Busti noted, ”Excellence captures people.”
Today, like many of you, I was shocked to hear of the passing of Kobe and his daughter, Gianna. When icons die, it freezes me, not so much because I believe they can escape death, but because it is a sharp reminder that death is impartial, and often uninvited. It does not recognize fame, wealth or accolades, but comes when commanded. So, for me, the greater shock is that when accomplished and influential people die, I’m reminded that one day, death will visit me, an average person, wrestle me to the ground and return me to my lord.
When people die, I’m forced to look in the mirror and ask myself serious questions about my life and time: how I’m living!
An Arab poet wrote, “Death is like arrows that hit those around you on the battlefield. Don’t get too shocked because one day it will be you.”
As we sit saddened and frozen by the loss of Gianna and her father, let’s remember that we are, by God’s grace, alive. Let’s translate this moment into a passion and dedication to live, be better and use some of the drive Kobe modeled for us in his career, towards our faith and healing a fractured world.
Prayers and thoughts with Kobe’s family and those impacted by his loss.
Perhaps some constricted hearted person will ask, “Why do you remember this man. He wasn’t Muslim!” Outside of basic human emotions, I’d remind this person that the Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم stood for a Jewish funeral procession, and when he was asked why, he mentioned that “It is a soul” showing the respect we have for humanity and life.