Editor’s Column: Five Lessons That The Life and Death of Chadwick Boseman Taught Me As a Muslim

Can we mourn the death of Chadwick Boseman as Muslims?

I’ve seen this question on a number of social platforms and it is extremely insensitive and inhumane.

He was a man who brought so much value and there are so many lessons to be learned from his life and also his death.

Who was Chadwick Boseman?

Chadwick Boseman was a 43-year-old American actor who was most renowned for playing the role of the Black Panther. For many African Americans and wider communities, he was not only a Marvel superhero but a real-life superhero. 

To me, he was a superhero. He showed me what was possible when it comes to the power of representation. 

He showed so much strength, character, and determination in dedicating his life to playing roles that provided black children with role models and inspiration through representation.

He battled with cancer for 4 years before he sadly passed away on the 28th of August 2020. (Verily, we belong to Allāh and unto Him we are returning).

Since his death, there have been mixed responses from the Muslim community. 

Some have taken this opportunity to state that those who feel saddened or mourn the death of Chadwick Boseman, are consumed by this worldly life and have lost sight of what truly matters. 

I wholeheartedly beg to differ and also question the empathy and basic humanity of those individuals.

This is a human reaction stemming from compassion. 

For many, Boseman’s life and death were a much-needed awakening for different reasons. 

1. Every Soul Shall Taste Death

His passing reminds us that no matter how accomplished we become, and no matter your social standing and even your good character, we will all return to Allah when our time comes. And we never know when that time will be. 

Our Prophet (SAW) said, “When you stand for your prayer, pray as if you are saying farewell. Do not say anything for which you must apologize, and give up any desire to acquire what people have. (Sunan Ibn Majah)

The passing of Chadwick Boseman hit me harder than most because it was so unexpected. Upon reflection, I realized that every death, with the grief and sadness, is a sign and reminder to us. 

2. How Are You Using the Talents That Allah Gave You? 

Chadwick Boseman committed the last years of his life to, despite illness, using his talent to better the world and change the condition of others. 

Although we have to be careful of over expecting from those who are ill and are struggling, Chadwick Boseman has shown what is possible. 

Using your talent for good is a form of showing gratitude to Allah (SWT). To truly commit to developing yourself and achieving excellence in what you do, is to follow the Prophetic example. 

In a speech that he gave, Chadwick Boseman stated; ‘Your very existence is wrapped up in the things that you are here to fulfill’. 

He reminds us to have focus and remember our purpose in life. 


3. See the Good in Every Situation 

The positivity that Chadwick exuded during the last couple of years, shows us that in hardship, there is also ease. 

He transformed his extremely difficult circumstances into an opportunity to strive harder for what he wanted. 

He stated that ‘the struggles along the way are meant to shape you for your purpose’. 

This does not mean that the expectation for every single one of us is that despite what we are going through, we must act in movies, and publish books. 

But, we must do what is within our capabilities and what aligns with our purpose. Whether that be in terms of personal development, or bettering your community or even the wider world. 


4. Always, 70 Excuses 

In the run-up to his death, Boseman was attacked on social media for his appearance and trolls took the opportunity to make horrific comments and judgments. 

To think about what he was struggling with and how he must have felt seeing those comments makes me sick. 

In recent days, posts have been made which urge social media users to think twice before posting insensitive comments as you never know what people are going through.

One of the things we need to revive in our communities is the fact that we should have compassion without reason as you’ll never truly know what people are going through.

We should be making 70 excuses, 70 reasons, and thinking 70 times before we pass judgment or comment on people’s character or appearance. 

5. Give People Their Flowers While They Are Still Alive

Life is short and our days are limited. 

Those who you love, appreciate, value, and learn from should be shown gratitude daily. Show them how you feel now as tomorrow is not promised. 

May Allah SWT grant the family and friends of Chadwick Boseman peace and comfort and alleviate their pain. 

May Allah allow us all to be people who remember Him and remember death. 

Allahuma Ameen.

Written by Hafsah Dabiri

Hafsah Dabiri

Editor in Chief at Mvslim. Diversity and Inclusion advocate. Currently taking the road less travelled. Praying I don’t get lost :sweat_smile: