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Aafia – my friend

by Shaista Abdullah

 I met Aafia while taking a class in Arabic at the Society for the Promotion of Arabic in Karachi. Little did I know, at the time, that she would become a dear friend, close confidant and an inspiration in time to come. Aafia was a tall, demure unassuming but very pretty girl who sat next to me for the next 6 months through a basic and advanced Arabic course. She was very bookish, always had her notes in hand and would either be reading or learning something – in short a nerd. During breaks she would walk with me to the prayer area for ladies and we would pray Maghreb salah together. The discussions on Arabic grammar and test preparations soon turned into friendly chats and then full blown debates about the status of women in Islam. During those debates the shy, unassuming girl was transformed into an eloquent speaker with a razor sharp memory who could quote relevant verses in Arabic from the Quran.  As a young girl, just 17 at the time, with lofty goals of combining both secular and Islamic knowledge and creating an educational centre of excellence to educate the uneducated – particularly women, as they needed it the most. After all, women provided the fundamentals of basic education for their children.
 Aafia was intellectually superior to most of her peers, learning and memorizing – particularly the Quran came easily to her and public speaking was her passion. But she was equally passionate about sharing her knowledge with others, particularly those whom she called friends. She spend many evenings with me, as I struggled with Arabic grammar which came so easily to her. Aafia could briefly glance at her study notes and ace the exam the next day. But Aafia was as humble as she was intellectually gifted and would never publicly show he knowledge or accept fame – thanking Allah always for what he had bestowed on her.
 Aafia then proceeded to the university of Houston to begin her bachelors degree, but didn't forget the people she left behind in Pakistan. I would get long, newsy letters from her telling me about life on campus and at home with her brother. Her passion for spreading the message of Islam gained momentum with her association with the MSA on campus. So  when Aafia wasn't studying or writing exams she was serving the community and helping the MSA. Aafia then went onto receive a scholarship at MIT, one of the most prestigious universities in the US and continued to excel academically.  I was in the US at the time and we met in 1992 when I went to spend 3 days with her on campus. Her schedule remained unchanged – if Aafia wasn't busy with studies she was setting up dawah tables and assisting the MSA, with another lofty goal in mind – America could one day be a Muslim country!
 This is the girl I knew – blindly trusting, brave, a humanitarian, a noble soul, highly intellectual, an eloquent speaker, crazy about animals and kids and with an undying passion for the Quran!
 This girl today is living a horror movie! incarcerated  in Carswell prison in Texas, estranged from her children and her family, in solitary confinement for a crime that makes very little sense to a coherent average individual!!  So mind boggling is her situation that it makes a mockery of the word justice!!
  Given her situation and circumstances I believe in only one court of law where justice, indeed, will be served.  Oh Allah grant her peace, safety and security and return and re-unite her with her children and family! Ameen.




  • April 15, 2012

    You are so lucky to be a friend of Aafia.
    I want to Hifz Quran like Dr Aafia Siddiqui InshaAllah, and want to be a pious and practical  Muslim like her. and InshaAllah i'l do it.
    So, thankful to share about her, with us.
    Oh Allah grant her peace, safety and security, health and return and re-unite her with her children and family! Ameen.

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